On the “Missing Letter” to Lattes and the Nobel Prize in Physics


Lattes, Bohr, Missing letter, Nobel Prize, Nominees and Nominators, Physics.


We briefly discuss the myth of a possible missing letter from Bohr to Lattes and show the only content of the Bohr archives concerning the Brazilian physicist. We also analyze and discuss the Nobel Prize in Physics Nominations and Nominees from 1901 to 1963. For example, the highest number of nominations (considering data up to the year of the Nobel Prize) was received by Otto Stern, with a total of 82 nominations. It was found that the average number of nominations per Nobel Prize awarded was 30.7, and only nine of the total 80 prizewinners surpassed this average. In contrast, it was observed that in many years, there were laureates with just zero, one, two or three nominations $-$ an indicator of high subjectivity, as verified by experts on bibliometric data. From the data presented, it is concluded that Lattes (as well as his colleague, collaborator and friend `Beppo' Occhialini) received enough nominations to be awarded the Nobel Prize not once but twice; thus, the necessity of a letter on this subject remains valid.