Italian-born American physicist who was cowinner, with Owen Chamberlain
of the United States, of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1959 for the
discovery of the antiproton, an antiparticle having the same mass as
a proton but opposite in electrical charge.
Segre left Rome in 1936 to become director of the physics laboratory at the University of Palermo. One year later he discovered technetium, the first man-made element not found in nature. While visiting California in 1938, Segre was dismissed from the University of Palermo by the Fascist government, so he remained in the United States as a research associate at the University of California, Berkeley. Continuing his research, he and his associates discovered the element astatine in 1940, and later, with another group, he discovered the isotope plutonium-239, which he found to be fissionable, much like uranium-235. Plutonium-239 was used in the first atomic bomb and in the bomb dropped on Nagasaki.
From 1943 to 1946 Segre was a group leader at the Los Alamos Scientific
Laboratory, Los Alamos, N.M. He was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in
1944 and was professor of physics at Berkeley (1946-72). In 1955, using
the new bevatron particle accelerator, Segre and Chamberlain produced
and identified antiprotons and thus set the stage for the discovery
of many additional antiparticles. He was appointed professor of nuclear
physics at the University of Rome in 1974. He wrote several books, including
Experimental Nuclear Physics (1953), Nuclei and Particles (1964), Enrico
Fermi: Physicist (1970), and two books on the history of physics, From
X-rays to Quarks: Modern Physicists and Their Discoveries (1980) and
From Falling Bodies to Radio Waves (1984).
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