Alessandro Strumia

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Alessandro Strumia
Born (1969-12-26) 26 December 1969 (age 49)
Alma materUniversity of Pisa
Awards1996 "Giorgio Gamberini" prize for the PhD thesis "Supersymmetric unification"
Scientific career
FieldsNeutrinosLeptogenesisFlavour physics – Electroweak precision physics – Vacuum DecayCosmologyDark matter
ThesisSupersymmetric unification (1995)
Doctoral advisorRiccardo Barbieri

Alessandro Strumia (born 26 December 1969[1]) is an Italian physicist at the University of Pisa. His research focuses on high energy physics, beyond the Standard Model, studying the flavour of elementary particle, charge conjugation parity (CP) symmetry violations, and the Higgs boson. In September 2018, Strumia gave a controversial presentation at CERN's first Workshop on High Energy Theory and Gender, where he claimed that male, not female scientists were the victims of discrimination on the part of universities.


Strumia obtained his PhD in 1995 at the University of Pisa, where his doctoral advisor was Riccardo Barbieri. His thesis was titled "Supersymmetric unification".[1]


Strumia's research specialization is in physics beyond the Standard Model.[1] In 1995, with Riccardo Barbieri and Lawrence J. Hall, he studied flavour and CP violations, present in supersymmetric unified theories even in absence of any flavour or CP violation in the input for the soft-supersymmetry breaking parameters.[2]

He is one of the originators of the idea of Minimal Flavor Violation,[3] a paradigm to characterize the effects of flavor transitions in new theories of particle physics. In 2004, together with Riccardo Barbieri, Alex Pomarol and Riccardo Rattazzi, Alessandro Strumia laid out a conceptually clear and practically useful framework for the analysis of the combined electroweak precision data of the low- and high-energy phases of the LEP experiments.[4] After the OPERA experiment reported an observation of neutrinos apparently traveling faster than light, Strumia in collaboration with Gian Giudice and Sergey Sibiryakov showed that superluminal neutrinos would imply some anomalies in the velocities of electrons and muons as a result of quantum-mechanical effects. Such anomalies could be already ruled out from existing data on cosmic rays, thus contradicting the OPERA results.[5][6]

After the discovery of the Higgs boson, he computed the probability that the Higgs vacuum undergoes quantum tunnelling, finding that the universe is in a critical state which will eventually end in a cosmic collapse.[7] He joined the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)'s theory division as a fellow in 2000,[1] and as a member of the CMS Collaboration, he was a credited coauthor on the paper which announced the Higgs boson discovery; his primary affiliation was Estonia's National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics.[8] Along with Joseph Lykken and other collaborators, he later proposed the "modified naturalness" hypothesis for the Higgs boson's mass.[9]

While at CERN in June 2018, Strumia and Riccardo Torre worked on a new set of algorithms with which to evaluate the impact of published scientific research. Basing their investigation on PageRank used by Google, they proposed a similar system of ranking scientific papers and authors. Researchers had "mixed reaction", suggesting that it would be useful for "lifetime achievement" but possibly subject to "transparency issues".[10] The "simplicity" of current methods of evaluation allows for gaming the system. The difference in Strumia and Torres' approach is that they include what they describe as "second-generation" and later-generation citations in their algorithms. Therefore, not only the original citations of the work are taken into account, but subsequent citations to derivative material also. They named their systems PaperRank and AuthorRank. They also proposed a system called CitationCoin to reduce the effect of groups who "inflate" each other citation count.[10]


Using pictures of conference slides[edit]

Marco Cirelli and Alessandro Strumia were amongst multiple teams that used digital photos from a conference presentation in 2008 in Stockholm for a subsequent publication. The slide showed a highly anticipated but yet unpublished measurement of the positron fraction in cosmic rays by the PAMELA collaboration.[11][12][13][14]

Talk on gender discrimination[edit]

On 28 September 2018, Strumia gave a presentation at CERN's first Workshop on High Energy Theory and Gender[15] that provoked considerable controversy.[16] Citing an analysis he had performed on data from the InSpire database,[17] he rejected the idea that physics suffers from gender bias against women, and claimed that male scientists were victims of discrimination.[18][19][20] According to Peggy Sastre in Le Point, physicist and activist Jess Wade elicited a response from one of the seminar’s organizers after accusing him on social media.[21][22]

On 30 September 2018, CERN released a short statement, removed the slides of Strumia's presentation from its conference website and on 1 October suspended him from his "invited scientist" position, due to a breach of Code of Conduct (naming a CERN employee in the presentation).[23][16][24][25][26] On 1 October 2018, the University of Pisa released a statement signaling the opening of an ethical investigation.[27]

Strumia's talk was condemned in a public letter titled “High Energy Physics Community Statement” on a website called “Particles for Justice” on 2 October. As of 13 October, it received nearly 4,000 signatures from scientists working in High Energy Physics and related fields, including those of John Ellis, Howard Georgi and David Gross.[28][29] In response, a rebuttal titled "Justice For Strumia" directed readers to a petition which received a similar amount of signatures.[30] An anonymous commentary on Strumia's talk and the community response was published in Areo magazine.[31]

One supporter of Strumia was the former string theorist Luboš Motl.[32] Physicist Sabine Hossenfelder intrigued by some of Strumia's findings performed an alternative analysis using a different database. Only after accounting for disproportionately higher rates of women leaving the field the sex differences become negligible.[30][33]

On March 7 2019, CERN confirmed that Strumia's status as guest professor will not be continued.[34][35] Following this announcement, Strumia uploaded an unofficial recording of the event on a newly started website. The blog stated that his position was misrepresented by the media and the authors of the "Particles for Justice" website.[30][36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "CV: Alessandro Strumia". Università di Pisa. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  2. ^ Riccardo Barbieri; Lawrence J. Hall; Alessandro Strumia (1995). "Violations of lepton flavor and CP in supersymmetric unified theories". Nucl. Phys. B. 405: 219. doi:10.1016/0550-3213(95)00208-A.
  3. ^ G. D'Ambrosio; G. F. Giudice; G. Isidori; A. Strumia (2002). "Minimal flavor violation: an effective field theory approach". Nucl. Phys. B. 645: 155. arXiv:hep-ph/9811291. Bibcode:2002NuPhB.645..155D. doi:10.1016/S0550-3213(02)00836-2.
  4. ^ Barbieri, Riccardo; Pomarol, Alex; Rattazzi, Riccardo; Strumia, Alessandro (2004). "Electroweak symmetry breaking after LEP-1 and LEP-2". Nucl. Phys. B703: 127–146. arXiv:hep-ph/0405040. Bibcode:2004NuPhB.703..127B. doi:10.1016/j.nuclphysb.2004.10.014.
  5. ^ Giudice, G. F.; Sibiryakov, S.; Strumia, A. (26 September 2011). "Interpreting OPERA Results on Superluminal Neutrino". Nuclear Physics B. 861 (1): 1–16. arXiv:1109.5682. Bibcode:2012NuPhB.861....1G. doi:10.1016/j.nuclphysb.2012.03.008.
  6. ^ Overbye, Dennis (24 October 2011). "Particles Faster Than the Speed of Light? Not So Fast, Some Say". The New York Times.
  7. ^ G. Degrassi; S. Di Vita; J. Elias-Miro; J. R. Espinosa; G. F. Giudice; G. Isidori; A. Strumia (2012). "Higgs mass and vacuum stability in the Standard Model at NNLO". JHEP. 1208: 098. arXiv:1205.6497. Bibcode:2012JHEP...08..098D. doi:10.1007/JHEP08(2012)098.
  8. ^ "Observation of a new boson at a mass of 125 GeV with the CMS experiment at the LHC". Physics Letters B. 716 (1): 30–61. 17 September 2012. arXiv:1207.7235. Bibcode:2012PhLB..716...30C. doi:10.1016/j.physletb.2012.08.021.
  9. ^ Wolchover, Natalie (1 June 2013). "New Physics Complications Lend Support to Multiverse Hypothesis". Scientific American.
  10. ^ a b "New metrics rank physicists and their work". Physics Today. 2018. doi:10.1063/pt.6.1.20180607a.
  11. ^ Cirelli, Marco; Franceschini, Roberto; Strumia, Alessandro (29 March 2008). "Minimal Dark Matter predictions for galactic positrons, anti-protons, photons". Nuclear Physics B. 800: 204–220. arXiv:0802.3378. doi:10.1016/j.nuclphysb.2008.03.013.
  12. ^ Jaffe, Andrew (2 September 2008). "Stealing Data?". Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  13. ^ Brumfiel, Geoff (2 September 2008). "Physicists aflutter about data photographed at conference". Nature. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  14. ^ Stemwedel, Janet (5 September 2008). "Data paparazzi". Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  15. ^ "1st Workshop on High Energy Theory and Gender". CERN. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  16. ^ a b Castelvecchi, Davide (1 October 2018). "CERN suspends physicist over remarks on gender bias". Nature.
  17. ^ Strumia, Alessandro; Torre, Riccardo (2018). "Biblioranking fundamental physics". arXiv:1803.10713 [cs.DL].
  18. ^ Jackson, Marie; Scott, Jennifer (3 October 2018). "Women in science: 'We want to be accepted into the club'". BBC News. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  19. ^ Ghosh, Pallab (1 October 2018). "Cern scientist: 'Physics built by men – not by invitation'". BBC News. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  20. ^ Oberhaus, Daniel (1 October 2018). "Top CERN Scientist Suspended for Presentation That Argued There Is No Sexism in Physics". Vice. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  21. ^ "Activists Must Stop Harassing Scientists". Quillette. 1 April 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  22. ^ Sastre, Peggy (14 March 2019). "Peggy Sastre - Quand des féministes harcèlent des scientifiques". Le Point (in French). Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  23. ^ "Updated statement: CERN stands for diversity". CERN. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  24. ^ "CERN scientist Alessandro Strumia suspended after comments". BBC News. 1 October 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  25. ^ Giuffrida, Angela; Busby, Mattha (1 October 2018). "'Physics was built by men': Cern suspends scientist over remarks". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  26. ^ McKenna, Josephine (1 October 2018). "Italian lecturer suspended by CERN for 'physics invented by men' speech". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  27. ^ "Note of the Rector of the University of Pisa: Ethical proceedings against Alessandro Strumia". University of Pisa. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  28. ^ Ghosh, Pallab (5 October 2018). "Scientists condemn professor's 'morally reprehensible' talk". BBC. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  29. ^ Mandelbaum, Ryan F. (5 October 2018). "More Than 200 Physicists Denounce Sexist Lecture at CERN". Gizmodo. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  30. ^ a b c "La replica di Strumia e le disuguaglianze di genere nella ricerca". Hookii. 17 March 2019. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  31. ^ "Gender controversy comes to physics: A response to the statement against Alessandro Strumia". Areo. 31 October 2018. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
  32. ^ Sahadat, Ianthe (5 October 2018). "Theoretisch natuurkundigen schrijven antiseksismebrief" (in Dutch). de Volkskrant. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  33. ^ Flaherty, Kevin (2 October 2018). "The Leaky Pipeline for Postdocs: A study of the time between receiving a PhD and securing a faculty job for male and female astronomers". arXiv:1810.01511.
  34. ^ Ghosh, Pallab (7 March 2019). "Cern cuts ties with 'sexist' scientist" – via
  35. ^ "CERN splits with scientist over offensive remarks on women". 7 March 2019. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  36. ^ "ENG – The gender talk at CERN" (in Italian). 28 January 2019. Retrieved 31 March 2019.

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