NSS Luncheon

Monday, October 18, 2004 , 12:00-14:00 

Advances in Radiotherapy: from the Discovery of X-Rays to Hadrontherapy

Speaker: Professor Ugo Amaldi

University of Milano Bicocca and TERA Foundation


The talk will be preceded by a short recollection of the discovery of neutron induced radioactivity made in Rome seventy years ago by Enrico Fermi and collaborators, a fundamental step in the development of nuclear and medical physics.

The main subject will be tackled with an overview of the development of X ray radiotherapy, starting from the first attempts in 1896 and ending with Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy. The latter part will then describe the use of hadron accelerators in cancer therapy. The technique of hadrontherapy was proposed by Bob Wilson more than fifty years ago, but only in the last ten years have cyclotrons and synchrotrons been developed as effective medical tools. The focus will be on hospital-based centers featuring proton and/or carbon ion beams and, in particular, on the study made at CERN to design an optimized synchrotron for carbon ions (PIMMS) and on the centers designed by GSI (HICAT) and TERA (CNAO), which are at present under construction in Heidelberg and Pavia. Finally, the very recent developments of hadron linear accelerators will be discussed.

Ugo Amaldi was the Director of Physics Research at the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Rome) during the late 1960s. In 1973 he then moved to CERN as Senior Scientist, a position he occupied for more than twenty years. In 1995 he was nominated full Professor by the University of Milan and at present teaches Medical Physics at the University of Milano Bicocca. He is a member of the Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze (Rome) and Doctor Honoris Causa at the Universities of Uppsala, Lyon, Helsinki and Valencia. He has studied single particle states in nuclei at the electron-synchrotron in Frascati (1964), started a new line in atomic physics research, Electron Momentum Spectroscopy (1967) and discovered the rise of hadronic cross-sections with energy at CERN (1973). He made the first proposal for a high-energy linear collider (1975) and published a much-quoted paper about the supersymmetric unification of the four fundamental forces (1991). In 1980 he proposed, with a group of colleagues, an experiment for LEP at CERN called "DELPHI" (Detector with Lepton, Photon and Hadron Identification) which was constructed by about 500 physicists and engineers. Ugo Amaldi was then the spokesman of DELPHI from 1980 to 1993. In 1992 he created the TERA Foundation, a non-profit organisation which aims at realizing modern radiotherapy techniques based on hadron beams. Professor Amaldi has published about 400 scientific papers, two treaties on radiation physics and more than twenty textbooks in physics. By now, more than one million Italian high-school students have learnt physics from his books.