CERN — The European Laboratory for Particle Physics


Public talk

Physics is beautiful and useful

- Ugo Amaldi (TERA) -


Date: Tuesday 11 February 2014

Time: 18:30

Venue: CICG - Room 2

The seminar will be given in English, open to the general public. A simultaneous translation to French will be available.

Entrance is free, no registration is required.


The video recording of the public seminar is now available.



The year 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of CERN and of the first cancer treatment with protons done at Berkeley. This is no coincidence: indeed, the beauty of particle physics has always been going hand in hand with useful applications.

These “useful” activities follow from the technical developments in particle accelerators and radiation detectors that have brought to the discoveries of neutral currents (1973), of its mediator, the Z boson (1984) and of the Higgs condensate (2012).

The beginning of 2014 is thus the proper time to first describe these “beautiful” physics results, together with their consequences in our description of the events that took place in the first millionth of a second of the Universe life. The second part of the lecture will review CERN contributions to cancer therapy and conclude with an overview of possible future developments.

This lecture is also an opportunity to celebrate the 80th birthday of Ugo Amaldi, who has been a major player in both the beautiful and the useful aspects of physics in his long and outstanding career.



Short bio

Ugo Amaldi has been working at CERN since the 70’s as Senior Scientist. For twenty years, he has been studying, both experimentally and theoretically, the properties of protons and neutrinos and the unification of fundamental forces. He founded and directed for 13 years the DELPHI Collaboration, at CERN’s LEP Accelerator. Between 1990 and 2006 he was Professor of Medical Physics in Milan. In the last thirty years more than one third of all Italian high school pupils have studied physics on his textbooks.

In 1992, Ugo Amaldi established TERA, the Italian Foundation for Hadrontherapy. He led the design effort of the Italian National Centre of Oncological Hadrontherapy (CNAO), which has been treating patients with protons and carbon ions since 2011. At present, he is working on the development of novel linear accelerator systems for tumour treatment.

Ugo Amaldi is Doctor honoris causa of the Universities of Lyon, Helsinki, Uppsala, Valencia, as well as Distinguished Affiliated Professor at Technische Universität München. Among many other acknowledgements and honours, he was awarded the Gold Medal for science and culture by the Italian President of the Republic, and was appointed Fellow of the European Physics Society.