A Mind Always in Motion: The Autobiography of Emilio Segrè by Emilio Segre

By Emilio Segre

The well known physicist Emilio Segrè (1905-1989) left his memoirs to be released posthumously simply because, he stated, "I inform the reality how it was once and never the best way a lot of my colleagues want it had been." This compelling autobiography bargains a private account of his interesting existence in addition to candid pix of a few of this century's most vital scientists, corresponding to Enrico Fermi, E. O. Lawrence, and Robert Oppenheimer.Born in Italy to a well-to-do Jewish family members, Segrè confirmed early indicators of medical genius--at age seven he all started a computer of physics experiments. He grew to become Fermi's first graduate scholar in 1928 and contributed to the invention of sluggish neutrons, and later used to be appointed director of the physics laboratory on the college of Palermo. whereas vacationing the Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley in 1938, he realized that he were pushed aside from his Palermo put up by way of Mussolini's Fascist regime. Lawrence then employed him to paintings at the cyclotron at Berkeley with Luis Alvarez, Edwin McMillan, and Glenn Seaborg. Segrè was once one of many first to hitch Oppenheimer at Los Alamos, the place he turned a gaggle chief at the long island undertaking. His account of that mysterious enclave of scientists, all operating feverishly to advance the atomic bomb earlier than the Nazis did, contains his description of the 1st explosion at Alamogordo.Segrè writes movingly of the non-public devastation wrought via the Nazis, his struggles with fellow scientists, and his love of nature. His booklet deals an intimate glimpse right into a bygone period in addition to a special point of view on one of the most very important clinical advancements of this century.

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We loved physics with an intensity comparable to that of physical human love; we thought and talked only about physics. Rapid progress followed, which further enhanced our passion. M. M. M. M. , Monday to Friday and on Saturday mornings. We never went to work after dinner and very seldom on Sunday. The institute closed on a regular schedule, and none of us had a key to the door. Saturday was a very interesting day because we frequently devoted Saturday mornings to planning future work. On Sunday we usually went on hikes with friends of both sexes, including many nonphysicists, but the physicists often formed a separate group after a while and started talking shop.

However, in my military service, I learned many other things besides physics. My captain taught me a card game called scopone , which I greatly enjoyed, and also revealed to me novel attitudes to life. I had been brought up with the idea that I should work, that everything had 60 to be taken seriously, and that I was expected to excel, or at least to do well. From my captain I learned that zeal was a grave fault; that many problems took care of themselves provided they were left alone; and that when one received an order, contrary to what we had been repeatedly told, prompt execution was imprudent, and that it was advisable to await its countermanding.

During my service in Rome, I managed to go once in a while to the laboratory and keep in touch, but I did not have time for experimental work. One day I was urgently called from the barracks at Forte Braschi to the Physics Institute at Via Panisperna. For some reason, all the scientists were away, and the factotum of the institute, who did not know English, was faced with an obviously important Indian visitor with whom he could not communicate. I rushed down and found that the visitor was none less than Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (18881970), who in 1930 received the Nobel Prize in physics for his work on the diffusion of light and the discovery of the Raman effect, on which Roman physicists had done important work.

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