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PHYSICS/ Amaldi (Catholic Culture Prize): Science and Faith are not incompatible

November Tue 20, 2012

(Infophoto)  (Infophoto)

Ugo Amaldi is the first scientist to receive the International Gold Medal of Merit for Catholic Culture, which was awarded Friday, Nov. 16. He is one of the most famous Italian physicists at the international level. He taught Physics at the Universities of Florence and Milan, and he was a Senior Scientist at CERN in Geneva. In 1992, he created the TERA Foundation, for the use of heavy particles (hadrons) in a new therapy for the treatment of radioresistant tumors. The award, established in 1983 by the School of Catholic Culture born in the wake of the apostolic spirit of Don Mantiero Didymus, has been awarded to people such as, among others: lay movement founder Don Luigi Giussani, writer Eugenio Corti, conductor Riccardo Muti , director Krzysztof Zanussi and Cardinal Ratzinger. The prize was awarded to Amaldi as “a man of deep faith”, inspired by a deep “love for science, for truth and for man... His expertise, his rigor towards a “wide” and never reductive concept of reason, his extraordinary ability to make even the most intractable problems of contemporary physics comprehensible, make him one of the most eloquent, though discrete, witnesses to the fact that Catholic culture is alive and well today”. Amaldi spoke with ilsussidiario.net.

Let’s start from one of the words in the title of the Prize: Culture. Science still struggles to be considered a full-fledged part of culture. Do you think that doing science means making culture?
Culture is everything that the human spirit is able to develop in its relationship with the world and with others. Science is simply a refined development of man’s relationship with nature. Unfortunately, despite the fact that our societies are based on scientific and technological progress, the notion that science is culture remains confined to experts. I do not think, however, that we can easily change the common view on the subject, also because I do not think that other cultural professionals have much interest in seeing this happen. They already feel displaced by the impressive advancement of science and I do not think they will ever aid the spreading of the idea that culture is much more than what they do.

The conditions in which science is done today may not facilitate the emergence of a broader perspective. Could extreme specialization and the fragmentation of research make scientists lose sight of the big picture and lead to a reductive and closed science?



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