Visitor@iitd: Prof. Tiziano Camporesi (CERN)

Prof Tiziano Camporesi has been the leader, until August 2016, of the CERN group which discovered the Higgs Boson in 2012. During his 36 years in the field, Prof Camporesi has worked on several experiments both in Europe and the United States.In 1986, he returned to CERN as a research physicist and became a permanent staff member three years later. He has spent the last 16 years focused exclusively on CMS.

Prof Campores was in IIT Delhi on Tuesday to give a colloqium on the importance of accelerators and their experiments on the understanding of the inner workings of Nature.

In an interview with Vanita Srivastava he talks about the increased participation of Indian researchers at CERN, the changed landscape after India becoming an Associate Member and the opportunities that CERN can provide for students at IIT.

  • What kind of opportunities are available at CERN for the undergraduate and post graduate students at IIT?

    Now that India is an Associate Member, there are two specific programmes in which the students would be interested. The Technical Student Programme for the undergraduate students is a one year internship at CERN. The doctoral student programme which is for three years allows one to make a technical thesis co-supervised by the institute from which the student comes. We receive applications from all 26 member states. It is competitive and around 100 students are selected every year for both the programmes. There are two selection committees per year. Next selection would be done in May this year for which the deadlines would be in March.

  • How exciting will 2017 be for CERN?

    We have a lot of excitement in store for this year. We should double the data that we have got so far which will enable us increased statistical precision to see if there is a new phenomenon to be discovered. We have so far not seen any significant evidence of a new phenomenon but we know that our modelling of Nature is incomplete and that there is more to be understood. The new collection of data will help us in improving our understanding. The Standard Model does not address some fundamental issues like that of Dark Matter and where has the anti-matter gone. THE CERN Council has approved our programme for the next 20 years. We are at the beginning of an exploration and the beginning is always exciting. The discovery of Higgs Boson has put an end to a search that had been going on for 40 years. I would say that 2018 would be even more exciting. The more we advance, the more our understanding will improve. We will be less excited as we advance on our road but will try to understand deeper. Higgs Boson was discovered by a handful of specimens. By 2035, we will get several thousands and that will allow us to study the Higgs Boson in fine details. What was initially a baby with a fuzzy picture will over the years become a matter of deep study and research.

  • Can you speak on the dynamics of the multi-dimensional collaboration at CERN?

    The multi-dimensional collaboration is a necessity. CERN is the only laboratory in the world where students and researchers from 101 nationalities can perform this research. The physics at CERN is produced mainly by the 12,000 researchers from all over the world hosted at CERN. Most of the researchers are coming from the traditional nations that have been funding and supporting CERN since 1954. I would say that CERN is a scientific platform to enable people to do research on a tool not existing anywhere else. The main contribution of CERN has been to allow the research community to do science. Besides science, the return has also been visible on education and technology. The CMS experiment alone has 850 plus PhD students and the ATLAS has more than 1000 PhD students. So around 2000 PhD students are doing their doctorate under both the experiments. Our students are able to interact with a diverse cultural community and get jobs easily. We are on an average producing 100-150 scientific papers per year. How has the participation of Indian scientists been at CERN? Participation of Indian scientists has grown over the years, since the beginning of the experiment. It initially started off on a small scale for two detector technologies but over the years the Indian research community has grown in terms of exploration of research programme. Larger number of Indian students are now playing a visible role in producing the Physics result. Now we are at a turn point. In 2012 the CERN Council decided to expand the programme beyond its original timeline. A need was felt to upgrade the detector components to exploit the Physics optimally. We are in the process of developing new concepts, new technologies for dealing with the challenges of the future. In this changed scenario I find the Indian researchers and the Indian funding agencies playing an increased and critical role.

  • India has recently become an Associate Member of CERN. How will this benefit India?

    Associate membership is something that is going to increase the level of accessibility of Indian research to the CERN experiments and structure. The various job opportunities at CERN from students to researchers to engineers would now be open to India. It will also open the doors to Indian market for placing order for construction. I would say that, besides some returns in industrial contracts, it will spruce the research opportunities, getting jobs and technology transfer and eventually making India a visible partner in the World research scenario.

  • How do you see the future of Particle Physics?

    The future of Particle Physics is bright for the next 20 years. I would say it will be even more brighter after that if we will see evidence or hints of new phenomena by the end of the LHC data taking.

    It is the only science that can give answers to some unanswered fundamental questions like that of dark matter and some mysteries for understanding the universe.

  • What are the contributions of CERN beyond pure physics?

    Technology transfer for medical applications is something that we have always been working on. We can develop technology which sometimes, not always, can be recycled in the real world. We developed a patent on special vacuum technology that is being used for developing power stations. Developing technologies that find application in everyday world is not intentional, it just happens, and when it happens we make it available: the most noticeable example is the World Wide Web which was invented at CERN at the end of the eighties.