The Training of a Nuclear Physicist

in The Pontecorvo Affair

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780226816647
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226816661 | DOI:
The Training of a Nuclear Physicist

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This chapter investigates Bruno Pontecorvo's education and early training as a scientist. It concentrates on the role played in his formation by practical applications and patents deriving from the nascent research in nuclear physics. As a scientist, Pontecorvo learned the significance of evaluating the advancement of science in the light of its applications, and envisaged practical uses for the artificial production of radioisotopes. When he moved to Rome to work with Enrico Fermi, he became accustomed to the significance of uniting the study of interesting and novel phenomena with the prospect of industrial advancement. Science continued to be the key element of Pontecorvo's life, but it later became an integral part of his activism, thus marking a discontinuity with the period of his life spent in Rome. Political participation never led him to relinquish his perception of science as a “business.”

Keywords: scientist; nuclear physics; Bruno Pontecorvo; radioisotopes; Enrico Fermi; activism; Rome; education

Chapter.  9452 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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