Rome’s Center for Mathematics and Theoretical Physics
After its official inauguration, the Center for Mathematics and Theoretical Physics intended to bring some of the world’s finest scientific minds to its new institute in Rome. Administrators for the center hoped that this concentration of scientists would attract other prominent researchers from around the globe to come and test the boundaries between mathematics and physics. The plan seemed certain of success since there are three universities in Rome that are home to experts in a number of pertinent disciplines, including quantum field theory and differential geometry. Researchers from these universities have inherited and expanded upon the legacy left by Roman scientists of the past, such as Enrico Fermi, a renowned nuclear physicist. Furthermore, these scientists can bring with them several million euros which the European Union has provided in the form of research grants. There is just one flaw in this plan. The newly established center does not have the space to accommodate those who have been invited.
Roberto Longo, director of the center, and his colleagues have asked Gianni Alemanno, mayor of Rome, for a building which they could use to house the institute’s headquarters. Their several requests have all gone unanswered. The goal of this center is to invite and then host both established and younger scientists for a few months. While in residence these researchers could study specific themes in science. This approach is intentionally similar to that of the Newton Institute in England and the Schrodinger Institute in Austria. Longo and his associates hope that one of the effects of this center’s work will be the establishment of contacts with some Italian scientists who have emigrated to find work in other countries. Ultimately, they wish to make it possible for these scientists to return to Italy permanently. At the moment, however, Director Longo can only show visitors a room with about 25 square meters of floor space that hosts nothing more than a few desks and a pair of computers.