of the antiproton; Nobel Prize for Physics
Emilio Gino Segrè was born in Tivoli, Rome,
on January 30, 1905 (his birth certificate was
not filed until February 1). He attended schools
in Tivoli and Rome before entering the University
of Rome as an engineering student in 1922. He
changed his major to physics in 1927, studied
under Professor Enrico Fermi, and received his
doctorate in 1928. After service in the Italian
Army in 1928 and 1929, he returned to the
University of Rome as an assistant to Professor
Corbino. In 1930, a Rockefeller Foundation
Fellowship allowed him to work with Professor
Otto Stern at Hamburg, Germany, and Professor
Pieter Zeeman at Amsterdam, Holland.
In 1932, Segrè was appointed Assistant
Professor at the University of Rome, where he
participated in neutron experiments directed by
Fermi in which many elements, including uranium,
were bombarded with neutrons, and elements
heavier than uranium were created. Those
experiments led to the discovery of slow
neutrons, which have properties important to the
operation of nuclear reactors.
In 1936, Segrè was appointed Director of the
Physics Laboratory at the University of Palermo,
and it was there that he and Carlo Perrier
the world's first artifically produced element.
In 1938, while visiting the Radiation
Laboratory of the University of California at
Berkeley, Segrè learned that the Fascist
government of Italy had passed laws forbidding
Jews from holding academic positions, so he
accepted a research associate position at the
laboratory. Here, he and Glenn Seaborg isolated
technetium-99m, which is now used in some ten
million medical diagnostic procedures a year. In
1940, he, Dale R. Corson, and Kenneth Ross
MacKenzie discovered the element astatine, the
rarest natural element in the Earth's crust.
Later that same year, he, Joseph W. Kennedy, and
Arthur C. Wahl isolated plutonium-239, which was
later used in the first atomic bomb and in the
bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.
From 1943 to 1946 Segrè was a group leader in
the Los Alamos Laboratory of the Manhattan
Project. He became a naturalized citizen in 1944.
He returned to the University of California at
Berkeley as a Professor of Physics after the war,
and remained there until retiring in 1972. It was
during the latter tenure that he and Owen
Chamberlain used the Radiation Laboratory's new
bevatron particle accelerator to discover the
antiproton, on September 21, 1955, and it was for
that discovery that the two shared the 1959 Nobel
Prize for Physics.
Segrè was appointed professor of nuclear
physics at the University of Rome in 1974, but
returned to the United States after reaching the
mandatory retirement age a year later. He died in
Lafayette, California, on April 22, 1989.
Encyclopædia Britannica http://www.britannica.com/biography/Emilio-Segre
Nobel Prize http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1959/segre-bio.html
Notorious Names Database http://www.nndb.com/people/821/000099524/
Prize for Physics
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