Cesare Lattes, Nuclear Scientist

Date: 1969
Owner: Sistema de Arquivos da Universidade Estadual de Campinas
Source Type: Images


Brazilian nuclear physicist Cesare Mansueto Giulio Lattes (1924-2005) who helped discover the pi meson, or pion, and worked extensively with cosmic rays was a leading contributor to atomic physics in the years after World war II. The child of Jewish-Italian immigrants, Lattes attended the University of Sao Paulo where he earned his degree in physics before receiving a grant to study with Cecil Powell's research team at the University of Bristol in 1947. Using a newly designed photographic plate, Lattes was able to record the passage of a new kind of atomic particle, the pion, as cosmic rays traveled through it. Lattes discovered that adding Boron to the plates prevented the tracks from fading, and used this technique to record the first artificially produced pion while working with Eugene Gardner at the University of Berkeley's cyclotron. He also used his specially designed plates to record pions, muons, and alpha particles in cosmic rays from a research station on top of the Bolivian Andes. All of this was accomplished while in his early twenties. Lattes would later have a leading role in the Brazilian-Japanese Collaboration on Cosmic Rays and took part in the establishment of the Brazilian Center for Research in Physics. He maintained a prominent place in Brazilian and international science until his death in 2005, doing much to facilitate and popularize the study of advanced physics in Brazil.

CITATION: Cesare Lattes. Collection of the Sistema de Arquivos da Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil.