Major European scientific organisations to take part in European Researchers’ Nights


Geneva, 18 September - CERN, ESA, ESO and UNESCO, in partnership with the Italian Institute of Astrophysics (INAF), invite the public to participate in “Origins 2013”, an exceptional event to take place simultaneously in Geneva, Paris and Bologna on European researchers’ night, Friday 27 September. People from around the world can follow the event live via a webcast.


What do particle physics, astrophysics and space research have in common? They all address fundamental questions that link to our origins: from the origin of matter to the origin of the Universe. In the past months, the Large Hadron Collider, with the discovery of a Higgs boson, and the Planck satellite, with the release of the most precise picture of the very early Universe, have achieved major scientific breakthroughs. In addition, the revolutionary ALMA telescope was recently inaugurated in Chile and will enable unprecedented views of the cosmos. “Origins 2013” will showcase these fascinating scientific endeavours with strong European leadership. This unique event highlights the link between the infinitely small of particle physics and the infinitely large of astrophysics. Researchers in the two fields will share their passion with the general public.

 The public at CERN in Geneva, UNESCO headquarters in Paris and in the city centre of Bologna will be taken on a journey back in time and space, to find out more about the origins of the Universe from a sudden expansion of space 13.8 billion years ago. In the three locations, visitors will be able to meet the researchers who took part in these scientific achievements through face-to-face “speed-dating” discussions.

 “With Origins 2013, we want to celebrate the thousands of researchers who, through their work at frontier scientific instruments such as the LHC and Planck, are contributing to deepen our understanding of the origin of the Universe providing a new picture of its early moments”, said Sergio Bertolucci, CERN’s Director for Research and Computing, who will open the CERN event on Friday with Mark McCaughrean, Head of ESA’s Research and Scientific Support Department, and, in a videoconference connection with Paris, with Gretchen Kalonji, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences and Fernando Doblas, Head of ESA’s Communications Department.

INAF is organising the event in Bologna, and many researchers from partner institutions, such as INFN in Italy and CNRS and CEA in France, will talk to the local and online audiences during the live webcast streamed simultaneously from Paris, Geneva and Bologna. Among the guest scientists on stage, there will be: François Englert, one of the theorists who predicted the existence of the Higgs particle, and François Bouchet, deputy principal investigator for Planck’s High Frequency Instrument, in Paris; Nobel Laureate Sam Ting with Fabiola Gianotti and Joe Incandela (the two physicists leading the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the moment of the Higgs discovery announcement) in Geneva and Giovanni Fabrizio Bignami, INAF’s President, Fernando Ferroni, INFN President and Marco Bersanelli, deputy principal investigator for Planck’s Low Frequency Instrument, in Bologna. Video conferences will link the three European cities to ESA’s Planck’s operations centre in Darmstadt, with Nazzareno Mandolesi, principal investigator of Planck’s Low Frequency Instrument, and to remote venues, such as ESO’s ALMA telescope site in the Atacama desert (Chile), the International Space Station, with ESA’s astronaut Luca Parmitano, and the LHC tunnel, 100 metres underground.


Participation in the speed-dating and live webcast at CERN is by reservation only, via the">ORIGINS website.


Note: Origins 2013 is a project designed by CERN and realized in partnership with INAF with the collaboration of ESO, ESA and UNESCO and receiving funding from the European Commission through the Marie Curie Researchers’ Night initiative.


Links :


Participating Institutes links




Paris:         Annapaola Coppola, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Geneva:    Arnaud Marsollier, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bologna:   Luca Valenziano, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Hi-tech electronic ears are detecting signals that indicate the transit of sperm whales in the open sea, to the South East of Sicily. Scientists will soon be able to protect these extraordinary cetaceans from the risks associated with man's activities at sea, by calculating the probability of collision with ships and noise pollution levels. To “spy” on them, they are using the biggest and deepest cabled undersea listening station in the Mediterranean: a tower fitted with 14 acoustic sensors installed last May by the Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics at a depth of 3,500 metres in the south Ionian Sea 80 km southeast of Capo Passero in Sicily. A scientific facility that will make it possible to track the sperm whales in real-time and signal their presence to any ships that threaten to cross their path or generate dangerous levels of noise pollution. The acoustic sensors are “housed” in a 450 meter high tower on the sea floor, the first in a large series of towers which, as part of the Km3Net international project, in which the INFN has a central role, will detect the tiny neutrino particles coming from the Universe. Neutrinos produced by cosmic disasters huge distances away, which reach us after passing right through the Earth. The towers will have tens of thousands of optical sensors (photomultipliers), electronic “eyes” forming an underwater antenna capable of measuring the flash of light (“Cherenkov radiation”) generated as the neutrinos interact with sea-water. The acoustic sensors which listen to the “voices” of these giant cetaceans, saving recording them for five minutes every hour, are already up and running, as part of the SMO (Submarine Multidisciplinary Observatory) under the “Futuro in Ricerca” project funded by the MIUR (Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research) involving the INFN, the INGV (Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology), the Rome Sapienza and Rome 3 Universities and the Universities of Pavia, Messina and Catania. “As soon as they became operational, between March 23 and 27, they immediately detected the signals emitted by the first sperm whales”, said Giorgio Riccobene from the INFN’s Southern national laboratory (Catania). “Thanks to the new software we were also able to establish the size of the two animals, which are about 12 metres long. They could be females or young males. We had already conducted a listening project in 2005-2006, using another INFN station, a prototype of the current Km3Net, but were not able to determine the size of the sperm whales in real time. The new software has enabled us to make huge progress”. “Next we will conduct a statistical analysis of sea noise, which is a serious problem for cetaceans”, explained Gianno Pavan, marine biologist at the University of Pavia. “Sperm whales communicate over hundreds of kilometres but with noise pollution this distance is reduced to just a few kilometres, which has repercussions on reproduction, migration and beaching”.

OPERA observed a third neutrino tau

The OPERA international experiment at the INFN Gran Sasso Laboratory (Italy) has observed a third neutrino tau candidate from “flavour” oscillation. The “muon-type” neutrino produced at CERN in Geneva arrived at the Gran Sasso laboratory as a “tau” neutrino. An extremely rare event observed only twice before, in 2010 and in 2012. The OPERA international experiment (involving 140 physicists from 28 research institutes in 11 countries) was set up for the specific purpose of discovering this exceptionally rare event. Its observation confirms something scientists have been studying for more than 40 years: the fact that far fewer neutrinos seem to arrive from the Sun and the Earth atmosphere than expected. These “missing neutrinos” are indeed those that have oscillated into a different flavour.
The OPERA experiment was set up in 2001 for this specific purpose. A beam of neutrinos produced at CERN in Geneva travels towards the underground laboratory at the INFN Gran Sasso facility. Thanks to their extremely rare interactions with matter, after travelling through the earth for some 730 km the neutrinos arrive unperturbed at the giant OPERA detector (more than 4,000 tonnes, a volume of approx. 2,000 m3 and nine million photographic plates) where the minute quantity of particles that are caught are observed. In nature there are three kinds of neutrinos, termed “flavours”: electron, muon and tau. OPERA looks for the tau neutrinos knowing that all those leaving CERN are muon neutrinos. When neutrinos of another “flavour” are detected this is proof that oscillation occurs during the 730 km journey. After the first neutrinos arrived at the Gran Sasso laboratory in 2006, the experiment gathered data for five consecutive years, from 2008 to 2012. The first tau neutrino was observed in 2010, the second in 2012.
According to the head of the international research team, Giovanni De Lellis, from the Federico II University and INFN in Naples, the arrival of the third tau neutrino candidate “is an important confirmation of the two previous observations. This event has certain characteristics that make it entirely different from other processes. Statistically speaking too, the observation of three tau neutrino candidates provides the evidence of oscillations in the muon to tau neutrino channel in appearance mode. The data analysis will be pursued for two more years searching for other tau neutrinos that could definitely prove this very rare phenomenon.

Nuclear Physics Conference in Florence

Some 800 scientists from 50 countries will meet for the 25th International Nuclear Physics Conference. The event is organised by the Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics and the Universities of Florence, Padua and Milan The 25th International Nuclear Physics Conference - INPC2013 - will take place in Florence (Italy) from 3-7 June. The event is organised by the Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics and the Universities of Florence, Padua and Milan, under the chief patronage of the President of the Italian Republic and endorsed by the Regional Council of Tuscany and Florence City Council. Some 800 scientists from about 50 countries are expected to attend. The triennial conference, sponsored by the nuclear physics section of the IUPAP (International Union of Pure and Applied Physics) is hosted by cities around the world where nuclear physics research is carried out. Talks will address the heavy-ion collisions achieved at CERN (to study the primordial universe in the immediate aftermath of the Big Bang), but above all they will highlight research being conducted at other accelerator facilities around the world: scientists here study the internal structure of atomic nuclei under "exotic" conditions (very unlike those normally present in our day-to-day world, but similar to those of stars) and of the actual nucleons, the building bricks of atomic nuclei. Other topics will include theoretical and technological research and applications in the fields of medicine, cultural heritage and the environment. The latter will be the subject of the opening conference, a public lecture on applications of techniques developed in nuclear physics laboratories in the fields of cultural heritage and environmental monitoring. The lecture will be held on 2 June at 7:00 pm in the Sala Verde at the Palazzo dei Congressi.

Italian Minister Profumo attends the inauguration of the INFN’s National Centre in Trento

Based in Povo, it will exploit the equipment and skills of existing research units in Trento. Some seventy researchers are directly involved in work at the new centre. Projects will address space research, supercomputing, biomedicine and photonics. The INFN, University, Kessler Foundation and ATreP have signed a declaration of intent to develop new activities at the centre.


Trento, 15 January 2013 – The Trento Institute for Fundamental Physics and Applications (TIFPA), the INFN’s new centre dedicated to particle physics and the development of cutting-edge technologies in sensoristics, space research, supercomputing and biomedicine, was inaugurated today in the Aula Magna at the Ferrari centre for science and technology of Trento University. The TIFPA stems from the collaboration between the Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN), the University of Trento, the Bruno Kessler Foundation (FBK) and the Trento Provincial Agency for Proton Therapy (ATreP).

The new centre will deal with research in fundamental physics as well as innovation and technology transfer, exploiting the existing infrastructures, skills and human resources of the project’s partners in Trento and expanding specific areas of action. It will, for instance, be able to count on the infrastructures of the Centre for Materials and Microsystems and of the European Centre for Theoretical Physics of the Bruno Kessler Foundation, and use the new proton therapy machine that will become operational by the end of 2013.

Speakers at the inauguration ceremony included representatives from the research organisations involved: Davide Bassi, Rector of the University of Trento, Fernando Ferroni, President of the INFN, Andrea Simoni, Secretary General of the Bruno Kessler Foundation, and Renzo Leonardi, Director of the Provincial Agency for Proton Therapy. Alberto Pacher, President of the Autonomous Province of Trento, and Lorenzo Pavesi, Dean of the Department of Physics at the University of Trento where the centre is based, also attended.

Francesco Profumo, Italy’s Minister for Education, Research and University, spoke at the end of the ceremony, immediately after the INFN, University of Trento, Kessler Foundation and Trento Provincial Agency for Proton Therapy had signed a specific declaration of intent. His presence at the event underlined the strategic importance of the initiative, both for the potential for scientific progress and in terms of building synergies among the various institutions. The declaration officially paves the way for further and closer institutional collaborations to be implemented at the new centre.

This is yet another example of how the Trentino district has become an ideal laboratory for new scientific initiatives, also thanks to the experience gained in transferring technology to the business and service sectors.

“At such a difficult time for this country, the TIFPA stands out as a centre of scientific excellence and innovation”, said Fernando Ferroni, President of the INFN. “The centre will harness the research capacities and international connections of the INFN to undertake cutting-edge research. It will also foster the transfer of knowledge to society and be capable of attracting European funding. It is hoped that the TIFPA will prompt further initiatives in Italy, so that other skilled players can create synergies and work as a system with Italy’s leading scientific and industrial organisations”.

“It is a real pleasure for me to be taking part in the establishment of the INFN’s centre in Trento, shortly before my term as Rector comes to an end”, commented Davide Bassi, Rector of the University of Trento. This centre is the result of much hard work, which began more than twenty years ago and has, to date, produced several major research projects. Our University, particularly the Physics Department, will benefit from the consolidation of the INFN’s presence in Trento, which could open up some interesting opportunities, especially for young researchers here. I am pleased we have managed to define a broad-ranging project that also involves other non-university-based research teams in the Trentino district".

As Andrea Simoni, Secretary General of the Bruno Kessler Foundation pointed out, “The TIFPA is the natural consequence of an important, high-level collaboration between the INFN and the FBK that originated in the 1990s with the development of micro-strip detectors for major experiments at CERN (AMS and ALICE). The detectors were designed by the INFN and produced by the FBK. The INFN and the FBK have strengthened their relations ever since, working together on projects and strategies involving electromechanical microsystems (MEMS) and supercomputing technology (HPC)”.

“For many years, Trento and its scientific institutions have been hoping to formalise the collaboration with the INFN in an integrated and systematic manner. The TIFPA is the right answer to their hopes”, added Renzo Leonardi, Director of the Provincial Agency for Proton Therapy. “The apparatus installed at the proton therapy centre, with their isocentric chambers, will primarily be used to treat numerous radiosensitive tumours. However, the centre will also have an experimental horizontal line. The experimental proton beam provides numerous opportunities for research activities. The TIFPA will certainly foster the development of effective, high-level collaborations at both national and international level. These will be implemented within the framework of specific agreements and be in line with the centre’s planned research in the medical and biomedical sector”.

“The TIFPA is an example of strength in numbers. By harnessing the INFN’s expertise in fundamental research and its rich network of international contacts, and the exceptional technical and scientific skills of researchers in the Trentino district, which are the result of decades of investments in the sector, we will become more competitive at international level in terms of frontier research and applications of economic and social interest. This will allow us to attract the best researchers in the sector, from Italy and abroad”, remarked Roberto Battiston, President of the INFN’s Astroparticle Physics Committee, who moved to the University of Trento last November.