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Enrico Fermi

Italian physicist

Enrico Fermi (September 29, 1901 — November 28, 1954) was an Italian-American physicist who worked on the first nuclear reactor and helped make quantum theory. He also was important to particle physics, and statistical mechanics. Fermi won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1938 for his work on induced radioactivity. He built the world's first nuclear reactor. Fermi was one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century.[1]

Enrico Fermi
Enrico Fermi 1943-49.jpg
Enrico Fermi in 1940s
Born (1901-09-29)September 29, 1901
Rome, Italy
Died November 28, 1954(1954-11-28) (aged 53)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Nationality Italian-American
Occupation physicist
Known for Nobel Prize in Physics, 1938

Early lifeEdit

Fermi was born in Rome and went to a local grammar school. He was very good at maths and science and won a prize from Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa.[2] He went to the University of Pisa where he studied physics. In 1923 he was given a scholarship from the Italian government and went to Göttingen for more study. He was given a Rockefeller scholarship in 1924 and studied in Leyden. He came back to Italy at the end of 1924 and became Lecturer in Mathematical Physics and Mechanics at the University of Florence.[2]

Scientist in ItalyEdit

In 1926, Fermi discovered the statistical laws, now called Fermi statistics.[2] These laws explain the actions of the particles which are subject to the Pauli exclusion principle, which are now called fermions. These are different to the particles called bosons which are explained by Bose-Einstein statistics. In 1927 he became Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Rome.[2] He spent time studying electrodynamics, and began to closely look at the atomic nucleus. In 1934, using discoveries made by Wolfgang Pauli, Frédéric Joliot, Irène Joliot-Curie, he was able to show changes in almost every element bombarded with neutrons.[2] This led to the discovery of slow neutrons, nuclear fission and making elements that were not in the Periodic Table.

Fermi expressed his concerns about the dangers of nuclear energy at one of the meetings of the University of Chicago before the end of the WWII.[3]