Enrico Fermi

1901- 1954




Physicist Enrico Fermi was born on September 29, 1901 in Rome. He is almost surely the greatest Italian scientist since Galileo, made his major contributions to science in the field of nuclear reactions. In 1942, Fermi successfully produced a controlled chain reaction in the first nuclear pile, which he built at the University of Chicago.

Fermi, whose wife was Jewish, had left Italy in 1938 as the anti-Semitism of the Fascists grew. His role in the development of atomic weaponry continued and he was, in fact, present in the New Mexico desert when the first atomic bomb was detonated.

Fermi remained at the University of Chicago as professor of physics until his death from cancer.