Physics in Perspective

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 281-304

First online:

Quirino Majorana’s Experiments on the Speed of Light and Gravitational Absorption

  • Giorgio DragoniAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, University of Bologna Email author 
  • , Giulio MalteseAffiliated with
  • , Luisa AttiAffiliated with

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Quirino Majorana (1871–1957) was an outstanding Italian experimental physicist who investigated a wide range of phenomena during his long career in Rome,Turin, and Bologna. We focus on his experiments in Turin during 1916–1921 and in Bologna during 1921–1934 to test the validity of Albert Einstein’s postulate on the constancy of the speed of light and to detect gravitational absorption. These experiments required extraordinary skill, patience, and dedication, and all of them confirmed Einstein’s postulate and Isaac Newton’s law of universal gravitation to high precision. Had they not done so, Majorana’s fame among historians and physicists no doubt would be much greater than it is today.


Quirino Majorana Ettore Majorana Albert Einstein Albert A. Michelson Isaac Newton Henri Poincaré Henry Norris Russell Arthur S. Eddington special theory of relativity speed of light universal gravitation gravitational absorption experimental physics