The Enrico Fermi chair 2014/2015

The Enrico Fermi chair
The Enrico Fermi chair was established in 2011 by the Minister of Education, University and Research (MIUR) Mariastella Gelmini to promote the dissemination of modern physics beyond the restricted boundary of university courses and to honor the Italian scientific tradition. Each year during one semester, the recipient of the chair will hold a series of Enrico Fermi Lectures in Physics. Lectures are open to the general public.

Exploring the Cosmos through the eyes of a particle physicist
Classes will be held in Aula Amaldi
Department of Physics - Marconi building, piazzale Aldo Moro 5, Rome

First lecture: Thursday 13 november 2014

Class schedule:
every Thursday from 15.00 to 17.00
Classes are held throughout the semester from November to April.
The lecture videos and slides of the course will be posted on the net by the Department of Physics.

For registration and information:
A certificate will be awarded at the end of each lesson and course.

The chair named after Enrico Fermi, is held by prof. Luciano Maiani emeritus professor in theoretical physics, former president of Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare and of Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, former Director General of CERN. Luciano Maiani is at present Chair of the Commissione Grandi Rischi of the Department of Civil Protection and continues his research on elementary particles at Sapienza and CERN. Among his contributions, he predicted, with John Iliopoulos and Sheldon Glashow, the existence of a fourth type of quark, the quark charm.

Preliminary Programme in 30 Lectures
  • 1-5. The Standard Theory of elementary particles.
  • 6-7. How the Sun works. Bethe cycles. Neutrinos from the Sun. Present attempts to exploit controlled fusion for energy production. Does Cold Fusion exist?
  • 8-9. Phases in the lifetime of a star. The Chandrasekar and the Oppenheimer-Volkov limiting masses. White dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes. The death of a star: Novae and supernovae. Stars of first, second and third generation.
  • 10-11. The cosmic ladder of cosmic distances (Eratostenes, Aristarco, Copernicusand beyond). The pulsating stars, Cepheids, offer a candle to measure cosmic distances. Universe-islands. Edwin Hubble discovers the recession of galaxies and the Hubble constant. Supernovae Ia: a new standard candle for really long distances. The size of the Universe. The Cosmological Principle.
  • 12-13. An excursion in Relativistic Cosmology. To produce a static universe, Einstein introduces a Cosmological Constant. The expanding/collapsing universes of Friedmann and Lamaitre. Same expansion seen from everywhere? Critical density and geometry at large. The latest results: we live in a Euclidean Universe.
  • 14-15. High energy cosmic rays. Sources? Gamma ray bursts. High energy gamma rays and neutrino sources. When the Universe becomes opaque: the GKZ cut-off. The Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina and other large scale cosmic ray detectors.
  • 16-17. The Hot Big-Bang theory of Alpher, Bethe and Gamow. Penzias and Wilson discover the Cosmic Microwave Background, the fossil remnant of the Hot Big Bang. The hunt for anysotropies of the CMB. From balloons to COBE to the ESA’s mission: Planck.
  • 18-19. Light nulei: another remnant of the Big-Bang. The first three minutes after the Big Bang and the cosmological abundance of light nuclei. Cosmic determination of the number of light neutrinos. The sea of low-energy neutrinos and ideas to detect them (perhaps!).
  • 20-21. Is there antimatter in the Universe? The mistery of the photon to proton ratio. A. Sakharov’s criteria and ideas about baryon number violation. Majorana n comeeutrinos come back: leptogenesis of the baryon asymmetry?
  • 22-23. Dark matter. First ideas: violation of the virial theorem. Second phase: velocity curves in galaxies. Third phase: Cold Dark Matter. Fourth phase: axions?
  • 24-25. Dark matter: neutrinos? Weak Interacting Massive Particles (WIMP)? Terrestrial searches and limits. The Higgs boson as a portal to Dark Matter.
  • 26-27. Experimental Cosmology in the distant Universe. The Cosmological Constant comes back. The L-CDM model. Planck satellite results confirm L-CDM.
  • 28-30. The horizon problem of the Hot Big-Bang. Alain Guth proposes the Cosmic Inflation. Chaotic Inflation: a stationary super-Universe? The anthropic principe. Gravitational waves from the inflationary Cosmology illuminating particle physics? Open problems.