Lori has a degree from Stanford, was Principal of a K-12 private school that she started, has a Master's degree, and taught at the high school level.
About 40 miles southwest of the city of Chicago, you'll find numerous places to visit. There's the charming town of Geneva, the nationally recognized city of Naperville, and a 6,800-acre particle physics laboratory, the second largest in the world, where the smallest building blocks of matter, energy, space and time are studied.
This facility is called 'Fermilab', named after Enrico Fermi, a pioneer in nuclear fission and the creation of the atomic bomb.
Let's learn a little more about his life and the impact he had in the field of Nuclear Physics.
Enrico Fermi was born in Rome in 1901, the youngest of three children. His love for physics began at age 14 when he immersed himself in the study of quantum physics, a fairly new field at the time. He continued to study physics on his own, which helped him land a scholarship in 1918 to the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, a university for gifted students. The school was so impressed that they soon placed him, not as a freshman, but as a doctoral student. He graduated with his doctorate in physics just four years later, in 1922.
After spending four years studying and working in Germany, and then at the University of Florence, he moved back to his hometown of Rome in 1926. While there, not only did he secure a job as a physics professor at the University of Rome, he also met and married his wife Laura Capone in 1928 and had two children.
One of the highlights of Fermi's life came in 1938, when he won the Nobel Prize for Physics for his discovery of new radioactive elements through nuclear fission (the splitting of the atom). This award allowed him and his family to escape the growing fascism in Italy, and immigrate to America in 1939.
After arriving in the U.S., Fermi became a physics professor at Columbia University where he continued his work on nuclear fission. Fermi and his family called America home after becoming American citizens in 1944.
Fermi spent the latter part of his life in the Midwest, living and working primarily in Chicago. While there, he became one of the leaders of The Manhattan Project, the project dedicated to the creation of the atomic bomb, and through his discoveries, became the most important player in the development of this weapon for the U.S..
In his final years, he continued his work as a physics professor at the University of Chicago, beginning in 1946. He kept this position until he passed away from illness in 1954.
Does your electricity come from nuclear power? If so, you have Enrico Fermi to thank for that. In 1942, he and a team of scientists constructed the first nuclear reactor, famously called the Chicago Pile-1 to produce the first self-sustaining and controlled reaction. Currently, his reactors are used in nuclear power plants around the world, providing energy to millions.
Fermi's subsequent inventions were all changes in and improvements to reactors and how they operate. Some of these are listed below:
- The materials that make up reactors need to be tested to determine if they can withstand nuclear reaction. Fermi therefore invented a way of testing the nuclear properties of materials that are used in nuclear reactors.
- If you wanted to build a nuclear reactor, you'd probably want to know how to use it. Not to worry because in 1957, Fermi received a posthumous patent for his invention of the method of operating a reactor.
- Because of the dangers of radiation during nuclear reactors, Fermi devised a shield, called the Neutronic Reactor Shield to protect those working around reactors.
As a scientist, Enrico Fermi had one of the most significant contributions in history. Not only did he have an impact on nuclear energy and physics, but his work also culminated in the creation of one of the most powerful military weapons in history, the atomic bomb.
Just as Rome wasn't built in a day, the atomic bomb wasn't built in one either. In the years leading up to its creation, Fermi's continued research, discoveries and contributions paved the way for him to create the one thing that would usher the world into the nuclear age.
One of Fermi's earliest contributions to physics came in 1926. Up until that time, the behavior of certain particles was not fully understood. But Fermi discovered the laws of behavior, called Fermi statistics, that apply to all the particles that make up matter. These particles were dubbed fermions and include electrons, protons, and neutrons. The discovery of Fermi statistics helped him gain a greater understanding of particles and led to his other contributions and discoveries.
As radioactive nuclei decay, they emit high-energy beta particles. Scientists knew that electrons, protons, and neutrons were emitted; however, they had yet to observe the emission of other particles. This all changed in 1934 when Enrico Fermi became the first to observe the emission of tiny, non-charged particles, which he called neutrinos. This emission became known as beta decay, which continues to be a foundation for the study and understanding of nuclear physics.
New radioactive elements
As Fermi continued to experiment with various particles, he decided to bombard the elements of the periodic table with neutrons. When he got to uranium, he discovered that the uranium atom split, which created new radioactive elements that were later added to the periodic table. This is the discovery that won him the Nobel Prize in 1938.
The Atomic Bomb
This splitting of the uranium atom laid the foundation for what would become the greatest military weapon known to mankind. In 1942, in a laboratory beneath the University of Chicago football stadium, Fermi and his team used the Chicago Pile-1 to create the first nuclear chain reaction. This eventually led to his creation and first test of the atomic bomb in New Mexico in 1945.
Born in Rome in 1901, Enrico Fermi initially began his education in physics through self-study, and was accepted as a doctoral student at a university for gifted students in Pisa. While working as a professor of physics in Rome, he began experimenting with nuclear fission, which won him the Nobel Prize in 1938.
He and his family subsequently moved to the United States, where he continued his work on nuclear reactions. He created the first nuclear reactor in Chicago in 1942, and as a leader of the Manhattan Project, was instrumental in the creation of the atomic bomb in 1945. In addition to his greatest achievements, Fermi discovered new radioactive elements, discovered beta decay, and created laws governing the behavior of particles known as fermions.
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