European physics chief speaks out
Jun 22, 2011
This video is the third in a series filmed in Munich in May 2011 at a meeting to celebrate 25 years of the journal EPL. Originally known as Europhysics Letters, the journal rebranded itself in 2007 and is the flagship publication of the European Physical Society (EPS). The society is currently headed by Luisa Cifarelli – a particle physicist from the University of Bologna and the first female president of the society in its 43 year history.
The main remit of the EPS is to support the development of physics across the continent and in that aim a lab at which Cifarelli has spent much time – CERN in Geneva – is a shining example of what is possible when European physicists put their minds together. But Cifarelli sees other opportunities for joint projects, picking out two facilities currently being built – the X-ray Free-Electron Laser (X-FEL) in Hamburg, Germany, and the European Spallation Source in Lund, Sweden. She also sees potential for joining forces on education, energy, climate, the environment and technology transfer. "We have to transfer our know-how to industry for innovative production methods and to upgrade technology," she says.
As for the question of women in physics, Cifarelli thinks this is something for both men and women alike to tackle. "Men should really care about solving the overall problem," she says. Although Cifarelli feels that incentives to help female physicists who need to take time off to raise a family can help, she adds that despite not being a fan of specific quotas, they may be a necessary evil. "I don't like quotas but maybe they might help," she says.
Finally, Cifarelli reveals details of her plans for an official World Year of Light. Although there have recently been specific years devoted to physics (2005), astronomy (2009) and chemistry (2011), Cifarelli thinks that celebrating light would be "more fascinating" and is eyeing up either 2014 or 2015 as a possible date. "Light is something that comes everywhere in our lives, not only in science, but in culture and technology," she says. "It's a very charming and fascinating subject that will definitely attract the attention of the world on what scientists do."
About the author
Matin Durrani is editor of Physics World