A physicist is like a chef, but with more blundering10th July 2017
When I finished my Bachelor's thesis, I was still interested in physics, but I was not able to choose which was my favorite field. I was very confused and undecided. Let's imagine that you are in a very good restaurant with a big menu with all your favorite dishes. Ok, I confess it: I am very greedy and I love sweets, cakes and pastries. And in the menu of physics, the dessert is the nuclear physics. But it's not over here...How can you choose between so many sweet things?
The physics, that I studied at the University, seemed too much theoretical and I wanted to do something more practical and immediate. So, I looked for a possible application of nuclear physics. There are lots of possibilities, but the one that fascinated me more was hadron therapy.
Hadron therapy is an elegant technique that uses heavy particles (in general proton and Carbon ions) for the treatment of tumor. The hadrons are very precise projectiles. The energy deposition is characterized by the Bragg Peak: it is relatively small at the begin and reaches a maximum at the end of their range followed by a decrease to almost zero values. The range of heavy particles depends on their energy and this allows, setting an appropriate energy, to delimit the dose to the tumor tissue, saving as much as possible the surrounding healthy tissue. This is AMAZING!
During the last three years I have studied the energy deposition of hadrons in a water phantom. The beam profile is like a cocktail of physical processes: stopping, multiple Coulomb scattering and nuclear interaction. As any good recipe, the Bragg peak cocktail is secret and in my work I try to do a puzzle (or better a model) of all interactions. During my typical working day, looking the results of Monte Carlo simulations, I check and validate my model. It is a creative and not boring job... obviously there are good and bad moments, but I really like it!
One of the aspects that I prefer about my job is to go to attend courses and conferences, because in addition to meet colleagues and learn new things, it also allows me to travel. I love traveling and during my PhD I have enjoyed some beautiful European cities. Another beautiful thing of my job is to have very passionate and sometimes crazy colleagues.
There are many other wonderful things in my work, but I'll tell you in the next post!
See you soon,