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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2015

    ITALY - Ettore Maiorana, 32, by ship from Palermo to Naples, 25 March 1938

    The case in wikipedia


    Ettore Majorana (Italian: [ˈɛttore majoˈraːna]; born on 5 August 1906 – probably dead after 1959[1]) was an Italian theoretical physicist who worked on neutrinomasses. He disappeared suddenly under mysterious circumstances while going by ship from Palermo to Naples. The Majorana equation and Majorana fermions are named after him. In 2006, the Majorana Prize was established in his memory.

    Majorana disappeared in unknown circumstances during a boat trip from Palermo to Naples on March 25, 1938. Despite several investigations, his fate is still uncertain. His body has not been found. He had apparently withdrawn all of his money from his bank account, prior to making a trip to Palermo.[7] He may have travelled to Palermo hoping to visit his friend Emilio Segrč, a professor at the university there, but Segrč was in California at that time. On the day of his disappearance, Majorana sent the following note to Antonio Carrelli, Director of the Naples Physics Institute:
    Dear Carrelli, I made a decision that has become unavoidable. There isn't a bit of selfishness in it, but I realize what trouble my sudden disappearance will cause you and the students. For this as well, I beg your forgiveness, but especially for betraying the trust, the sincere friendship and the sympathy you gave me over the past months. I ask you to remember me to all those I learned to know and appreciate in your Institute, especially Sciuti: I will keep a fond memory of them all at least until 11 pm tonight, possibly later too. E. Majorana
    This was followed rapidly by a telegram cancelling his earlier plans. He apparently bought a ticket from Palermo to Naples and was never seen again.
    Several possible explanations for his disappearance have been proposed, including:

    • Hypothesis of suicide, by his colleagues Amaldi, Segrč and others
    • Hypothesis of escape to Argentina, by Erasmo Recami and Carlo Artemi (who has developed a detailed hypothetical reconstruction of Majorana's possible escape and life in Argentina)
    • Hypothesis of escape to a monastery (Charterhouse of Serra San Bruno), by Sciascia
    • Hypothesis of kidnapping or killing, to avoid his participation in the construction of an atomic weapon, by Bella, Bartocci, and others
    • Hypothesis of escape to become a beggar ("omu cani" or "dog man" hypothesis), by Bascone, and Venturini.

    The Sciascia hypothesis

    The Italian writer Leonardo Sciascia has summarized some of the results of these investigations and these hypotheses in his book La Scomparsa di Majorana (Einaudi, 1975 - English translation: The Moro Affair and The Mystery of Majorana, Carcanet, 1987, ISBN 0-85635-700-6). However, some of Sciascia's conclusions were refuted by some of Majorana's former colleagues, including E. Amaldi and E. Segrč. The various hypotheses on Majorana's disappearance have been extensively discussed by Erasmo Recami in his book "Il caso Majorana: Lettere, testimonianze, documenti" (Di Renzo Editore, Roma, 2000), and in a journal article (E. Recami, "I nuovi documenti sulla scomparsa del fisico Ettore Majorana",Scientia, vol. 110, pp. 577–588 (1975); English version titled "New Evidence on the Disappearance of the Physicist Ettore Majorana", Scientia, vol. 110, p. 589 ff. (1975)). In the above-mentioned book and article, Recami discusses critically the various rival explanations concerning Majorana's disappearance, including those advanced by Sciascia in his short book, and presents highly suggestive evidence to the effect that Majorana travelled to Argentina, where he may have earned his living as an engineer.
    Reopening of the case

    In March 2011, Italian media say Rome Attorney's office announced an inquiry into the statement made by a witness about meeting with Majorana in Buenos Aires in the years after World War II. On June 7, 2011, Italian media reported that the Carabinieri's RIS had analyzed a photograph of a man Mr.Bini, taken in Argentina in 1955, finding ten points of similarity with Majorana's face.
    On February 4, 2015, Rome Attorney's Office released a statement declaring that Majorana was alive between 1955 and 1959, living in Valencia, Venezuela. These last findings, based on new evidence, has made the Office declare the case officially closed, having found no criminal evidence related to his disappearance which probably was a personal choice.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Well, if he was known to be alive in Venezuela in the late '50s, it seems he wanted to disappear, likely to avoid being forced to participate in something he didn't want to be part of.

    The only question is, just how badly did his contemporaries want to find him? Was it enough to track him clear across the world and kill him?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Quote Originally Posted by CastlesBurning View Post
    Well, if he was known to be alive in Venezuela in the late '50s, it seems he wanted to disappear, likely to avoid being forced to participate in something he didn't want to be part of.

    The only question is, just how badly did his contemporaries want to find him? Was it enough to track him clear across the world and kill him?
    From my limited knowledge of Fascist Italy, Mussolini tended to go easier on his opponents than Hitler did. For example, a number of high profile critics and opponents, such as communist leader Antonio Gramsci and Jewish political activist Carlo Levi, were variously imprisoned or sent into internal exile rather than killed. Mussolini did have major enemies killed, but I don't see that he would have gone to such lengths for a scientist.

    Besides, were the Italians even thinking about nuclear or similar weapons in 1938?

    I think that Maiorana hopping on an emigrant ship from Naples to somewhere in South America is very plausible, though I'd have thought that an Italian would be more likely to head to Argentina than Venezuela.

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