Enrico Fermi, September 29, 1901 – November 28, 1954, was an Italian theoretical and experimental physicist, best known for his work on the development of Chicago Pile-1, the first nuclear reactor, and for his contributions to the development of quantum theory, nuclear and particle physics, and statistical mechanics.
Along with Robert Oppenheimer, he is referred to as “the father of the atomic bomb”. He held several patents related to the use of nuclear power, and was awarded the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on induced radioactivity and the discovery of transuranic elements. Throughout his life Fermi was widely regarded as one of the very few physicists who excelled both theoretically and experimentally.
Fermi received numerous awards in recognition of his achievements, including the Matteucci Medal in 1926, the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1938, the Hughes Medal in 1942, the Franklin Medal in 1947, and the Rumford Prize in 1953. He was awarded the Medal for Merit in 1946 for his contribution to the Manhattan Project. In 1999, Time named Fermi on its list of the top 100 persons of the twentieth century.
Fermi was widely regarded as an unusual case of a 20th-century physicist who excelled both theoretically and experimentally. The historian of physics, C. P. Snow, wrote that “if Fermi had been born a few years earlier, one could well imagine him discovering Rutherford’s atomic nucleus, and then developing Bohr’s theory of the hydrogen atom. If this sounds like hyperbole, anything about Fermi is likely to sound like hyperbole”.
Fermi was known as an inspiring teacher, and was noted for his attention to detail, simplicity, and careful preparation of his lectures. Later, his lecture notes were transcribed into books. His papers and notebooks are today in the University of Chicago.
Fermi’s ability and success stemmed as much from his appraisal of the art of the possible, as from his innate skill and intelligence. He disliked complicated theories, and while he had great mathematical ability, he would never use it when the job could be done much more simply. He was famous for getting quick and accurate answers to problems that would stump other people. Later on, his method of getting approximate and quick answers through back-of-the-envelope calculations became informally known as the “Fermi method”.
Some of His Contributions
Fermi’s first major contribution was to statistical mechanics. After Wolfgang Pauli announced his exclusion principle in 1925, Fermi followed with a paper in which he applied the principle to an ideal gas, employing a statistical formulation now known as Fermi–Dirac statistics. Today, particles that obey the exclusion principle are called “fermions”. Later Pauli postulated the existence of an invisible particle with no charge that was emitted at the same time an electron was emitted during beta decay in order to satisfy the law of conservation of energy.
Fermi took up this idea, developing a model that incorporated the postulated particle, which Fermi named the “neutrino”. His theory, later referred to as Fermi’s interaction and still later as the theory of the weak interaction, described one of the four forces of nature. Through experiments inducing radioactivity with recently discovered neutrons, Fermi discovered that slow neutrons were more easily captured than fast ones, and developed a diffusion equation to describe this, which became known as the Fermi age equation. He bombarded thorium and uranium with slow neutrons, and concluded that he had created new elements, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize, but the new elements were subsequently revealed to be fission products.
What Are You Doing for Your World?
You may not be an experimental physicist. But you are one person and you can change the world. You have got to get to it, however. Saying you want to change the world will not change the world. You gotta get off your cushion and start exercising your Universe-given abilities and talents and dedication. No one changes the world by himself or herself. But all it takes is one determined person to shift the paradigm. Get to it.
Source: Wikipedia.org (Please donate to this fine resource.)
Enrico Fermi, Abduction, and Slow Neutrons (samirchopra.com)
Does Simulation Theory Solve the Fermi Paradox? (lunaticoutpost.com)
The Inventor of Nuclear Power (invent.answers.com)
When physicists play Pictionary. (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
Enrico Fermi Department of Physics Pisa. (drmyronevans.wordpress.com)