January 30, 1905–April 22, 1989
BY J. DAVID JACKSON
EMILIO GINO SEGRÈ made important contributions to atomic and nuclear physics and discovered two new elements. He shared the Nobel Prize in physics with Owen Chamberlain in 1959 for the discovery of the antiproton. Segrè was born in Tivoli, Italy, on January 30, 1905 (recorded officially as February 1). He died suddenly in California on April 22, 1989. His youth, spent growing up in a well-to-do Jewish family in Tivoli, was apparently a happy time. After high school he entered the University of Rome, initially majoring in engineering but later in physics. He pursued graduate studies and attained his doctorate in 1928. Military service consumed 1928-29. He then returned to the University of Rome and began research in atomic spectroscopy under Enrico Fermi.
In the period 1929-32 he was an assistant to O. M. Corbino, while also holding a traveling Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship that permitted him to visit and work with O. Stern in Hamburg and P. Zeeman in Amsterdam. In 1932 he became the equivalent of an assistant professor under Fermi. In 1934 the Fermi group switched from atomic spectroscopy to nuclear physics to work on the interactions of neutrons with matter, making Rome the center of research with this new tool for nuclear transformations.