A Space for Science - The Development of the Scientific Community in Brazil

Simon Schwartzman

The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991

Chapter 6


From Agronomy to Genetics

Out of Manguinhos: The New Institutes of Biological Research

Chemistry: Limits and Possibilities of the German Model

Gleb Wataghin and Cosmic Ray Physics

The War Effort

Postwar Developments


Most of the contemporary science in Brazil has its roots in the scientific traditions and institutions established and strengthened in the transition years of the 1930s. Some of them, like those in the biological sciences, grew out of applied research institutes of the previous years; others, like those in modern physics, started with the Universidade de São Paulo. As a rule, only those fields that could he organized academically survived the 1930s to come alive in the 1950s, 1960s, and later years. Those that did not - like the earth sciences or technological research - had to wait for new beginnings several decades later. In this chapter I reconstruct in some detail the path followed by some of these traditions and show how they helped to consolidate the foundations on which Brazilian science was supposed to grow.

From Agronomy to Genetics

Agricultural research began in Brazil (if we disregard the old botanical gardens) with the creation of the Estação Agronômica de Campinas, which was to study tropical plants under the direction of the Austrian chemist F W. Dafert.(1) Campinas was in those years at the heart of coffee country, but neither the inhabitants of that region nor Brazil's minister of agriculture, who created the Estação Agronômica, were very appreciative of Dafert's studies on coffee fertilization, and in 1890 he was dismissed, being reinstated some time later thanks to the intervention of another foreign scientist, Orville Derby, head of São Paulo's Comissão Geográfica e Geológica.(2) The station's name changed to Instituto Agronômico de Campinas, and it came under state jurisdiction in 1892; in 1907 Dafert was finally removed after a failed attempt to transform the Instituto Agronômico into a purely practical institution concerned with solving short-term agricultural problems and operating as a lucrative business.(3)

The Instituto Agronômico thus entered the 1920s removed from the first goals laid out by Dafert, as illustrated by its reduced staff: one head agronomist, two gardeners, and some laborers. In 1927 Teodureto de Camargo undertook a reform that was basic in attempting to return to its original philosophy: the study of agricultural problems was to he carried out first in laboratories and experimental fields and later at the institute's various substations located around the state; only at a third moment would the results be released. By the 1930s the Instituto Agronômico was operating again at full steam, mainly because its specialists had all been designated full-time workers in 1929. Its studies had repercussions in the academic world and were important in improving São Paulo's agriculture. With coffee in a period of crisis caused by overproduction and international recession, the institute provided local farmers with cotton seeds and other crops.

The 1930s were also an important decade for the Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz, created in 1901 as the Escola Agrícola de Piracicaba under São Paulo's state secretary of agriculture.(4) The goal was to provide agricultural education at all levels, from primary schools to graduate studies, in the same educational and research establishment, thus providing continuity and coherence in the training of specialists.(5) The quality of the work done by the Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz in basic and applied science within the field of agriculture is illustrated by its pioneer decision to teach genetics in 1918 as part of the agriculture class led by Carlos Teixeira Mendes and as part of the zootechnics class led by Otávio Domingues. It was the first time that this new subject was taught in Brazil.

Only in 1928, however, was genetics used systematically by the Instituto Agronômico de Campinas for the improvement of products like coffee, corn, and tobacco or for the adaptation of others, like wheat and barley, to the Brazilian environment. In 1932 C. A. Krug was sent by the Instituto Agronômico to Cornell University to specialize in genetics, cytogenetics, and the improvement of plants. He returned to Brazil by the end of 1932 and organized a research group to work in the improvement of coffee and corn. A chair of genetics was introduced in the next year with the purpose of training specialists in the technology of plant improvement.

The Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz was to follow a different approach by inviting Friedrich Gustav Brieger to organize its department of genetics. Born in 1900, Brieger received a doctorate in botany from the University of Breslau in 1921, and in the next few years he worked at the universities of Munich, Berlin, and Vienna. In 1924 he received a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation and worked for two years at Harvard with Edward M. East, whom he considered his strongest influence. From Harvard he became a researcher at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut, where he worked with Karl E. Correns, known for the rediscovery of Mendel's laws. In 1933 he left Germany for England, where he worked at the John Innes Institute until being invited to organize the genetics department of the Escola Luiz de Queiroz. Encouraged by opinions of other Europeans who were also coming to São Paulo at the time, he decided to embark on his "tropical adventure," as he himself called it.(6)

Brieger's achievements should be credited to his academic qualifications and to his ability to work with people who, although not scientists themselves, were engaged in the creation of a new academic mentality in São Paulo. He stressed the role of José Melo Morais, director of the school upon his arrival.(7) There was also André Dreyfus, more an intellectual and self-taught man than a researcher, who would play a central role in the introduction of modern genetics at the Universidade de São Paulo.(8)

Brieger, Krug, and Dreyfus made a scientific community in miniature and set themselves to the task of not only doing research but, mostly, training disciples and creating a scientific tradition. While Krug worked mostly with applied genetics with established methodologies, Brieger was most interested in coming up with new approaches. His first work in Brazil was with corn and lettuce. In his studies of corn he was the first to utilize the genetic analysis of populations, instead of hybridization, as a technique for species improvement. To do that he had to make use of sophisticated mathematical models, and his insistence on the superiority of this approach to the traditional one led to a conflict with Krug and the end of their collaboration. His work with lettuces led to the refutation of old teachings that were taken as scientific truths.(9)

In 1938 Dreyfus began work full-time at the department of general biology of the Faculdade de Filosofia. Both the old Instituto Agronômico and the Escola Luiz de Queiroz had been incorporated into the new university, and Krug and Brieger remained where they were outside the city of São Paulo. At the Faculdade de Filosofia, Dreyfus and three assistants - Martha Brener, Crodowaldo Pavan, and Rosina de Barrosstrove to improve the quality of their work. A real change came, however, only a few years later, with the arrival of Theodosius Dobzhansky. Dobzhansky arrived in Brazil in 1943 with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1936 he had published a book that was widely regarded as one of the most important contributions to genetics since Darwin. He had applied for a grant to go to Central America and was persuaded by Harry Miller, an adviser to the Rockefeller Foundation well acquainted with Brazil, to come to São Paulo. He is remembered as extremely energetic, and he changed the sedated rhythm of the Brazilians with his constant requests for field trips, grants, and equipment. Dreyfus not only did not compete with him, but became Dobzhansky's main supporter and defender.(10) In São Paulo, Dobzhansky developed a research line on the population genetics of the drosophila that received quick international recognition. Later, several of his students and assistants went on to complete their education in the United States. These formed a network of genetics specialists-working not only in São Paulo but in Porto Alegre, Brasilia, and Parana-in the fields of genetics of human populations, cytogenetics, and medical genetics. Students of Brieger stayed closer to agricultural research and developed studies in the genetics of bees and fungi.

Out of Manguinhos: The New Institutes of Biological Research

A parallel development was the 1927 creation of the Instituto Biológico de Defesa Agrícola e Animal de São Paulo (Biological Institute for the Protection of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry) to replace an old commission for the study and eradication of coffee borer, a plague of which was threatening the state's main agricultural product. The new institute was a direct outgrowth of the research traditions of the Instituto Manguinhos in Rio de Janeiro. Its first director, Artur Neiva, worked with Oswaldo Cruz in the first sanitary campaigns and headed the fieldwork in the fight against malaria in different regions.(11) The new institute started with mandates to do applied and basic research, to promote protective measures for the state's agricultural products, to teach their proper use, and to produce serum and inoculations against animal diseases. The staff included agronomists, veterinarians, medical doctors, biologists, and chemists who were organized in two divisions, one dealing with plants, headed by Adalberto de Queiroz Teles, and the other dealing with animals, headed by Henrique de Rocha Lima.(12) The institute recruited, among others, the first three graduates of Manguinhos' "curso de aplicaçao" in the year of its foundation: Otto Bier, José Reis, and Adolfo Martins Penha. Its eight sections were supposed to be in constant contact with each other, sharing a good library and technical services. From the onset the idea was that applied and basic research should coexist in harmony, as it did in Manguinhos in its best years.(13)

Otto Bier characterized the institute at its beginnings as marked by "a critical mass of people interested in the same goal, namely to carry on with serious scientific work silently without any concern with self promotion and with a strong sense of continuity."(14) The institutional culture assumed that science was essential for handling practical problems, and agronomists and veterinarians participated in scientific meetings while scientists usually went into the field.

In 1932 Neiva left the institute and was replaced by Henrique Rocha Lima, known for his German education.(15) From the beginning, a natural division of labor was established between Neiva and Rocha Lima-the first more concerned with the external side of the institute (fund-raising, political contacts, sanitary campaigns) and the second as close as possible to the daily technical and scientific activities. When Neiva left, the institute had already established some of its main features as a serious scientific institution: full-time work for its researchers, interdisciplinary work, an excellent library, good technical support (photography, drawing, glass-making, publications), and two periodicals, the Arquivos do Instituto Biológico and O Biológico.

The tone of the institute appeared in its weekly scientific meetings. On Tuesdays internal meetings consisted of presentations and discussion of scientific articles in the recent literature led each week by a different researcher. On Fridays, lectures, often given by invited guests, covered broader scientific, literary, or artistic subjects and were open to the public. They soon became part of the city's intellectual calendar. It was common for Rio de Janeiro's scientists and intellectuals to travel to São Paulo for these meetings. Otto Bier, in his interview, stressed that these activities were very important in building the institute's prestige and recognition and helped to maintain what Neiva and Lima considered its "university spirit," which they deemed necessary to protect it from narrow specialization.(16)

Such a "spirit" was absent from Rio de Janeiro's Faculdade de Medicina, where Carlos Chagas Filho launched his Instituto de Biofisica (Biophysics Institute) in 1937. The Faculdade was unanimously described by its contemporaries as having inadequate equipment and poorly organized courses in which the best students were those who could attach themselves to a prestigious professor and practice in his infirmary or laboratory. The basic disciplines, which were supposed to provide future physicians with scientific knowledge, were the most neglected. There was only one exception, physiology - thanks to the teachings of Alvaro Osório de Almeida who provided students with an exciting image of what scientific research could be and invited some of them to his laboratory or to Manguinhos.

Chagas Filho entered the Faculdade de Medicina through a public competition for the chair of biological physics. His thesis was intensely discussed with Carneiro Felipe, chemist; Costa Ribeiro, physicist; and Antônio Oliveira Castro, from the Institute of Electric Technology of the Faculdade de Engenharia. It was the first time the Faculdade de Medicina had used physical and chemical methods in the study of biological phenomena. Once nominated to the chair, Chagas Filho left for study in France and England; on his return he began to organize his research institute at the Faculdade.

Personal and family contacts provided financial support to free Chagas and his collaborators from bureaucratic constraints. A position of "specialized technician" with a salary above that of an assistant professor was created in the Faculdade de Medicina through direct interference of Luis Simões Lopes, director of the powerful Departamento de Administração do Serviço Público. To his ability to get support, Chagas added a modern and updated view on how scientific work should be carried out: emphasis on interpersonal cooperation and exchange of information among all scientists; openness to curiosity, questioning, and exchange of ideas; curtailment of excessive bureaucratization and hierarchy. Chagas would say that a scientific institution is made first with people, then with problems and equipment, and finally with the workplace. This view was in contrast to the Brazilian tradition of starting with buildings, filling them with equipment, hiring personnel - and only then identifying research questions that could justify their existence.(17)

Chagas' laboratory quickly gained national and international reputation. He invited Tito Enéas Leme Lopes and Lafaiete Rodrigues Pereira, both trained in Manguinhos, and Oromar Moreira, José Moura Gonçalves, and José Batista Veiga Sales, all biochemists from Belo Horizonte endorsed by Baeta Viana. Herta Meyer, who used to work in the laboratory of pathology in Manguinhos, which was supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, started the laboratory of histology, together with Joao Machado. They conducted studies on the culture of protozoa, such as the Trypanosome cruzi and the Plasmodium aviarium, with direct relevance to public health and were supported by the Serviço Especial de Grandes Endemias (Special Service of Large Epidemics), a nonofficial agency headed by Chagas' brother Evandro and supported with resources from the Guinle family; and the bioelectrogenesis of the hearth tissues, stemming from strictly academic motivations. The next laboratory to be organized was the one in biophysics headed by Chagas and with the cooperation of Bernhard Gross, from the Instituto Nacional de Tecnologia. The main subject was the bioelectrogenesis of the Eletrophorus eletricus, an electric fish found in the Amazon region that provided a unique vehicle for studying the interaction between biological and physical processes.

The comparison between these two institutions - the Instituto Biológico and the Instituto de Biofisica - shows some common elements and important differences. Both were led by strong personalities trained in Europe and in Manguinhos-Neiva, Rocha Lima, and Chagas Filho Both benefitted from the intense and close interpersonal links their leaders maintained with strong political figures, which were essential to protect them from the sameness forced on all institutions by the public bureaucracy. Finally, they shared a new and daring view of the role of modern science as strongly based on fundamental research and enlarged intellectual horizons.

That the Instituto Biológico was an institution for applied research would finally make a difference. For some years Rocha Lima's prestige and strong personality, combined with his family ties to the state appointed governor, Fernando Costa, was enough to protect the institute from outside interference. After 1937, however, with Ademar de Barros in the state government, not only' the Instituto Biológico but also all scientific and educational institutions in São Paulo began to suffer.(18) In 1949 Rocha Lima resigned, and the Biológico entered a period of slow decay.

In contrast, the best years of the Instituto de Biofisica were still to come. Chagas' leadership, which would continue until the 1980s; the protection against short-term demands and external interference; the relative independence from the professional courses; and a strong commitment to high standards of excellence all combined to make the Instituto de Biofisica a genuine heir of Manguinhos' best traditions.

Chemistry: Limits and Possibilities of the German Model.

Brazilian chemistry has always counted on significant German participation, as illustrated by a list of some of the field's most important names.(19) Theodore Teckolt, born in German Silesia and a University of Rostock pharmacy graduate, reorganized the Museu Nacional's chemistry laboratory in 1874 under Ladislau Neto; Wilhelm Michler, born in Württemberg, studied at Stuttgart Polytechnic Institute, received his doctorate in Zurich with Victor Meyer, and was appointed professor of industrial chemistry at the Escola Politécnica in Rio in 1884. He used private funds to organize a chemistry laboratory' where he could carry out his work and train disciples: F G. Dafert, who organized Campinas' Estação Agronômica in 1887; Alfred Schaeffer, who earned his bachelor's degree in pharmacy and his doctorate in chemistry' from the University of Munich and organized not only Minas Gerais' Laboratório de Análise do Estado in Belo Horizonte in 1911 but also that of the Escola de Engenharia some years later; Otto Rothe, who had a doctorate in chemistry from the University o Iena and was hired in 1920 to set up the chemistry course at Porto Alegre's Escola de Engenharia and in 1926 succeeded Schaeffer in Belo Horizonte; and several others.

Participation by Germans became even more pronounced with the arrival of Heinrich Rheinboldt at the Universidade de São Paulo and of Fritz Feigl at Rio de Janeiro's Laboratório de Produção Mineral, which belonged to the Ministry of Agriculture. Rheinboldt was followed by his assistant. Heinrich Hauptmann, and later by Herbert Stettiner, Hans Stammreich, and Pawel Kromholz. Hans Zocher, formerly a professor at the universities of Berlin and Prague was to work with Fritz Feigl.

There were three reasons behind this strong German presence: the economic and migratory bonds linking Brazil and Germany until the 1930s; the problem that young German professors faced in the job market due to the traditional rigidity of the German universities; and the crises and persecutions caused by Germany's growing Nazi movement, which led to the withdrawal not only of Jewish scientists but also of those who were simply liberal. Brazil, on the other hand, was very interested in German chemistry, perhaps because of the German tradition of integration of chemical research and industrial activities. This is therefore an excellent testing ground for the possibilities of transplanting such a tradition to a different social and economic context. As we shall see, the failure to reproduce this integration contributed to the difficulties encountered in attempting to establish chemistry in Brazil.

The German presence was not exclusive. A detailed survey of professors of chemistry and authors of chemistry books, carried out by Heinrich Rheinboldit, shows a long list of non-German names in the country's schools of medicine and engineering, some of them rated as very original and competent.(20)

Rio de Janeiro's Instituto de Química (Chemistry Institute) was the first institution specifically devoted to this subject. It was organized as a center of research and training that was to provide "strictly scientific courses for the training of professional chemists" and short courses for nonspecialists who would learn "certain aspects of applied chemistry for use in industry and commerce."(21) These short-lived courses eventually inspired the creation of various other industrial chemistry courses throughout the country'. In 1920, funding of 100 "contos de réis" (approximately 6,000) was made available for courses to be established in Belém, Recife, Salvador, Belo Horizonte, Ouro Preto, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Porto Alegre. For a while this bill gave a boost to the chemistry studies in engineering courses at São Paulo's Escola Politécnica; at the engineering schools of Belo Horizonte (which hired Schaeffer and von Burgher), Porto Alegre (which hired Otto Rothe and E. Schirm), and Recife; and at Niterói's Escola Superior de Agricultura e Veterinária. Earlier, in 1926, the Escola Politécnica de São Paulo had merged its chemistry and industrial engineering courses to form its course in chemical engineering. When federal funding was cut in 1930, this experience practically ended. Only the institutions that had begun their chemistry programs independently continued to exist. In 1934 a new institution, the Escola Nacional de Química (National School of Chemistry), was created in Rio, but it never developed into a significant research institution.(22)

In hindsight it is clear that initial attempts to implant chemistry in Brazil failed because the country did not reproduce the special combination of a strong academic environment and an active chemical industry that was so striking in the German case. Experience showed that if neither of the two conditions existed chemical research would benefit more from emphasis on academic work than from emphasis on applied results.(23)

Chemistry research at the Universidade de São Paulo was established in the German tradition by Heinrich Rheinboldt, who arrived in Brazil in 1934 as an accomplished scientist.(24) He was accompanied by Heinrich Hauptmann, who obtained his doctoral degree in chemistry under Fritz Strauss and had worked in Göttingen with Adolf Windaus, who received the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1928 for the discovery of cholesterol; and by Herbert Stettiner, who had obtained his doctorate from the University of Berlin in 1928.

The chemistry department of the Faculdade de Filosofia came to be known for the practical, systematic, and empirical orientation Rheinboldt and his team gave it. "The first groups of students were very small. I belonged to the third or fourth generation, and we were twenty-four students. We lived in the laboratories, from eight in the morning to six in the afternoon. We left the laboratories only to attend classes."(25) Rheinboldt took care of theoretical and experimental classes and the teaching of general and inorganic chemistry and analytical chemistry, with the assistance of Stettiner. Hauptmann was in charge of practical work and the teaching of physical, organic, and biological chemistry.(26)

Rheinboldt always referred to his department as "the institute," in the German tradition, and behaved accordingly. In addition to the license in chemistry, granted for secondary school teachers, he also offered a doctoral degree for those who could write a dissertation based on an original research project under the direction of a professor. Two of the first four students, Simão Mathias and Pascoal Senise, got their doctoral degrees and were hired by the department.(27)

At first, the chemistry and physics departments were housed at the Escola Politécnica, but when they were not well received they moved to the pharmacy section of the Faculdade de Medicina. That was worse,(28) and sometime later the department was housed in a provisional building at the Alameda Glete.

Hostility from the professional schools did not stop the chemistry department from training good chemists. Those who graduated from the Faculdade de Filosofia were considered the best generation of professional chemists ever educated in Brazil and had no difficulty finding jobs in the growing number of national and multinational industries being established in São Paulo and elsewhere. This does not mean that there was any kind of interaction between the department and some agency of economic or industrial planning, or with the private sector. Except for the war years, when the department helped with the development of quartz crystals for the sonar project, there was almost no direct contact between their professors and the industry or governmental agencies.

This was contrary to the German experience and therefore considered a bad thing. Simão Mathias described the situation:
If we look at the important chemistry departments in Germany and elsewhere after World War II (or even after World War I in the United States), we see that they had intense contacts with industries. There were always contracts and other forms of collaboration between the industrialists and the scientists. This is an old German tradition that was taken up by the Americans. Here in Brazil, unfortunately, it was never understood. Our laws of full-time dedication forbid such arrangements. Nobody ever favored the contacts between industry and science in our country. When I was director of the chemistry department [at the Universidade de São Paulo] I made several approaches to the Federação das Indústrias looking for some kind of integration. Nothing came out of it.
The problem was not limited to lack of understanding or rigid regulations for full-time work:
Most of our chemical industries are controlled by multinational corporations or associated with them. These industries have their laboratories in their countries of origin and are not interested in doing scientific research in Brazil... The country needs to create its own technology', relevant to our reality, instead of transferring technology from more advanced countries and forcing on us a system developed by them.
Not only did the industrial companies turn their back on the chemistry departments, but so did the government: "We never had well-defined applied research projects. No problem relevant for the country was ever brought to us to research. One example is alcohol. Now the government has woken up and discovered that alcohol could replace oil. We chemists have known it for centuries." This isolation, however, did not seem to have hurt the quality of research carried out at the Universidade de São Paulo. "Chemical phenomena have no boundaries. They happen here as they do on other planets, as we are learning now with astrophysics. All our scientific work is being published in international journals and adds to the existing knowledge in this scientific field."(29)

In other words, the chemical researchers at the Faculdade de Filosofia longed for a much more applied work, but their relative success(30) is explained by the fact that they, willingly or not, geared their work toward basic research. The misconceptions built into Mathias frustrations with his department were well captured by Joseph Ben-David in a report he wrote about the Brazilian scientific community and its frustration over applied work after a brief visit in 1976:
Limiting research and training to the requirements of such technologically defined problems would be in the long run highly inefficient. The people trained for such purposes would have great difficulty learning new technologies, and research of such limited kind would become obsolete in a short time. New techno logical needs would require new plans for training and research, and the maturation of the plans would usually lag far behind the needs... Contrary to the myth that developing countries cannot afford pure science and must adjust their investments in research and training to precise economic goals, this would be for them the most unreasonable thing to do. Since they have great uncertain ties about the future course of their economic-technological developments, by subjecting their efforts to narrow considerations they are likely to misdirect and waste them.(31)
Rheinboldt and Hauptmann continued in Brazil with the research interests they had defined in Germany. Rheinboldt's work was related to the "study of organic and molecular compounds of sulfur, and later the organic compounds of selenium and tellurium." Hauptmann worked on the composition of natural products found in Brazil, including the chemistry of coffee. The research line on natural products was carried on by Walter B. Mors who studied under Hauptmann and in 1943 joined a newly created Instituto Agronômico do Norte in the city of Belém, one of several agricultural research stations then established by the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture. The institute worked, among other things, on natural rubber, a product that had military significance in those years; that research received strong support from the U.S. government. Mors worked on the properties of a plant known locally as "timbó," which produced a substance used in the production of insecticides and of strategic relevance as well. Later he helped organize the Instituto de Química Agrícola (Institute of Agricultural Chemistry) in Rio de Janeiro, also a branch of the Ministry of Agriculture but dismantled by administrative decree in 1962.(32)

Gleb Wataghin and Cosmic Ray Physics

Modern physics started in Brazil at the Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras of the Universidade de São Paulo through particle physics and, unlike chemistry or the biological sciences, without any practical applications or results. In the following decades there would be several chances to prove its practical worth, and physics as a discipline would become the strongest research field in Brazil.(33)

Physics research began with Gleb Wataghin who had been invited by Teodoro Ramos through Enrico Fermi. Along with Francesco Cerelli from the Italian Academy of Sciences, Fermi helped locate suitable candidates. Wataghin was one of them, the other being mathematician Luigi Fantappié, then twenty-nine years old.(34) Wataghin did not belong to Europe's first rank of physical scientists, but he was close enough to know the leading names, understand their work, and identify suitable research questions for himself and his students.(35) In 1927 he attended an international physics conference in Cuomo, where he became acquainted with the best-known physicists of his time. In 1930 he published an article in the Zeitschrift für Physik having to do with nuclear particles and forces, which was discussed at the Solvay conference of that year and led to an exchange of letters with Enrico Fermi. In 1931 Wataghin began his studies on cosmic rays (a research line began in 1921 by Robert A. Millikan in the United States and continued by Arthur Compton) and published his first article on the so-called relativistic cutoff. In 1933 Wataghin traveled through Europe, spending a few months in contact with Lord Rutherford in Cambridge and a few weeks in Copenhagen with Bohr, experiences that would mark his entire life as a scientist.(36)

Wataghin and Fantappié at first shared a small office on the third floor of the Escola Politécnica. "We had to give a complete course. Fantappié taught all mathematical subjects. I taught experimental and theoretical physics and theoretical mechanics. We gave many classes. Besides, I was told that I should start an experimental laboratory. I have always preferred theory; I could, however, start with cosmic rays, high energies. I could use a laboratory for that."(37) His first students in the Politécnica included Mário Schenberg, Júlio Rabim, Cândido da Silva Dias, and Cavalcante Albuquerque. Between 1934 and 1942 he developed two research lines: one in theoretical physics, with Schenberg, Abraão de Morais, and Walter Schutzer; the other on cosmic rays, with Marcelo Damy de Souza Santos, Paulus A. Pompéia, and Yolande Monteux.

Wataghin was mainly a theoretical physicist.(38) Between 1934 and 1936 he published several theoretical papers dealing with statistical mechanics of light particles in high temperatures and with relativistic quantum electrodynamics. His most distinguished student in theoretical physics was probably Mário Schenberg. Schenberg had arrived in São Paulo from Recife, where he had studied with Luis Freire. It soon became clear that he had an extraordinary talent for mathematics and physics, and in 1936 he went to Rome to work with Fermi for two years.(39) In 1939 Schenberg was invited by George Gamov, who had been to Brazil, to work with him at George Washington University. Together they developed a theory in astrophysics that became known as the "Urca process, in a reference to the Urca Casino in Rio de Janeiro. Later he spent some time at Princeton's Center for Advanced Study and in the Yerkes Astronomic Observatory with Subrabmanvan Chandrasekhar, returning to Brazil it 1942. In 1944 he received the chair of rational mechanics of the Faculdade de Filosofia of the Universidade de São Paulo.

Marcelo Damy, who had left engineering for physics, was Wataghin's main assistant on the experimental side since his graduation in 1937.(40) Research work intensified in 1938 with the arrival of Giuseppe Occhialini, who had studied with Patrick M. Blackett in Cambridge. According to Damy, he brought to Brazil the tradition of experimental physics then being developed with J. J. Thompson and Lord Rutherford, and a new series of experiments with cosmic rays was begun. At the end of 1938 Damy received a fellowship from the British government to go to Cambridge. "In Cambridge I worked with Sir Henry Bragg and his son William Lawrence Bragg, who like his father was a Nobel prize winner. William Bragg was a specialist in X-rays, and I had another research supervisor, Professor H. Carmichael. Carmichael was Cambridge's specialist in cosmic rays and worked with Walter Heitler and H. Bhaba, both Nobel prize winners and very famous."(41) With the war, the Cambridge scientists became involved in the research to develop radar, and Damy was invited to stay and join the group since the new technology required very precise measurements. There was official contact between the British Foreign Office and the Brazilian Foreign Ministry about this possibility. but the Brazilian government did not go along. In 1940 Damy returned to Brazil.

In early 1939 Damy was replaced as Wataghin's assistant by Paulus A. Pompéia, who had graduated from São Paulo's Politécnica in 1935.(42) Wataghin, Occhialini, and Pompéia launched a series of studies on cosmic rays, using airplanes from the Brazilian air force flying up to seven kilometers high. At the invitation of Arthur Compton, Pompéia went to the United States in 1940 and worked for two years under the supervision of Norman Wilberg (later director of Chicago's Argon Laboratory) developing new measurement techniques and electronic circuitry.

In 1941 Compton organized an expedition to South America to measure the impact of cosmic rays in the Bolivian Andes and in the São Paulo region. Pompéia returned to Brazil to join Wataghin and Damy in preparing for the event. They worked with stratospheric balloons, and Wataghin demonstrated the existence of "penetrating showers" of cosmic rays, which were evidence of multiple production of mesons. In 1942 Compton became the director of the Metallurgical Laboratory, which was working on the atomic bomb, and Pompéia returned to Brazil. With all major scientific groups in England and the United States involved in the war effort, Wataghin and his group were for a while the only ones working on cosmic rays. Very shortly, however, the Brazilians also would get involved in military technology.

The War Effort

"One or two months after my return from England," recalls Damy, "Paulus Pompéia and I were approached by the Brazilian navy about the possibility of developing equipment for the detection of submarines... We had many ships torpedoed by German and Italian submarines and did not have any equipment to detect them. Although Brazil had joined the Allies in the war, it not only did not receive the new sonars and radars, but Brazilians were not even allowed to come close to these top-secret military installations. Before that, we had also been approached by the army'. They were making their own cannon balls, with Brazilian-made powder, and needed to develop ways to measure the speed of bullets. This was our first military assignment."(43)

In both cases the physicists were approached after Brazilian authorities realized that no one else in Brazil could carry on with such projects:
When we got this assignment from the navy we made clear to the person in charge, Admiral Guilherme Bastos Pereira das Neves, that we lacked experience with naval problems and had no experience with submarine detection, that we were just "philosophers" working with cosmic rays. But to study problems of basic science we were led to use non conventional methodologies to demonstrate the existence of certain phenomena. We were therefore used to facing and dealing with the unknown. We believed that, at least from a psychological point of view, we had the proper attitude to approach the problem. Besides, we did not think it would be too difficult. There were available a reasonable number of publications on techniques used for submarine detection in World War I. Our problem was not to discover new laws of nature but to rediscover, so to speak, the conditions under which a beam of ultrasound could be emitted and detected and how to measure the time interval to identify the submarine's position.(44)
For the army, Pompéia developed an instrument that could measure the initial speed of bullets with an accuracy of 0.4 percent.(45) He and Damy also developed portable radios for the army's jeeps and trucks. The most interesting projects, however, were those for the navy. The first product was an instrument that could hear the sound of the submarine's propellers. Later they developed equipment to send an ultrasound beam but were unable to capture its echo. Still later they developed a complete sonar. In its final version, the ultrasound transmitter was made out of 400 cylinders of nickel welded into a base of steel that had to turn continuously. The echo was captured by a crystal detector. A special problem was the production of quartz crystals of adequate size, a problem handed over to and solved by the chemistry department of the Faculdade de Filosofia. A special thermostat based on the dilation of gasoline was developed by Dam y and Pompéia to control the crystal's cooling temperature.

The development of such equipment, which was completely unknown in Brazil at the time, required that a series of new technical problems be solved by incorporating new specialists and institutions-such as the Liceu de Artes e Ofícios, the Instituto de Pesquisas Tecnológicas, and the Instituto de Electrotécnica, all in São Paulo. In all, eighty sonars were built for the navy; twenty-two industries supplied parts for the equipment, without knowing their final destination. The sonars themselves were assembled in the building of the Faculdade de Filosofia at Avenue Brigadeiro Luis Antônio by Damy, Pompéia, and eighteen specialized technicians.

After the war, the navy ended its cooperation with the physicists of the Universidade de São Paulo, who returned to their academic and scientific chores. The technological know-how the group developed had spilled over to other institutions and private companies that began work on the production of electric equipment and other sophisticated products for the postwar consumer market. As the country's economy opened up, these industries were with a few exceptions either displaced by foreign imports or acquired by foreign corporations getting established in Brazil.(46)

Postwar Developments

The war brought Fantappié back to Italy, but not Wataghin, who became an expatriate from his country of adoption. For the Brazilians, Wataghin was Italian enough to be kept out of the war projects being developed by Damy and Pompéia. He had to step down as head of the physics department at the Faculdade de Filosofia, but he continued with his research projects with the assistance of Oscar Sala and Elza Gomide. Sala entered the university in 1942 and was immediately called to help with the Compton expedition.

Sala recalls that when Wataghin invited him to participate in his cosmic rays studies the physics department at the Universidade de São Paulo had already stopped all its academic research projects. His first problem was to rebuild all the equipment, "more sophisticated than that used before by Damy and Pompéia."(47) First Wataghin and Sala put their equipment in the ceiling of the Faculdade de Medicina; later they moved to a garage in a small hotel in the mountain resort of Campos de Jordão. They worked with few resources and little support.(48)

After the war, with Damy as its director of the physics department, the Rockefeller Foundation donated $75,000 for acquisition of a particle accelerator in the United States for the physics department. Damy and Wataghin went to the United States to choose the equipment and decided on a 23-megawatt betatron. For a year Damy remained in Illinois working with Donald W. Kerst on the equipment.(49) Upon his graduation in 1945, Sala was invited to work as an assistant to Damy, and he went to Illinois in 1946 with Paulo Bittencourt, also with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation. There he worked with Maurice Goldhaber in neutron physics. In 1948 he went to Wisconsin to prepare for the acquisition of a new piece of equipment for the Universidade de São Paulo: a Van der Graaf electrostatic accelerator.

The research line developed by Wataghin on cosmic rays was continued by Cesare Lattes, who studied at the Faculdade de Filosofia between 1941 and 1943. In 1943 he worked with Occhialini, who had also remained in Brazil during the war. In 1944 the university hired him as the third assistant for the chair of theoretical and mathematical physics, and he later became involved in experimental research. In 1945 Occhialini, who had moved to the University of Bristol the year before, invited Lattes to join him. In Bristol, Lattes worked under the general direction of Cecil Powell with Blackett, Conversi, Pancini, and others. He was reputedly responsible for planning the experiments that led to the discovery of the meson-pi, predicted by Hideki Yukawa some years earlier and for which Cecil Powell received a Nobel prize. After Bristol, Lattes was invited to Copenhagen to present his results; then he went to work at Berkeley's cyclotron with George Gardner, "with the clear intention of trying to obtain the artificial production of heavy mesons, since the light mesons should be produced by their disintegration."(50) There, he was able to produce the meson-pi and show how it disintegrated into the meson-mi and a new particle, the neutrino.(51) Lattes returned to Brazil in 1949 to organize the Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisas Físicas in Rio de Janeiro of which he was the first scientific director.

That same year, Wataghin returned to Italy to become director of the physics institute at the University of Turin. From then on he would return to Brazil only on special occasions: in 1952 for a brief course; in 1955 to receive the degree of doctor honoris causa from the Universidade de São Paulo; and in 1971, when the physics institute of the new Universidade de Campinas was given his name.

While these developments were taking place in São Paulo, a different research tradition was being established in Rio de Janeiro, even though on a smaller scale, through the works of Bernhard Gross and Joaquim Costa Ribeiro.

Gross was born in Germany, studied engineering and got his doctorate at the Technical Institute in Stuttgart, where he did research on cosmic rays. He came to Brazil in 1933 and met Ducídio Pereira, who held the chair of physics at the Escola Politécnica and was assisted by Joaquim Costa Ribeiro, Francisco Mendes de Oliveira Castro, and Eugênio Hime. He was invited to present his work at the Politécnica and in the recently created Instituto Nacional de Tecnologia, where he began to work.(52) His assignments were technical and applied, but he managed to start his own research projects:
In 1934 the local electric company wanted to measure the electric resistance of telephone cables, and of their insulation. We began with the measurements. The cables presented a phenomenon that had fascinated me in Germany, together with the cosmic rays. It was what was called dielectric absorption. We began to measure them with very rough instruments. As the work progressed, we also began theoretical studies, and the papers we produced then are in a way still valid because this subject is as relevant today as it was then.(53)
In 1937 Gross became director of the newly created division of standards of the institute, which was to define legally valid standards for weights and measures. As a German, he was replaced as director in 1942 by Oliveira Castro. During the war Gross had a minor role in the war effort, which included development of a clockwork mechanism for the detonation of grenades. Caught by circumstances, he continued with his research interests, and in 1942 he identified a phenomenon he called the "freezing" of electric currents in electrets. His work from 1942 to 1945 was published in three articles in the Journal of Applied Physics (1947, 1948, 1949). He continued to work at the Instituto Nacional de Tecnologia in different capacities after the war.

Gross' main associate, Joaquim Costa Ribeiro, graduated in engineering from the Politécnica in Rio de Janeiro and became livre docente in 1933. He held the chair of experimental physics at the Universidade do Distrito Federal, while Gross held the chair of general physics and had Plinio Sussekind da Rocha as his assistant. When the Universidade do Distrito Federal was closed in 1939, the whole group moved to the Faculdade Nacional de Filosofia. Costa Ribeiro cooperated with Gross in different projects related to electrets and in 1942 demonstrated the existence of a "thermal-dielectric effect" that became known as "Costa Ribeiro effect." In 1946 Costa Ribeiro took the chair of physics at the Faculdade Nacional de Filosofia, where he continued with his research and formed a significant group of students, including Paulo Saraiva de Toledo, Armando Dias Tavares, E. Rodrigues, and Sérgio Mascarenhas. Mascarenhas, in turn, organized the group of solid-state physics at the Universidade de São Carlos in the state of São Paulo, where Gross worked in his later years.

Some broad generalizations can be made about these experiences. First, the most successful developments, and those more amenable to practical utilization in the long run, were those with a stronger academic orientation. Second, they all benefitted from the presence of foreign visitors or immigrants-Wataghin, Rheinboldt, Brieger, and Dobzhansky - who knew how to form disciples and create traditions of research work. Third, they sent their best students to international research centers at an early stage.

These experiences saw achievements but also problems and failures, some of which have already been discussed and others of which are yet to be seen. In any event, they provided Brazil, and more specifically the Universidade de São Paulo, with a scientific density that no other educational institution in the country had ever had. The scientists coming from this university, along with those from the Manguinhos tradition, would form the basis for the developments that would take place after World War II. It is impossible to follow these developments in all their details, but a broad view of their direction and a discussion on present and future dilemmas is the subject of the second part of this book.


1. Dafert was born in Vienna and had a doctorate from Giessen, Germany. In 1898, after returning to Europe, he was appointed director of Vienna's Experimental Chemical- Agricultural Station. For a full study of Dafert's presence in Brazil, see Dean 1989.

2. "The beginning of experimental work at the Estação Agronômica not at all surprisingly attracted the keen interest of both large plantation owners and those who were simply curious about what the specialists were doing there. But a few were perplexed by what they saw. The work being carried out seemed too theoretical; perhaps it could somehow be of use to national agriculture, but only in the future. As much as the director of the station tried to explain that such research was necessary for him to determine what direction to take in future experimental work, he could not manage to convince them. Rumor spread that the director was conducting experiments purely for his own scientific motives, without concern for immediate practical application" (F. Campos 1954:496).

3. "The observations and experiences that had so far been accumulated were inadequate to justify dissemination among plantation owners, as they still needed to be submitted to tests in various regions of the state whose climate and soil differed from that of Campinas. Only then, if results so indicated, could the relevant advice be given to interested coffee growers. As this basic principle was ignored, São Paulo plantation owners suffered many serious losses" (F. Campos 1954:497, 498).

4. The Escola owes its existence mainly to Luiz Vicente Sousa Queiroz, a wealthy patron of Piracicaba who had already provided the city with such benefits as electric energy. In 1992 Luiz de Queiroz took advantage of a state law that created the Escola Superior de Agricultura with ten subordinate experimental stations. He donated to the state his São João da Montanha ranch in Piracicaba, to be used as the site of this Escola. Initially backed by two important state politicians, Jorge Tibiriçá Piratininga and Bernardino de Campos, construction of the Escola nonetheless came to a standstill when the former left his post as state secretary. The Escola was inaugurated only in 1901, and then not as the Escola die Agronomia but as the Escola Agrícola Prática. When Jorge Tibiriçá won the governor's seat, it was finally possible for the Escola to be set up as originally d conceived.

5. While the Escola sponsored visits by such outstanding foreign professors as Nicolas Athanasov, Arsène Putmans, and others, travel grants were created under Governor Rodrigues Alves, thus providing further training for such students as Carlos Teixeira Mendes, Trajano Sampaio, and José de Melo Morais. The Ministry of Agriculture was prompted to offer similar grants to graduates of agronomy schools, allowing such students as José Vizioli and Salvador de Toledo Pizza Júnior to broaden their knowledge of various fields through studies in Europe or the United States.

6. Brieger recalled that when he arrived he "encountered a very interesting situation... in Piracicaba. José de Melo Morais, director of many years, was an exceptional fellow. He was a chemist and had studied in Germany, and although he was not a researcher his intuition was excellent. He had realized that Brazil's old teaching system, based on the book and ignoring research, would no longer do. Taking up the banner of the University of São Paulo, he wanted to make Escola Luiz de Queiroz a full-time course and introduce research, in order to turn a teaching school into a university institution. I found this all extremely favorable, because I just can't imagine any university teaching without research" (Brieger interview). Brieger later stated: "Something else that was very favorable at that time was that André Dreyfus in São Paulo had taken a post as head of the Departamento de Biologia Geral and was also interested in introducing genetics. And Carlos A. Krug in Campinas, head of the genetics section that he himself created, began introducing genetic improvement methods-I mean, improvement on scientific bases. We three established a wonderful friendship and a great work atmosphere, so that we ourselves criticized each other and defended each other from the rest. We three had the idea not only to use fundamental and applied methods but also to train disciples."

7. "He was far from a researcher, but he could smell, and he had perceived that the old Brazilian way of teaching from the book, without research, (lid not work. He joined the project of the new university in the quest for full-time work and research and really moved in the direction of changing a technical school into an academic institution" (Brieger interview).

8. "He would do very little research himself, but was able to absorb knowledge and transmit it to other people; he therefore had the quality needed to create a school, and he did" (Brieger interview).

9. "The scientific belief was that green vegetables are from a temperate climate and could not be planted in the tropics except at high altitudes. Seeds particularly had to be produced at high altitudes. I wanted to work in the improvement of plants, and since we did not have enough altitude in Piracicaba I decided the plants would have to adapt to me. I knew by experience that many of those scientific theories were just a consequence of lack of observation. Nobody knew much about the tropics in those years" (Brieger interview).

10. Pavan interview.

11. According to José Reis, Neiva was equally comfortable in his laboratory and in the field, and he became one of the most important entomologists of his generation. As director of hygiene in the state of São Paulo, he drafted the first sanitary code in Brazil's history. He headed the old commission and was responsible for transforming it into a permanent institution (Reis 1976b and 1976d).

12. The first division was subdivided into sections of botany and agronomy, chemistry, entomology and parasitology, and phytopathology. It included most of those who had worked on the old commission plus newly recruited botanists, agronomists, entomologists. and chemists. The animal division, headed by Genésio Pacheco, was divided into the sections of physiology, bacteriology, anatomy, pathology and entomology and parasitology.

13. Reis 1976a, 1976b, 1976d.

14. Bier interview.

15. Rocha Lima was the son of a prestigious medical doctor in Rio de Janeiro and had been in contact with the Manguinhos group since his student years. In 1901. after graduating from Rio's medical school. he went to Berlin. where he specialized in pathological anatomy, a new field for Brazil. He became a member of Manguinhos staff in 1903. and in 1907 he left Brazil again to work at the University of Jena as an assistant professor of pathological anatomy at the invitation of a former professor. Hermann Duerk. His scientific career in Europe was considered brilliant and included a period in Hamburg's Institute of Tropical Medicine and in the local university. He reputedly made important contributions in research related to yellow fever and typhus. among other areas. He kept up an intense correspondence with Oswaldo Cruz but returned to Brazil only when invited by Neiva to join the Instituto Biológico in 1927.

16. José Reis described the "university spirit" prevailing in the institute as "something one learns from great scientists and thinkers who are used to thinking in universal terms, interested in the exchange of ideas, and convinced there are no barriers among different fields of knowledge. It is a spirit of modesty. based on the acceptance of criticism and the never-ending need to learn. It is the spirit of open dialogue, not limited by differences of age or hierarchy but based on the respect of each other's personality and thought. It is the spirit of adventure in the search and transmission of knowledge, in which the intellectual, spiritual. and moral concerns always prevail over material concerns. It is the spirit of always starting anew" (Reis 1976a:593). The interviews with Penha, Bier, Rocha e Silva, and Reis, and the significant scientific production that came out of the institute throughout the years, confirm that this way of understanding their work was present in their minds and had a positive effect on their productivity.

17. Mariani 1982b

18. Maurício Rocha e Silva recalled those years as a period of "complete disaster": "At one point they cut the scientists' salaries, ended full-time work, and created so many difficulties that many preferred to leave the research institutions and get a job in the private sector. The Instituto Butantã probably suffered the most, and for a while some of its scientists-for example, Anatol Rosenfeld and Leal Prado-took shelter at the Biológico" (Silva interview).

19. For the history of chemistry in Brazil, see Rheinboldt 1955 and Mathias 1975.

20. One of them was Alvaro Joaquim de Oliveira. a military engineer and author of Apontamentos de Química, a book Rheinboldt rates as "the best and most original Brazilian work" in the field. Rheinboldt points out that Álvaro de Oliveira was, with Benjamin Constant Botelho de Magalhães, one of the founders of the Sociedade Positivista, and it may have been for this reason that "he was led to defend the theory of the constancy of valence so unilaterally, which lent to his work a peculiar trait. The works of Álvaro de Oliveira deserve the attention of a qualified philosopher!." Rheinboldt's own position in relation to positivism in Brazil was one of cautious perplexity: "It is very peculiar that this doctrine - which clearly indicates what paths should be followed in future chemistry research and which led J. H. Van't Hoff, for example, to make marvelous discoveries - did not spark what was so necessary in Brazil: the abolition of the old cramming system and the birth of pure research. But not even Álvaro de Oliveira himself undertook a single original experiment" (Rheinboldt 1955:69).

21. Excerpts from the decree that created this institute are cited in Mathias 1975:17.

22. First headed by Freitas Machado and later by Carneiro Felipe, it was linked to the Departamento Nacional da Produção Mineral, which maintained its industrial chemistry course until 1951, when it was transformed into a chemical engineering course. The Escola seemed to have been particularly closed to outside influences. From 1939 on, the Laboratório da Produção Mineral hired Fritz Feigl. of international reputation, who was joined in 1946 by Hans Zocher. Jacques Danon, who studied at the Escola Nacional de Química, recalls that they had no influence in the school because they were forbidden to teach. "The Brazilian scientific community - the community of professors, to be more precise - was extremely jealous of the privileges derived from their chairs, and it was afraid of more creative people. I don't blame them; I understand their social conditions. The presence of such important names threatened those who posed as scholars but lacked creativity" (Danon interview). The Escola Nacional de Química went through several transformations in the years to follow, but the teaching of chemistry as an independent discipline was institutionalized in Rio de Janeiro only when the Instituto de Química of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro was established in the 1970s.

23. For Simão Mathias, a student of Rheinboldt's at the Universidade de São Paulo, the industrial chemistry courses of the 1920s failed because they were "merely for professional training. not aimed at profound neutral studies or at original research" (Mathias 1975:21). The latter was to be the goal of the Universidade de São Paulo's chemistry department.

24. Rheinboldt was born in Baden, graduated with degrees in chemistry and geology from the Technical Institute of Karlsruhe, and had a doctorate from Strasbourg under the direction of W. Wedekind. In 1927 he was already head of the department of analytical and Inorganic chemistry at the University of Strasbourg, and in 1928 he taught as extraordinarius at the Institute of Chemistry in Bonn.

25. Mors interview.

26. Mathias 1975:11.

27. It is believed that Mathias received the first doctoral degree awarded by the Universidade de São Paulo.

28. "When the building of a new chemistry laboratory was under way," Mathias recalls, "the medical students staged a protest: 'We don't want philosophers in the Faculdade de Medicina.' For them we were the philosophers from the Faculdade de Filosofia. One night fire was set at the scaffolds. It was the end of the chemistry department at the Faculdade de Medicina" (Mathias interview).

29. Mathias interview.

30. The professional competence and high standards developed by Rheinboldt and his group are undisputed. However, they may not have been as up-to-date in their discipline as their physicist colleagues were. Mathias recalls that Hauptmann's course in physical chemistry at the Universidade de São Paulo was "a disaster." Paulus A. Pompéia. a physicist, says that Rheinboldt and Hauptmann "were great chemists. but of the nineteenth century": "The Germans had gone a long way in classical chemistry, but they did not know physics, did not know quantum mechanics, did not know the physical part of chemistry. I believe this was a problem peculiar to Germany, because in other places the chemist worked very closely with the physicists" (Mathias interview). This is probably the reason several talented young men who came to study chemistry at the Universidade de São Paulo, such as José Israel Vargas, did not find the intellectual answers they were looking for and soon moved to the physics department.

31. Ben-David 1976:17-18.

32. A strong research group on the chemistry of natural products was developed at the Instituto de Química Agrícola with the cooperation of Carl Djerassi, from Wayne State University and later Stanford, who previously had been a leader of the research arm of Syntex Corporation. (Syntex held the patents for the production of hormones for birth control pills derived from Mexican cacti.) After 1962 Otto Gottlieb, a member of the group, went to organize the chemistry department of the new Universidade de Brasilia, while Mors began a research center of natural products at the Faculdade de Farmácia in Rio de Janeiro, later incorporated in the chemistry department of the Universidade do Rio de Janeiro

33. For a detailed account of the development of modern physics in Brazil, see R. G. F. Pinto 1978.

34. Cerelli had previously been in Brazil and had discussed with Armando de Sales Oliveira the projects for the new university. Wataghin heard that Fermi had suggested his name and reacted negatively at first. Then Teodoro Ramos came and invited him "to Rome, where we went to a famous restaurant - Via de la Scrofa - where the spaghetti was eaten with spoons and forks of pure gold" (Wataghin interview). He finally conceded.

35. Wataghin was born in Odessa and did all his secondary studies in Russia. His father was an officer and engineer in the Russian army, and the whole family migrated to Italy in 1919, after the revolution. In Turin, Wataghin did translations from Russian to Esperanto, taught Latin and mathematics, and worked in the film industry. In 1922 he obtained a doctorate in physics from the University of Turin, and in 1924 he was hired as an assistant by the polytechnic school of that university. Five years later he received from the Italian Ministry of Education the libera docenza in theoretical physics to teach rational mechanics and advanced physics.

36. "I recall especially two types of events from my time in Cambridge. On two or three Sundays I was invited for tea at Rutherford's house. Everybody came. I met Geiger and became a friend of Dirac's. These gatherings gave me a glimpse of English society, which in those years was usually so exclusive. There were not only scientists but also ladies. For me, these meetings were extremely interesting and useful." The other events were the weekly meetings of the so-called Kapitza Club. "Kapitza was a soviet citizen and worked closely with Rutherford. He is four or five years older than me, which means he was about thirty-six or thirty-seven at that time... We became friends - we are both Russian - and we used to play chess. I think he won most of the time, but it did not matter. The important thing was the friendship, the conversations... " The next stop was Copenhagen. "For the first time I met personally with Bohr. There was also Heitler, Heisenberg, Pauli... Bohr invited me to present my ideas. Pauli chaired the meeting. Everybody was against me because I believed cosmic rays came from multiple sources." From Copenhagen he went to Leipzig, where Heisenberg worked in a period of great excitement. "There I met Jordan, Debye, Max Born - who was just arriving - and Ettore Majorana, a very young man who impressed me as a true genius, which he really was" (Wataghin Interview). Wataghin was unknown except for his paper on the Solvay conference, and he was always impressed by the informality and cordiality with which he was received in this small elite.

37. Wataghin interview.

38. Marcelo Damy observes, however, that "Wataghin was a theoretical physicist with a strong interest in the experimental side. He knew very well that theory had to be based on facts because physics is a natural science. . . . But he was not an experimentalist; he was not a man to design equipment, to make it, to adjust it for observation. His contribution was in planning experiments and analyzing the results" (Damy interview).

39. Wataghin recalls: "Schenberg returned a different person. He had learned much more than I could have taught him. From then on we collaborated. He did beautiful work on cosmic rays and then started to work in electrodynamics, under the direction of Dirac. He had learned a lot in Rome. and I decided that he did not have much more to learn from 'lie and should travel again soon" (Wataghin interview).

40. "I started to work on problems related to cosmic rays, which required very special technologies. For instance, all observations were done with equipment based on electronic circuits. Radiation was detected with the famous Geiger-Müller counters, then not very well known. But there were no electronic circuits or radiation detectors on the market. The physicist had to design and make his own circuits. build the detectors with his hands. and then use them in his research" (Damy interview)

41. Damy interview.

42. Pompéia had worked from 1935 to 1938 as an assistant to Fonseca Teles in the Instituto de Eletrotécnica, where he organized a laboratory for physical measurements.

43. Damy interview.

44. Damy interview.

45. "Measurements of small time intervals were completely unknown to the Brazilian engineers-that I knew because I had worked in the United States with measurements of half-lives of mesons, which had the magnitude of microseconds. It was a very specialized technology and very new... We built equipment that measured the time the bullet took to cross two light beams" (Pompéia interview).

46. Leff 1968.

47. Sala interview.

48. "There was no money to pay for my expenses in Campos de Jordão or for transportation. Wataghin would pay the expenses out of his pocket. or we would look for well-known wealthy people and ask for their support. Once Wataghin went to talk with São Paulo's governor, Ademar de Barros. Wataghin was an enthusiastic person, and in that conversation - I was not there, I heard the story later-the governor got very impressed, opened a drawer, took a pack of bills and asked, 'Professor, how much do you need? It is a funny story, which reveals how Wataghin viewed the governor" (Sala interview). It also shows Wataghin's isolation in those years.

49. The installation of the betatron presented an opportunity to train a new group of scientists, including José Goldemberg. R Pieroni, and others. "It was the first equipment and allowed for the beginning of nuclear physics in Brazil" (Damy interview).

50. Lattes interview.

51. Lattes' work in Berkeley is described by José Leite Lopes: "An important achievement in physics, the discovery of pions and of the disintegration pion-muon, and the work of Marcello Conversi and associates in Italy, on the capture of mesons in cosmic radiation, marked the birth of particle physics as an independent field from nuclear physics, after the years of limited scientific achievements during World War II" (Lopes 1988:2).

52. "I was completely alone in a room that had... well, in an empty room. They still did not have a physics division. Actually, they had it on paper, and the director was Anibal de Souza, who later moved to the department of industrial property. He did not do any work of physics at the institute; he was more interested in patents and such things. In the beginning I borrowed some electric equipment from the Observatório Nacional that had been purchased by Henrique Morize. I needed a source of high tension, and a battery of 500 volts was obtained. There was also a galvanometer. I have no idea on how we got it" (Gross interview). With these instruments, Gross began work.

53. Gross interview.