Marco Fornaro

I am an engineer, a hypnotist, a coach, an intellectual, but above all I am a person who has always lived very intensely


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The Gaussian - Episode 3

2023-08-18 17:48

Marco Fornaro


The Gaussian - Episode 3

Several years later, when working at my degree thesis...

(continuing From: La Gaussiana Episode 2)


Several years later, physics I was in the first year, at the time the engineering degree required 5 legal years, and the average of those who managed to graduate (about 8% of first year students) was 7.8 years (source: prof Antonio Chiffi), on the occasion of my degree thesis I ventured into a job that required a good knowledge of computers and word processing/editing programs, not being sufficiently prepared on the subject I decided to turn to a friend and fellow student, Paolo , an older person than me, I don't remember if he had already graduated, I think so, but he still haunted the university environment, I found him an exquisite person, always kind and helpful, always ready to help, and with a in-depth knowledge of the university environment, of the people of the engineering faculty.

Speaking of the course of study, that memory came up and I told him about the data falsification process, and my doubts about how this event, in my opinion very unpleasant, had gone unnoticed, ignored at the time and for all the following years.

Talking about it with my friend Paolo, I explained that what left me most dumbfounded was the collective reaction or, better, the NOT reaction, it was absolutely clear that my experience had been lived by many, if not ALL the students of those years, but it was a taboo topic, no one talked about it, and if the topic was brought up everyone minimized what happened and laughed about it, rigorously avoiding any explanation/discussion.

Paolo smiled ineffably, with that expression on his face that I couldn't define and that I liked so much, a mixture of irony and compassion for the human race, and he told me the story as he knew it from indiscretions received from some insider friends in the environment: the camel-humped fact was well known, both to lab assistants, researchers and graduate students, right up to teachers, and was willfully ignored simply because a) Nobody knew what to do with it and b ) The investment for the lab had been substantial, and the last thing you wanted was for word to get around that it might NOT have been a good investment, they might even roll heads.

Paolo broadened his smile when he revealed to me that one of his researcher friends had investigated the phenomenon and had perhaps found a possible explanation: the hypothesis was that the group for stabilizing the electrical voltage (energy) of the laboratory, indispensable in the case of a laboratory of precise tests in which the electricity directly influenced the quantity measured as it limited the natural voltage fluctuations of the national electricity grid to a minimum, it was probably not of the necessary quality (and declared in the project): this meant that there were two possible states (or highly probable) in the apparatus and consequently in the resulting voltage, an almost imperceptible variation, but which in fact produced TWO distinct values of the electrical voltage supplied to the measuring benches, these were distributed randomly and with a probability of approximately 50% .

Obviously I have had no way of verifying this theory, but it undoubtedly provides a perfect explanation of the measurement: the measurement benches actually produced samples with a statistical distribution in the shape of a gauss, but since there are two possible "states" in the equipment which supplied the trolley energy, this was reflected in the production of two superimposed gauss curves, each with its clearly distinct sample mean (peak) specification.

Obviously the theory had been reported to the University staff, who had simply shrugged their shoulders and not followed up with concrete action, this because firstly it would have had to be officially admitted that something was wrong in the new expensive laboratory, and secondly because with in all likelihood any corrective action would have meant a further outlay of money, perhaps quite a lot.

So the teaching staff, the management of the physics faculty, had consciously decided that it was better to ignore it, simply continuing to scold the students if they did not find experimental evidence of a theory where there could be NO experimental evidence, with an aggressiveness proportional to the accuracy with which they highlighted the present anomaly, like many lies, it was a cost-free remedy, at least in the short term…..or until the next laboratory….


(To be continued: The Gaussian - The End)

Professional World Changer @ I do not mind about Rights, but will prosecute Liars 

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