The Italian navigator

“The Italian navigator arrived at the shores of the new world,” Arthur Compton, director of the US atomic bomb project’s metallurgical lab, told James Conant, head of the National Defense Research Com

Published: 29th September 2017 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th September 2017 02:19 AM   |  A+A-

“The Italian navigator arrived at the shores of the new world,” Arthur Compton, director of the US atomic bomb project’s metallurgical lab, told James Conant, head of the National Defense Research Committee on 2 December 1942. Conant asked, “How were the natives?” Compton replied, “Very friendly.” The first atomic fire in history had been kindled

Architect of the atom bomb

The Italian navigator was Enrico Fermi, described by The New York Times as the architect of the atom bomb. Born in Italy on this day in 1901, the Nobel laureate left his country­—then an ally of Nazi Germany—in 1938 as his wife was Jewish. He emigrated to the US, where he worked on the Manhattan Project that produced the world’s first nuclear weapons

Small Chernobyl?

Fermi was given the task of creating the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. But there was a possibility that things could get out of control. “Compton was risking a small Chernobyl in the midst of crowded Chicago; except that Fermi, as he knew, was a formidably competent engineer,” writes Richard Rhodes in The Making of the Atomic Bomb. The Italian was of course successful in this endeavour

In his element, everywhere

Fermi was not just a “formidably competent” engineer. He was an excellent theoretician too and received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1938. The element with the atomic number 100 was named Fermium in his honour

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