Who is César Lattes? Google Doodle celebrates Brazilian physicist

Who is César Lattes? Google Doodle celebrates Brazilian physicist

Google has given its Doodle treatment to pay homage to César Lattes, the Brazilian physicist and teacher who would have celebrated his 100th birthday on July 11.

Born to Italian migrants in Curitiba in 1924, Mr Lattes is best known for discovering a subatomic particle called the pion and advancing our understanding of nuclear forces.

The search engine is displaying a drawing of him on its home screen in Britain as well as his birth nation and Mexico on Tuesday.

Lattes died in 2005, aged 80, but his legacy lives on.

“Happy birthday César Lattes,” Google wrote of the Doodle. “Thank you for paving the way for experimental physics in Latin America and around the world.”

Mr Lattes graduated with a physics degree from the University of São Paulo in the 1940s and then began studying cosmic rays, or high-energy particles from space.

“Lattes correctly suspected that adding boron to photographic plates would give him a clearer image of particles breaking down,” a write-up on Google added.

“It worked so well, he could see each proton.”

Using photographic plates at the top of a mountain, he was able to see tracks from a particle that had never been observed before, and the pion - or pi meson - was born.

Mr Lattes found that pions exist but that some mesons are heavier than others, research that earned him the Nobel prize in physics.

He then returned to the University of São Paulo and became a physics professor, and later worked at the State University of Campinas.

Later in his career, Mr Lattes campaigned for more government funding for science and mentored students working on their nuclear emulsion and geochronology.

His influence touched students in Brazil but also in the US and Italy.

Meanwhile, his lobbying led to the formation of the CBPF, a physics research institute where he was named the scientific director

Google added: “Lattes received many awards for his advancements in nuclear forces and particle physics, including the Einstein Award from the Brazilian Academy of Sciences and an Order of Merit from Brazil and Italy.

“Dozens of schools, roads, and town squares are named in his honour.”