Umberto Dosselli | Interview with Umberto Dosselli, Scientific Attaché at the Permanent Mission of Italy to the International Organisations in Geneva

DOSSELLIq1GENEVA: FROM CERN TO THE ENVIRONMENT, ITALIAN INDUSTRY AND KNOW HOW FOR INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC COOPERATION Interview with Umberto Dosselli, Scientific Attaché at the Permanent Mission of Italy to the International Organisations in Geneva

For over 100 years Switzerland has hosted international organisations: today 22 of them are based in Geneva (8 of which are United Nations agencies), including CERN, the most important particle physics laboratory in the world, unique for its complexity, scientific-technological prospects and potential for industry. Italy, with INFN, participates in its activities at the highest level. The economic return of these activities is important for Italian industry, thanks to the high capacity of Italian industry to take part in the experiments with high technology products. However, the international organisations also offer Italy other opportunities that the Permanent Mission of Italy in Geneva seeks to encourage, fostering communications and supporting national skills and know-how.

What is the scenario in which the Permanent Mission of Italy in Geneva operates?
First of all, we have to make a distinction. The diplomatic networks in Geneva are divided into two spheres: bilateral relations and multilateral relations. And the Italian diplomatic network is obviously organised in this way. Bilateral relations are between Italy and the local host State, and they are followed by the Embassy and by the potential Consulates. In Switzerland the Embassy is in Berne, but diplomacy is also followed by a Consulate in Geneva. Geneva, however, is special because it is the seat of many international organisations, such as the UN, NATO, the Red Cross, CERN, the WMO (World Meteorological Organization), the ITU (International Telecommunication Union), the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), the WTO (World Trade Organization), to mention just a few. And it is with these organisations that the multilateral relations are conducted. The Permanent Missions, which have the status of embassies, are indeed in charge of the relations between the single countries and the international organisations. Thus, it is the Ambassador who conducts the relations, in our case, between Italy and the single international organisations. Some are “technical”, other are scientific and technological relations: my mandate, in particular, in the capacity of Scientific Attaché, is to follow the latter ones. For example, I'm the Italian representative of the finance committee of CERN, while the Ambassador himself and the INFN President are the national representatives on the CERN Council.

For INFN, the most profitable collaboration is obviously the one with CERN.
Yes, INFN is clearly highly focused on CERN. In this case, our task is to check that the cooperation between the two institutions continues as in the past, because relations are really excellent, perfect, I would say. At CERN, INFN is very present at all levels, not only scientific and managerial: it is worth noting, for example, the participation of Italian students, who have success in the international calls because - it has to be said - they are really clever. And we are equally valid in outreach: this year, in the competition addressed to schools, which CERN promotes throughout the world, "A Beamline for School", one of the two winners is an Italian high school.

And then, always linked to CERN, the question of the industrial return is important.
Of course, for Italy, the Industrial return that derives from the CERN projects is a relevant aspect, both for politics and for public opinion. Our country is the fourth contributor to CERN, after Germany, England and France: we therefore expect a return for our companies; the orders have to be consistent with the investment. We also work for this, in order to find the right channels to increase the presence of our industry in the technological projects developed at CERN. This takes place also thanks to the serious and constant work that the ILO (Industrial Liaison Officer) carries out. The next interesting opportunity is offered by the HiLumi LHC project, for which the awarding of the contracts has already begun. From Italy's viewpoint, the coordination with the HiLumi top management is perfect, and the ILO has done an excellent job in identifying the industrial sectors that could be more favourable for the participation of our companies. For example, Italians are very good at developing high-temperature superconductors and, in fact, we have recently been awarded contracts in this sector. HiLumi represents an interesting scientific and technological opportunity, and I'm certain that Italy will play its part well on this competitive international terrain.

In addition to CERN, what other international institutions do you liaise with?
As the Scientific Attaché, I also follow the WMO and the ITU, which are both UN agencies. In addition, I work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the various organisations that deal with the environment, like the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). What I mainly do in these organisations is to maintain contacts with the Italian staff, to understand whether Italy is suitably represented, or if there is discrimination, if we have claims to make or unsolved problems for which a solution has to be found. Then I try to understand whether Italy uses these organisations well. With CERN, coordination is perfect, because an institution like INFN follows it. In the other organisations, this is not the case and the situation is not so clear. I have to understand, for example, if it is possible to promote additional cooperation as well as that already existing with our research institutes, our universities, and so on, and if there is Italian research or technology that can be usefully exploited to develop projects within the international organisations.

What is the situation with the other international organisations?
In the light of the profitable industrial presence in the CERN projects, as the Permanent Mission, we have looked around to understand whether other international organisations could offer good opportunities for Italian industry. I think there are interesting possibilities, we must, therefore, foster the creation of new relationships. This is why we are organising, for the end of October, at the MAECI (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation), a day of contact between the international organisations present in Geneva and the Italian industrial world; to explain the possibilities that exist and how to participate and collaborate.

And as far as concerns the INFN?
I think INFN has certain skills that can also be used in other sectors: I'm thinking of computing, for example. It's a sphere in which INFN excels for what concerns research and development, and it is at the cutting edge, because it's a sector in which it has always been engaged for the intrinsic needs of the activity of particle physics research; computing which can be fruitfully used, for example, in meteorology studies.

In this context, what are relations like between Italy and Switzerland?
Italy has a network of scientific attachés which - I have to say - other countries envy us: it has about 25 scientific attachés in the world who, as I said, are active in the embassies and who follow scientific and technological relations between Italy and the various countries. There are, however, exceptions: one is myself, since I'm not based at the Embassy in Berne but in Geneva. On the other hand, there is no scientific attaché who specifically follows the rest of Switzerland. At present, the MAECI is considering how to deal with this aspect; whether to appoint another person or to expand my own area of competence to the rest of Switzerland is being discussed. Certainly, relations with scientific institutes such as the PSI (Paul Scherrer Institut) or the Zurich and Lausanne Polytechnics, with which Italy already collaborates, are interesting for us and they can be further developed.

How do you operate?
We look with attention at the Italian situation and we speak with the national institutions such as the CRUI (Conference of Italian University Rectors) or the research bodies, in order to create new contacts with the organisations in Geneva. This year, in April, an agreement was signed with the WMO, the MAECI and an institute of the CNR (Italian National Research Council) to promote actions aimed at instructing the farmers in the Niger region on how to deal with the effects of the drought. A problem like this has repercussions also on us: improving the living conditions in the Niger region, in fact, also means contributing to mitigate one of the causes that favour the migration phenomenon. Now, however, we are assessing, together with the ASI (Italian Space Agency) and the WMO, the possibility of using satellite data for a constant and complete mapping of the North Pole, with particular interest in the North-West Passage.
In general, we have to make efforts in order to overcome the tendency to consider with interest only relations with Brussels and with the European Union because that is where the funds come from. The international organisations in Geneva, even if they are not the source of financing, can represent an excellent and very effective showcase for presenting their validity at international level. The ITU, for example, is a body that issues standards and exploits this opportunity to "impose" know-how that our industries already have. This certainly represents a good incentive for cooperation.

What conclusions can be drawn?
My experience, after a year as the Scientific Attaché in Geneva, is that Italians have many high-level skills. I therefore believe that there is still room to increase the opportunities for cooperation between our country and the international organisations, and that we can further exploit our resources, that are based on a strong scientific and technological background. ▪

Rüdiger Voss | Interview with Rüdiger Voss, president of the European physical society. He has also been the Head of International Relations at CERN from 2013 to 2015.

Interview with Rüdiger Voss, president of the European physical society. He has also been the Head of International Relations at CERN from 2013 to 2015.

The European physical society (EPS) was established in 1968 and represents over 120,000 physicists organised in 42 different national societies. On July 5, one of its most prestigious conferences worldwide, the EPS conference on High Energy Physics (HEP), came back to Italy after over thirty years. It took place at Lido Island in Venice, which hence became the gathering point of international top physicists for one full week. The conference dealt with some of the most fascinating themes in physics research: from the origin of our universe to the Higgs Boson identikit, from the hunt for dark matter to the properties of the elusive neutrino, from New Physics to gravitational waves.

The 2017 edition of the EPS conference on High Energy Physics provided a vast scientific program. Do you think there has been a leading topic?
This year's program was, without any doubt, exceptionally rich and well organised. LHC physics has been in the focus of attention. Once again, the Higgs discovery, first announced in 2012, was one of the main topics of the conference. A lot of new results on Higgs Boson properties were presented. A major one was the first evidence of the Higgs decaying into one quark and one anti-quark beauty (H→bb). Furthermore, new precision measurements of the Higgs mass were shown. Overall, there is increasing evidence that the particle whose discovery was announced in 2012 corresponds to the Higgs Boson, as it is predicted by the Standard Model. However, during the conference, it also emerged that many more results and data are needed to establish that this particle fully corresponds to the Standard Model Higgs. Otherwise, if small differences from the Standard Model predictions are detected, windows to New Physics may be opened.

So the Higgs was surely one of the main topics of the conference, have you witnessed other interesting results coming from the Large hadron collider at CERN?
LHC physics is not just the Higgs boson, there have been many new results which reflect the fantastic performances of the collider in 2016, but also in 2017. An example is the beautiful discovery announced by the LHCb collaboration of a new doubly charmed hadron. This discovery could allow us to understand better how the strong interaction works.

And what about physics research other than the LHC?
Of course high energy physics is not just LHC physics, there are many other areas which continue to work hard and produce interesting results. An example is neutrino physics. Vigorous new programs for neutrinos studies are under preparation in particular in Japan, in the United States and in Italy. For example at INFN Gran Sasso National laboratories there several experiments dedicated to neutrinos studies that are undergoing further improvements.
Moreover this conference has given a lot of room to new exciting results from neighbouring fields such as gravitational physics and cosmology. Here, of course, the recent discovery of gravitational waves rightly took a very prominent place. Not to forget other areas such as particle astrophysics and dark matter searches.
This conference has been a demonstration of the strong interdependences and synergies among these neighbouring fields. The various disciplines that make up fundamental physics are coming closer and closer. This is fundamental to establish a complete picture of the universe, which goes much beyond the current Standard Model of particle physics.

Have you had the chance to hear some of the reactions of conference participants?
The excellent program of this conference has been reflected by an exceptional participation of about a thousand scientists from all over the world, not just from Europe. I think we have not seen participation like this in many years. All participants I talked to were impressed by the excellent scientific and local organization.
As the president of the European Physical Society, I would like to pay a tribute to the excellent work of the international organising committee and the board of the High Energy Particle Physics Division of the EPS (EPS HEPP) and, in particular, to its outgoing chair Yves Sirois. The success of this conference has been a powerful demonstration of the excellent leadership Yves has provided to the European Physical Society and to the High Energy Physics Division. I would also like to thank from the bottom of my heart the Local Organising Committee, chaired by Mauro Mezzetto and Paolo Checchia, and their many collaborators in particular from the INFN Padua Division who have been working very hard over the past two years to make this conference a success.

The main prize awarded by the EPS HEPP division during the conference was to a breakthrough development in detector technology. Do you think the wind is changing and the relevance of technical applications for the success of research is going to be formally recognised?
I do not think that this reflects a change of wind. The history of particle physics, but also that of many other branches of our science, shows that there can be no breakthrough discoveries in fundamental science without breakthrough developments in accelerator and detector technologies. For this reason, even the Nobel prize was awarded to key technological innovations more than once. Some examples are the Nobel prizes awarded to Donald Glaser for the bubble chamber, Simon van der Meer for stochastic cooling, or Georges Charpak for the drift chamber. The award of the 2017 High Energy and Particle Physics prize to Erik Heijne, Robert Klanner and Gerhard Lutz for their pioneering contributions to the development of silicon microstrip detectors was timely and appropriate: the LHC experiments and their ability to process the enormous data rates provided by this machine would not be possible without the silicon detector technology.

Eugenio Nappi | Intervista a Eugenio Nappi, membro della giunta esecutiva dell’INFN e referente per i progetti di ricerca in fisica nucleare sperimentale dell’Ente.

Intervista a Eugenio Nappi, membro della giunta esecutiva dell’INFN e referente per i progetti di ricerca in fisica nucleare sperimentale dell’Ente.

La fisica nucleare sperimentale rappresenta l’anello di congiunzione tra lo studio delle fasi primordiali dell’universo, svolto con l’ausilio dei grandi acceleratori di particelle, e la ricerca sui meccanismi di formazione di stelle, galassie e ammassi di galassie, con esperimenti sulla stabilità dei nuclei e la produzione di nuclei esotici. All’INFN le attività di ricerca in questo campo si svolgono in tutti i quattro laboratori nazionali, al TIFPA (Trento Institute for Fundamental Physics Applications) e in diverse sezioni, con importanti ricadute in settori diversi dalla ricerca fondamentale, quali la fisica medica, la fisica per i beni culturali, la ricerca in campo energetico, lo sviluppo di nuovi materiali e di tecnologie per la sicurezza nucleare.

L’INFN è impegnato in diversi progetti di fisica nucleare sperimentale, che spaziano dalla ricerca fondamentale alle applicazioni mediche. Come sono coordinate le diverse attività all’interno dell’INFN?
Il coordinamento delle attività sperimentali di ricerca in fisica nucleare all’INFN è svolto dalla Commissione Scientifica Nazionale 3 (CSN3) che stabilisce le priorità e il finanziamento dei singoli progetti. Ma l’ampio spettro delle attività di ricerca in  questo campo non si esaurisce all’interno della CSN3.
A partire dal 2006,  a valle della stipula di un accordo di collaborazione tra INFN e Ansaldo Nucleare, lo sviluppo di competenze e strumentazione nel settore delle applicazioni della fisica nucleare al campo dell’energia, con particolare attenzione agli aspetti relativi alla sicurezza, è coordinato dal progetto strategico INFN-E. Dal 2012, INFN-E conta su un budget annuale di 200.000 euro. Sono da elencare inoltre le numerose attività di fisica nucleare afferenti alla quinta Commissione Scientifica Nazionale (CSN5), dedicata agli sviluppi tecnologici. Tra queste, ricoprono un ruolo molto rilevante le applicazioni mediche che, nel campo dello sviluppo di sistemi diagnostici e dei software di simulazione e di analisi collegati, affondano le radici in una tradizione d’eccellenza dell’INFN. Con la nomina di Marco Durante, esperto di fama internazionale di adroterapia, a direttore del TIFPA si è voluto dare un forte slancio anche alle attività nel settore delle tecniche terapiche con i fasci di particelle.
Sempre nell’ambito della CSN5, sono di grande rilevanza le attività inerenti la fisica nucleare applicata ai beni culturali, al monitoraggio dei livelli di inquinamento ambientale e agli sviluppi di rivelatori e di acceleratori.

Come si inquadra la strategia dell’INFN nel panorama europeo?
Le priorità nel finanziamento delle attività nella fisica nucleare  sono stabilite dalla CSN3 in completa sintonia con le indicazioni del NuPECC, il comitato di coordinamento europeo, che ha recentamente concluso i lavori di redazione del Long Range Plan, la roadmap europea per la fisica nucleare, le cui conclusioni saranno presentate il 27 novembre a Bruxelles. In particolare, i progetti di fisica nucleare dell’INFN, seguendo la nomenclatura internazionale, afferiscono a due grandi filoni di ricerca: quello della struttura nucleare e quello della della fisica adronica. Nel primo caso l’obiettivo è lo studio del nucleo come sistema composito, per indagare le caratteristiche degli atomi radioattivi in rapporto a quelli stabili, l’evoluzione dell’Universo e la formazione delle stelle. A livello internazionale, grandi investimenti sono in corso per realizzare infrastrutture di ricerca che accelerano fasci di nuclei esotici. In quest’ambito, il progetto su cui l’INFN sta puntando è SPES (Selective Production of Exotic Species) ai Laboratori Nazionali di Legnaro. In parallelo alla ricerca fondamentale, SPES permetterà di sintetizzare  nuovi radiofarmaci per la diagnostica medica.
Il secondo filone, quello della fisica adronica, è più vicino agli obiettivi e alle tecniche sperimentali della ricerca in fisica delle alte energie, coordinata nell’INFN dalla CSN1. La fisica adronica rappresenta l’anello di congiunzione tra la fisica delle particelle elementari e la fisica della struttura nucleare. In altre parole, la fisica adronica ha l’obiettivo di studiare i meccanismi attraverso cui i costituenti fondamentali dei nculeoni, i quark e i gluoni, contribuiscono a definire le proprietà stesse del nucleo. Le iniziative di maggior respiro internazionale di fisica adronica in cui partecipa l’INFN sono ALICE, al CERN, e gli esperimenti in corso al Jefferson lab negli USA e, in prospettiva, quelli che verranno realizzati  a  EIC- Elctron Ion Collider in corso di progettazione negli Stati Uniti (al Brookaven National Laboratory o al Jlab).

Quali sono gli obiettivi del progetto strategico INFN-E?
Le attività di INFN-E sono orientate in particolare sulle due seguenti linee di intervento. La prima riguarda lo smantellamento dei siti nucleari, la gestione dei depositi di materiali radioattivi, la tutela del personale nei siti nucleari e la sicurezza. La seconda si occupa dei contatti con le organizzazioni dedicate alle problematiche energetiche, quali Ansaldo Nucleare, ASG Superconductors, CAEN, Gilardoni, Joint Research Center-Euratom-Ispra. Nei suddetti ambiti, INFN-E agisce sia come incubatore per lo sviluppo di prodotti da proporre a industrie e altri enti, sia come centro di iniziativa verso forme di finanziamento esterno.

Qual è il coinvolgimento dell’ente nella fisica nuclare sperimentale, a livello internazionale?
L’INFN  contribuisce a livello internazionale a tutte le più importanti iniziative, con presenze a livello apicale nei maggiori comitati di gestione europei e mondiali. A livello europeo, Angela Bracco, della Università e sezione INFN di Milano, è al suo secondo mandato quale presidente del NuPPEC.
Nicola Bianchi dei Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati dell'INFN è a capo dell EPS-NPB (European Physical Society – Nuclear Physics Board) dal 1 gennaio 2017. Il sottoscritto è da tre anni nello IUPAP C12 (International Union of Pure and Applied Physics – Nuclear Physics) e nel panel ICFA per lo sviluppo di nuovi rivelatori.
Paolo Giubellino, della Sezione INFN di Torino, già spokesperson di ALICE, è stato nominato da qualche mese direttore del prestigioso laboratori GSI e direttore scientifico di FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research) a Darmstadt in Germania, una nuova infrastruttura di ricerca, in corso di costruzione, che a partire dal 2020 diventerà il più importante laboratorio tedesco per la fisica nucleare. Da quest'anno un altro italiano dell'INFN, Federico Antinori guida l'esperimento ALICE al CERN. Da settembre 2017, Raffaella De Vita, della sezione INFN di Genova, assumerà il ruolo di spokesperson dell’esperimento CLAS12 al Jlab (del quale è da circa 5 anni direttore aggiunto Patrizia Rossi, dei LNF). Recentemente, inoltre, una ricercatrice italiana dei Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati, Catalina Curceanu, ha ricevuto il premio EPS “Emma Noether distinction” per le donne che si sono dimostrate eccellenti nella ricerca in fisica nucleare a livello europeo.

Quali sono le maggiori iniziative future per la ricerca in fisica nucleare in Italia?
Ai Laboratori Nazionali di Legnaro è in fase di installazione il progetto SPES, il cui avvio è previsto nel 2019. Ai laboratori del Sud, il progetto NUMEN (NUclear Matrix Elements of Neutrinoless double beta decay) ha importanti implicazioni anche in fisica astroparticellare, in particolare per lo studio dei neutrini e della materia oscura.
Ai Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso il progetto più ambizioso  è LUNA MV (Laboratory for Underground Nuclear Astrophysics-Mega Volts), un esperimento di astrofisica nucleare che è previsto partire entro un paio di anni, una infrastruttura di ricerca per lo studio della formazione dei nuclei sfruttando un acceleratore in grado di produrre reazioni nucleari a energie paragonabili a quelle che avvengono nelle stelle. Ai Laboratori di Frascati, entrerà in funzione nel 2018, al termine dell’esperimento KLOE (K-LOng Experiment), attualmente in corso all’acceleratore Dafne, SIDDHARTA, destinato a ricerche di fisica nucleare fondamentale. A Trento, il TIFPA è impegnato nell’applicazione e nella ricerca sull’adroterapia oncologica, non solo per la cura dei pazienti ma anche per lo studio di tecniche di ottimizzazione della terapia.

Eugenio Nappi | Interview with Eugenio Nappi, member of the Executive Board of INFN and its representative for research projects in experimental nuclear physics.

Interview with Eugenio Nappi, member of the Executive Board of INFN and its representative for research projects in experimental nuclear physics.

Experimental nuclear physics represents the link between the study of the primordial stages of the universe, carried out with the aid of large particle accelerators, and research into star, galaxy and galaxy cluster formation mechanisms, with experiments on nuclei stability and exotic nuclei production. At INFN, research activities in this field are carried out in the four national laboratories, at TIFPA (Trento Institute for Fundamental Physics Applications) and in several divisions, with important repercussions in various fields other than fundamental research, such as medical physics, physics for the cultural heritage, energy research and development of new materials and technologies for nuclear safety.

The INFN is engaged in several projects on experimental nuclear physics, ranging from fundamental physics to medical applications. How are the various activities coordinated in the Institute?
The coordination of experimental nuclear physics research activities in INFN is carried out by the third National Scientific Commission (CSN3)  which establishes the priorities and funding of individual projects. But the broad spectrum of research activities in this field doesn't end with CSN3.
Since 2006, following the signing of a collaboration agreement between INFN and Ansaldo Nucleare, the development of skills and instruments in the field of nuclear physics applications in the energy sector, with particular attention to safety issues, is coordinated by the INFN-E strategic project. Since 2012, INFN-E has an annual budget of 200.000 euros. Also to be listed are the many nuclear physics activities related to the fifth National Scientific Board (CSN5), dedicated to technological developments. Among these, a very important role is played by medical applications that, in the development of diagnostic systems and the related simulation and analysis software, are rooted in a tradition of excellence of INFN. With the appointment of Marco Durante, an internationally renowned expert in hadron-therapy, as Director of TIFPA, we wanted to give a strong impetus to activities in the field of particle beam therapy techniques.
Again within the scope of CSN5, the activities related to nuclear physics applied to the cultural heritage, environmental pollution monitoring and detector and accelerator development are of great importance.

How does the INFN's strategy fit into the European scenario?
Priorities in funding nuclear physics activities are established by CSN3 in complete harmony with the guidelines of NuPECC, the European Coordinating Committee, which recently completed the work of drafting the Long Range Plan, the European roadmap for nuclear physics, whose conclusions will be presented on 27 November in Brussels. In particular, INFN's nuclear physics projects, following international nomenclature, belong to two major research branches: nuclear structure and hadronic physics. In the first case, the aim is the study of the nucleus as a composite system, to investigate the characteristics of radioactive vs stable atoms, the evolution of the universe and the formation of stars. Internationally, major investments are in progress to implement research infrastructures that accelerate exotic radioactive nuclear beams. In this context, the project on which the Institute is focussing is SPES (Selective Production of Exotic Species) at the Legnaro National Laboratories. In parallel with fundamental research, SPES will allow new radiopharmaceuticals to be synthesised for medical diagnostics.
The second branch, hadronic physics, is closer to the objectives and experimental techniques of research in high energy physics, coordinated in the Institute by CSN1. Hadronic physics represents the link between elementary particle physics and nuclear structure physics. In other words, hadronic physics aims to study the mechanisms by which the fundamental constituents of nucleons, quarks and gluons contribute to defining the actual properties of the nucleus. The most wide-ranging international hadronic physics initiatives in which the Institute is participating are ALICE, at CERN, and the experiments in progress at the Jefferson lab in the US and, in perspective, those that will be implemented at the EIC-Electron Ion Collider currently being designed in the United States (at the Brookhaven National Laboratory or at Jlab).

What are the objectives of the strategic INFN-E project?
The activities of INFN-E focus in particular on the following two lines of action. The first concerns the dismantling of nuclear sites, management of radioactive material repositories, personnel protection at nuclear sites and security. The second deals with contacts with organisations dedicated to energy issues, such as Ansaldo Nucleare, ASG Superconductors, CAEN, Gilardoni and the Euratom-Ispra Joint Research Center. In these areas, INFN-E acts as both an incubator for the development of products to be offered to industries and other entities, as well as an initiative centre for forms of external financing.

What is the institute's involvement in experimental nuclear physics at the international level?
INFN contributes at the international level to all the most important initiatives in the field, with top level presence in the main European and global management committees. At the European level, Angela Bracco, from the University and INFN Milan Section, is in his second term as Chairman of NuPECC.
Nicola Bianchi from the Frascati National Laboratories is head of the EPS-NPB (European Physical Society – Nuclear Physics Board) since 1 January 2017. I myself have for three years been a member of the IUPAP C12 (International Union of Pure and Applied Physics – Nuclear Physics) and of the ICFA panel for the development of new detectors.
Paolo Giubellino, from the INFN Turin division, formerly spokesperson of ALICE, was appointed a few months ago as Scientific Director of FAIR in Darmstadt, Germany, a new research infrastructure, under construction, which from 2020 will become the most important German nuclear physics laboratory.  Since the beginning of the present year, another INFN researcher is spokesperson of the ALICE experiment at CERN. From September 2017, Raffaella De Vita, from the INFN Genoa Section, will take on the role of spokesperson of the CLAS12 experiment at Jlab (of which Patrizia Rossi, LNF, has been deputy director for about 5 years). Recently, an Italian researcher from the Frascati National Laboratories, Catalina Curceanu, received the EPS “Emma Noether Distinction” Prize for women who have proven to be excellent in nuclear physics research at the European level.

Which are the main future nuclear physics research initiatives in Italy?
At the Legnaro National Laboratories, the SPES project, starting in 2019, is currently being installed. At the Southern Laboratories, the NUMEN (NUclear Matrix Elements of Neutrinoless double beta decay) project has important implications in astroparticle physics, in particular for the study of neutrinos and dark matter.
At the Gran Sasso National Laboratories, the most ambitious project is LUNA MV (Laboratory for Underground Nuclear Astrophysics-Mega Volts), an experiment in nuclear astrophysics which is expected to start within a couple of years, consisting of a research infrastructure able to study the formation of nuclei using an accelerator capable of producing nuclear reactions at energies comparable to those that occur in the stars. In 2018 SIDDHARTA - intended for fundamental research in nuclear physics - will enter into operation at the Frascati Laboratories, at the end of the KLOE (K-LOng Experiment experiment), currently in progress at the Dafne accelerator. In Trento, the TIFPA is engaged in the application of and research on oncological hadron-therapy, not only for treating patients but also for the study of therapy optimisation techniques.

Antonio Zoccoli | Interview with Antonio Zoccoli, vice president of INFN and responsible for the Computing and Networks division of the INFN's executive committee.


Interview with Antonio Zoccoli, vice president of INFN and responsible for the Computing and Networks division of the INFN's executive committee.

To enable epoch-making achievements like the discovery of the Higgs Boson and that of gravitational waves, but also to study the properties of cosmic rays and neutrinos, basic physics research handles enormous volumes of data and uses complex computing systems. For instance, in view of the huge amount of information produced by each collision between particle beams in the LHC accelerator at CERN, physicists have designed and developed a special infrastructure for the selection, storage and analysis of data. This continually evolving global infrastructure is a complex and organised system that incorporates different computing resources regardless of their geographical location or capacity. A worldwide computing network, known as the GRID, that harnesses the computing power and memory capacity of tens of thousands of different computers. The result is a computing power equal to that of 100,000 computers.

What are the essential requirements that guide the INFN's scientific calculations?
At the INFN we started performing scientific calculations when we had to analyse data from experiments in which we were taking part, so really it is something we have been doing ever since our first experiments. Right from the start, we recognised the importance of not just analysing data, but also of developing computing resources capable of performing Montecarlo simulations, a fundamental resource in scientific research. However, although scientific calculation was recognised as an important part of research activities, it was considered a secondary aspect in the planning and implementation of experiments until 20 or 30 years ago. Most experiments were designed irrespective of their computing needs: only later and depending on the circumstances were the computing instruments improved and the necessary infrastructure provided. There has definitely been a change of approach in recent years owing to the huge volumes of data produced by the LHC: the computing grid is now regarded as a fundamental part of the experiments, on a par with the detectors and the various scientific instruments. What we have witnessed in recent years is a real paradigm shift. Today it would be unthinkable to design an experiment without first knowing how much data will have to be handled or defining the appropriate procedure and infrastructure to analyse them. We will have to tackle this challenge over the coming years, since the LHC upgrade and subsequent HI-LUMI LHC project are two new experiments which are expected to generate 10 times more data than the LHC has done up until now.

The LHC is undoubtedly a driving force of development in computing resources for high energy physics. What are the specific research needs in this field and which solutions have been adopted?
The LHC has marked the turning point for computing infrastructure. Before it was designed, experiments could only rely on their own, extremely localised computing resources. With the start of the LHC project, instead, two goals were pursued right from the start. First: to provide enough computing capacity to analyse an unprecedented volume of data. Second: to allow all scientists participating in the experiments, based anywhere in the world, to access data so that calculations could be performed by the respective institutions. This meant the infrastructure had to be accessible from anywhere. The solution was the GRID, a worldwide computing infrastructure that literally encompasses the entire Planet. The name GRID comes from the analogy with the electricity grid. When you plug an electrical appliance in you certainly never have to think about having to build a electricity power station. Likewise, the GRID allows users to obtain a computer processing resource without having to know where it comes from. A network of computing sites connected via high-speed optical fibres and an interface that offers access to all users is no longer an infrastructure made up of individual resources, but a system. This is an entirely novel approach and the GRID is the first and only one of its kind in the world.

How has the INFN contributed?
The technological challenge has been addressed at a global level and the INFN has made a substantial contribution that has gone hand in hand with its participation in the LHC experiments. The challenge consisted in the need to allow the high energy scientific community to access the available resources and transmit massive data volumes in a very short time. With the problems associated with sharing data on such a large scale, such as authentication and data protection.
In the end, we managed to develop the necessary hardware and software, with a significant contribution by the INFN in terms of manpower. The WLCG (Worldwide LHC Computing Grid) project is a collaboration of more than 170 computing centres in 42 countries. Its mission is to distribute and analyse the 50 Petabytes of data generated by the LHC in 2016 alone: a volume of data unparalleled in other disciplines and to which the term Big Data refers, not only for the huge volumes involved, but also to indicate their variability and the speed and flexibility with which they are transmitted and shared. The INFN has contributed with its researchers and specific skills to the implementation of the GRID and has been a key player in the process, concentrating most of its efforts between 2000 and 2010. In terms of scientific progress, this revolution produced its effects immediately. For the first time in the history of large experiments, scientific results can now be obtained just a few months after gathering data. The discovery of the Higgs Boson was the first tangible proof of this. As regards national resources, the process has led to the creation of a distributed computing grid in Italy in which the main centre, known as Tier1, is in Bologna and to which ten other Tier2 centres distributed nationwide are connected. This grid is part of the worldwide grid. It is connected to the Tier0 centre at CERN and to the other Tier1 and 2 centres around the world, in Europe, Asia, Japan, USA.

In addition to the LHC, the GRID supports experiments and collaborations in the field of data sharing and analysis. Which experiments benefit most?
At first the GRID was only used for analysing LHC data, the purpose for which it was originally developed. But then other experiments involving the analysis of large volumes of data, such as Belle II in Japan, and BES III in China, began to adopt the same approach. More and more experiments now rely on the GRID infrastructure, even in fields other than accelerator physics, such as large-scale international astroparticle physics research collaborations. In Italy, the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) is the main body involved in such projects, in which the INFN also participates. I refer for instance to projects currently being developed such as the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) or the Euclid satellite project. Then there is the Xenon experiment studying dark matter at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory of INFN. Given the significant increase in the volume of data to be analysed, researchers have asked to use the services of the LHC Tier1 and Tier2 sites. These experiments are rapidly expanding their scope and becoming increasingly international. Although they will continue to process less data than the LHC in the coming years, the GRID will still be an extremely valuable resource.

What are the prospects in Europe and worldwide?
We now face a double challenge. First, the infrastructure must move towards a new organisational model. The paradigm of GRID computing based on the connection of many CPUs via networks is no longer appropriate. Just to analyse the amounts of data generated by the next LHC upgrades we will need a larger infrastructure that uses Tier1 and Tier2 computing facilities, as well as machines with High Performance Computing capabilities. The infrastructure must be more general so that users within any branch of research can use it in the way most useful to them. If I need to perform data analysis that also involves the use of computing capacity, I must expand the opportunities offered by the infrastructure. Second, we will have to abandon the GRID approach and move towards CLOUD computing, a more flexible system in which resources can be used by users with different needs. Other experiments and research topics that are not necessarily relevant to the INFN must be able to access the infrastructure. The INAF, for instance, with which we are involved in ongoing experiments, but also the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and the Long Baseline Science sector that is currently particularly active in China.
For this process to be effective we must continue to develop the GRID for the future of the LHC. From the outset, we had to decide whether it is worth generalising the infrastructure to make it more flexible and integrated in a system, so that it is available to Italian research centres other than the INFN. We have the expertise needed to take this step and, with the support of the institutions, it would definitely be worthwhile in order to avoid the unnecessary dissipation of efforts and resources which would lead to fragmentation of the interests of the different scientific communities. This is exactly what happened before with the GRID, which was set up for us and is now a common asset.