FT.com introduces us to the genteel, cultured Fabiola Gianotti – accomplished pianist, paleontologist’s daughter, coffee enthusiast, trained classicist… and the kind of person who hunts the Higgs boson:
Nature is her ultimate inspiration, Gianotti says, and she explains how she inherited her love of it from her father, an Italian micropaleontologist. His work meant the family was mainly based in busy cities, first Rome and later Milan, but he ensured his young daughter was taken on excursions to the great outdoors at every opportunity.
“I remember very long walks in the mountains, where we stopped at every step to admire a little plant or a little butterfly,” she says.
An ammonite fossil, well known for displaying nature’s Fibonacci code, sits on her coffee table, a strong reminder of those times with her father, as well as a clue to guests that this is the home not just of a scientist but of a modern Renaissance woman.
The flat is dominated by contemporary furniture, arranged throughout an open-plan sitting room and adjoining dining area, but there is an eclectic range of objects on display: a small metal elephant, statues and pots from her grandmother, antique opera glasses, a backgammon set. A large Japanese screen painting is positioned on the wall of the dining room and a number of other Japanese-themed boxes, cabinets and curios are scattered throughout the living space.
“Like in nature, I like things which are based on a few simple principles, even though their manifestation can be very rich,” she says.
The interiors also reflect her love of art, literature and music. For while Gianotti may have made a name for herself in physics, her schooling in Italy was focused almost exclusively on the classical humanities. It is a cliché, she says, that scientists are only interested in data and hard facts.
“There are many links between physics and art,” Gianotti says. “For me, physics and nature have very nice foundations from an aesthetic point of view, and at the same time art is based on physics and mathematical principle. If you build a nice building, you have to build it with some criteria because otherwise it collapses.”
[via Mr. Finfrock]