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Glashow humiliates Carlucci on Maiani’s appointment February 22, 2008

Posted by dorigo in Blogroll, humor, italian blogs, news, physics, politics, science.
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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.

Carlucci’s statement:

“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
Prime Minister
Dear Sir:
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.

Sincerely,
Sheldon L. Glashow
Nobel Laureate
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.

Regards,

Gabriella Carlucci.

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.

Best regards
John

Comments

1. DB - February 22, 2008

Pope Benedict must be getting quite a kick out of the fuss he started. It’s a mistake for scientists to allow themselves to be manoeuvered into becoming political footballs.
When science allows itself to become politicised, it suffers because politics is about mass appeal, and the masses don’t understand science. In fact many fear it.

2. Guess Who - February 22, 2008

I don’t care what you say: Carlucci’s homepage

http://www.myspace.com/gabriellacarlucci

is much cooler than Maiani’s

http://www.roma1.infn.it/people/maiani/
😀

3. anonymous - February 22, 2008

I think it is best to cite Charly Munger here: “Never wrestle with a pig, for if you do, you will both get dirty, but the pig will enjoy it.”

4. Jo - February 22, 2008

That’s one of the coolest (and most fitting) quotes i read in a long time! LOL!

5. chris - February 22, 2008

wow

i am too embarrassed reading the reply reply for more than 3 lines. this is always the true miracle for me: someone of whom you think that her only option is covering the face in shame and be quiet actually goes on spitting poison at full thrust.

really scary

6. dorigo - February 22, 2008

DB, I agree. It is a sad fact, though, that scientists have to care about politics, when they are not the ones who choose their leaders, or when funding for their research is endangered by politicians.

GW, I might add that she is more decorative, but I would be accused of machism. In the case of Carlucci, though, it is the only other positive comment I am capable of pulling out.

Great quote, anon.

Chris, we have to drink it down to the filth. Only thus will we realize that we have been doing too little to counter these clowns.

Cheers,
T.

7. Andrea Giammanco - February 22, 2008

By the way, you should also link the letter by Boschi against Maiani that I sent you by mail this morning, which makes clear who is the evil physicist behind On.Carlucci.
(Not Boschi, but…….. I leave to you the honour to disclose the mystery;))

8. Amara - February 22, 2008

is in percentage and absolute value among the best financed in the world.

Incredible. Has Sra. Carlucci looked at budgets and salaries of these Italian scientists? Those rare few who are living inside of the country, that is. You know as well as I do Tommaso, that financial support for Italian science is near the bottom compared to all other western countries, and the cultural support for science is similar.

9. dorigo - February 22, 2008

Amara,

there is no limit to the pile of lies these people can put together. They learned the lesson well from their puppeteer: what matter is to repeat lies and conquer the media to say them more often and to a wider audience. Then lies will be accepted by everybody.

10. Thomas Larsson - February 22, 2008

You really have some interesting lady politicians in Italy. From my youth I remember Cicciolina, and wasn’t la Mussolini a Playboy centerfold, posing with a picture of granddad?

11. Randall - February 22, 2008

I have really no words. So for Mrs. Carlucci if you do not win a Nobel prize you are nothing more than a rascal in scientific community.

Well, it means that I am a rascal too, because it is undoubt that I have not won the Nobel prize yet😀

Quousque tandem abutere, Carlucci, patientia nostra?😀

Randall

12. dorigo - February 22, 2008

Thomas, the post where I am accused of sexism still gets tens of hits a day after six months. I prefer to avoid adding more evidence here, so allowing me to not comment…

Randall, we are a merry club. “The failed scientists”, according to Carlucci. One should ask her why on Earth the person that puts words in her mouth does not have a Nobel prize himself… Antonino Zichichi. Not the clearest expression of italian excellence.

Cheers,
T.

13. Randall - February 22, 2008

About Zichichi I was very disturbed about his book “Infinite” that is full of errors and misunderstunding…untill I found the priceless comments about the book made by Odifreddi…and everything became clear!😉

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15. Roommate #12 - February 22, 2008

Chris: “this is always the true miracle for me: someone of whom you think that her only option is covering the face in shame and be quiet actually goes on spitting poison at full thrust”

It’s an error in the psychological makeup, called “sociopathy”. If you present them with facts, they take it personally.

16. conspiracy theorist - February 23, 2008

This might well be a media campaign launched by Maiani himself, just to get the Nobel prize…
🙂

17. Luboš Motl - February 23, 2008

Be careful so that the PC mafia doesn’t crucify you for suggesting that a blonde full-breasted girl is less capable to judge physics and physicists than a white male Jew Sheldon Glashow.😉

On the other hand, I do agree that Maiani might fail to be a Nobe-prize caliber physicist. Well, be sure that you get a Nobel prize, otherwise you’re screwed.🙂

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19. Forum - February 24, 2008

Sorry, sorry for this horrible person who seat in a place who not deserve.
Shame on Gabriella Carlucci and all the Berlusconi lackeys.

20. dorigo - February 24, 2008

Hi Lubos,
yes, I know I have to be careful… Always, when writing a blog. Carlucci is more decorative than Glashow, but I would rather have dinner with the latter.
The notion of Carlucci that if you do not win a Nobel price you are nobody in pjysics is so ridiculous that is not worth commenting. But some rightly pointed out that Carlucci must believe the nobel prize is more or less like a telegatto (a prize for TV shows in Italy).

Cheers,
T.

21. Randall - February 25, 2008

Hi, about this controversy I have read the final reply of Prof. Glashow on a website…I am not totally sure of the authenticity of such reply, but that’s the url:

http://www.puglialive.net/home/news_det.php?nid=10554

and here is the letter:

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

In particular I like the part of the letter in which Glashow explains to Mrs. Carlucci the discovery of hot water:

It is true that several Italian theorists (including Maiani) are deserving of Nobel Prizes, but there are far more such candidates than Prizes.

So we need a Nobel laureate to explain elementary things to politicians😀

Randall

22. dorigo - February 25, 2008

Thank you Randall, but the text you pasted here was already in the post😉 I think it is original.

Cheers,
T.

23. franco simonetto - February 26, 2008

Dear collegues and friends,
I would not insist putting so much blame on Hounorable Carlucci (yes, that’ her title , at least until next elections). Even if she was a bit rough on her first (and second) intervention, she will for sure change her mind after reading Iliopulus’ letter, particularly so after realizing that “the dangerous leading divergences cancel if chiral symmetry is broken by quark mass terms”, a fact that she maybe underestimated before her intervention. She also maybe ignored that , by early 70s, few people were aware of QCD asymptotic freedom, a notion so widespread in our Parliament to date.

24. dorigo - February 26, 2008

Hi Franco,

indeed🙂 but do not underestimate on. Carlucci. She is definitely going to sit in the next parliament, and some have already expressed appreciation for her action and suggest the seat of minister of university and scientific research for her. Along the lines of minister Moratti (“donna Letizia” for her friends).

Cheers,
T.

25. ernesto hofmann - February 26, 2008

I had the great luck to study together with Luciano Maiani at the university (beginning of the Sixties). My quantum mechanics examination was prepared on the notes that he took during the lessons. They were better than a book.
In my life I met several bright people (and also several Nobel prizes in physics). But I never met a person with such a talent. When you are young and you don’t know what is envy it’s easy to recognize the real value of your friends. Together we read in 1962 Ulysses and I was ashamed of myself by his deep understanding even of that novel. Of course at that time Murray Gell-Mann read Finnegans Wake, but there is always another giant. The letter of the Italian politician reminds me a German proverb that says: “I have seen also a taller dwarf: Ich habe shon einen größeren Zwerg gesehen”. Luciano Maiani deserves exactly what Sheldon Glashow has so frankly expounded.

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27. franco simonetto - February 26, 2008

Dear Tommaso,
Carlucci’s intervention is an epiphany of the times we are living, maybe not even the most worrying ( an example: both
the center right and the center left governments tried to hinder
teaching of Darwin theories in middle term schools ). And besides, Carlucci would be indeed a more naive, but less outrageous Minister, than Clemente Mastella.
Irony is sometimes just a way of surviving…(also in a non-quantum world).
Ciao

28. Ricky - February 27, 2008

Hi you all.

I’m just a layman with a layman’s interest in physics. I also happen to be italian and let me say that this episode is just the last one of an endless string of tragicomic performances made by those sorry excuses for politicians we have to deal with in these times.

You have only to say that our most credible political voice of today is Mr. Beppe Grillo, a *comedian* (BTW, his blog is an interesting reading for those who want to go further into italian facts, the link is http://www.beppegrillo.it, also in english).

Well, at least that bunch of clowns and charlatans are providing some good entertainement for the people abroad. We like always to distinguish ourselves, one way or another.

29. italian2 - February 27, 2008

Beppe Grillo is a charlatan, no more no less than Carlucci and friends of her. he is just saying something that you like to hear.

30. dorigo - February 28, 2008

Hi Ricky, italian2,

I have to say I like a lot Grillo as a human being and as a comedian, but I find him rather arrogant as a politician and leader. While many of his campaigns are highly popular, and one can hardly disagree with their aim, one is invariably left with a bitter aftertaste by observing how he masters the ad-hominem attacks which are so dear to our beloved right-wing politicians themselves.

Cheers,
T.

31. franco simonetto - March 1, 2008

The saga continues.
Please have a look at this link
http://www.gabriellacarlucci.it/2008/02/28/in-risposta-a-parisi/
Italian readers will appreciate the translation of the original term “distracted” …
Ciao

32. fabristol - March 3, 2008

Now also the CERN physicist Alvaro De Rujula has written to Carlucci:

http://progettogalileo.wordpress.com/2008/03/02/alvaro-de-rujula-smentisce-la-carlucci/

It’s in italian but look at the last sentence:

“What italians have done to deserve all this? I don’t think it’s biblical punishment, even it does look like.”
😉

33. dorigo - March 4, 2008

Saw it Franco, thank you for mentioning it…

Fabristol, same as above. Thank you.

Cheers,
T.

34. fabristol - March 5, 2008

You are welcome and now we got another chapter:

http://progettogalileo.wordpress.com/2008/03/05/unaltra-lettera-di-glashow-contro-la-carlucci/

We asked directly to Glashow.😉

35. dorigo - March 6, 2008

Well fabristol, I think interfering with the news is a kind of dangerous practice… It can backfire, as I had the chance to verify in the past.

Cheers,
T.

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37. andrea - March 11, 2008

Carmensita, my dear, links the shoes unlink the shoes, pounds, €uros, that’s all hotel matter…sbirigud of the sbrindellon, do you know?

bye

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42. Andrea L. - December 24, 2009

O tempora o mores… in Italy, that’s all folks!


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