Rubbia, Carlo

Rubbia, Carlo

▪ Italian physicist
born March 31, 1934, Gorizia, Italy

      Italian physicist who in 1984 shared with Simon van der Meer (Meer, Simon van der) the Nobel Prize for Physics for the discovery of the massive, short-lived subatomic W particle and Z particle. These particles are the carriers of the so-called weak force involved in the radioactive decay of atomic nuclei. Their existence strongly confirms the validity of the electroweak theory, proposed in the 1970s, that the weak force and electromagnetism are different manifestations of a single basic kind of physical interaction.

      Rubbia was educated at the Normal School of Pisa and the University of Pisa, earning a doctorate from the latter in 1957. He taught there for two years before moving to Columbia University as a research fellow. He joined the faculty of the University of Rome in 1960 and was appointed senior physicist at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN; now the European Organization for Nuclear Research), Geneva, in 1962. In 1970 he was appointed professor of physics at Harvard University and thereafter divided his time between Harvard and CERN.

      In 1973 a research group under Rubbia's direction provided one of the experimental clues that led to the formulation of the electroweak theory by observing neutral weak currents (weak interactions in which electrical charge is not transferred between the particles involved). These interactions differ from those previously observed and are direct analogues of electromagnetic interactions. The electroweak theory embodied the idea that the weak force can be transmitted by any of three particles called intermediate vector bosons (intermediate vector boson). Furthermore, it indicated that these particles (W+, W-, and Z0) should have masses nearly 100 times that of the proton.

      Rubbia then proposed that the large synchrotron at CERN be modified so that beams of accelerated protons and antiprotons could be made to collide head-on, releasing energies great enough for the weak bosons to materialize. In 1983 experiments with the colliding-beam apparatus gave proof that the W and Z particles are indeed produced and have properties that agree with the theoretical predictions.

      Further analysis of the results obtained in 1983 led Rubbia to conclude that in some decays of the W+ particle, the first firm evidence for the sixth quark, called top, had been found. The discovery of this quark confirmed an earlier prediction that three pairs of these particles should exist.

Additional Reading
Gary Taubes, Novel Dreams: Power, Deceit, and the Ultimate Experiment (1986), describes how the Nobel Prize was won by Rubbia and also treats his subsequent research. Peter Watkins, Story of the W and Z (1986); and Peter Galison, How Experiments End (1987), recount in detail Rubbia's most famous experiments and describe the team of people that worked under his direction.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Rubbia, Carlo — (1934– )    A scientist from Gorizia, on the border with Slovenia, Carlo Rubbia won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1984. Agraduate of the elite Scuola Normale di Pisa (although he was unsuccessful in his original application and was admitted only… …   Historical Dictionary of modern Italy

  • Rubbia , Carlo — (1934–) Italian physicist Born at Gorizia, Trieste, Rubbia was educated at the University of Pisa, where he obtained his PhD in 1958. After spending a year each at Columbia, New York, and Rome, he took up an appointment in 1960 at the European… …   Scientists

  • Rubbia,Carlo — Rub·bi·a (ro͞oʹbē ə, ro͞oʹbyä), Carlo. Born 1934. Italian physicist. He shared a 1984 Nobel Prize for the discovery of three subatomic particles. * * * …   Universalium

  • Rubbia, Carlo — ► (n. 1935) Físico italiano. Fue premio Nobel de Física en 1984, compartido con Simon Van der Meer, por el descubrimiento de los bosones vectoriales intermedios. (V. bosón.) …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • RUBBIA (C.) — RUBBIA Carlo (1934 ) Carlo Rubbia est né en 1934 à Gorizia, petite ville de l’Italie du Nord située non loin de la frontière slovène. Son père, ingénieur, dirigeait la compagnie locale de téléphone et sa mère était institutrice. Enfant, il se… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Rubbia — Carlo Rubbia Carlo Rubbia (* 31. März 1934 in Gorizia) ist ein italienischer Physiker. Rubbia erhielt 1984 zusammen mit Simon van der Meer den Physik Nobelpreis „für ihre maßgeblichen Beiträge bei dem großen Projekt, das zur Entdeckung der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Carlo Rubbia — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Carlo Rubbia Carlo Rubbia (Gorizia, Italia 1934) es un físico y profesor universitario italiano galardonado con el Premio Nobel de Física del año 1984. Contenido …   Wikipedia Español

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