Wonderful opportunity to own a field-specific grouping of 41 volumes on nuclear physics from the personal library of Nobel Prize winning physicist and one of the primary contributors to the development of the Atomic Bomb, Emilio Segre.
Emilio Segre [1905-1989] was born in Italy and studied under the famed Italian physicist, Enrico Fermi. In 1932 he was appointed Assistant Professor under Fermi at the University of Rome.
While visiting California to conduct research in the summer of 1938, Benito Mussolini's fascist government passed laws barring Jews from holding University positions. As a result, Emilio and his wife remained indefinite emigre, or refugees, in California. He was offered at job at the Berkeley Radiation Lab, an area he had already been successfully researching in Italy. He thrived there.
His status as an Italian refugee was not without complications. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, and the subsequent United States declaration of war upon Italy, Segrè was officially an enemy alien and was cut off from any military adjacent work and from communication with his parents.
By late 1942, his skill as evident, and at last Robert Oppenheimer asked Segrè to join the Manhattan Project at its Los Alamos Laboratory. Segrè shortly became the head of the laboratory's P-5 (Radioactivity) Group, which formed part of Robert Bacher's P (Experimental Physics) Division. For security reasons, he was given the cover name of Earl Seaman. He moved to Los Alamos with his family in June 1943.
Segrè's group set up its equipment in a disused Forest Service cabin in the Pajarito Canyon near Los Alamos in August 1943. His group's task was to measure and catalog the radioactivity of various fission products.
The group measured the activity of thorium, uranium-234, uranium-235 and uranium-238, but only had access to microgram quantities of plutonium-239. The first sample plutonium produced in the nuclear reactor at Oak Ridge was received in April 1944. Within days the group observed five times the rate of spontaneous fission as with the cyclotron-produced plutonium. This was not news that the leaders of the project wanted to hear. It meant that Thin Man, the proposed plutonium gun-type nuclear weapon, would not work and implied that the project's investment in plutonium production facilities at the Hanford Site was wasted.
In June 1944, Segrè was summoned into Oppenheimer's office and informed that while his father was safe, his mother had been rounded up by the Nazis in October 1943. Segrè never saw either of his parents again. His father died in Rome in October 1944. In late 1944, Segrè and Elfriede became naturalized citizens of the United States. His group, now designated R-4, was given responsibility for measuring the gamma radiation from the Trinity nuclear test in July 1945.
Hear an interview with Segre on the Manhattan Project, here: Emilio Segrè's Interview | Manhattan Project Voices
In 1959 he won the Nobel Prize for Physics for the discovery of the antiproton particle.
He is remembered as one of the 20th centuries most accomplished and influential physicists. The Emilo Segre lecture continues to this day, he was editor of the Annual Review of Nuclear Science from 1957 - 1997, discovered two elements, a new atomic particle, and was perhaps the critical person in isolation Plutonium 239 for weaponization.
The present grouping from his personal library all contain at least the simple stamp "Library of Emilio Segre" at the base of the front pastedown, and many have various other personal ownership marks, stamps, signatures, bookplates, or textual marks. The 1976 volume is a presentation to him celebrating his 20 years of editorial work, another has a printed and signed bookplate of Segre, etc.,
The volumes themselves are of substantial value without the important provenance. The group contains:
1. Nuclear Physics in Retrospect. University of Minnesota. 1970. Includes an essay by Emilio and a photograph. Very good condition.
2. Mesons and Fields by Schweber [ed.]. 1955. Two volumes. Vg. No dustjackets. A pencil formula in margins in Segre's hand.
3. Perspectives of Fundamental Physics. Proceedings of the Conference Held at the University of Rome 7-9 September, 1978. Ed. Carlo Schaerf. Harwood Academic. No copies available. This volume alone a $1,000 book. Contribution by Segre and photograph as well.
4. Discovering Alvarez. Selected works of Luis W. Alvarez. 1987. Contributions by Segre.
5. Elementary Theory of Nuclear Shell Structure. 1955. Very good copy.
6. Quantum Theory of Matter by John Slater. 1968 Second Edition. Very good copy.
7. Theoretical Nuclear Physics by Blatt and Weisskopf. 1952. Very good with original autographed bookplate.
8. The Annual Review of Nuclear Science. 1952-1981 in 31 separately issued volumes. Emilio was editor of this important academic publication for 20 of the 31 years, and an active contributor. One volume inscribed, Proceedings in Honor of Emilio Segre, Editor 1957-1977. Autographed by physicist and arms control expert, Sidney Drell; physicist J. Robb Grover; German born Jewish physicist Gertrude Scharff Goldhaber who also escaped during WWII; physicist Lawrence Wilets, etc.
9. Two Volume, Experimental Nuclear Physics, edited by Emilio. No copies on the market we can locate.
41 volumes in all.