DR HAROLD AGNEW (LOS ALAMOS SCIENTIFIC LABORATORY) / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR HAROLD AGNEW (LOS ALAMOS SCIENTIFIC LABORATORY) / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Portrait of Enrico Fermi (1901-1954) the Italian- American physicist who contributed much to the field of quantum statistical mechanics. In 1938 he won the Nobel Prize in physics for his transmutation of elements by neutron bombardment, work that led to the discovery of nuclear fission. In 1942 he built an atomic pile and so produced the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. Later he was engaged in the Manhattan Project, the American programme to develop and build the first atomic bomb during World War Two. The element fermium was named in his honour.
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