|High-school students in the lab during workshops
© 2002 Infn
Use of the image is free of charge following authorisation by the Infn Communication Office.
Basic research moves closer to the professional world
The Italian national institute for nuclear physics, together with the Rome universities La Sapienza and Tor Vergata, have founded two masters with the objective of connecting two worlds that are generally considered as having nothing to do with one another: basic research and the professional world. Courses will cover: “Nuclear techniques for industry, the environment and cultural works” and “Information technologies”. Students will receive an excellent professional training and will gain practical experience in research labs, in both universities and in industries.
The “Information technologies” course will begin on October 21st while the “Nuclear techniques for industry, the environment and cultural works” course will begin on November 20th. Both masters will last ten months, five of which will be devoted to practical activities in industrial or research centres.
These practical activities will provide insight into the job opportunities that the master degree can offer and will offer contacts with industries that might turn out useful when seeking for work. The masters are open to graduates in technical and scientific disciplines and to whoever is already part of the professional world and wants to keep up to date.
It will also be possible to follow only part of the master courses. In this case a certificate pertaining to the courses followed will be released.
The master’s students will be able to take full advantage of the technology and the high professional level peculiar to the Infn Frascati laboratories, which will host part of the courses.
Nuclear techniques for industry, the environment and cultural works
Thanks to nuclear particle physics many techniques for the study of matter’s constituents have been developed in the course of time, thus permitting many discoveries concerning new peculiarities in the behaviour of both nuclei and subatomic particles.
The nuclear physics techniques that students will learn and use at the National Physics Laboratories will make use of particle, X-ray and gamma-ray accelerators. Similar techniques have turned out to be extremely valuable not only in the study of matter but also in fields far from basic physics, ranging from industry to the protection and conservation of works of art.
The Daphne accelerator in Frascati, for instance, produces the so-called synchrotrone light, mainly extremely intense X-rays and infrared rays. Thanks to synchrotrone light it is possible to obtain special X-rays, an important instrument in the analysis of industrial materials. Synchrotrone light is also extremely valuable in the study of proteins.
The protection of the environment and the safeguard of health are also subjects that will be treated during the Master for which techniques typical of particle physics are used more and more.
In the case of the environment, the use of gamma and X-rays or ion beams is useful in the measurement of radioactive pollutants and to keep toxic powders present in the atmosphere under control. Applications of nuclear techniques in this field also concern the discharge of radioactive waste and the control of illegal trade of radioactive materials. Proton and ion beams are used ever more frequently in the medical field to cure special tumours such as eye melanoma. The Frascati laboratory instruments also permit a very precise measurement of the quantity of radiation a body is subjected to in a particular environment. This technique is used, for instance, to measure the exposure to radiation in work environments.
Another part of the course will be devoted to applications in the field of cultural works. Nuclear techniques are used in this case to analyse elements present in archaeological findings and in artistic works. Sending ions to collide with an object is useful, among other reasons, to obtain a great deal of information in a non-destructive manner, such as the accurate dating and the identification of the material used in the realisation of the work. For the training in this field the laboratory of nuclear techniques applied to cultural works of the Infn Florence section and Infn groups in Catania will cooperate with the Master.
The search for effective and safe ways to transmit information is one of the most important activities not only of large research institutes and industries but also of public administrations and banks. A number of methods aimed at simplifying citizens’ life, ranging from identity cards to electronic votes, are being experimented.
In this sector the experience accumulated by the community of physics researchers, from which the World Wide Web was born, is wide and continuously in expansion. In particular, both the Infn and the university of Rome Tor Vergata, which jointly run this master, have accumulated a vast experience and are currently exploring the frontiers of the field.
The Infn is among the research institutes making up the Grid international project, coordinated by the Cern in Geneva. The project aims at managing a quantity of data that may reach a million billions of byte and exchanging and elaborating data inside the scientific community worldwide.
The Tor Vergata university has been active quite some time, with the Nestor laboratory, in the field of safety and certification of services connected to communication webs. Among other things, it has developed the security system now adopted by public administrations to send citizens’ private data safely through the Internet.
The course divides into two approaches: the first dealing with security and the second with the organization and design of information networks. Students will learn to design a business network and will be able to confront the difficulties regarding the processes of acquiring, memorizing and treating data. Furthermore, problems of computational physics will be treated that are useful in simulating the way extremely complex systems work. This is the case of masses of galaxies or of fluids, but also of road traffic.
One of the frontiers in the exchange of information is the transmission of images in real time through the internet, the so-called streaming video. The course will touch on these aspects too, with particular emphasis being placed on the speed and the quality with which the images are transferred.
The quantity and the richness of the different subjects the Master touches on has already stimulated the interest of important institutions, such as Esa and national and regional environmental protection agencies (Anpa and Arpa) as well as firms such as Ibm and Cisco, which are defining their participation and their contribution to the masters.