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A Mind Always In Motion: The Autobiography Of Emilio Segre

by Emilio Segre

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From Publishers Weekly
This memoir by a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project covers that dramatic episode, and others, in the history of modern physics, but the book remains more the story of the man than of an era. Born to a bourgeois Italian Jewish family in 1905, Segre came of age in Fascist Italy, and emigrated to the U.S. in 1938. His career paralleled those of Glen Seaborg, Ernest Lawrence and Luis Alvarez; Enrico Fermi was his friend and mentor. Segre's early research in nuclear decay led to patented isotopes and filled in several places on the periodic table; later he was on Robert Oppenheimer's team at the Los Alamos nuclear test site. In 1959, he won a Nobel Prize for the discovery of the anti-proton. As an inveterate letter writer and diarist, Segre could have provided a window on interpersonal controversies among the fathers of fission, but he tactfully declines to report on his relationships with colleagues, never mind settling scores (although he makes an exception for Edward Teller). For general readers with an interest in the history of nuclear physics, Segre, who died in 1989, is among the most personable witnesses.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Book Description
The renowned physicist Emilio Segrè (1905-1989) left his memoirs to be published posthumously because, he said, "I tell the truth the way it was and not the way many of my colleagues wish it had been." This compelling autobiography offers a personal account of his fascinating life as well as candid portraits of some of this century's most important scientists, such as Enrico Fermi, E. O. Lawrence, and Robert Oppenheimer.
Born in Italy to a well-to-do Jewish family, Segrè showed early signs of scientific genius--at age seven he began a notebook of physics experiments. He became Fermi's first graduate student in 1928 and contributed to the discovery of slow neutrons, and later was appointed director of the physics laboratory at the University of Palermo. While visiting the Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley in 1938, he learned that he had been dismissed from his Palermo post by Mussolini's Fascist regime. Lawrence then hired him to work on the cyclotron at Berkeley with Luis Alvarez, Edwin McMillan, and Glenn Seaborg.
Segrè was one of the first to join Oppenheimer at Los Alamos, where he became a group leader on the Manhattan Project. His account of that mysterious enclave of scientists, all working feverishly to develop the atomic bomb before the Nazis did, includes his description of the first explosion at Alamogordo.
Segrè writes movingly of the personal devastation wrought by the Nazis, his struggles with fellow scientists, and his love of nature. His book offers an intimate glimpse into a bygone era as well as a unique perspective on some of the most important scientific developments of this century.



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