chapter  2
13 Pages

To work or not to work in war research?: The case of the Italian physicist G. P. S. Occhialini during World War II


The small community of physicists in Italy was not active in war research during the Second World War. A number of factors – fewer physicists because of emigration due to Italy’s racial laws, their unwillingness to give active support to the Fascist government and its war policies, the general economic situation – reduced the amount of research in physics in Italy. While physicists in Italy continued with their scientifi c research, many Italian physicists abroad instead had to face the choice of whether or not to work for war research in the Allied countries. The case of the Italian physicist Giuseppe (better known by his nickname ‘Beppo’) Paolo Stanislao Occhialini (1907-1993)1 is an interesting one because of the changing conditions that affected his choices.