Exhibition dedicated to Bruno Pontecorvo opened in Dubna

News, 23 August 2023

The Bruno Maksimovich exhibition was opened in the exhibition hall of the JINR Cultural Centre “Mir” on 22 August, the 110th anniversary of the birth of an outstanding Italian and Soviet physicist Bruno Pontecorvo. The exhibition presents friendly caricatures by Mikhail Bilenky created in 1988, photographs of different years by Yuri Tumanov, and documents of the Memorial Office of the scientist in the Laboratory of Nuclear Problems at JINR. In addition, the event included the presentation of a brochure with memories of an outstanding scientist. DLNP JINR created and organized the event with the support of the Cultural Centre “Mir”.

JINR Director RAS Academician Grigory Trubnikov inaugurated the exhibition. He welcomed guests, especially those who had the good fortune to work and be friends with Bruno Pontecorvo. He thanked the exhibition’s organizers for the great work carried out carefully and with reverent attention to the memory of a famous physicist. “Today, we are celebrating the birthday of an outstanding scientist and man. Looking at the caricatures, we recall various stories associated with him. He was a special person. An aura of mystery surrounded him. As a scientist, he belonged to the whole planet. Many myths and legends became associated with his name. His friends and colleagues loved him, and the authorities loved him. Achievements of Bruno Pontecorvo were deservedly marked by all kinds of awards at that time, namely the Stalin Prize, the Lenin Prize, Orders of Lenin and the Red Banner. Bruno Pontecorvo really left a very bright mark in the history of our Institute. We highly appreciate that his name is associated with neutrino physics and neutrino oscillations all over the world. We are proud that such a person lived and worked in Dubna,” Grigory Trubnikov highlighted.

While speaking, DLNP JINR Deputy Director, Doctor of Physics and Mathematics Dmitry Naumov noted that the Laboratory cherished the memory of Bruno Pontecorvo. His office is still preserved in its original form, the Bruno Pontecorvo Prize has been awarded for many years, and grant support for young people named after an outstanding scientist is given as well. “This is a man who greatly influenced the neutrino physics and elementary particle physics, made many key discoveries. Based on his ideas, six Nobel Prizes have been received, and nowadays, a unique Baikal-GVD Deep Underwater Neutrino Telescope is being created with the JINR leading participation. Today’s exhibition is a tribute to our great colleague, recognition of the fact that his work is alive and developing,” Dmitry Naumov said.

In addition, he spoke about the history of the creation of caricatures presented at the exhibition. Their author is Mikhail Bilenky, the son of Samoil Bilenky, Doctor of Physics and Mathematics, Professor, a JINR chief researcher, a close friend and colleague of Bruno Pontecorvo. The drawings were created as a decoration for one of the performances staged by the legendary Phonograph theatre company, which active participants were DLNP staff members. The performances took place in the 80s and were a very important part of the cultural life in Dubna.

In his video message to the participants of the exhibition opening, Mikhail Bilenky shared memories of Bruno Pontecorvo, most of which were from childhood. He called communication with Bruno Pontecorvo communication with a “big man”, which gave him particular life orientations. Mikhail grew up in Dubna, after graduating from MIPT, he worked at DLNP JINR, where he defended his PhD thesis. Now he lives in Canada, in Vancouver, and works in the field of bionformatics.

Doctor of Physics and Mathematics, a DLNP JINR chief researcher, a colleague of a famous physicist Vladimir Komarov presented a brochure with memories of Bruno Pontecorvo. “He was extremely curious and entered science with this curiosity, where he continuously asked questions. Bruno Maksimovich was an idea generator. Running into dead-ends in a scientific search, when there were no answers, Pontecorvo still persistently tried to understand what was really going on, and a new idea was born. At the same time, he found the courage to convey this idea to a wide scientific community,” Vladimir Komarov said.

At the end of the event, a Doctor of Physics and Mathematics, Head of the Scientific and Experimental Department of Elementary Particle Physics, DLNP former director from 2003 to 2013 Alexander Olshevskiy congratulated Permanent Secretary and assistant to Bruno Pontecorvo Irina Pokrovskaya, who was in the audience, on the significant date.

Opening of Bruno Maksimovich exhibition on 110th anniversary of birth of Bruno Pontecorvo

At the end of a festive evening, a documentary film “Bruno Pontecorvo” directed by Ella Vlasova (“Science-Video”, 2003) was shown. A great scientist is recalled by his relatives, friends, and colleagues, namely his brother, a famous director Gillo Pontecorvo, sons Gil and Tito, a friend and colleague of the scientist Samoil Bilenky. In the film, you can see Bruno Pontecorvo himself. He talked about his teacher Enrico Fermi, and how Fermi and his students made an epoch-making discovery of neutron deceleration. Bruno Pontecorvo was among the students. The filming took place in Pisa, where the scientist was born, in Rome, where he studied, and in Dubna, where he lived most of his life.

The exhibition will be open until 3 September (daily from 1:00 to 7:00 PM). Monday is a day off. Admission is free.