Luisa Bonolis

Visiting Scholar (Aug 2019-Jul 2023)



Luisa has an MA in physics from Sapienza University of Rome and a PhD in history of science from Bari University, Italy. Her research interests lie in the history of twentieth-century physics, focusing in particular on the evolution of cosmic-ray research and neutrino astrophysics, nuclear and elementary particle physics, high-energy astrophysics, early developments of colliders in Europe, early research on thermonuclear fusion, and oral history.

From 2015–2016 Luisa was part of the project “Renaissance of General Relativity” at the MPIWG, undertaking research on the emergence of relativistic astrophysics during the 1950s and early 1960s.

Since joining the Max Planck Research Program on the History of the Max Planck Society (GMPG) in 2016, she has been working on the history of research undertaken in astrophysics, astronomy, cosmology, and space sciences at the Max Planck Society after World War 2 and, together with Juan-Andres Leon, is currently completing a book resulting from this research, which is scheduled to be published by Brill in 2020.

Her current projects focus in particular on the emergence of astroparticle physics.

Selected Publications

Bonolis, Luisa (2017). “Stellar Structure and Compact Objects before 1940: Towards Relativistic Astrophysics.” The European Physical Journal. H 42 (2): 311–393.

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Lebowitz, Joel L. and Luisa Bonolis (2017). “A Life in Statistical Mechanics. Part 1: From Chedar in Taceva to Yeshiva University in New York.” The European Physical Journal. H 42 (1): 1–21.

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Blum, Alexander S., Luisa Bonolis, Roberto Lalli, and Jürgen Renn (2015). “La relatività dopo la guerra.” Le Scienze : Edizione Italiana di Scientific American 567: 48–53.

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Bonolis, Luisa (2014). “International scientific cooperation during the 1930s : Bruno Rossi and the development of the status of cosmic rays into a branch of physics.” Annals of Science 71 (3): 355–409.

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Bonolis, Luisa (2014). “From cosmic ray physics to cosmic ray astronomy : Bruno Rossi and the opening of new windows on the universe.” Astroparticle Physics 53: 67–85.

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Bonolis, Luisa, Carlo Dionisi , and Nadia Robotti , eds. (2014). The legacy of Bruno Pontecorvo : the man and the scientist. Conference Proceedings 107. Bologna : Società italiana di Fisica.

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Di Castro, Carlo and Luisa Bonolis (2014). “The beginnings of theoretical condensed matter physics in Rome : a personal remembrance.” The European Physical Journal H 39 (1): 3–36.

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Events at the MPIWG

A Century of General Relativity: 4—Social and Institutional Aspects of the Renaissance


Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities

Towards the emergence of relativistic astrophysics.
Annual meeting of the Italian Society for the History of Physics and Astronomy.

European Gravitational Observatory-VIRGO Cascina (Pisa)

Between general relativity and group theory: Aspects of the birth of Italian theoretical physics in the 1920s–1930s.
Conference Luigi Bianchi. Between Galois & Einstein.

École Normale Supérieure (Paris), Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere e Arti, Venice.

The Emergence of Relativistic Astrophysics in the early 1960s (invited talk)

Prague. Symposium "Enduring Ideas, New Alliances: Social and Epistemic Factors in the Renaissance of General Relativity", 7th European Society for the History of Science Conference

Member of the organizing committee of the Workshop CERN History Days. Relaunching the CERN History Project.

CERN, Geneva.

Organization (with Virginia Trimble and Jürgen Renn) of the Special Session Relativity at 100.

European Week of Astronomy and Space Science, Prague.

The lead-up to first Texas Symposium and the emergence of relativistic astrophysics.
Symposium Relativity at 100, European Week of Astronomy and Space Science.

Annual meeting of the European Astronomical Society, Prague.

The birth of research on nuclear fusion in Italy (invited talk)

Sapienza University, Rome. Thermonuclear fusion, Space exploration and frontier research in astrophysics: History and Obstacles. Department of Astronautical, Electrical and Energy Engineering.

From white dwarfs to Gravitational Collapse within Einstein’s Theory: The emergence of Relativistic Astrophysics (invited talk)

International Solvay Institutes, Bruxelles

From ‘Dark Stars’ to Gravitational Collapse within Einstein’s Theory: The Emergence of Relativistic Astrophysics (invited talk)

Harnack House, Berlin. A Century of General Relativity, November 30 - December 2, 2015

The Renaissance of General Relativity in Rome: Main actors, research programs and institutional structures. XIV Marcel Grossmann Meeting (invited talk)

Sapienza University, Rome

Bruno Maksimovich Pontecorvo. From slow neutrons with Enrico Fermi in Rome to neutrino oscillations in Dubna (invited talk)

DESY, Hamburg

Bruno Pontecorvo. Universality of Weak Interactions and Muon Decay. National Conference of the Italian Physical Society (invited talk)

International School for Advanced Studies, Trieste

Conference 100 Years Cosmic Rays. From Cosmic Ray Physics to Cosmic Ray Astronomy. Bruno Rossi and the Opening of New Windows on the Universe (invited talk)

Bad Saarow/Pieskow

The coming of abstract mathematics in the physics of 20th century (2003); Pauli and the mysteries of beta-decay, Fermi's theory of beta-decay (2004); Enrico Fermi and the Roman Physics School, Bruno Rossi and the electromagnetic cascade (2005); Einstein, Jordan, Dirac and the origins of QED (2006); Neutrinos. A history of puzzles and paradoxes (2007); From Mendel's laws to the discovery of the structure of DNA double helix (2008); The motion of Planets, order or chaos? The three-body problem, a challenge for celestial mechanics (2009); Physicists and Mathematicians in Goettingen. Amalie Emmy Noether and the birth of super-laws (2009); Lords of the cosmic rays: from earth laboratories to physics in space. A century of cosmic ray researches (2010); Physics and Group Theory. From Evariste Galois to Emmy Noether. From Noether's Theorems to the "Gruppenpest" in the new Quantum Mehanics (2013)

Courses at the annual Winter School on History of Physics organized by the Italian Association for Physics Teaching (A.I.F.)

Courses on History of Physics, Didactics of Physics and Laboratory

University of Basilicata, Potenza, Italy