An interview with Gil Brunovich Pontecorvo, Doctor of Physics and Mathematics, an advisor to the Directorate of the Dzhelepov Laboratory of Nuclear Problems.

Gil Pontecorvo has been working at DLNP since 1962. He is an expert in developing the streamer chamber technique, and also in studying pion scattering by nuclei of helium isotopes using a high-pressure streamer spectrometer. His series of papers on the development and experimental application of the high-pressure streamer spectrometer was awarded the First JINR Prize in 1972 and the Second JINR Prize in 1978. In 1976 G. B. Pontecorvo successfully defended the candidate dissertation “Development and usage of helium streamer chambers in a physics experiment”.



Gil Pontecorvo greatly contributed to the development of international cooperation between JINR and the leading European research centres. In 1981 he took an active part in preparation and implementation of the РS-179 experiment at CERN conducted together with Italian physicists from INFN. Important physical data on interactions of antiprotons with helium and deuterium nuclei were gathered in that experiment using the streamer chamber and unique slow antiproton beams from LEAR. The atmosphere of friendliness and partnership that immediately arose in the work under the leadership of Prof. G. Piragino allowed the investigations of antinucleon–nucleon and antinucleon–nucleus interactions to be continued in the later PS-201 experiment started at the OBELIX spectrometer in 1991.

At the same time G. Pontecorvo became one of the main participants in another international experiment, DISTO, which was aimed at studying polarization effects in production of strange particles in proton–proton interactions at the SATURNE accelerator in France.

In 1997 the DUBTO experiment was proposed for studying pion interactions with light nuclei at the LNP accelerator using a setup based on the streamer chamber. Gil Pontecorvo was one of the authors and a prime mover of that project, which later evolved into the PAINUC project. In those investigations a new filmless detection system was used, data processing software was developed, and about 30000 stereo images of pion interactions with helium nuclei were obtained. 

The culmination of long-time scientific and methodological investigations was the defence by G. B. Pontecorvo of the doctoral dissertation “Studies of pion-nucleus and antiproton−nucleus interactions using self−shunted streamer chambers and nuclear photoemulsion” in 2010.

G. Pontecorvo published over 140 works and reported the results obtained with his participation at various international scientific conferences.

Gil Brunovich is also widely known as a scientific translator. He translated more than 25 books and tens of scientific papers. He does interpretation at scientific conferences and meetings. He likes travelling, and did a lot of walking-tours across the country with his backpack.

Video by Anastasia Malyshkina