Cassandra has moved. Ugo Bardi publishes now on a new site called "The Seneca Effect."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The minister and the neutrino

Above: Ms. Mariastella Gelmini, Italian minister of Education and Scientific Research,  shown as "Our Lady of Ignorance" in a picture that appeared on the Italian daily "La Repubblica"

You may not believe it, but what follows is an official press release of the Italian Ministry of Public Education and Scientific Research. It refers to the recent statements of the CERN about the speed of Neutrinos and it is signed by the minister, Ms. Mariastella Gelmini.

I leave it without comments, except to note, for those of you who may not be familiar with Italian geography, that the tunnel mentioned in the statement and that is supposed to go from CERN (Switzerland) to the Gran Sasso Laboratory (central Italy) should be at least 750 km long, if it existed. But this is far from being the worst thing in the document from the ministry.

You may have a good laugh at this press release, but it is also something worrisome. I am afraid that such a level of idiocy pervading public institutions may not be limited to Italy, there are other examples elsewhere, perhaps worse. Something is deeply wrong, here.....

Note added after posting: from the comments received, I think that many people have missed the point of this press release. It is true that the minister made herself ridiculous by claiming the existence of a 750 km long tunnel from Switzerland to Central Italy. But from the viewpoint of a politician, that's nothing of any importance. Their job is not to be approved by scientists; their job is to obtain and keep power, and for this purpose they must appease the lobbies that keep them in power. So, Ms. Gelmini didn't care about how long tunnels are or even if tunnels exist. She cares about something completely different.

Consider the sentence: "this event .. will change the face of modern physics. Exceeding the speed of light is an epochal victory for scientific research around the world." This and the general tone of the press release is the key of the whole story. The minister is saying that the physics we know is all wrong and should be revoluzionized. Why so much enthusiasm about a revolution in physics? Is the minister planning to build a fleet of faster-than-light interstellar spaceships? No, the minister is happy that relativity, a cornerstone of modern physics, has been demonstrated to be wrong (at least in her opinion). And, if relativity is wrong, so could be climate science and many other areas of science that are bothering some powerful lobbies. You see, it is politics, it is a job, a trade and a vocation.


(English translation from Rangle).

The Minister and the Neutrino

Statement by the Minister Mariastella Gelmini (Rome, 23 sep 2011) 
"The CERN and National Institute for Nuclear Physics discovery is a scientific event of fundamental importance."
“I extend my approval and my sincerest congratulations to the authors of a historical experiment. I am deeply grateful to all the Italian researchers who contributed to this event that will change the face of modern physics. 
Exceeding the speed of light is an epochal victory for scientific research around the world. 
Italy has contributed to the construction of the tunnel between CERN and Gran Sasso Laboratories, through which the experiment took place, with a sum now estimated at around 45 million euros. 
In addition, today Italy supports the CERN with absolute conviction, with a contribution of more than 80 million euros per year and the events we are experiencing are confirming that it is a good and far-sighted choice".


Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)