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Portrait of Enrico Fermi

Portrait of Enrico Fermi


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Portrait of Enrico Fermi (1901-1954), Italian- American physicist and Nobel Laureate. Fermi's early work on neutron bombardment was performed in Italy. He discovered that neutrons are more likely to be absorbed by an atomic nucleus if they are slowed down by a 'moderator' such as water. The discovery of these thermal neutrons led to his Nobel Prize for physics in 1938. That same year he moved to America, and in 1942 built the world's first atomic reactor based on his principles. This in turn led to the successful development of the first atomic bomb. After the war, Fermi became professor at the Institute for Nuclear Studies. The artificial element fermium is named after him.

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