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Enrico Fermi

Enrico Fermi and the "New World" of Nuclear Fission

"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind". (Neil Armstrong, commander of the Apollo 11 Moon landing mission) These words spoken by American astronaut Neil Armstrong may also describe the amazing work of Italian (later American naturalized) physicist Enrico Fermi (1901 - 1954). His first investigative steps, performed in Italy and later in Chicago, resulted in a gigantic endeavor when he achieved the first man-made nuclear reactor in the world. Enrico's leadership and genius were also instrumental in the design of the first atomic bomb in the Manhattan Project (Enrico Fermi. In Wikipedia). I think of Enrico as an explorer, in the same league as Neil Armstrong, Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, and the Viking Leif Ericson. When Enrico had accomplished a self-sustained atomic chain reaction in Chicago, the head of the project Arthur Compton referred to the feat as "the Italian navigator has just landed in the New World, the secret phrase agreed to signal success".
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