The years spent by Gleb Vasilievich Wataghin at the University of São Paulo
were, perhaps, the most productive in his long career as a teacher and scientist,
two activities which, for him, were inseparable. In his passionate relation with
science, research and discovery were inseparable from the formation of students,
whose intellectual growth was for him, at the same time, a reward for his efforts as
a teacher and an incentive to proceed as a researcher.
Therefore, it is not surprising that, during the years of his teaching, the
development of a group of outstanding physicists at the University of São Paulo
coincided with a remarkable series of his scientific contributions, considered by him
as the most significant of his wide production.
His work in Cosmic Ray Physics in Brazil was done in collaboration with
such young students destined for a brilliant future as Cesare Lattes, Marcello
Damy de Souza Santos, Paulus Aulus Pompeia, Abrahão de Moraes, Oscar Sala,
Mario Schenberg, Roberto Salmeron, Jean Meyer, Ugo Camerini and many more
both theoretical and experimental researchers. This work, made in the laboratories
of the Institute of Physics of the University of São Paulo and in some cases
mounted in tunnels, mines, airplanes, enabled him to identify the existence of
penetrating showers and to hypothesize on multiple meson production, which
induced him to suggest the existence of a fundamental length and to formulate a
related non local theory.
The papers collected in this volume express well these steps of his career:
published previously occasionally in specialized journals or by the Universities of
São Paulo and Turin, together they assume a broader meaning, beyond their
contribution to the development of physical science in the central decades of our
century. His research in Statistical Mechanics applied to electrons and positrons,
developed in Turin in the beginning of the Thirties, was at the time appreciated by
Enrico Fermi. The modern string theory goes along the same road, understood as
the one able to introduce in a more general way the nonlocality in the modern
theory of strong interactions, confirming the worth of his intuitions and of their still
present importance for the progress of science.
The dialog with the best representatives of Brazilian Physics, with which he
continued to identify himself even after his return to Turin in 1948, was renewed in
the Seventies with the collaboration with the Institute of Physics of the State
University of Campinas, to which he dedicated himself with the same usual
enthusiasm until his last years: the present volume represents the most sincere
acknowledgment that his Colleagues and Students could make and reflects the
permanent interest in his scientific production.
Written by Vladimir Wataghin, Istituto di Fisica Teorica, University of Turin.