Ettore Majorana was maybe the most brilliant student of Enrico Fermi, and an outstanding physicist. He disappeared on March 25th 1938 at the age of 32 years, under mysterious circumstances and leaving no trace behind. The hypothesis that he committed suicide appears weak in the face of his withdrawing a conspicuous amount of money from his bank on the eve of his disappearance -he had a rational mind and such an action would have made little sense. Other hypotheses include an escape to Argentina, and even a collaboration with the third reich in Germany, where he had previously worked -Majorana had expressed anti-jew ideas in the past.

Now, seventy years after his disappearance, the mystery might be solved. A picture has emerged which might portray him in the company of an italian acquaintance, who in 2008 called an Italian TV show, "Chi l'ha visto" (Who saw him). The caller reported of having met Majorana in 1955 in Caracas, where he was introduced to him by a friend who had met Majorana first in Argentina. The mysterious man's name was allegedly "Bini", but the caller's acquaintance had clarified that he was in fact the famous Italian physicist. Here is a transcript of the witness:

"Sono partito per il Venezuela perché non andavo d'accordo con mio padre, era l'aprile del 1955. Arrivato a Caracas, sono andato a Valencia con Ciro, un mio amico siciliano, che mi presentò un certo Bini. Ho collegato Bini e Majorana grazie al signor Carlo, un argentino. Mi disse: "Ma lo sai chi è quello? Quello è uno scienziato. Quello ha una capoccia grande che tu neanche ti immagini. Quello è il signor Majorana". Si erano conosciuti in Argentina. Era di media altezza, con i capelli bianchi, pochi e ondulati. Capelli bianchi di chi aveva avuto i capelli neri. E si vedeva dal fatto che portava sempre l'orologio sopra la camicia e per lavarsi le mani si apriva le maniche della camicia e aveva i peli neri. Era timido, preferiva stare in silenzio e se lo invitavi al night non veniva. Poteva avere sui 50 - 55 anni. Parlava romano ma si vedeva che non era romano. Si vedeva anche che era una persona colta. Sembrava un principe. Io certe volte gli dicevo: "Ma che cavolo campi a fa. Ti vedo sempre triste". Lui diceva che lavorava, andavamo a mangiare, poi stava 10-15 giorni senza farsi sentire. Aveva una macchina gialla una Studebacker. Pagava solo la benzina, altrimenti sembrava che non avesse mai una lira. Ogni tanto gli dicevo: "Ci tieni tanto alla tua macchina e c'hai tutta sta carta". Erano fogli con numeri e virgole, sbarramenti. Lui non voleva mai farsi fotografare e siccome dovevo prestargli 150 bolivar gli ho fatto una specie di ricatto, in cambio gli ho chiesto di farsi fare una foto con me per mandarla alla mia famiglia. Era più basso di me. Quando ho trovato la foto ho deciso di parlare, sennò era inutile che dicevo che avevo conosciuto Majorana."

My quick-and-dirty translation:

I left to Venezuela because of disagreements with my father in April 1955. Once in Caracas, I went to Valencia with Ciro, a Sicilian friend, who presented me to a mr. Bini. I connected Bini to Majorana thanks to Carlo, an Argentinian. He said "Do you realize who that guy is ? He's a scientist. He's got a brain you can't imagine. He is mr. Majorana". They had met in Argentina. He was of average height, with white hair, few and wavy. The white hair of a man who was once black-haired. One could see it from the fact that he wore his watch over his shirt, so to wash his hands he opened his sleeves and black hair could be seen. He was shy, often silent, and if you invited him to a night club he wouldn't come. He might have been 50-55 years old. He had a roman accent but one could see he was not. One could also see he was well-learned. He looked like a prince. I sometimes told him "What the hell do you live for ? You are always sad". He said he worked, we dined together, then he would disappear for 10-15 days. He had a yellow Studebacker. He only paid for the gas, otherwise he looked always penniless. Sometimes I used to tell him "You care so much for this car and have all these papers". These were sheets with numbers and commas, bars. He never wanted to be photographed, and since I once had to lend him 150 bolivars, I sort of blackmailed him, I asked him to get a picture of him to send it to my family. He was shorter than I was. When I found the picture I decided to speak, otherwise it was useless for me to say I had known Majorana."

The picture has now been studied with care by investigators, and it has been found to match extraordinarily well with existing pictures of Majorana, plus to carry a lot of similarities with somatic traits of Majorana's father. It thus seems possible to hope to locate his remains, although the task is of course not going to be easy.

If you wonder what Majorana did to particle physics in the thirties: he gave important contributions to atomic physics and to weak interactions. Nowadays, his name appears often in works about neutrinos, which might in truth be proven to be Majorana particles -i.e., particles that are their own antibodies, and that satisfy the Majorana equation. A number of experiments are currently trying to find a signal of double beta decay -a transmutation of nuclei which does not involve neutrino emission: such a reaction would imply that neutrinos are indeed Mayorana bodies.

It would be so nice if in the near future we both found out that the real nature of neutrinos is the one hypothesized by Ettore Majorana, and also find where his remains are buried!