CERN, the world’s top particle physics facility, has a new director-general, the fabulous Fabiola Gianotti.
She took the reins this month, having been democratically chosen by colleagues. The soft-spoken, hard-driving, serenely brilliant Italian scientist will need every atom of her legendary stamina for the coming ordeal.
That’s not only because she’s the first woman to head the Geneva-based European Nuclear Research Center. It’s more because CERN, having bagged the long-sought Higgs boson, now is drilling ever deeper into the most deeply hidden secrets of the universe. (Here’s an earlier article where I explain the Higgs boson.)
The press already has published reams about Gianotti, who led the team that tracked down the Higgs particle. Here, however, is something no one else will tell you about her:
The letters in “CERN chief Fabiola Gianotti” rearrange to spell “Ciao! Baffling theoretician!”
Can anyone seriously ask us to accept this as mere coincidence? Especially when the same letters also spell “Ah! Celebration officiating”, “Oh, beneficiating factorial”, and “Hi! Into algebraic affection”?
Before someone castigates me for making light of serious science, let me note that Gianotti herself has done worse (or rather better): She announced to the world, in 2014, that all CERN documents would be published henceforth in Comic Sans!
This was, to be clear, an April Fool joke. Sort of. Gianotti herself does love this world’s most despised typeface. She used it to announce the Higgs boson; she uses in in her slide presentations.
In her honor, I use that same font in the illustration above (which shows her in her former capacity as head of CERN’s Atlas facility).
Gianotti’s elevation to the physics top spot came as no surprise. For her Higgs work, she was a 2012 Time Magazine runner-up for “Person of the Year”, gracing its cover.
What I love about this amazing lady is that she’s a true Renaissance woman: She was led to quantum mechanics by her love of language and philosophy!
Driven by these passions to tackle life’s “big questions”, she decided, along the way, that particle physics offers the best path to answers.
She’s into music, cooking, and physics (not necessarily in that order) because, as she says, all three follow precise rules yet require bold experimentation.
My guess? Before she’s finished, the Higgs boson will seem like a mere bump along a very long highway. Expect Very Great Things of CERN and its classy new boss, Fabiola Gianotti.
*** Photo by Claudia Marcelloni De Oliveira – http://cds.cern.ch (CC-BY-SA)