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Documents, photographs, and objects which once belonged to the great Pisan physicist have been donated to the University of Pisa's Bruno Pontecorvo Centre

Thirty years after his death, Unipi and INFN have arranged a conference at “Palazzo Blu” for delving into the first years after the physicist’s move to the Soviet Union

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Documents, photographs, and objects once belonging to the Pisan physicist Bruno Pontecorvo will be donated by his son Gil to the “Pontecorvo Centre” of the Physics Department at the University of Pisa on Friday 22 September, during the conference "Bruno Pontecorvo. The lord of neutrinos, but not only ...". Among them there is also his original Lenin Prize awarded for scientific merits, his bag, and his personal papers as a university lecturer. His son has been safeguarding these items for several decades, testifying to his father’s role in the history of physics and to the prominence of his scientific activities in the USSR, the country to which he secretly moved in 1950 with his family and a 12-year-old Gil, beyond the Iron Curtain at the time of the Cold War.

During the conference the results of a long-standing research project carried out by Gloria Spandre, Rino Castaldi and Vincenzo Cavasinni, members of the Pontecorvo Centre, will be presented. The research involves the notes written by Bruno Pontecorvo after his arrival in the Soviet Union and collected in some biographical notebooks in which the physicist from Pisa wrote in English, Italian and Russian too. The notebooks make it abundantly clear that once Pontecorvo arrived in the USSR he did not carry out studies on the atomic bomb, rather he conducted important experiments in fundamental physics using the accelerator built in Dubna, which at the time was the most powerful in the world.

Bruno Pontecorvo 1955 1

Organised by the Pontecorvo Centre and the Pisa division of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics to celebrate 30 years since his death, the conference aims to commemorate the scientific and human figure of Bruno Pontecorvo, who was born in Pisa on 22 August 1913.

A pupil of Enrico Fermi and later his collaborator in experiments with slow neutrons in the famous laboratory in Panisperna street Rome, Bruno Pontecorvo can certainly be counted among the greatest physicists of the last century for his brilliant insights and discoveries in the field of fundamental physics. In the Auditorium of “Palazzo Blu” starting at 2.30 p.m., the speakers will talk about some of the topics Pontecorvo explored, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, when he worked at the Dubna Nuclear Physics Research Centre. In particular, results recently discovered in laboratory notes and some scientific articles translated from Russian will be discussed. Measurements taken from the first particle accelerators, competing with those made by Fermi in Chicago, and certain theories, first and foremost that of neutrino oscillations, are milestones in the history and evolution of scientific thinking in physics. Even today, fundamental physics finds inspiration for new developments and discoveries from those ideas and measurements.

  • 19 September 2023

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