As I promised a week ago, I am posting answers to a few of the 42 questions which constituted the first part of an the exam
selecting experimental particle physicists for the INFN (the italian institute of nuclear physics) four years ago. Next week, a similar exam will take place to "qualify" post-doctoral scientists which aspire at a temporary position with INFN.
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.
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;