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Women in Science

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Video clip: Daniela explains her scientific optimism is related to her enjoyment of physics, which grew from reading a physics book as a child.

I, actually it manifested in almost a very formal way from early on. I read a book written by a Russian scientist living in the US about the revolution of quantum mechanics and relativity. And you would think that at twelve years old I would not be drawn by that. But for me, and maybe because of the word revolution, I just felt that it was amazing that people could think about quantum mechanics and relativity because they were not concepts that you could observe, you could see in the reality around you. I don't know why at such an early age I thought that that was so remarkable. It's amazing that now I'm a particle physicist and so I deal with elementary particles, and elementary particles are very small so you have to use quantum mechanics to describe them. And they travel very fast so you have to use relativity to describe them. So, it's almost like I'm doing what I was dreaming of when I was twelve years old. I find it amazing that life could get you into this circle and that you go back to your beginning.

And sometimes when, because it's not always fun to be a professor, sometimes things don't work, sometimes things take longer than you expected but I always have this feeling that I'm able to go back to the dream, I'm able to be patient, to try harder and not to get too frustrated with it, to just keep going. When I set off on a road, I keep going.

Mm. So, you seem to have quite a remarkable attitude.

I do have a remarkable attitude, very optimistic at the end and I think that to be a scientist you do have to be optimist in my opinion because really everything that could go wrong usually goes wrong, like sooner or later. And so, you really have to be persistent. I always feel like being a little bit stubborn is also good because it keeps you on the road, you keep dreaming. I'm going back a little bit, I searched for the Higgs Boson for many years. I was working in experiment in the US at Fermilab at a collider nearby Chicago, which was called the Tevatron Collider, and I had six students doing theses on searching for the Higgs Boson and at the end we found the Higgs Boson in the experiment I worked on at CERN in Geneva Switzerland, at the large Hadron Collider in 2012. So you have to be so persistent that you arrive almost at the point that you think, “Oh maybe just, it just is not there”. And then you get the surprise and the data shows you that in fact it was there. And it's just a wonderful feeling. But you have to be confident. You have to keep your hope high.