Who was Enrico Fermi?

   Enrico Fermi (1901-1954), Italian atomic physicist, was born in Rome. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pisa and later taught theoretical physics at the universities of Florence and Rome.
   Fermi contributed to the knowledge of the mechanics of the interior of the atom and its application to spectroscopy, and he developed the statistical theory of electrons. He proposed a theory of the beta decay of nuclei in which he gave evidence of the new subatomic particle, the neutrino. He studied the slowing down of another particle, the neutron, in hydrogenous materials. By capturing the slow neutrons in atomic nuclei, he made a comprehensive study of artificially radioactive substances. He was awarded the 1938 Nobel prize in physics.
   He came to the United States in 1939 as professor at Columbia University. His work was connected with the fission of uranium, and he was instrumental in obtaining governmental support for development of atomic energy for wartime application. At the University of Chicago in 1942 he achieved the first self-sustaining chain reaction, thereby initiating the controlled release of nuclear energy. In 1944 he became engaged in the construction of atomic bombs at Los Alamos, N.M. In 1946 he resumed his academic work as professor of physics at the University of Chicago.