Does CMS exist in the Disney Universe?

Interview with Luigi Marchese

Have you ever wondered if the CMS experiment exists in the Disney Universe? Surely it does (probably with a slightly different name!), because muons are important in that universe as well! 

On July’s issue n. 3527 of the Italian magazine “Topolino”, kids could read a disney comic about muons… and CERN was also featured! 

How did this happen? Luigi Marchese, a CMS postdoc at ETH Zürich and the co-creator of this story on muons, explains below! 

    1.    How did you come up with this initiative?

LM: The idea crossed my mind during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was home, in lockdown. Talking to a cousin of mine, I realized how stressful remote schooling was for parents and kids. Her daughter  was really struggling with this new form of learning. Hence, I thought that it could have been easier to reach kids in a world they are more familiar with. The idea was to bring some of the most important breakthroughs in different fields in their world rather than forcing kids to study science at home. Hence, I reached the editorial board of “Topolino” to propose this idea. They were enthusiastic! Leveraging on my network, I then assembled  a team of scientists to develop a set of stories. In 2022 we published a story on searches for life on Mars, followed by an astrobiologist  who works on the current NASA/ESA projects on Mars. This year we published my story and, on September 13th, there will be another one on gravitational waves. The latter has been followed by a colleague who is a leading scientist in the field and works also with the LIGO collaboration.  From the feedback we got, the idea was rather successful, as kids are really enjoying the stories. I am then currently working on new ideas for future projects in the same direction.  

    2.    What is the story of the comic about?

Piece of this month's issue, where Gyro Gearloose explains what are the cosmic muons
Credits: @Disney, taken from “Topolino" n. 3527 “Zio Paperone e l'inghippo del Muone”

LM: The story is about muons and their application to everyday life. After a major attack by the Beagle Boys, Uncle Scrooge needs to perform an investigation of the interior damage of its Money bin. And of course … he doesn’t want to spend a single cent. After consulting Gyro Gearloose, he discovers the fantastic world of cosmic muons, which are free! Hence, thanks to these Disney characters, we perform a muography ( = muon radiography) of the money bin. Later, we develop even more the technique by performing a muography of several mountains in different islands. It was really fun to work with Disney artists to develop a story. The hardest part was to develop a story, which could be both scientifically accurate and easy to be understood by kids.To come up with a realistic muography, I assumed the bin composition and made some calculations based on a recent paper. In short, developing a Disney story is way more complex than what I thought before this tomorrow in Contò experience. 

    3.    Is there a direct reference to CERN in the story? What is CERN’s role in the story?

LM: The CERN outreach team was involved in all the steps during the development of the story. And yes … CERN is even part of the story. In the Disney world you generally translate real institutes and people into their Disney comics characters. This is how CERN became CERP, “Centro di Eminenti Ricerche Paperopolesi” - Center of Eminent Duckburg Researches. They help by providing Uncle Scrooge with the needed muon detectors. Also, the publication date during the week of July 4th,  was chosen to celebrate the Higgs boson discovery at CERN. This Topolino issue included an interview of mine, after the story, where I explained the importance of muons for the Higgs boson discovery. Kids were invited to send me questions about CERN and muons. We will publish replies and more info about CERN in a new issue of the magazine in 2023. 

CERN is being mentioned on the comic as CERP
CERN is mentioned in the comic as CERP. Credits: @Disney, taken from “Topolino" n. 3527 “Zio Paperone e l'inghippo del Muone”

    4.    Where does the passion for comics come from?

LM: When I was a kid, I loved reading the Italian comics magazine “Topolino”. Growing up, I also discovered the Xmen and Diabolik comics. I still remember many summer holidays when I was 6 and I used to spend all my weekly pocket money at the comics store buying the last issue of the magazine Topolino and many other Disney magazines. The problem was just that I usually read all the stories in one day and … I needed to wait another week to have more money and new issues on sale! 😉  It’s thanks to the “Topolino” comics that I have discovered science and archaeology. My favorite characters were, and still are, Donald Duck, Gyro Gearloose and Indiana Pipps. 

    5.    Have you ever felt like a character in a comic book doing your research in Particle Physics? 

LM: That’s a great question. I have never thought about it. Now that you mention it, when struggling to find a solution with a code or with the upgrade of a system, sometimes I have felt a bit like Donald Duck or Goofy. No doubt, on many occasions I would have loved to have the brilliant talent of Professor X to solve science issues. 

    6.    What is your research about at CMS?

LM: I currently work on lepton flavour universality violation studies. In the Standard Model (SM) of particle physics the three charged leptons, for instance electrons and muons, are supposed to have the same coupling when participating in electroweak interactions. However, there might be differences, which could open a window to new physics beyond the SM. The measurement I am working on studies differences between tau-leptons and muons. It has just recently been published, CMS-PAS-BPH-22-012. In parallel, I also serve as an expert for the safety and control systems of the ECAL sub-detector during data-taking operations. In the past, as a member of ATLAS I worked on the muon reconstruction performance and Higgs decays involving (also) muons. Let me put it this way… I can say that I have been friends with muons for a long time. 


Disclaimer: The views expressed in CMS blogs are personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent official views of the CMS collaboration.