Emilio Segr – Biography of Emilio Segr

was an Italian-American physicist who won, together with the American Owen Chamberlain, the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1959, for the discovery of the

, an antiparticle that has the same mass as a proton but opposite in electrical charge.

Segrè He was born on February 1, 1905 in Tivoli, Italy. Initially he began engineering studies at the University of Rome, in 1922; but later he studied with Enrico Fermi and received his doctorate in physics in 1928. In 1932 he was appointed assistant professor of physics at the University of Rome, and two years later he participated in Fermi-led neutron experiments, in which many elements, among them uranium, they were bombarded with neutrons, creating elements heavier than uranium. In 1935 they discovered slow neutrons, which have important properties in the operation of nuclear reactors.

Segrè he left Rome in 1936 to assume the direction of the physics laboratory of the University of Palermo. A year later he discovered the technetium, the first element created by man that is not found in nature.

During his visit to California in 1938, Sgrè was fired from the University of Palermo by the fascist government, for which he remained in the United States as a research associate at the University of California, Berkeley.

Continuing his research, he and his collaborators discovered the element astat in 1940, and later, with another group, discovered the plutonium-239 isotope, which proved to be fissionable, as did the uranium-235. Plutonium-239 was used in the first atomic bomb and in the bomb dropped on Nagasaki.

From 1943 to 1946 Segrè led a group at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, in Los Alamos, New Mexico. He became a naturalized United States citizen in 1944 and was a physics professor at Berkeley (1946-1972). In 1955, using the new particle accelerator bevatron, Segrè and Chamberlain produced and identified antiprotons, laying the groundwork for the discovery of many additional antiparticles. For this discovery, Segrè and Owen Chamberlain received, in 1959, the Nobel Prize in Physics.

He was appointed professor of nuclear physics at the University of Rome in 1974. He wrote several books, including Experimental Nuclear Physics (1953), Nuclei and Particles (1964), Enrico Fermi: Physicist (1970), and two books on the history of physics: From X-rays to Quarks: Modern Physicists and Their Discoveries (1980) and From the Fall of the Bodies to the Waves of Radior (1984).

Emilio Segrand died of a heart attack, in Lafayette, United States, on April 22, 1989.