Fabiola Gianotti: The woman at the leading edge of physics - CNN.com: EXCERPT | "Housed in an underground facility straddling the border between France and Switzerland, CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) is the beating heart of modern physics research. A collaboration of 20 member states, it's also where the world wide web was invented in 1989.
After 18 years at CERN, Gianotti became spokesperson and coordinator of the lab's ATLAS experiment, which employs 3000 scientists. Her role -- a democratically elected position -- is to lead the experiment's strategic planning and present its findings to international media."
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"Of course, mankind has made giant steps forward," she says. "However, what we know is really very, very little compared to what we still have to know."
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The daughter of a geologist, Gianotti says she grew up with a love of nature and an immense curiosity about the world around her, fueled by "endless" walks in the mountains, when her father would stop to show "a flower or a plant or a little insect."
As a teenager, Gianotti became interested in philosophy, "a discipline that at least asks the fundamental questions," but took the unusual step of choosing to study physics at university.
"Physics also tried to address the fundamental questions, and often could give an answer," she says. "Perhaps not the final answer, perhaps just a little step forward. I liked it immediately," she says.
Although she moved from artistic fields into science, Gianotti, who also studied piano at Milan Conservatory, says "art and physics are much closer than you would think".