Was physicist Bruno Pontecorvo a spy?

Last night at the Royal Institution in London’s Piccadilly, Frank Close talked about his new book Half Life – the divided life of Bruno Pontecorvo, with Graham as MC. Graham introduced Frank, a former RI Christmas Lecturer and last year’s winner of the Royal Society’s Faraday Prize, by paying tribute to his contributions to physics and to science communication. Half Life is Close’s finest book to date, in Graham’s view.

FC at Ri 'Half Life' talk
Frank Close at the Royal Institution


Frank talked for an hour about the scientific work of Pontecorvo, sometimes described as ‘Mr Neutrino’, and the possibility that he was a spy. After the lecture, there were several penetrating questions from the audience, including one from a 91-year-old gentleman who knew both Pontecorvo and Klaus Fuchs, dubbed ‘the spy of the century’ by FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover.

Graham’s review of Half-Life in The Guardian is here.