Wednesday, April 24, 2013

1304.5612 (Luisa Bonolis)

International scientific cooperation during the 1930s. Bruno Rossi and the development of the status of cosmic rays into a branch of physics    [PDF]

Luisa Bonolis
During the 1920s and 1930s strong relationships established between Italy and other European countries such as Germany, Great Britain and France, as well as with some physicists of the U.S. scientific community. Bruno Rossi, a leading personality in the study of cosmic rays and the pioneer of this research field in Italy since the early 1930s, is a prominent example in this sense. During those turbulent years in European history, when physics underwent major changes and the traditional internationalism of physics assumed a more institutionalised character, his early work was crucial in transforming the field in a branch of modern physics. His friendly relationship with eminent scientists -notably Enrico Fermi, Walther Bothe, Werner Heisenberg, Hans Bethe, Homi Bhabha- was instrumental for the exchange of knowledge about experimental practises and for theoretical discussions, as well as in attracting the attention of physicists such as Arthur Compton, Louis Leprince-Ringuet, Pierre Auger and Patrick Blackett on the problem of cosmic rays. Relying on material coming from different archives in Europe and United States, this case study is aiming at providing a glimpse on the intersection between national and international dimensions during the 1930s, at a time when the study of cosmic-rays was still very much in its infancy, strongly interlaced with nuclear physics, and full of uncertain, contradictory and puzzling results. Nevertheless, as a source of high-energy particles it became a proving ground for testing the validity of the laws of quantum electrodynamics and gave a fundamental contribution to the first steps of particle physics.
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