History, it is known, is made by men and facts. The facts are very simple: the National Institute of Nuclear Physics was founded
in Rome on the 8th
of August 1951. The purpose was to coordinate the scientific activities of the study center for Nuclear Physics of Rome, the study centre of the fast ions of Padova and the experimental and theoretical centre of Nuclear Physics of Torino. The following year, a governing decree stated that the INFN was made up of divisions and therefore to the existing three was added the department of Milano and the Laboratory of Cosmic Rays of Breuil (Cervinia).
An event of such importance, able to give a new and innovating imprint to the physics research from after the war to today, does not happen by chance but as a consequence of a relevant cultural environment which acts as a substrate for the development of new ideas.
In November 1948, Gleb Wataghin
returned to Torino from Brasil, after having founded a school of physics of international standard. Together with Romolo Deaglio and Mario Verde they formed a team of high international level. These events obviously needed a political coverage which was given by another great inhabitant of Torino, Professor Gustavo Colonnetti
, a professor of Science of Construction at the Politecnico and president of the CNR. Thanks to him, the Italian participation at the CERN, strongly wanted by Edoardo Amaldi but largely opposed by the politicians, became a reality.
Gleb Wataghin (Torino), Gilberto Bernardini (Rome), Antonio Rostagni (Padova), Pietro Caldirola (Milano) and Edoardo Amaldi (Rome), finally managed to fulfill Enrico Fermi's
dream: already in the heroic years of Via Panisperna, he had understood that to carry on the studies of nuclear physics at an international competitive level, the funds available in each single university were not sufficient and therefore a national board that could coordinate the construction of a large accelerator was necessary. The formal demand asked by Fermi to Mussolini in 1937 was rejected. The ill-famed racial laws were soon approved, therefore Enrico Fermi and Bruno Rossi had to flee to the USA and then came the war.
After the war, the country begins its moral and physical reconstruction and so does physics research, which like the entire country had come out of the war in pieces. During these years, FIAT was interested in basic research and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The CEO of the company, Vittorio Valletta, with knuckle-duster tried to diversify the interests new and promising fields. The FIAT and CNR took part in the construction of the Testa Grigia Laboratory for the study of cosmic rays, in Cervinia. The opening occurred on the 11th
January 1948 in the presence of various authorities and helped finance trips to the USA for several researchers. The aim was to find an accelerator typology feasible in Italy.
The laboratory was built in the highest place in Italy which was supposed to be accessible all year round with a cableway. In practice one could be isolated for entire weeks and the lucky ones where the technicians or researchers who could skii!! The construction was promoted by the Centro Romano, directed by Gilberto Bernardini (who later became the first director of the INFN), Claudio Longo (architect), Ettore Pancini, with the collaboration of Marcello Conversi and Edoardo Amaldi. The laboratory became the meeting point of various physicists of different universities and this created a very strong, personal, scientific and trustworthy bond between them all, which then consented the birth of the INFN.
The Turin team, made by Gleb Wataghin, Carola Maria Garelli, Marcello Cini and others, developed research on penetrating showers with techniques of Geiger Muller counters in coincidence. This research continued until the 1960's and some elderly technicians or professors still remember the motion of lead bricks that weighed 13kg each. The laboratory
was visited by the participating members of the 1st
International Congress of Cosmic Physics, which was held in Como in 1949, among them Enrico Fermi
and Bruno Pontecorvo.
Thanks to his bursting enthusiasm, Wataghin was able to convince Vittorio Valletta to enter the FIAT in a joint association with the CNR and University for the construction of the 100 MeV Synchrotron of Turin
. It was the years 1951-1959, the INFN had just been founded and was very busy in the construction of the electrosynthroton of Frascati (1000MeV) and participated only marginally to the construction, contributing to the purchase of the rephasing capacitors that allowed to increase the energy of the electrons from 60 to 100 MeV. Only with the following functioning and experimenting working phase of the machine, did the institute fully participate with its technicians and instrumentation. The FIAT took part in the project and construction of the premises in the yard of the department and its infrastructure. The work was carried out rapidly because the FIAT was a powerful industry and made all the contracting companies to work well and quickly. The machine
was designed for the Brown-Boveri by Rolf Wideroe
, an Engineer of Norwegian origin who invented the Linear Accelerator in 1927, teacher of Bruno Touschek and universally recognized as the genius and magician of accelerators. He was helped by H. Nabholz (Swiss) and L.Gonella (Torino). Unfortunately they were behind schedule with the construction because the machine, which was very original and innovative, took longer than expected to develop. In 1956 the Brown-Boveri accepted the request by the Turin Physicists to install a Betatron (31MeV), which was produced by a company for medical reasons. The Betatron was installed in the premises equipped in the meantime for the syncrothron. A large part of the experiment on the gigantic nuclear resonance was carried out with the betatron.The synchrotron
finally arrived in 1959 with great joy and relief.
From 1951 to 1980
The historical period from the origins of the INFN to 1980 is described in The history of the Physics Institute
by Vittorio de Alfaro. The part concerning the INFN is complete and accurate and it is very difficult to find anything better!
The Division of Turin today
Alessandria Connected Team, founded in the year 2000 close by the University of Piemonte Orientale Amedeo Avogadro is attached to the Department of Turin and is made up of Experimental and Theoretical Physicists under the direction of Prof. Alberto Lerda. Like the other Connected Teams of the INFN, the Alessandria group has its own local self-governing system but is administered by the department of Turin. They carry out their institutional tasks using their staff and attached scientists.
There are approximately 90 staff members in the Departement, of which 1/3 are researchers. The partners are approximately 220 of which 62 are research responsibles, university research and teaching staff that carry out research activities mainly in the department. They are equalized to the staff and therefore can have managerial responsibilities in the departments. The remaining attached personnel is very variegated and soars from graduating, PHD and post-doc students to technical and technological staff. The research activities take place in the Institute of Physics in Via P.Giuria 1 and in the Technological Laboratory in Via Sette Comuni 56. In the Technological Laboratory there are machine tools for the construction of Detectors and assembly and test areas for the detectors. The division built important parts of the experimental apparatus installed in different laboratories around the world for example: CERN in Geneva, SLAC in San Fransisco, Laboratori di Frascati of the INFN, JINR in Russia, AUGER in Argentina and the laboratories of Yangbajing in Tibet. The theoretical and data analysis activities take place in the local structures. The entire list of all the current scientific activities of the division would take too long to mention and would also be a little boring and therefore I will just mention a few that have or have had a large impact on the technical structures of the division. More details can be found in dedicated sections experimental research
e theoretical research
The researchers of Turin are giving a very large contribution to the experiments on the Large Hadron Collider(LHC), in construction at CERN (Geneva), by participating to the construction of three detectors for CMS and three detectors for ALICE.They also participate to experiments which study the spin structure of the nucleon and the CP violation, responsible for the matter-antimatter asymmetry of our world. Astroparticle Physics (Auger) and Undergroung Physics (LVD) are also subjects of research, as well as Nuclear Physics both at very high energy (experiments at the CERN SPC (S?)) and at low energy (Hypernuclear Physics).
Finally one must not forget the technological research, which is a very important resource for our society, for example: Research in Medical Physics or the application of Parallel Computing technologies (GRID), which are developed by the department for the LHC experiment and the early diagnosis for breast cancer. The Theoretical Physics in Turin has always been of very high quality and perfectly enclosed in a world wide view. Turin has been and is an attraction for theoretical physicists of very high level from all over the world: Gleb Wataghin, Mario Verde, Tullio Regge, Sergio Fubini, Vittorio de Alfaro are just a few names. At the moment the Turin theoretical physicists are interested in Spin, Astroparticle, Nuclear and LHC Physics and String Theories. Computational biology and the study of Turbulent Systems recently became part of the ongoing activities. More details of all the experiments and theoretical activities may be found at the pages of scientific activities
of the department. della Sezione.
The future is at our door and debates are beginning in view of the participation to the future experiments at the Linear Collider, where and when it will be built, and to the experiments with antiprotons at the GSI of Darmstadt, as well as the upgrade of the LHC experiments.