Manhattan Project. A Story with many voices.

For the 2024 edition of our open conferences, we propose “Manhattan Project. A tale of many voices.”

Throughout the conferences – from January to May – we will try to explain what the Manhattan Project was from a scientific and historical point of view, with its human and ethical implications. We will rely on the voices of exceptional witnesses, with a perspective on the events that is all the more interesting as it is less official and celebrated.

The first conference, curated by Gianni Battimelli (Physicist and Historian of Physics, Sapienza University of Rome) and Leopoldo Nuti (Historian and Political Scientist, Roma Tre), will serve as an introduction to the others, bringing out the historical, social and scientific context in which the atomic bomb project is defined.

Simona Cerrato (Physicist, Writer, Science Communicator – ECSA, Berlin)  will tell us the story of Lise Meitner, the scientist who was the first to provide the scientific explanation of fission. Passionate, brilliant and determined, Meitner received recognition and humiliation in her life, suffering marginalization as a woman and as a Jew.

Paola Govoni (Historian of Science, University of Bologna) is entrusted with the task of examining the figure of Laura Capon in greater depth. Scientific communicator and life partner of Enrico Fermi, in “Atomi in famiglia”, she was able to tell with irony and lucidity not only her husband’s human and scientific biography but a historical era of changes and decisions.

The last appointment is with Bruno Pontecorvo. Also, in the United States, since 1940, he has been excluded from the Manhattan Project due to his communist ideas. Giuseppe Mussardo (Physicist and Writer, SISSA, Trieste) will tell his story and his move to the USSR.

To complete the story and give substance to the different voices, the conferences will be accompanied by readings taken from novels, essays and biographies chosen together with the speakers.


January 24, 5.00 pm
“The Manhattan Project” with Gianni Battimelli and Leopoldo Nuti
Stefano Massini, Manhattan Project, Einaudi

February 21st, 5.00 pm
“The strength of the atom. Lise Meitner tells her story” with Simona Cerrato
Simona Cerrato, La Forza dell’atomo, Lise Meitner si racconta, Editoriale Scienza
Ruth Lewin Sime, Lise Meitner. A Life in Physics, California University Press

13 March, 5 pm
“Fascism, Manhattan Project and Cold War: Laura Capon Fermi tells her story” with Paola Govoni
Laura Capon, Atomi in famiglia, Mondadori

May 15th, 5pm
“Maksimovich. The story of Bruno Pontecorvo” with Giuseppe Mussardo
Giuseppe Mussardo, Maksimovič. La storia di Bruno Pontecorvo, Castelvecchi
Miriam Mafai, Il Lungo Freddo: La storia di Bruno Pontecorvo, lo scienziato che scelse l’URSS, Rizzoli

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