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Tommaso DorigoRSS Feed of this column.

Tommaso Dorigo is an experimental particle physicist, who works for the INFN at the University of Padova, and collaborates with the CMS experiment at the CERN LHC. He coordinates the European network... Read More »

In a few days, scores of Italian post-doctoral researchers in experimental particle physics will get tested on their knowledge of the matter, without any promise of a position, but just to get one further "stamp" on their curriculum, testifying that they are competent enough to be worth offering a temporary position by INFN, the Italian Institute for (sub)Nuclear Physics. So this is a  national exam, with the sole purpose of giving a green light to be admitted to two-year positions , which are typically paid less than 1400 euros a month, and which are so far not available. Frankly, I feel ashamed, since I myself work for INFN, and I strongly disagree with its current recruitment policies.
From Prof. Chad Orzel's Graduation Speech:

Science isn't a body of facts, science is a process for figuring out how the world works: you see something interesting, come up with an idea of why that might happen, and test you're idea to see if you're right. You repeat this process until you figure out why things happen the way they do, and then you use that knowledge to explain new things, or to do things that you couldn't do before.
If you have followed this blog for long enough, dear readers, the words "multi-muons", "anomalous muons", or even "lepton jets" are not foreign to you. They all refer to a paper appeared on the ArXiv on the evening of Halloween last year. In the paper the CDF collaboration published the results of a detailed analysis which described how a component of collider data containing two or more muons could not be explained by known Standard Model processes.
In a few days italian post-docs working in high-energy physics will be asked to gather for a nasty exam, held by the INFN -the italian institute for nuclear physics- to qualify valiant researchers for future hiring in the institute.

The exam generated a wave of outrage among the very pool of people at which it is aimed: the scores of "precari" (temporary workers) who are spending the best years of their life to try and make a career in particle physics.  Let me explain why that is so.
After weeks of painful struggling against all evidence, I think I will finally have to accept the fact that Italians actually approve their Prime Minister's behavior and libertine sex habits: the final proof be that they still voted for his lackeys at the last round of administrative elections. However, being a male in a male chauvinist country, I feel I am not very well represented by Berlusconi in this regard. Please consider:

  • he is almost 73 years old;

  • he is constantly afflicted by neck pain, which for sure must prevent him from anything but the most basic reproductory capabilities;

  • he fought a prostate cancer, which certainly took a hit in his sexual performances;
Augusto Minzolini (right), director of the TG1 news program of Rai 1, the most followed public italian TV channel, is under siege in Italy, accused of hiding the news of the embarassing story of Berlusconi and the call girl Patrizia D'Addario and the surrounding affair, which continued to make headlines on World press, but was utterly absent from Rai 1 TV news for over a week.