Books et al.Science Lives

Physicist. Defector. Spy?

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Science  20 Feb 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6224, pp. 833
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa3654

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In late July of 1950, the physicist Bruno Pontecorvo and his family left the United Kingdom to take a relaxing, well-deserved vacation through France, Switzerland, and Italy. All seemed well—until suddenly, it didn't. After missing an arranged meeting with his parents, the Pontecorvos flew to Sweden, then on to Helsinki, and then vanished without a message or a trace. It would be 5 years before the world learned that they had defected to the Soviet Union. But was Pontecorvo a spy, or simply a card-carrying Communist who feared being persecuted for his beliefs?