Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist Emilio G. Segre Dies
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) _ Emilio G. Segre, a nuclear physicist who shared the Nobel Prize in 1959 as co-discoverer of the antiproton, died of a heart attack while walking near his home, it was announced Sunday. He was 84.
Segre died Saturday near his home in Lafayette, about 25 miles east of San Francisco, officials at the University of California at Berkeley said.
″Professor Segre was a scientist of great integity, dedication and conscience,″ UC Berkeley Chancellor Ira Heyman said Sunday. ″His discoveries will forever rank among the great contributions in physics, and his life will be a model for the best in science.″
Segre, a faculty member at UC Berkeley for almost 50 years and a scientist at the university’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, with fellow Berkeley physics professor Owen Chamberlain accepted the Nobel Prize in 1959, along with co- authors Clyde Wiegand and Thomas Ypsilantis.
He gained attention in the 1930s for discovering technetium (element 43), the first artificially produced element, and astatine (element 85).
A pioneer in chemical separation of nuclear isomers, Segre also was the first to observe the ″Zeeman effect″ in so-called ″forbidden spectra.″ The ″Zeeman effect″ is the splitting of a spectral line when a light source is put in a magnetic field and indicates the atoms’ changed energy levels.
Segre became the first student to earn a doctoral degree in physics under professor Enrico Fermi’s sponsorship at the University of Rome in 1928.
He was director of the physics laboratory at the University of Palermo from 1936 to 1938, but he and his first wife were of Jewish descent and Mussolini’s racial decrees made it impossible for them to remain in Italy after 1938.
They came to the United States, where Segre worked with Ernest O. Lawrence and others with cyclotrons that Lawrence invented. He became a group leader at the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, became a U.S. citizn 1944 and accepted a professorship at UC Berkeley’s physics department in 1946.
Segre once recalled his research with Chamberlain as they hunted for the antiproton that was predicted in earlier physics theory. They designed a maze through which only antiprotons could pass, and initially detected just 60 antiprotons.
″We had to sort them out and weigh them within much less than a millionth of a second,″ he said. ″If we had wanted to have them for a longer time, we would have had to dig a tunnel in the Berkeley hills to run after them.″
The antiproton is the opposite counterpart to the positively charged proton. It contains a negative electrical charge and opposite magnetic properties to the proton, but has the same mass.
Although Segre retired to emeritus status in 1972, he stayed active in research, lecturing and writing. Friends said that in recent weeks he had inquired about the possible ″cold fusion″ discoveries in Utah.
Segre was a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, was decorated with the Great Cross of Merit of the Republic of Italy and was given appointment as physics professor at the University of Rome in 1974.
He is survived by his wife, Rosa Mines; a son, Claudio, a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin; daughters Amelia Terkel of Tel Aviv, and Fausta Walsby of England; and five grandchildren.