Talk | The impact of fundamental Physics on Medicine by Ugo Amaldi | 10 April

The impact of fundamental Physics on Medicine, by Ugo Amaldi, TERA Foundation and Technische Universität München.


Thursday 10 April 2014, at 7.30 p.m.
Globe of Science and Innovation
Route de Meyrin, 1211 Genève

Talk in English with French translation.

Abstract: It is clear to anybody who visits a hospital that Physics applications are everywhere. Medical doctors use Physics when they measure blood pressure, when they perform an ultrasound scan to determine the sex of an unborn child, when they take a radiography or a CT scan.

Fundamental physics, which aims at understanding how particles and forces act in the subatomic world and are organized to form everything we observe around us, has numerous medical applications. 

Everything started in 1895 with the discovery of X-rays by Röntgen, who was using the best particle accelerator of the time. In the lecture the theme of the title will be presented by following the 120 years long story of particle accelerators used to cure tumours. The time is well chosen because the year 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of CERN, the largest particle Physics laboratory in the world, and of the first cancer treatment with protons done at Berkeley.


Ugo Amaldi was for fifteen years director of Physics research at the Italian Health Institutes (ISS) in Rome before joining in 1973 CERN as Senior Scientist. At CERN he studied, experimentally and theoretically, the properties of protons and neutrinos and the unification of the fundamental forces and, between 1991 and 2006, he taught medical Physics at Milano University. He was spokesperson for thirteen years of the DELPHI Collaboration working at the LEP electron-positron collider. Since 25 years more than one third of the Italian high-school pupils have been studying Physics on his textbooks. More than four hundred publications account for his scientific activities in the fields of Physics of atoms, nuclei, fundamental particles and accelerators.

In 1992 Amaldi created the Italian Foundation for Hadrontherapy (TERA) and directed the design effort of the National Center of Oncology Hadrontherapy (CNAO), which since 2011 is irradiating patients with protons and carbon ions in Pavia. At present he is working at the development of novel accelerators (hadron linacs) for the treatment of tumours.

Ugo Amaldi is Doctor honoris causa of the Universities of Lyon, Helsinki, Uppsala, Valencia and Distinguished Affiliated Professor at TUM (Technische Universität München).

Among many other acknowledgements and honours, he was awarded by the Italian President of the Republic the Gold Medal for science and culture, he received in 1995 the first Pontecorvo Prize and was appointed Fellow of the European Physical Society.

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