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In Memoriam

Nicola Cabibbo, (1935 - 2010)

In Memoriam

Nicola Cabibbo

Nicola Cabibbo, Italian physicist and chair of ICTP's Scientific Council, died Monday 16 August in Rome. A leading theoretical physicist at the University of Rome La Sapienza, Cabibbo was actively involved with ICTP for many years, presenting at conferences and helping with the Centre's strategy as the Italian government's representative to ICTP, a member of the ICTP Scientific Council since 1997, and then as its chair since 2006.

Last week ICTP had awarded its prestigious Dirac Medal to Cabibbo and to Indian-American physicist Ennackal Chandy George Sudarshan of the University of Texas for their fundamental contributions to the understanding of weak interactions and other aspects of theoretical physics.

ICTP Director Fernando Quevedo, who had contacted Cabibbo on August 8 to personally notify him of the Dirac award, said that the news had come as a pleasant surprise to Cabibbo.  "He was very happy to receive the award and to share it with George Sudarshan," said Quevedo, adding that for both winners the award was recognition long overdue.

Both winners were to be presented their awards by the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, at ICTP's high-level science conference in November. Quevedo said that a friend or colleague of Cabibbo's would be invited to accept the award on his behalf.

Through his long years of service to ICTP, Cabibbo was able to help the Centre in its ongoing mandate to promote science in developing countries. He once commented on the meaning of dignity for scientists from the developing world: "It means not merely to maintain a good scientific level, but to be heard and respected in one's own country. It means not to be discriminated against in international scientific journals. It means to feel part of a larger community despite hailing from a country where political elites rarely display interest in science and where science rarely has a practical impact on society. Thanks to ICTP, these scientists share a common home away from home."


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