This morning the European Gravitational Observatory in Cascina (EGO) hosted a visit by the Regional Councillor for Infrastructure and Transport of Tuscany, Stefano Baccelli, with a significant delegation of representatives from the municipalities in the area hosting the Virgo experiment: the mayor of Cascina Michelangelo Betti with councillors Cristiano Masi, Irene Masoni and Claudio Loconsole; the Councillor for Public Works and Town Planning of Collesalvetti Mila Giommetti and the mayor of Fauglia Alberto Lenzi. The visitors were welcomed by EGO director Stavros Katsanevas and EGO deputy director Massimo Carpinelli, who guided them on a tour of the Virgo gravitational wave interferometer, the only infrastructure of its kind in Europe. The visit was followed by a fruitful exchange of ideas on issues that are of concern to all involved, such as the accessibility of the Virgo site, the possible social impact of technological developments related to research conducted at EGO, and the increasingly important connection of the research centre with local communities.
“It was an exciting experience to visit today, for the first time, the infrastructure of the Cascina European Gravitational Observatory and the Virgo gravitational wave detection experiment, the only one of its kind in Europe,” said Stefano Baccelli, Regional Councillor for Infrastructure and Transport for the Region of Tuscany. “Apart from the obvious scientific value of this site, the potential for synergies with the local area, the spin-offs of the cutting-edge technologies developed here to society, and the involvement of the population are equally significant. This is an international excellence that we want to enhance. As the Region of Tuscany, we have been asked to do our part in terms of improving logistics, both in terms of the number of researchers from all over the world who already work in this complex, and in terms of the potential for visits and scientific tourism that this Tuscan excellence certainly offers. We will work together to improve accessibility”.
“I am very pleased with the increasingly close connection that has been established with the municipalities and territories that host Virgo,” said EGO Director Stavros Katsanevas. “These are increasingly strong links that have allowed us to organise initiatives together to include citizens of all ages in science. It is clear that the municipalities around Virgo are interested in creating a strong regional network, which we also strongly support. To study the distant universe we must first understand the environment around us and the society in which we live. Attention to local realities, with an eye towards the universal, has always been, from the Renaissance to today, a great strength of Tuscany, and also for this reason it was a pleasure and an honour to welcome today’s visit of Councillor Baccelli and the other representatives of the municipalities to our site.”
“It was an interesting visit,” said the mayor of Cascina Michelangelo Betti, “which gave us the opportunity to update ourselves on the objectives and the state of the art of the experiment. The presence of the regional councillor Baccelli gave us the opportunity to reflect on the connection of Virgo to the road system of our municipality and neighbouring ones. We had confirmation of the relevance of the gravitational waves experiment, also in relation to other centres around the world. From the infrastructural point of view, we discussed the access roads, and for Virgo the access roads in the Cascina, Collesalvetti and Fauglia areas are important: we will carry out a study of traffic flows and an analysis of the state of the roads leading to the centre, because after two years of pandemic, there is the possibility of a strong growth in scientific tourism”.
EGO, the European Gravitational Observatory, founded by the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics and the French CNRS, is located in Cascina, in the countryside near Pisa. EGO is home to Virgo, an interferometer with 3 km long arms for detecting gravitational waves, which is one of the three largest and most sensitive detectors of its kind in the world, and involves research centres and scientists from 15 different countries. The European Gravitational Observatory is also engaged in projects related to the impact of gravitational wave research on society, promotes intensive communication and involvement of non-scientists in research (citizen science), organises events and exhibitions for the general public and is dedicated to the search for new languages at the intersection of art and science.