About book “Life and ideas of Bruno Pontecorvo”

Publications, 26 January 2022

The book about an outstanding physicist, student of E. Fermi, who worked in Dubna since 1950 Bruno (Maximovich) Pontecorvo was published by the “EKSMO” publishing house in 2021. Stepan Shimanskiy, senior researcher of the Laboratory of High Energy Physics JINR tells about the book and its author.

The author of the book is one of the leading JINR physicists M.G. Sapozhnikov. He had the happiness of working with the hero of the book. In 1980 the author of this note attended a course of lectures or rather two parallel courses on elementary particle physics given by M. G. Meshcheryakov and B. M. Pontecorvo at the branch of the Institute of Nuclear Physics of Moscow State University. Naturally, these were unforgettable lectures by two outstanding physicists complementing each other. And each course had a unique shade of personal understanding, and what is especially interesting, personal rethinking and living all the grandiose discoveries and revolutions in particle physics, which became the basis for modern high-energy physics. It is clear that only physicists who themselves participated in the formation of this physics could read such courses. I would especially like to emphasize that the book was written by the physicist about physicist and must be of interest to young employees of the Institute. The author tells not only about the interesting man but also about physics as well as about his ideas and accomplishments which have become classics of modern physics. It is important that physics is expounded by the author of the book, who many times demonstrated the deepest understanding of physics and himself made a significant contribution to physics. Moreover, the author of the book is the author of another remarkable book: Sapozhnikov M. G. “Is Antiworld a Reality?”, Znanie, 1983. The preface to this book was written by B. M. Pontecorvo.

From the Preface of the book

Bruno Pontecorvo’s life story is waiting for its filmmaker. He can make a biographical film about a great scientist whose ideas have received recognition in the form of six Nobel Prizes. He can shoot a big family saga about the fate of a wealthy family of textile manufacturers from Pisa during the Mussolini era. A detective story about Bruno’s escape with his family to the USSR. The drama of a real communist losing his ideals in the era of glasnost and perestroika.

Bruno is interested for me as a great scientist and as a wonderful man. He entered my life with an article in the magazine “Yunost” which I read in the eighth grade. I clearly remember the mysterious city of happiness – Dubna, where the celestial physicists and the mysterious Pontecorvo live. This article has changed my life in many ways. I was very lucky – childhood dreams became a reality. Ten years later on the bulletin board of the Physics Faculty of Moscow State University I saw that Academician Pontecorvo invites students to his department and arranges a lecture on neutrino physics. At this meeting, I saw Bruno for the first time and was simply fascinated. Both by what he said and by how he looked. I chose of course to work at the Bruno department for my diploma. I ended up in Dubna – the fantasy continued. My scientific destiny was largely connected with the verification of Bruno’s ideas. I am proud that introduced together with L.A. Kondratyuk into scientific use the term “Pontecorvo reactions” – a special class of antiproton annihilation reactions with nuclei which Bruno predicted through six months after the discovery of the antiproton.

M.G. Sapozhnikov