History of Science

“A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portal of discovery

                                                                            -- James Joyce, Ulisses

Every scientific progress is the result of a chain of discoveries with different degrees of importance and significance. Each of these discoveries, although based on previous works, pushes us towards new perspectives and directions.


These advances, however, are far from being regular: new ideas usually encounter, at their outset, very strong resistances and, to deal with the

and prejudice, a scientist must show an unquestionable intellectual courage. If, during this struggle, he feels somehow isolated, he is nevertheless linked to those who came before him and to his contemporaries. As a matter of fact, the science of an epoch is the result of successive contributions of many generations of research workers, be they genius or simple unknown servants of science.  So, rather than talking of history of science, we should say “stories of science”, i.e. the collection of the distinguished paths of each individual in this vast and challenging enterprise.


Clicking on the drawings below, you can learn something more about some of these stories (in Italian). They are part of the book “L’Alfabeto della Scienza” written by the author.       

Public lectures


      Maksimovic, the life of Bruno Pontecorvo, Istituto della Cultura, Venice 2017

      Prime Suspects and Coprime Accomplices: Quantum Tales in Number Theory, Natal 2017

Ettore Majorana, Public Theatre, Mantova 2017

The Great Game, Public Lecture Amsterdam 2016

      Maksimovic. The story of Bruno Pontecorvo, Simons Center for Geometry and Physics,

  Stony Brook, NY (USA), 2016

Brief History of Low-Temperature Physics, CMR, Montreal  2015

      The dream of symmetry. The quantum path of Abdus Salam, Rome 2014

      Chandrasekhar. Department of Physics, Oxford 2011

      Transizioni di Fase, Pianeta Galileo Event, Liceo Scientifico Pistoia 2010

Chandra. The Journey of a Star, movie show, Istituto di Fisica, Firenze, 2009.  

      The two cultures, Storia della scienza e scienza della storia, Trieste 2009.

      La storia della termodinamica, Pianeta Galileo Event, Liceo Scientifico Massa Carrara 2009

      Ludwig Boltzmann e la termodinamica, Pianeta Galileo Event, Istituto Professionale Pistoia, 2009  

      Chandra. The Journey of a Star, ICTP Event, 2009

      The birth of black holes, Festival della Scienza e della Fantascienza, Trieste 2009.

      The life and time of Ludwig Boltzmann, Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica, Torino 2009

      handra. The Journey of a Star, movie show, Padova 2009.

      Chandra. The Journey of a Star, movie show, Les Houches 2009.

      Strings!, Societa’ di Filosofia della Scienza, Cesena 2008

      Richard Feynman. The art of computing, Feynman Festival, Trieste 2008

      Ludwig Boltzmann, University of Melbourne, 2007

      An entropic genius, University of Padoa, 2007.

The path to disorder, University of Oxford, 2007.

      Ludwig Boltzmann. The genius of disorder, University of Bologna 2007.

      God plays dice. The history of Statistical Physics, Convegno di Filosofia e Storia della Scienza, Cesena, 2007.  

      The entangled history of Statistical Mechanics, SIF Teacher Meeting, Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso, 2007.

      Ludgwig Boltzmann. The genius of disorder (Botzmann centenary cerimony, Duino 2006)

      Ludwig Boltzmann. A disordered genius, Kvali Institute of Theoretical Physics, Santa Barbara, (USA), 2007. video stream

      The Quantum Engineer: Enrico Fermi, Trieste Museo Revoltella 2006.

      Enrico Fermi. A Physicist, CEA (Saclay, France), 2005.

      Bruno Touschek. A Physicist from Mitteleurope, CEA (Saclay, France), 2005.

      Ying and Yang. Physics and Mathematics, Master in Scientific Journalism, Trieste 2005.     

      Bruno Touschek and the arrow of time. Conference in memory of Bruno Touschek, SISSA, Trieste 2005.

Main References


      E. Segre, Personaggi e Scoperte della Fisica, Mondadori 1996 .


      J. Gribbin, Science. A History, Penguin Books, 2002.  


• H. Kragh, Quantum Generation. A History of Physics in the Twentieth Century, Princeton University Press, 2002.


      S. Brandt, The Harvest of a Century. Discoveries of Modern Physics in 100 Episodes, Oxford University Press, 2009.


M. Kline, Mathematical Thoughts from Ancient to Modern Times,  Oxford University Press 1988.

      P. Freund, A Passion for Discovery, World Scientific 2007.