“Science offers the most complete account of the origin of life”

Guido Tonelli, Milan, May 2019. Adolf Frediani

Guido Tonelli, Professor of Physics at the University of Pisa (Italy), took part in the adventure of discovering the so-called Higgs boson at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN). In fact, he was the spokesman for the Muon Solenoid Compact Experiment (CMS), one of two experiments installed next to the LHC particle accelerator, which, in 2012, discovered the last particle missing in a hunting board.

originally (Danod, 256 pages, € 19.90), the Italian researcher explains in seven stages how life arose from the initial void in humans, through matter and light, stars and galaxies … by explain some of the most delicate stages of life. In this fascinating story, Guido Tonelli uses images and metaphors borrowed from the world of art, mythology or religion.

Why did you want to write the history of the origins as contemporary science understands it?

I talk a lot with religious people, and I realized by communicating with them, but also studying history, the importance of having stories about their origins. This knowledge of the sequence of each link is essential for humanity. It makes us stronger. Science offers the most complete and detailed account to explain the appearance of matter, stars, planets and life …

The universe follows the rules gradually discovered by science. But beware, scholars should not be angry with religion. Faith and reason are two different things. Both bring important stories to men by reassuring them.

How can we be reassured that we discover while reading rays of destructive particles, starbursts, black holes that are swallowed despite the colossal expansion of space …?

Yes, it is true, some parts of the universe are horrible, chaotic and not at all reassuring. But wherever we are, it’s very quiet: the black hole in the heart of our galaxy is far away and very dormant. I find that acknowledging that all of this is possible is reassuring. I am enjoying life more by having all this knowledge. But we have not yet talked enough about the ethical and philosophical consequences of the new concepts generated by modern science.

What do you mean ?

al XVII. In the last century, the discoveries of Galileo and Newton as well as the empirical method were a revolution, and then they affected our entire culture: we are somehow the products of these ruptures. Then general relativity and quantum mechanics constituted another revolution. Not only does it allow for incredible technical progress, it also offers a change of vision and new worldviews. You can see the connections between artists and intellectuals such as Freud, Pirandello, Schoenberg, Kokoschka.

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