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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

#weareISSNAF Seminar Series

Claudio Pellegrini

Associate Professor, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Menlo Park CA

Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, University of California


Emanuele Lugli


Consulate General of Italy of San Francisco, IIC of San Francisco, and ISSNAF Bay Area Chapter

Claudio Pellegrini was born in Rome and studied physics at “Università La Sapienza” where he received the Laurea Summa Cum Laude in 1958. He worked initially at Frascati National Laboratory in Italy and later at the Institute of Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, CERN. In 1989 he joined the University of California, Los Angeles, where he is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus. After retiring from UCLA, he joined the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory as an Adjunct Professor of Photon Sciences. After an initial period working on high energy physics and general relativity his research concentrated on many body, collective and self-organization phenomena in particle beams and their applications to particle colliders for high energy physics and the generation of coherent X-ray radiation with free-electron lasers. Pellegrini’s work established the theoretical and experimental foundation of X-ray free-electron lasers, leading to their construction in the USA and worldwide, opening a new window to explore atomic and molecular science and producing breakthrough new advances in chemistry, physics, materials science and biology. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a Fulbright Fellow. He received the honors of “Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana”. He received the American Physical Society R.R. Robert Wilson Prize and the Free-electron Laser Prize. In 2015 he received from President Obama the Enrico Fermi Presidential Award “for pioneering research advancing understanding of relativistic electron beams and free-electron lasers, and for transformative discoveries profoundly impacting the successful development of the first hard x-ray free-electron laser, heralding a new era for science.” He is a member of the USA National Academy of Sciences.

In a 1954 paper “Galileo as a critic of the arts”, Irwin Panofsky wrote that the Florentine’s culture in which Galileo lived, his participation in the visual arts, literature and music communities that at the time made Florence a leading European intellectual center, nurtured his pioneering scientific work, an important step toward modern science and the exploration of the universe. Working with his father Vincenzio, part of the movement that revolutionized music and created opera at the end of the XVI century, the young Galileo was introduced to experimental studies of how the sound from a vibrating string depends on length, tension and mass. Following Panofsky we look at the similarity between Galileo’s scientific approach and his analysis and appreciation of art and literature and discuss how his knowledge of visual arts had a large impact on his observations of the Moon and Venus and the beginning of modern astronomy.

To watch the video, click here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020


Nicola Di Cosmo

Henry Luce Foundation Professor of East Asian Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton


Maria Teresa Cometto


Consulate General of New York and IIC of New York

Nicola Di Cosmo is the Henry Luce Foundation Professor of East Asian Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies (2003-present). He holds a PhD from Indiana University in Uralic and Altaic Studies, and a BA from the University of Venice (Italy). He has been a Research Fellow at Cambridge University, taught at Harvard University and at the University of Canterbury (New Zealand) and held numerous visiting or teaching positions in Japan, China, France, Italy, and the US. He is also Visiting Professor of East Asian Studies at Princeton University.

His work has been on the history of Chinese and Inner Asian frontiers from the ancient to the modern periods, history of nomadic peoples, and history of late imperial China. His authored and edited books include Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in east Asian History (Cambridge) Manchu-Mongol Relations on the Eve of the Qing Conquest (Brill), The Diary of a Manchu Soldier in Seventeenth Century China (Routledge) and several edited books: Military Culture in Imperial China (Harvard), The Cambridge History of Inner Asia, vol II (Cambridge), Warfare in Inner Asian History (Brill), and most recently Exchange and Empires in the Eurasian Late Antiquity (Cambridge 2018).

His most recent work tries to integrate paleoclimatic data and historical sources, with special reference to the history of Medieval Eurasia and the Mongol empire. His articles in this area have been published in Scientific Reports, Nature Geoscience, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History and Climate Change among others.

Recent advances in paleoclimate research and high-definition reconstructions of past climates allow today historians to benefit from an unprecedented level of knowledge about climatic changes in historical times. Understanding better the interplay between human and natural systems can be extremely useful for a more accurate historical analysis, while at the same time provide historical contexts for scientific research that have implications for the present.  However, basic questions have also emerged: what is the appropriate way to use climate data in historical studies? How can scientific data be integrated with other forms of historical evidence?  How should collaborations between scientists and historians be managed?  These and other questions are opening new frontiers of both historical and scientific knowledge and generating collaborative experiments with deep implications for our future understanding of the past.

To watch the video, click here.