The American life

My arrival in the United States coincided with the news of the discovery of nuclear fission. Taking inspiration from the fission of the uranium nucleus obtained by Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman in December 1938, Lise Meitner and Otto Frisch demonstrated that by bombarding a nucleus of a heavy element with a neutron, the former […]

The Nobel Prize

November 10, 1938. A telephone rings early in the morning. The sound is sudden, unexpected, shrill and peremptory.  I soon understood. The phone call comes from Stockholm. It is the Nobel Commission. But there is no time to rejoice. The trip to Sweden is an opportunity to implement a plan my wife Laura and I […]

Slow-neutron-induced radioactivity

The theory of beta decay played a fundamental role in orienting my subsequent research on neutron-induced radioactivity. In January 1934, the French spouses Frédéric Joliot (1900-1958) and Irène Curie (1897-1956) made a revolutionary discovery: the creation of new radioactive elements by bombarding some light elements of the periodic table, such as boron and aluminium, with […]


​​In the years immediately following Antoine Henry Bequerel’s discovery of radioactivity, Ernest Rutherford observed that the radiation emitted by the atom was of at least two distinct types. The first, which he called alpha radiation, was quickly absorbed by matter; the second, beta radiation, was much more penetrating. A third type of radiation, even more […]

The first Nuclear Physics Congress in Rome

Between the end of the 1920s and the first months of the 1930s, research in Nuclear Physics was an almost new field in Rome. The first works in this area were my article of 1926 and Ettore Majorana’s degree thesis – one of the first applications of Quantum Mechanics to Nuclear Physics in Italy –  […]


Enrico Fermi’s first discovery I published my first significant work, the Theory of Fermion behaviour, in February 1926. The fame of the article reached as far as England; the English physicist Paul Dirac (1902-1984) read it, but he immediately forgot about it because the problem did not fall within his interests at the time. Yet, […]


It all began with the unification of Italy and the choice of Rome as the capital of the new kingdom. Quintino Sella, a politician and scientist, had a great project in mind: Rome would play a political and scientific role


The Historical Museum of Physics that bears my name is located in Rome, via Panisperna, in the same building where we made the discoveries that earned me the Nobel Prize in 1938.