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Monday, October 4, 2021
Italian American Heritage Month: Enrico Fermi
In the annals of science and technology he's often overlooked. But he was a remarkable trailblazer who exhibited courage in a time of peril. In 1938, Enrico Fermi was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on radioactivity and the discovery of new elements. But what would have been a career capstone for most was just the beginning for this University of Rome physicist who defected to the U.S. to escape the Benito Mussolini's tyrannical reign. Once here, he oversaw the first controlled nuclear chain reaction in Chicago in December 1942. Less than two years later, Fermi became prominently involved in the development of the atomic bomb when he served as associate director of the top secret Manhattan Project. Though Fermi later argued against the creation of the hydrogen bomb on ethical grounds, his positive contributions and his reputation as the architect of the nuclear age stands unchallenged.
Part of a month long series spotlighting a different accomplished Italian American every day during Italian American Heritage Month.