Carlo Franzinetti

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Carlo Franzinetti (March 31, 1923 in Rome – November 28, 1980 in Llantwit Major) was an Italian experimental physicist.[1]

Carlo Franzinetti

Personal biography[edit]

Carlo Franzinetti was born in Rome, son of Guido Franzinetti, a music critic, and Ada Guastalla, a mathematician and linguist.[2] He was married to Prof. Joan Rees.[1]

During the German occupation of Italy, he was an active member in Resistance Movement. He was one of the leaders of a student group of anti-fascist activists that included Carlo Lizzani, Maurizio Ferrara, Dario Puccini, and other important figures in the development of post-war Italy.[3]

He graduated from the University of Rome "La Sapienza" in Physics with a thesis about projects of construction of an isotope separator based on thermophoresis.

His professional scientific career started when he was 25 (8 May 1948), when he published the article "Emission of Li8 in the Explosive Disintegration of Nuclei" with R.M. Payne in the science journal Nature.[1][4]

Cosmic radiation research[edit]

In 1947 he joined the University of Bristol as a Research Assistant at the H.H. Wills Physical Laboratory, under the guidance of Nobel Laureate Prof. C. F. Powell. Powell's team's research looked at the sub-nuclear structure of matter through the study of cosmic rays with nuclear emulsion.[1]

In 1950 he returned to Rome but he continued his study of cosmic rays. One of the ideas that came out of Powell's team was an expedition in the Mediterranean region to study cosmic radiation at high atmosphere (25 to 30 km) using aerostatic balloons carrying photographic emulsion. Carlo followed the expedition, which took place during the summers of 1952 and 1953 in Naples and in Cagliari, with researchers and students from 13 different physics institutes from various countries. Thirteen balloons were launched, 3 of which were test balloons. Of the other ten, 7 were recovered and 40% of the emulsions had been exposed to cosmic radiation.[5]

Study of neutrinos[edit]

In 1962 he began working in Geneva as a Senior Physicist at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).[2] During his time there he played a key role in promoting and working with the Heavy Liquid Bubble Chamber, Gargamelle,[6] where he also conducted his studies of neutrinos. The first report for the request of a common European Heavy Liquid Chamber at CERN was submitted by André Lagarrigue but, needing the support of Italian and possibly British physicists, he contacted Franzinetti. Franzinetti led the Italian group concerned with the proposal and construction of the Heavy Liquid Chamber, Gargamelle.[6] At CERN he studied, at different energies, with neutrino and antineutrino beams, on different kinds of targets, the production of pions and strange particles, elastic and quasi-elastic interactions, and, through analysis of the interactions of Neutrinos, he studied the form factors of nucleons.[1]


His interest in biophysics started during his time in Pisa. During his time in Turin he led a biophysics team of students from the Universities of Turin and Pisa, which conducted studies on visual perception. He followed students alongside Giuseppe Moruzzi, a physiologist at the University of Pisa.[7]


  • Born in Rome on March 31, 1923.[1]
Carlo Franzinetti (Left) and Bruno Pontecorvo (Right)


  • Borsa di Studio Carlo Franzinetti. On his death, INFN, (Istituto Nazionale di FIsica Nucleare), instituted a scholarship in his name which was won by Claudio Santoni.[9]
  • Aula Carlo Franzinetti. Lecture hall named in honor of Carlo Franzinetti at the University of Turin in the Institute of Physics[10]


  • C. Franzinetti. Particelle, Editori Riuniti, Rome, 1982.
  • C. Franzinetti and G. Morpurgo. An Introduction to the Physics of the New Particles


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Verde, Mario. Atti dell' Accademia delle Scienze di Torino. Torino: L' Accademia, 1980-81. Print. (With Thanks to Maria Itala Ferrero and Alberta Marzari Chiesa)
  2. ^ a b Bemporad, Carlo. Ricordo di Carlo Franzinetti (1923-1980).
  3. ^ Pavia, Aldo. La Resistenza a Roma
  4. ^ C. Franzinetti and R.M. Payne. Emission of Li8 in the Explosive Disintegration of Nuclei, Nature 161. 8 May 1948
  5. ^ a b European Council for Nuclear Research Report on the Expedition to the Central Mediterranean for the Study of Cosmic Radiation. Rome, 30 September 1952.
  6. ^ a b J. Krige, History of CERN, III. Elsevier, 18 Dec 1996.
  7. ^ a b La Fisica pisana dopo la Seconda Guerra Mondiale (1947-1982)
  8. ^ Kay, Ernest. Dictionary of International Biography, Volume 14. Cambridge: International Biographical Center, 1978. Print.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2013-07-04. 
  10. ^ Maria Itala Ferrero and Alberta Marzari Chiesa. Ricordo di Carlo Franzinetti In occasione dell' inaugurazione dell' aula del Dipartimento di Fisica Sperimentale a lui dedicata. Turin.