The world over, organisations like UNESCO can be seen declaring sites, buildings, monuments and gardens as the cultural or natural heritage of humankind. We are convinced that the same should apply to our scientific heritage – since science is a fundamental part of our culture. Inspired by a similar initiative of the American Physical Society, the European Physical Society [EPS] Historic Site initiative will take care of the survey of the European territory.
On 20 April, in Rome, the first Italian EPS Historic Site was declared and established: the fountain at the ancient physics institute on Panisperna Street, where Enrico Fermi carried out his fundamental research in the 1930s. A commemorative plate was unveiled at the site by the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano. The citation read:
“Using the water of the goldfish fountain of his Institute, Enrico Fermi established for the first time, in the afternoon of 22 October 1934, the crucial role of hydrogenous substances on neutron induced radioactivity, thus opening the way to the use of slow neutrons in nuclear fission chain reactions.”
For more information, see our article “Enrico Fermi fountain designated EPS Historic Site”.
The European flavour of the dedication event, witnessing the cultural and scientific unity of European science, was particularly acknowledged and appreciated.
In October, another commemorative EPS Historic Site placard will be unveiled at the Hoza 69 Physics Institute in Warsaw, Poland. Other proposals are already in the air, concerning such places as Austria, Switzerland and Russia.
You are strongly invited to put forward proposals from your own countries. The impact and visibility of such a reconnaissance of our scientific heritage – for the European Physical Society and, above all, for physicists and physics – is potentially unlimited.
President, European Physical Society