Who is Enrico Fermi?June 25, 2021
Enrico Fermi KimEnrico Fermi was an Italian physicist who lived from September 29, 1901 to November 28, 1954.
He was the third child of Alberto Fermi, a division chief in the Ministry of Railways, and Ida de Gattis, a primary school teacher. He was 2 years older than his sister, Maria Enrico Fermi, and 1 year older than his brother, Giulio. After two boys were sent to a foster mother in a rural setting, Enrico returned to his family in Rome when he was two and a half years old. Although his family was Catholic and baptized at the will of his grandparents, the family was not religious and Fermi was Agnostic throughout his adult life. He had many common interests in his childhood with his brother Giulio. Together they built electric motors and played with electrical and mechanical toys. Giulio died in 1915 from the effects of the narcosis given during the removal of an abscess in his throat.
Fermi’s first source for his studies of physics was a book he found at the Campo de’ Fiori market in Rome. This book was the 900-page Latin Elementorum Physicae Mathematicae, dated 1840, written by Father Andrea Caraffa, a professor at the Collegio Romano. Among the subjects he covered were mathematics, classical mechanics, astronomy, optics and acoustics as they were known at the time. Fermi befriended another student with an interest in science, Enrico Persico, and the two worked on scientific projects such as measuring the Earth’s magnetic field and building a gyroscope. Fermi’s interest in physics was encouraged by his father’s colleague Adolfo Amidei, who gave him several books on physics and mathematics, which he quickly read.
He is best known for his work on the Chicago Pile-1 (first nuclear reactor) and contributions to the fields of quantum theory, nuclear and particle physics, and statistical mechanics. Ferni is also one of the few physicists to work on the atomic bomb. Fermi holds several patents on the use of nuclear energy and won the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of transuranium elements and the neutron bombardment technique he used during his work on induced radioactivity. In this context, Ferni is one of the few physicists to be successful in both theoretical and experimental fields.
Fermi first contributed to the field of statistical mechanics. After Wolfgang Pauli announced the exclusion principle to the world in 1925, Fermi wrote an article adapting this principle to ideal gases. This statistical formula is called Fermi-Dirac statistics today. Particles that obey the exclusion principle are called “fermions”. Later, Pauli proposed the existence of an uncharged particle emitted during beta decay with the electron, in accordance with the principle of conservation of energy. Fermi adopted this idea and created a model that includes this particle, which has been suggested to exist, and calls it the “neutrino”. This theory, later called Fermi’s interaction and weak interaction, defined one of the four fundamental forces of nature. As a result of experiments that triggered radioactivity with newly discovered neutrons, Fermi found that slow neutrons were captured faster than fast ones, and to describe this, Fermi introduced the age equation. After bombarding thorium and uranium with slow neutrons, Fermi believed he had discovered new elements and won the Nobel Prize for his discovery. However, it was later revealed that these new elements were fusion products.
Fermi left Italy in 1938 due to new Italian Racial Laws affecting his Jewish wife, Laura. He immigrated to the United States during World War II to work on the Manhattan Project. Fermi headed the team that designed and built the Chicago Pile-1 reactor, which went critical on December 2, 1942, demonstrating the first artificial and self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. He was present at the critical moment of Reactor B at Fermi Hanford Site, which was there in 1943 when the X-10 Graphite Reactor in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, went critical. He led F Company at Los Alamos working on Edward Teller’s thermonuclear “Super” bomb. In the Trinity test on July 16, 1945, he estimated the bomb’s efficiency using the Fermi method.
After the war he worked on the General Advisory Committee under Robert Oppenheimer. This committee made recommendations on nuclear and policy issues to the Atomic Energy Commission. After the detonation of the first Soviet fusion bomb in August 1949, Fermi opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb for moral and technical reasons. He was among the scientists who testified on Oppenheimer’s behalf in the 1954 trial, leading to the revocation of his security clearance. Fermi did important studies of pions and muons in the field of particle physics and predicted that cosmic rays arise when matter is accelerated by magnetic fields in interstellar space. Many awards, concepts and institutes have been established in Fermi’s name. Most