Glashow humiliates Carlucci on Maiani’s appointment February 22, 2008Posted by dorigo in Blogroll, humor, italian blogs, news, physics, politics, science.
Yesterday I wrote about on. Gabriella Carlucci, an ex-showgirl and now a politician for Forza Italia, Silvio Berlusconi’s party-company, and mentioned her failed occasion of shutting up when she insulted Luciano Maiani’s career in the Senate commission where the latter’s appointment was being discussed.
I have to thank Andrea Giammanco who pointed me to the blog of Pietro Folena (in italian), where the whole text of the infamous allegations by on.Carlucci is reported, along with an answer by none less than Nobel laureate Sheldon Glashow, who sent a indignant letter to italian premier Romano Prodi, expressing his disgust for the allegations of incompetence moved to a stellar scientist (his adjective) such as Maiani.
In the interest of disclosing just how far these dwarfs and dancers of the italian right will go to please their master, I paste below a translation of Carlucci’s statement, followed by the original text of Sheldon Glashow’s letter.
“Maiani in 1969 had the luck to work for a semester in Harvard with Sheldon Glashow (Nobel laureate in Physics in 1979), with whom he published his only work of interest. A work which he signed but which he clearly did not understand since in 1974 he disowned it by publishing another work (nota bene: together with Cabibbo, Parisi and Petronzio) where they confused elementary particles of different physical properties. Later, Glashow even opposed the appointment to CERN of Maiani since he had manifestly not understood a theory which he authored.”
Glashow’s response to italian premier Prodi:
February 14, 2008
Sr. Romano Prodi
I have been shown the contents of a slanderous letter written to you by Sra. Gabriella Carlucci, MP and dated
February 7, 2008. This letter was published in Puglia-Live and has been widely disseminated. It falsely claims
that I have questioned the scientific competence of Prof. Luciano Maiani, the recently elected President of the
CNR, and had opposed his appointment at CERN. These utterly invidious and untrue allegations were part of a more general attempt to belittle the scientific standing of Prof. Maiani. The letter denigrates his scientific
accomplishments over the years and those of his colleagues, Profs. Cabibbo, Parisi and Petronzio, whose work was claimed to have caused serious damage to the image of Italian physics worldwide. Not so!
The remarks that Sra. Carlucci attributes to me are wholly untrue and malicious. Prof. Maiani played a key role in our collaboration decades ago, for which he was duly recognized internationally by the awards of the highly
regarded Dirac Medal and Sakurai Prize. Maiani’s many research publications have been cited well over 8000
times (not including the 3600 citations to our joint work). I have never written, suggested or thought anything
remotely disparaging about the skill and accomplishments of this stellar Italian scientist.
The more general arguments in Sra. Carlucci’s letter are equally false, slanderous and malicious. I, and my
colleagues worldwide, have the highest regard for the many outstanding contributions of Italian theorists to
particle physics, among whom Profs. Cabibbo, Petronzio and Parisi (as well as Maiani) are leading luminaries
and indeed may be regarded as ‘heirs to Fermi.’ No event associated with their distinguished scientific careers
has ever caused the slightest damage to the image of Italian physics. In the eyes of a foreign scholar, if there is anything that can damage the image of your country’s scientific institutions, it is the vulgarity and deception of this slanderous attempt at denigration of some of your nation’s most distinguished scientists.
Sheldon L. Glashow
Foreign Member, Accademia dei Lincei
Well said prof. Glashow. Now, it is not over, since Gabriella Carlucci read the letter (or, more probably, had somebody translate it to her), and answered in the comments section of Folena’s blog. Here is the translation of her retort:
Dear Prof. Glashow,
You wrote to the President Prodi brutally insulting me, yet without getting to the substance of things.
I inform you that the contents of the letter that caused your anger come from news published on italian newspapers, on Nature and “Lettere al Nuovo Cimento” [an italian scientific publication of secondary importance, ndt]. News that were never disproven. I write to you only now to ask you one simple question:
If Maiani and his friends are, as you say, stellar luminaries highly esteemed throughout the world, why did they never win a Nobel prize ? Yet, italian Particle Physics (and in particular that in Rome) is in percentage and absolute value among the best financed in the world.
I hope you will answer without insulting me. And do not tell lies: I could surprise you.
I rejoiced when I read Glashow’s letter, but I am more grateful to ms. Carlucci since I could not stop crying in laughter as I read her response. Dwarfs and dancers. These are the lackeys of Berlusconi, with which Italy has to deal today. They doggedly attack ad hominem, without any regard for the truth. This time the prize was even a relatively small one – putting one of their accolites instead of Maiani at the presidency of CNR (see here for the references of the one they had placed there during Berlusconi’s government), a prestigious research institute. Imagine what they do when there is a larger booty to collect.
UPDATE: Glashow answered to Carlucci directly. Here is his answer (from Puglia Live):
Dear Sra Carlucci,Despite your earlier comments and whatever your sources may be, the fact is that I have never questioned Prof. Maiani’s stature as a superb and accomplished researcher. I am outraged that you have tarnished my own reputation by such a false and invidious allegation. It is true that several Italian theorists (including Maiani) are deserving of Nobel Prizes, but there are far more such candidates than Prizes. Recall that world-renowned physics luminaries such as Edward Witten, Stephen Hawking, Yoichiro Nambu, among many others, are not Nobel Laurestes.
Whether (or not) Italian physicists have won Nobel Prizes, and whether (or not) they are well funded, they have made exceptional contributions to physics, at least as many as any other European nation.
Italy should be very proud of its many scientific heroes, and not malign them.Sincerely
Sheldon Lee Glashow
A bit too soft for my taste, but I understand Prof.Glashow’s wish to close the issue – how rewarding can it be to argue with a showgirl ? In any case, Carlucci’s words were of course put in her mouth by Antonino Zichichi -still aching for his failed discovery of the J/psi with ADONE 34 years ago- as this letter (written by Enzo Boschi, an aide of Zichichi) proves.
UPDATE: Iliopoulos also answers (here), in a more neutral way. I am grateful for his historical recollection of the events discussed in the exchange between Glashow and whomever is behind Carlucci’s pen. I paste the text below for those too lazy to click on a link.
Dear Claudio [Coriano’, a physicist who commented on Carlucci’s misbehavior in the Puglia-Live site -T.],
I read the article and I can comment on several points: A. Our common paper with Glashow and Maiani. The story starts during the late sixties. Since the old times, people knew that the Fermi theory of weak interactions was non-renormalisable. However, most people did not worry much about it because they thought that the problem would be solved only when the problem of strong interactions is solved. By the late sixties very few people had realised that this hope was unjustified. I will name all of them.1) Tini Veltman had started working on the Yang-Mills field theory. He was alone in this, until he was joined by his student Gerhard ‘t Hooft. The only other person who was studying Yang-Mills field theory was Ben Lee.
2) A few other people looked at the divergence structure of weak interactions without Yang-Mills. They were: (i) Joffe ans Shabalin in the Soviet Union. They were the first to point out that strong interactions could not possibly help, but they did not do anything positive. (ii) In Italy two groups had different approches: Gatto Sartori and Tonin with a cancelation mechanism which required different structures for vector and axial currents, and Cabibbo and Maiani who tried to obtain a cancelation between weak and electromagnetic divergences. (iii) At CERN T.D. Lee, who was visiting for the year, proposed, with G.C. Wick, to use negative metric fields which would give massive unstable particles. They argued that, if the life-time is sufficiently short, the violation of unitarity would be unobservable. Although, to my knowledge, no-body proved rigorously that they were wrong, nothing ever came out of it.
Independently, C. Bouchiat, J. Prentki and myself, looked at the symmetry properties and showed that the dangerous leading divergences cancel if chiral symmetry is broken by quark mass terms. Later we were joined by Glashow who also visited CERN. (iv) In the USA Gell-Mann, Goldberger, Kroll and Low had a model with vector and scalar intermediate bosons and degenerate couplings again to cancel the dangerous leading divergences.
And that is all!!
This means that Luciano was one of the very few people who was in the problem right at the beginning at least two years before visiting Harvard and meeting Glashow. In fact at the end of 1968 Glashow, Maiani and myself decided to go the following year to Harvard precisely in order to work on this problem.
B. The 1974 paper by Cabibbo, Maiani et al. This paper came out immediately after the discovery of the very narrow J/Psi resonances. At that time the asymptotic freedom mechanism which ensures very narrow widths for this hadronic charm-anticharm resonances was not as obvious as it looks to-day. In fact, it was first guessed by Appelquist and Politzer, before the experimental discovery, and they did not publish it because they thought it was obviously wrong! To my knowledge, the first person who really believed it was ‘t Hooft. In their paper Cabibbo et al tried alternative explanations, such as extra Z’s and even Higgs particles. You can blame them for not having fully grasped the power of asymptotic freedom, but they were in very good company. Anyway, this had nothing to do with understanding charm.
Obviously, you can use and quote any part of this message.