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In case you were wondering April 9, 2008

Posted by dorigo in humor, personal, physics.

… whether I got tenure or not, read this post.

The exam was the most similar to a coffee machine conversation I have ever had. Not that I expected anything different: I had originally prepared an answer to the question “what were your research accomplishments in the last three years” (which was more or less obligatory by the examining committee) which went like “I sucked mints with my feet on the desk.” The rationale of such an answer was to be consistent with the application, where I had included, together with a copy of my 270+ publications, one of the partially sucked mints. And with the fact that INFN is really little short than forced by law to hire me and a bunch of other souls.

But no, I did not get to answer such a question. The INFN president Petronzio was there, and he started by greeting me with an informal “tu” (in Italian, people who are not acquainted usually talk to each other using the third person), kind words, and a broad smile. I have a high esteem of Petronzio, but I had never met him in person, so I was slightly taken aback by his warm welcome. Maybe he reads this blog and he got to know me before I got to know him ? I guess I will never know, but really, when you run a discreetly trafficked site you really never know whomever knows you, your life, your scientific accomplishments and defeats, and your dirty little secrets better than your mommy does (especially if she, like mine, does not read the language you use in your blog posts).

The discussion was relaxed and brief. They wanted to know my opinions on matters such as whether starting the LHC at 10 rather than 14 TeV is going to facilitate the initial phase of the experiments (no, it isn’t doing much for us: low luminosity helps, a different energy does not); whether from the huge successes of CDF in B-physics one could extrapolate rosy predictions for LHC-B (I said hadronic machines have hard problems to face at the beginning but statistics in the end is a fantastic weapon, as CDF did show, having now results in the B sector which are competitive with BABAR and BELLE on their own ground); and whether italian researchers at CERN will have a chance to excel with respect to their foreign colleagues (and I said that the problem I see is the presence in the lab, since italians tend to travel back and forth there more than they did with Fermilab or SLAC, where longer stays helped integration and responsibilities).

In the end, I was welcomed as a tenured researcher in the institute, with the regret that they could not do that earlier. That’s life, I said.

So, unofficial as this still is (and in Italy, you really –really– never know), I am now tenured. Or rather, I will as soon as some other bureaucratic hindrances are cleared. But these should only be paperwork and some delay. Really.



1. goffredo - April 9, 2008

I liked the answers you gave to their questions.
Sincere compliments for your tenure

2. marco - April 9, 2008

BTW, did you replay back to Petronzio with ‘tu’?

3. Sean Carroll - April 9, 2008


4. Pietro - April 9, 2008


5. Frederic - April 9, 2008

Fantastic, congratulations!

6. changcho - April 9, 2008

Well done, congrats on your tenure!

7. Nikita Nikolaev - April 9, 2008

Ha! You were right when you said that sincere wishes tend to come true! Congratulations! Absolutely wonderful!!!

It is interesting that “tu” (which, as Google translator said, means “you” [if not, blame Google]) is that much similar to russian “ты” (transcript: ti), meaning “you” as well!

Also, a question, if I may: why will low luminosity help? (that’s in relation to your answer: “no, it isn’t doing much for us: low luminosity helps, a different energy does not”.


8. Kea - April 9, 2008

Congratulations!!! About time.

9. Dave Bacon - April 10, 2008

Now you can work on batshit crazy stuff! Just kidding of course: congrats!

10. Flip - April 10, 2008

Warmest congrats, Tommaso!

11. Flip - April 10, 2008

Is it possible that this is the first tenure announcement on the physics blogosphere?

12. Juan - April 10, 2008

Congrats!!! Tenure: the gift that keeps on giving…

13. Fred - April 10, 2008

Congratulations! Not a bad train trip after all. Maybe Mr. Petronzio likes your low-key approach and noncontroversial stands. lol

14. BDOA - April 10, 2008

Congrats, you’re a real scientish now. But we knew that already from the
quality of the writing on your blog

15. Louise - April 10, 2008

Congratulations! It is well-deserved and well-earned.

16. Amitabha - April 10, 2008

Congratulations! Well done!

17. Jon Lester - April 10, 2008

A lot of congratulations by my side! But this is just the start… Please, get that damned Higgs out!


18. DB - April 10, 2008

Well done T. So now, how does a tenured researcher progress to the next levels in Italy. How does the academic promotions system in Italy compare to say the US or Great Britain?

19. chris - April 10, 2008


and really nice, that you post that under humor 🙂

20. Guess Who - April 10, 2008

So now you will be sucking mints with your feet on the desk? 🙂

21. dorigo - April 10, 2008

Thank you all !

Marco, I do not remember. I think I did, but I would not swear on it.
Nikita, a lower rate of events puts less stress on the data aquisition system, and allows to tune it. Also, reconstruction algorithms are easier to debug if events are less crowded (the bunch crossing rate is 25ns, and at low enough luminosity there is one single hard collision in each).
DB, INFN has a career system parallel to that of Universities: after the researcher there is the 1st researcher, and then the research director. These equate to associate and full professor status, respectively.
GW, I have been doing that already for a while…
Cheers all,

22. George Barouxis - April 10, 2008

Tommaso, congratulations!!!

23. David - April 10, 2008

Congrats, Tommaso!

24. island - April 10, 2008

Congratulations, T… Now, do your part to prove that the Higgs doesn’t exist… back@Jon

25. dorigo - April 10, 2008

“back@jon”… LOL
I will search for the Higgs, then we will see ok ?

26. carlbrannen - April 10, 2008

Ah, the first step to the Nobel prize!

27. Nikita Nikolaev - April 10, 2008


I see, thank you!

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