Above: the network members during a session of the workshop
In the evening of March 3rd we organized in the scenic "Sala della Musica" of the palace a public event meant to attract both citizens interested in science and music lovers - plus simply people willing to listen to a cultural event and then participate in a luxurious buffet, which we offered to all participants at the end. The formula is not new: I have seen it working very well in other instances, so I decided that my network should organize something similar there. And that is what we did with professor Bruno Scarpa, a statistician member of our network from the University of Padova, who took care of the organization.
Above: some of the participants to the public event
The speaker was professor Daniela Bortoletto, and her talk was titled "LHC: alle frontiere della fisica fondamentale" (The LHC and the frontiers of fundamental Physics). And the musicians were two young talents of the Venice area, Sabina Bakholdina (violin) and Pietro Semenzato (piano). They executed a sophisticated choice of pieces from Mozart, Brahms, Massenet, Paganini and Gounod, with a cameo from the lyrical soprano Kalliopi Petrou.
Daniela's talk was quite engaging and kept the over 160 participants nailed to their chairs even when, after the musical program was terminated, it was time to move to the "Sala del Portego" - the main hall at the piano nobile of the palace, facing the Grand Canal - for refreshments. I stopped counting the questions after I got to 20. The way I gauge that the event was a real success is because I observed that we could bring to listen to particle physics, and get engaged by it, laypersons who would probably not have come to a simple conference in particle physics.
After 11 years of blogging and many other outreach activities, I hold ths strong belief that it is we, scientists, who have the moral obligation to find ways to explain to the public why what we do with their tax money is important. The success of last Thursday's event further stimulates me to increase our outreach action - something which, incidentally, was one of the reasons why the European Community granted to my network 2.4 million euros. So we have the funds, the expertise, and the will to do outreach - nothing will stop us now!
One of the things we have just started is a common blog by all the students that participate in the network. Also our researchers are invited to participate, but it will take some effort to convince them to do so. If they see that the blog gathers a readership, they will be encouraged to blog more. So if you can add the network blog to your aggregator, or remember to pay a visit now and then, you will both do a good deed and chance to read interesting stuff - for we report there our research on ATLAS and CMS and our development of Statistical Learning tools. And if you have a blog or a web site, link us!