Carlo Rubbia

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Carlo Rubbia Knight Grand Cross OMRI(born on 31 March 1934 in Gorizia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia) is an Italian particle physicist and inventor who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1984 with Simon van der Meer for work leading to the discovery of the W and Z particles at CERN.



Carlo Rubbia studied at Scuola Normale in Pisa and graduated doing cosmic ray experiments at Pisa University in 1959. He then went to the United States where he spent about one and a half years at Columbia University performing experiments on the decay and the nuclear capture of muons. This was the first of a long series of experiments that Rubbia has performed in the field of weak interactions and which culminated in the Nobel Prize-winning work at CERN.

In 1960 he moved back to Europe, attracted by the newly founded CERN, where he worked on experiments on the structure of weak interactions. CERN had just commissioned a new type of accelerator, the Intersecting Storage Rings, using counter-rotating beams of protons colliding against each other. Rubbia and his collaborators conducted experiments there, again studying the weak force. The main results in this field were the observation of the structure in the elastic scattering process and the first observation of the charmed baryons. These experiments were crucial in order to perfect the techniques needed later for the discovery of more exotic particles in a different type of particle collider.

Experimental Physics Career

In 1976, he suggested adapting CERN's Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS) to collide protons and antiprotons in the same ring and the world's first antiproton factory was built. The collider started running in 1981 and, in early 1983, an international team of more than 100 physicists headed by Rubbia and known as the UA1 Collaboration, detected the intermediate vector bosons, the W and Z bosons, which had become a cornerstone of modern theories of elementary particle physics long before this direct observation. They are believed to carry the weak force that causes radioactive decay in the atomic nucleus and controls the combustion of the Sun, just as photons, massless particles of light, carry the electromagnetic force which causes most physical and biochemical reactions. It is also believed that the weak force has played a fundamental role in the nucleosynthesis of the elements, as studied in cosmology and the big bang. These particles have a mass almost 100 times greater than the proton. In 1984 Carlo Rubbia and Simon van der Meer were awarded the Nobel Prize "for their decisive contributions to the large project, which led to the discovery of the field particles W and Z, communicators of weak interaction"

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