The first nuclear reactor was erected in 1942 in Chicago.

On December 2, 1942 a group of scientists achieved the first self-sustaining chain reaction and thereby initiated the controlled release of nuclear energy.

One of those scientists was Enrico Fermi.

Born on September 29, 1901, Enrico Fermi was a man ahead of his time in many respects, and dedicated his life to the development, use and production of energy.


His extensive research in advanced physics and quantum mechanics resulted in him discovering what are known as the 'Fermi Statists' at the young age of 25. He oversaw the building of the first atomic bomb.

Students can explore the life of this great scientist who earned the title of 'Architect of the atomic age'.

Fermi_and_King_of_Sweden Nobel Prize Physics 1938

Fermi received many distinctions over the years: the Matteucci Medal, the Hughes Medal, the Medal for Merit, the Franklin Medal, ForMemRS, the Barnard Medal for Meritorious, Service to Science, the Rumford Prize, the Max Planck Medal, and the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Fermi was famous for being able to make good estimates in situations where very little information was known. How can we learn from a man like Enrico Fermi?

People who made outstanding achievements, such as Enrico Fermi, Henry FordDr Marie Curie, and Dr Elizabeth Blackwell all had one thing in common. They identified their unique talents and developed them to produce remarkable outputs that shaped the world in a variety of ways.

Class Activity:

  • Where was Enrico Fermi born?
  • When did Fermi receive the Nobel Prize in Physics and who presented the prize?
  • Fermi relocated to America in 1939. He was appointed Professor of Physics at which American university?
  • What was the name of the analog computer he invented in 1947?
  • After reading his story, write a brief synopsis about his life. Describe what you think about his unique talent and determination. What sort of person takes on these incredible actions, often at great risk to their own health?

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