Chapter

Ten Million Reasons to Disappear

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226816661.003.0005
Ten Million Reasons to Disappear

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This chapter discusses Bruno Pontecorvo's decision to leave the West, which stemmed from his growing concerns about proceedings against the Atomic Energy Commission in relation to the slow neutron patent. Pontecorvo felt the looming danger like a cloud hanging over his head, and it led him to risk ruining his already shaky career and private life. These preoccupations made him behave erratically during his holiday in Italy, and ultimately propelled him toward life-changing decisions. Both Bennett Boskey's response to Gabriello Giannini's claim and the Patent Compensation Board proceedings regarding the slow neutron patent were informed by analysis of the security issues regarding the claimants in general and Pontecorvo more specifically, especially in light of Emilio Segrè's doubts. The publication of his name could have developed a scandal of major proportions, indicating that a communist atomic scientist was now ready to challenge the US government in court.

Keywords: Bruno Pontecorvo; Atomic Energy Commission; slow neutron patent; Bennett Boskey; Gabriello Giannini; Patent Compensation Board; Emilio Segrè

Chapter.  8955 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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