Archive for February, 2008

Very Little Gravitas Indeed

Posted in G 1 with tags , , , , , on February 8, 2008 by Roberto Gravitazero

Lack of gravitas, as it is meant in this blog, has a positive meaning. The ability to keep a detached view of reality, an ironic and skeptical attitude, playfulness rather than anger.

But, there are situations in which a bit of dignity would not be misplaced. Well, sometimes.


This gentleman is called Luciano Maiani , and had been CERN director from 1999 to 2003.

Before that he had been president of INFN (the italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics). In 1970 he predicted the existence of the charm quark in a paper with Glashow and Iliopoulos. The particle was later discovered at SLAC and Brookhaven in 1974 and led to a Nobel for the discoverers.

Recently, he was appointed director of CNR, the italian National Research Council. However his nomination, initially unchallenged, was disputed before being formalized by some right-wing politicians. The reason, explicitly voiced, was that he had signed a letter to the rector of Rome University criticizing his invitation of the Pope Benedict XVI to give a Lectio Magistralis at the University.

However, other reasons for disapproval were given. In particular, Gabriella Carlucci, a former TV starlet and now a member of the Parliament, maintained in a debate at the Chamber of Deputies that among other things Maiani had not published any scientific paper since 1994.

As a proof, she mentioned her personal research on Google Scholar.

Well, it is rather a pity for her, but Google Scholar tallies more than 50 papers under his name after 1994. The last one I’ve found is a preprint from January 2008. Co-authored by a Nobel prize.

Gabriella Carlucci belongs to Forza Italia, Berlusconi’s party. Yes, these are the same guys that have put in place the previous director of CNR, Pistella, apparently less than 10 papers published on international journals in his whole curriculum, all of them before 1980. And yes, these are the same guys who laid off Rubbia as director of ENEA following the indications of a fake engineer, former senator for the Lega Nord

And these are the sames that, in all likelihood, will be governing again Italy after the next elections in April.

Very little gravitas indeed. As usual in Italy, the situation is desperate but not serious.

Fortunately, I work in Switzerland and live in France.



Posted in G 0 with tags , on February 7, 2008 by Roberto Gravitazero

If you’re wondering about the blog name, have a look here.

That will be all for today.