Oral History Interviews

Interviews that offer unique insights into the lives, works, and personalities of modern scientists

Edoardo Amaldi on his work in Italy in 1939 and switching from fission to neutron-proton scattering.

Oral history audio excerpt

Edoardo Amaldi on his work in Italy in 1939 and switching from fission to neutron-proton scattering.

Weiner:

But there was work actively going on.

Amaldi:

Oh, yes, in all places. In the United States work was going on in a wonderful way. And in that period I met for the first time Herbert Anderson. He was just a student working very nicely. I remember with a great pleasure when I met Anderson for the first time.It is also a pleasure when I meet him now. I remember the impression of Anderson— very young, very enthusiastic; he had just started to work with Fermi. He was extremely nice with me, very nice, because he was very much worried. He was very much worried by the fact that in some way they had got Fermi, and we had lost him. It was very nice. He was extremely nice in his attitude. It was very pleasant.

Weiner:

This was the summer of 1939, so they were working on...

Amaldi:

They were working on fission, and I understood quite well that they were doing some work that they did not like so much to talk about. You understand this. It's part of the business. We were working on fission in Rome and doing something very similar. Then we stopped, because we said, "Why should we do? This is something that will become a very hot matter, and we are here. What do we do? All of these people don't understand anything. But, on the other hand, it does not make sense to try to do by ourselves here. And, on the other hand, if they understand it is important, then we are maybe forced to do some work that we don't like to do So it's better to stop the work on fission and work on the neutron-proton scattering. That's a very nice scientific subject but with no danger." So we started to change. I had a lot of discussion with Giancarlo Wick on that.