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Loreti’s curse September 17, 2008

Posted by dorigo in humor, personal.

Maurizio Loreti, a Professor of Physics, an esteemed member of my research group in Padova, and a Albert Einstein lookalike (see picture, right), has retired last January, and left for a vacation to Egypt. Maurizio is one of the most peaceful persons I know, but since January I have come to believe he is behind a string of plagues that has started to afflict our offices and lab, at the third floor of the Physics Department in Padova.

First, there was the water, in March. A powerful thunderstorm tore away a part of the roof, copious water flooded the ceiling of the office left by Maurizio and the one adjacent to it -mine-, and the panels lining the ceiling started to soak and fall under their own weight, covering desks, computers, and documents with tens of cubic feet of plywood debris and rubble. After a couple of  months new ceiling panels were installed and we could return to our offices, but longer-term work on the roof is still to come.

Now, wasps. A honeycomb has been discovered on the wall of another of our offices after wasps started to invade the place, forcing another evacuation. The colleagues who work there are now waiting for the area to be secured from the infestation.

It is my opinion that the above constitutes a fair two-sigma indication that Maurizio’s trip to Egypt enabled him to gain the know-how for setting up a seven-plague curse of his former workplace. I am now waiting for a fire, or a power outage, or mice… That would make the indication a three-sigma evidence. Let’s wait and see.



1. DB - September 17, 2008

Sounds pretty similar to the Pauli effect.

2. Nimish Batra - September 17, 2008

Einstein impersonators have the power to drown people in rubber duckys, I’ve seen ’em do it as the seventh plague… Just sayin’…

3. Pietro Vischia - September 17, 2008

When I attended to his course “Physics Laboratory 1”, I heard with my ears Loreti threaten a student (who forgot to suppress the ringtone of the cellphone) with the words: “The next who forget to suppress the ringtone will be subjected to lightnings from my fingertips. And you know, I AM ABLE to do this, indeed”

😀 This can help your three-sigma guess?

4. Odysseus - September 17, 2008

Be honest, could even seven events be sufficient to make your conjecture appear plausible? Usually it should be a few fb^{-1} of data, shouldn’t it? A little scientific rigor, that’s all I’m asking for 😉

5. Odysseus - September 17, 2008

Dammit, spoiled the html again… anyone come and punch me next time I happen to italicise the whole text, please.

6. Amitabha - September 18, 2008

Sounds more like an anti-Pauli effect, since things started happening after he left. Hmmm … maybe your building was cursed already, and his presence prevented bad things from happening? You should give him an extension and bring him back!

7. Nicola - September 18, 2008

Well, I think I can increase the available statistics:

1) When I was studying in Pisa, prof. Liana Martinelli gave us Maurizio’s webpage as a reference full of interesting resources for Lab1 course. One of my colleagues, Enrico, obtained the transfer permission from University of padova to Pisa, so he had the “Padova Exam Logbook” (come tradurre libretto??). I come to the point: during the Lab1 exam, someone told one of the professors Enrico was a friend of Loreti’s, and he got the most comfortable and quiet exam of all…

2) I got an honour: I inherited Loreti’s pc. The worst experience I had with a pc. It destroyed a memory stick with an excessive USB voltage, it needed a lot of administrator’s priviledges to handle the fool disk partitioning we found over there and, when people from the computing assistance tried to fix it, their diagnosis was “dead motherboard, you’d ask for a new one”…

How many events did we collect?

8. dorigo - September 18, 2008

Hi all,

well, Loreti certainly has some strange powers, and also a systemic enemy, like all superheroes. In his case the Kryptonite is constituted by using a outdated version of latex, or any other blatant violation of the harmony of his linux world. I remember him going to Level 4 once, for that very reason.

Nicola, “libretto” maybe is “exam booklet”. In any case I think it’s pretty clear.

I should have indeed added to the list of wraths the PC he left to poor Nicola. We definitely have some evidence for supernatural powers here.

About Pauli or anti-pauli effect: Maurizio is a skilled experimentalist, and his presence never impaired the functioning of devices, quite the contrary.


9. Tony Smith - September 19, 2008

Tomasso, you said (17 Sep 2008) that you are “… now waiting for a fire, or a power outage, or mice… That would make the indication a three-sigma evidence. Let’s wait and see. …”.

According to a swissinfo.ch article dated 18 Sep 2008:
“… Scientists at the European Centre for Particle Physics (Cern) in Geneva said a failure in the power transformer had affected the facility’s refrigeration plant …”.

Is that power outage, in the Geneva branch of your physics group, the one you were waiting for?

What is next?

Tony Smith

PS – To alleviate paranoid fears, I should also say that the article went on to say “… Cern said on Thursday that the electrical fault had been fixed …”.

10. Tony Smith - September 19, 2008

Tommaso, you can see my mind is not so good (maybe it is a hangover from the flu I have had for the past few weeks) as I spelled your name incorrectly in my previous post. My apologies.

Tony Smith

11. Tony Smith - September 19, 2008

In comments above, about a Thursday 18 September article about a CERN transformer power failure that had then been fixed,
I asked the question:
“What is next?”

Here is an excerpt from Resonaances dated the next day Friday 19 September:
“… Yesterday [Thursday], CERN was buzzing with rumours that the first LHC collisions should take place during the week-end.
This morning [Friday], however, there was a major quench in Sector 3-4.
… some magnets in the affected sector are now at almost 100K.
LHC-progress addicts report that pretty scaring entries were appearing in the LHC logbook this morning (fire alarm, power failure, helium leaking into the tunnel), though all the record seems to be deleted now.
… this problem appears to be serious (unlike all the problems reported by the media earlier this week) and may cause a lot of delay. It is not certain if operation will be resumed before the winter shutdown. …”.

Also, a 19 September 2008 PhysicsWorld article by Jon Cartwright said:
“… Quenches occur when superfluid helium in the magnets rises above its operating temperature of 1.9 K, and can be caused, for example, when a proton beam veers off course.
According to the entry, firefighters were dispatched to that area of the tunnel. It also says that the vacuum in that part of the beam pipe was lost.
A source at CERN … says that the quench caused one tonne of superfluid helium – about 1% of the LHC’s total – to escape …
An LHC status report … shows that temperatures are now being brought down, implying that technicians have been able to replace the lost helium …”.

Tony Smith

12. dorigo - September 22, 2008

Hi Tony,

sorry for the belated answer – I think you have read elsewhere by now, that there will be a delay of at least two months in the start of LHC collisions. The plan at present is unclear.


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