CERN Accelerating science

From Feynman diagrams to histograms, experimental training for an aspirant theorist.

by Silvia Manconi

My name is Silvia, and I am the girl from the island. I come from a village in the south-west coast of Sardinia, where the starry sky in summer nights gave birth to my passion for physics. Then, like some of my friends love to joke about, I met Hilbert spaces and group theory and so my life changed. Now I study theoretical physics for my master's degree at the University of Torino. This is actually the destination of a many sardinian physicists, not due to some kind of homesickness for the Sardinian Kingdom of the past, but, unfortunately, because of the government's continuous cuts: not on UV divergences but on education funding. Because of it, the situation for smallest Universities in Italy is becoming very hard.

The summer student programme for me is, first of all, a life experience, and not like someone might think, just another line in the curriculum vitae. I love getting to know new people, thus having a look for few minutes to a different point of the world it is like spinning the 3D map of the world and stopping it with a finger and closed eyes, when in the reality I'm just sitting in the main auditorium.

If I have to give a more "student-like" answer, I think that Physics is a whole, and I considered it important to also have an experimental experience, despite my more theoretical approach. Now, after a month of lectures on every field in physics, I'm feeling more complete.

I'm working for my project on a physics analysis for the ALICE experiment. I do not know if the everyday computer work is really for me, but now I know a little bit better what is the magic between the acquisition of data and the final plot with the results. The mediator of this magic process is the scientific method, the medium is a number of x  lines of code.


I feel that CERN is something very close to what Einstein dreamed for the scientific community.  The human aspects of this community are to me very important, and I felt this in the eyes of an old professor that wished us good luck for our future discoveries; in the closed fist of a professor that spurred us with the fact that science and physics are important for the entire society; in the mixture of religions, languages, clothes, dances, foods, humours, that live together speaking the same language.

I come from a place with beautiful nature and people, deep and clear like our amazing sea, and I miss enormously that in this period. But it is a sea of knowledge and humanity that I'm swimming in this summer, and it is proving to be just as deep and crystal clear, so that it will be very hard to get out... also because in September I will have to dive back into the renormalization!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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