History of the Rome Division
The National Research Council created the National Institute of Nuclear Physics, on 8 August 1951, for the purpose of coordinating the scientific activities of the three study centres already established at the time: the Study Centre for Nuclear Physics and Elementary Particles in Rome, the Study Centre for Fast Ions in Padua, and the Experimental and Theoretical Centre for Nuclear Physics in Turin. Of these, the oldest was the one in Rome, housed in the Institute of Physics at the University and created on the initiative of Edoardo Amaldi and Gilberto Bernardini immediately after the end of WWII, in October 1945.
With the foundation of the National Committee for Nuclear Research in 1952, which supervised, among other things, the financing of the INFN, the first four Divisions were officially constituted: in addition to those of Rome, Padua and Turin, there was also the newborn Division of Milan. For the first few years, the research activity of the Rome Division focused on cosmic rays, continuing a tradition that had been inaugurated in Rome in the late 1930s, and that was best exemplified in a series of experiments on mesotrons conducted by Marcello Conversi and Oreste Piccioni during the war, culminating in 1946, with the contribution of Ettore Pancini, in the fundamental discovery of leptons of what was then called the meson of cosmic rays. Even before the establishment of the INFN, the Roman Centre had completed in 1948 the construction of the Grey Head Laboratory for the study of cosmic rays.
The physicists of the Division actively participated in the international collaborations of 1952 and 1953 for the high-altitude launching of balloons with nuclear emulsions. At the beginning of 1955, in one of these emulsions scientists found a trace that could be interpreted as evidence of the annihilation of an antiproton, which gave rise to a long partnership with a group of physicists at Berkeley for the study of the new particle. One of the first challenges was to overcome the relative lack of preparation of Physics graduates in the research field of the Division, due to the absence in the Italian university of the time of a post-graduate level of training comparable to the PhD programme. Eventually, the first Post-graduate School in Physics was founded at the Institute of Physics of the University of Rome in 1952. Initially focused on topics of interest in nuclear and elementary particle physics, over the years the courses offered have expanded their range of topics, playing a role similar to that of doctoral courses, until the official establishment of the latter in the university system, and contributing to the growth in the Roman Institute of lines of research complementary and parallel to those of strict relevance to the INFN.
The story of the INFN Division in Rome was closely intertwined with that of the Institute of Physics, especially in the early years, during which the position of Director of the Division was automatically assumed by the person who held the position of Director of the Institute, as shown below: Edoardo Amaldi (1951-1960), Marcello Conversi (1960-1961), Giorgio Salvini (1961-1963), Marcello Conversi (1963-1966) and Marcello Cini (1966-1967).
The two positions of Division Director and Institute Director were eventually decoupled in 1968. The subsequent list of the Division Directors is as follows: Nicola Cabibbo (1967-1969), Marcello Beneventano (1969-1972), Carlo Bernardini (1972-1975), Romano Bizzarri (1975-1978), Luciano Paoluzi (1978-1981), Bruno Borgia (1981-1984), Guido Altarelli (1984-1987), Guido Ciapetti (1987-1993), Ubaldo Dore (1993-1996), Maurizio Lusignoli (1996-1999), Emilio Petrolo (1999-2005), Speranza Falciano (2005-2011), Marcella Diemoz (2011-2019), Aleandro Nisati (2019- ).
Edited by Prof. Giovanni Battimelli
The 70 years of INFN
On April 14, 2022, in the Amaldi Room of the Physics Department of Sapienza, the celebratory event for the 70th anniversary of the birth of INFN took place. During the event, the role of the Rome section and the salient moments of its history were remembered.
On the occasion of the event, on the Facebook page of Rome INFN, posts were published that report the most important information in the history of the Section.
The agenda of the event is available at this link.