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Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare
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National Institute for Nuclear Physics

Giorgio Salvini, an internationally acclaimed physicist and father of the INFN Frascati Laboratories, the first national laboratory for particle physics, died in his home in Rome at the age of 95. He was born in Milan on 24 April 1920. “An extraordinary protagonist of the rebirth of Italian physics after the tragedy of the diaspora and the war,” recalled Fernando Ferroni, INFN President. “He accepted the task of organising and coordinating the construction of the synchrotron at the Frascati Laboratories while still very young. A machine that was born from the desire to project the National Institute for Nuclear Physics into the excellence of world physics, and which he made reality along with a team of young enthusiasts. In his long and wonderful scientific career, the optimism of will always prevailed and this is a legacy which INFN will try to always treasure,” concluded Ferroni. Salvini’s first significant scientific work was done clandestinely, hidden from his Professor and supervisor Giovanni Polvani, in the rooms of the Institute of Physics of the University of Milan. These were the last years of World War II and Giorgio Salvini was a young lieutenant of the Alpine Corps, surprised like many by the armistice of 1943. It was from this work that Salvini started to get noticed. At that time, he was working on the meson interactions in nuclei, before moving on to deal with cosmic rays. With this line of research he obtained his first success and recognition, the chair and invitation to Princeton by his American colleagues in 1949. In those years he consolidated friendships and important collaborations with other young physicists, such as Gilberto Bernardini, Edoardo Amaldi and Ettore Pancini, and continued to successfully work on cosmic rays and particle detection. On returning to Italy, he taught General Physics and in 1953 was appointed, still very young (just 33 years of age) director of the national project for the construction of a 1,000 MeV electron synchrotron in Frascati. Thus the first of a series of machines that allowed the Frascati National Laboratories of the National Institute for Nuclear Physics to become a leading-edge research centre in the field of high energy physics was born. When Salvini left in 1960, the Laboratories were well developed and had also become an important training centre for the Italian school of accelerator physics which, with AdA collider and the insights of the Austrian physicist Bruno Touschek, opened the new fundamental era of storage rings. From 1966 to 1970 he was President of INFN which, under his guidance, finally obtained full legal autonomy. Having permanently returned to research from the late ‘70s he joined the group which revealed the intermediate W and Z bosons at CERN, discovery for which Carlo Rubbia received the Nobel Prize. He continued to alternate with passion research and prestigious management roles and in 1990 took over from Amaldi as Director of the Lincei Academy and in 1995 was appointed Minister for Universities and Scientific and Technological Research in the Dini government. After this experience, he continued to participate in the Roman and international university life with the same enthusiasm, still simply declaring to be “a lucky man”. Driven by his two constant poles of reference: his scientific curiosity and teaching. “Having arrived at the evening of my life, - said Salvini - I find that I have been a lucky man, for what I have seen and contributed, on a very limited scale, to implement”.