With the fresh news of the election of Pierluigi Campana as spokesperson of the LHCb experiment, the Italian participation to the LHC experiments at the CERN laboratories is close to a grand slam: three of the four experiments along the ring are led by Italian physicists. Campana joins Guido Tonelli (CMS), Fabiola Gianotti (ATLAS), and Jurgen Schukraft (ALICE).
Italians have consistently led CERN experiments, so the election of Campana is no surprise to most of us: still, it speaks volumes about the professionality of Italians in high-energy physics and the recognition that they are given by their colleagues abroad.
One cannot help adding a sad note to this merry piece of news: the Italian Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN), which funds the Italian participation to the CERN experiments, continues to withstand increasing budget cuts by the government. Even more dramatic is the manouver undertaken this year by Berlusconi's finance minister Giulio Tremonti, who drove the hardest blow to the functioning of the INFN administration through a senseless reduction of allowances for missions abroad.
Italian researchers who wish to continue working for the CERN experiments, maintaining and operating the hardware they have built, leading analysis groups and performing other critical management activities, or simply participating in the analysis activities of the experiments, must now do so basically using money coming out of their pockets.
In any case, congratulations to Pierluigi Campana and my best wishes for a success of the LHCb physics program!
Four LHC Experiments, Three Italian Spokespersons