© The Nobel Foundation
Emilio Segre

American Jewish Recipients of the Nobel Prize


Emillio Gino Segre: Nobel
Prize in Physics Recipient-1959

by Seymour “Sy” Brody

Emillio Gino Segre was an American Jewish recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, 1959, which he shared with Owen Chamberlain fo their discovery of the antiproton.

He was born on February 1, 1905, in Tivoli, Italy. He was the son of Amelia Treves and Giuseppe Segre, who was an industrialist. He enrolled in the University of Rome to study engineering, in 1922. He switched to physics in 1927 and under the sponsorship of Enrico Fermi, he received his Doctor of Engineering Degree, in 1928.

Segre served in the Italian Army in 1928 and 1929. Upon leaving the military, he became an assistant to Professor Corbino. In 1930, he was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship and he worked with Professor Otto Stern, who was to become a Noble Prize Laureate, in 1943. They worked together in Hamburg Germany.

He was appointed Director of the Physics Laboratory at the University of Palermo, 1936-1938. He was visiting California when he received a notice that Dictator Benito Mussolini had dismissed all Jewish teachers at the universities. Serge was now classified as an indefinite emigre and he remained in the United States.

He was offered a job as a Research Assistant, for $300, which was a paltry sum for a physicist who had discovered an element. He helped to discover the element astatine and isotope plutonium-239, which was used to make an atom bomb. He worked on the Manhattan Project from 1043-1946.

In 1944, he became a naturalized American citizen.

He became a professor at the University of California at Berkley, 1946-72. He was a professor of nuclear physics, at the University of Rome, in 1974.

Dr. Emilio Segre has been co-discoverer of three classical elements: technetium, in 1937, astatine, in 1940 and he was co-discoverer with his former student, Owen Chamberlain, of the antiproton, in 1955.

Emilio Segre was married Elfriedo Spiro and they had a son, Claudio, and two daughters, Amelia and Fausta.

Dr. Emilio Segre had received many honors and awards:
● Fulbright Scholar, 1951
● Guggenheim Fellow, 1953
● Member of National Academy of Sciences
● Member of American Physical Society
● Member of Academy of Sciences, Heidelberg, Germany
● Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Italy
● Received the Hoffman Medal, German Chemical Society
● Cannizzaro Medal, Italian Accademia dei Lincei
● Honorary Professor of San Marcos University, Peru
● Honorary Degree, University of Palermo, Italy

Emilio Gino Segre died on April 22, 1989, in Lafayette, California, of a heart attack.


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