Carlo Rubbia Biography

Carlo Rubbia is an Italian physicist. This biography provides detailed information about his childhood, life, career, research, achievements and timeline.

Carlo Rubbia
Quick Facts

Birthday: March 31, 1934

Nationality: Italian

Famous: Physicists Italian Men

Age: 85 Years, 85 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Aries

Born in: Gorizia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

Famous as: Physicist


Spouse/Ex-: Marisa

father: Silvio Rubbia

mother: Bice

children: Andre, Laura

discoveries/inventions: Discovery Of W And Z Bosons

More Facts

education: Columbia University, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, University of Pisa

awards: Senator for life (2013)

Nobel Prize in Physics (1984)
Bakerian Lecture (1985)
ForMemRS (1984)
Dirac Medal (1989)

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Carlo Rubbia is an Italian physicist, who has been one of the most important figures in the world of particle physics for several decades. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1984 for his stellar work in proving the existence of W and Z particles or bosons. His father was an electrical engineer and during his early days in high school, he showed a keen interest in the sciences and was particularly keen on engineering and mechanical theories. However, the onset of the Second World War severely affected his education and he could not get into the University of his Choice, Scuola Normale in Pisa. However after a year he was given a seat to study there. After obtaining his doctorate from the University of Pisa, he went off to Columbia University for further research and after spending some time in the United States, he joined CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. His most important work was accomplished at CERN and he went on to serve as the Director-General of the CERN Laboratory. He has also worked as a professor of physics at Harvard University and continues to serve in several scientific advisory roles due to his standing in the scientific community.

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Carlo Rubbia
Childhood & Early Life
  • Carlo Rubbia was born on 31 March 1934 in Gorizia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy to Silvio Rubbia and his wife Bice. His father was employed as an electrical engineer in the regional telephone company while his mother worked as a teacher in an elementary school.
  • He had always shown an aptitude and liking for science and was particularly interested in subjects like mechanics and engineering. The Second World War had affected his high school education and by the time he graduated, he had forgotten the lessons he had learnt at school.
  • He had applied to study physics at the Scuola Normale, Pisa, but instead enrolled as a student of engineering at the University of Milan. However, after the passage of a few months, he was invited to join Scuola Normale and in 1957 he graduated after performing a series of experiments on cosmic rays. The following year, he was awarded his doctorate by the University of Pisa.
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  • After obtaining his Ph.D., he went off to the United States and continued his post doctoral research at the esteemed Columbia University. At Columbia University, he worked in collaboration with W. Baker on angular symmetry that is noticed when polarised muons are captured. These experiments would go on to define his career as a scientist.
  • After a one and a half year stint at Columbia University, he went back to Europe in 1960 to continue his research on weak interactions structures at European Organisation of Nuclear Research (CERN). The Syncro-cyclotron at CERN was a far superior machine than the ones he had worked with earlier and he made plenty of progress in his branch of study.
  • Following the discovery of CP Violation by Val Fitch and James Cronin in 1964, Rubbia decided to drop all his research work and researched on the origins of CP Violation. However, the research did not prove to be fruitful and he went back to his research on weak interactions. After being appointed as a professor of physics by Harvard University in the year 1970, he taught one semester every year at Harvard for 18 years and spent the rest of the year at CERN.
  • He worked with a group of researchers in 1973 through a series of experiments that helped in formulating the postulates of the electroweak theory observed in weak currents which are neutral in nature.
  • He asked CERN to build the Super Proton Synchrotron in 1976 and it started working five years later. Two years after that, he helped a team of scientists with experiments in the colliding beam apparatus that proved the existence of W and Z particles or bosons, that went on to form the basis of a number of future nuclear research. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery with fellow scientist Simon van der Meer.
  • He was appointed the Director-General of the CERN Laboratory in 1989 and one of his most significant contributions was to enable anyone to use the web protocol as well as the code of the laboratory for free. He teamed up with Gran Sasso laboratory in his native Italy in order to conduct experiments on the detection of decaying protons.
  • In 1995, he became the president of ENEA (Italian National Agency of New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development) and remained in the position for six years during which he worked on a new method of concentrating solar power. Two years after leaving ENEA, he became a member of EU President Barroso’s group of advisors on climate change.
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  • In 2009, he was made the special advisor of the Secretary General of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America. He served in the position for a year in Chile and following that assignment, the Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, Germany appointed him as the Scientific Director.
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Major Works
  • His most important work was the series of experiments in collaboration with Simon van der Meer that proved the existence of W and Z particles or bosons. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1984 for his efforts.
Awards & Achievements
  • He shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1984.
  • He was made a member of the Royal Society in 1985.
  • He was awarded the Dirac Medal in 1989.
  • Italian President Giorgio Napolitano made him a Senator for Life in the Italian Senate in 2013.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • He got married to Marisa, a teacher of physics, but the exact date of their marriage is unknown. The couple has a daughter, Laura and a son, Andre.

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- Carlo Rubbia Biography
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Last Updated
- November 06, 2017

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