Physics in Perspective

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 56-76

First online:

Ettore Majorana’s Forgotten Publication on the Thomas-Fermi Model

  • Francesco GuerraAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, University of Rome “La Sapienza” and National Institute for Nuclear Physics Email author 
  • , Nadia RobottiAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, University of Genoa

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

We analyze the forgotten communication of Ettore Majorana (1906–1938?) on the Thomas-Fermi statistical model of the atom, which he presented on December 29, 1928, during the XXII General Meeting of the Italian Physical Society in Rome, and which was published in Il Nuovo Cimento, the Society’s journal, in 1929. His communication was not mentioned subsequently in any of the numerous publications of Enrico Fermi (1901–1954) and his group in Rome, nor in any of the later accounts of Majorana’s life and work. We place Majorana’s contribution within the context of contemporary research on the subject, point out its influence on the final formulation of the Thomas-Fermi statistical model by Fermi and Edoardo Amaldi (1908–1989) in 1934, and discuss Majorana’s other scientific contributions before his mysterious disappearance in 1938.


Ettore Majorana Enrico Fermi Edoardo Amaldi Emilio Segrè Werner Heisenberg Niels Bohr Italian Physical Society University of Rome University of Naples Domus Galilaeana Thomas-Fermi model Rydberg corrections spectroscopy atomic physics nuclear physics