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Video Interview


Arts and Humanities, Humanities

Claudio Pellegrini

Associate Professor, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Menlo Park CA - Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, University of California

Associate Professor, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Menlo Park CA 

Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, University of California


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.

#weareISSNAF Seminar Series

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.

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