Happy birthday Carlo Rubbia!

Carlo Rubbia in 2012
Carlo Rubbia in 2012

Carlo Rubbia (photo ©GMarkus Possel) was born on March 31, 1934 in Gorizia, Italy.

At the Pisa’s Scuola Normale’s admission exam, Carlo Rubbia arrived eleventh but there were ten places available. So he enrolled in engineering at the Polytechnic of Milan at the behest of his parents but he got admitted to the Normale when a place became available. He graduated in physics in 1957 with a thesis on cosmic rays. Later, he went to the USA at Columbia University, where he earned a Ph.D. in physics in 1959.

In 1960, Carlo Rubbia started his research activity at CERN with experiments concerning in particular the weak interaction, one of the four fundamental forces. In 1970 he became Professor Higgins in physics at Harvard University and until 1988 he spent a semester every year in the USA while continuing his research at CERN.

In 1983, Carlo Rubbia led a group of physicists in the experiments with the accelerator Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS). He was the one who had the idea of obtaining the high energy required for his research by crashing proton beams with antiprotons beams. The result was the discovery of the vector bosons W+, W and Z, which are the intermediate vector bosons for the weak interaction. For this reason, in 1984 he was one of the winners of the Nobel Prize for Physics with Simon van der Meer.

Between 1986 and 1994, Carlo Rubbia was also President of the Laboratorio di Luce di Sincrotrone in Trieste.

In 1989, Carlo Rubbia was appointed Director-General of CERN. During his tenure, which lasted until 1993, Tim Berners- Lee developed the World Wide Web project, which was released freely, without any request for royalties or other restrictions.

In the following years, Carlo Rubbia held various positions in Italy. He was among the leaders in the research activities of the Laboratory of Gran Sasso and between 1999 and 2005 he was president of ENEA. His work in Italy hasn’t always been easy due to various disagreements with the politicians who decide certain appointments.

Over the years, Carlo Rubbia has received several Italian honors and on August 30, 2013 , he was appointed a senator for life. Though he’s not a young man anymore, he keeps on pursuing various projects and is very active in the field of alternative energy. In particular, his projects include solar thermal generators and a new type of safe nuclear power station. His ideas also involve a potential engine for spaceships that could allow interplanetary travel in a much shorter time than the current ones. He also keeps on dealing with pure physics with proposals of experiments concerning dark matter.

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