On This Day

Enrico Fermi

Father of the Atomic Bomb Enrico Fermi

Profession: Father of the Atomic Bomb

United States of America

Biography: Best known for his work on Chicago Pile-1 (the first nuclear reactor), and for his contributions to the development of quantum theory, and nuclear and particle physics.

Fermi is one of the men referred to as the "father of the atomic bomb". His career began in his native Italy and at 37 was awarded the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on reduced radioactivity.

In 1939 he moved to the US, conducting the first nuclear fission experiment (splitting of a uranium atom) in the US before moving to Chicago and designing the world's first nuclear reactor, the Chicago Pile-1.

Fermi also worked with Robert Oppenheimer on Project Y in Los Alamos, New Mexico as part of the Manhattan Project that created the nuclear atomic bombs dropped in Japan.

After WWII Fermi continued to work on the Manhattan Project, though opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb on moral grounds. He also contributed significant work on cosmic radiology.

Born: September 29, 1901
Birthplace: Rome, Italy

Generation: Greatest Generation
Chinese Zodiac: Ox
Star Sign: Libra

Died: November 28, 1954 (aged 53)
Cause of Death: Stomach cancer

Married Life

  • 1928-07-19 Physicist Enrico Fermi (26) weds writer Laura Capon in Rome, Italy

Historical Events

  • 1938-12-10 Italian scientist Enrico Fermi receives the Nobel Prize for Physics (work on reduced radioactivity)
  • 1939-01-25 1st nuclear fission experiment (splitting of a uranium atom) in the US, in basement of Pupin Hall, Columbia University by a team including Enrico Fermi
  • 1942-12-02 World’s 1st self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction occurs in Chicago Pile-1 (world's 1st nuclear reactor) at the University of Chicago, overseen by Enrico Fermi

Famous Italians