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MAKING THE MODERN WORLD
Stories about the lives we've made
people:Enrico Fermi
Born: 19 September 1901, Rome, Italy
Died: 28 November 1954, Chicago, Illinois, United States

Italian-born American physicist.

Fermi was awarded his PhD in 1929 for a thesis on X-rays. In 1924 he became a lecturer in mathematics at the University of Florence and two years later was appointed professor of theoretical physics at Rome University.

In 1938 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on radioactivity, using slow neutrons to produce new radioactive elements. After the prize ceremony in Stockholm, Fermi did not return to Italy, but instead went, with his family, to the United States, taking up an appointment at Columbia University, New York.

In 1941 he and his team moved to Chicago University where he began building a nuclear reactor. In 1942 he was successful in bringing about the first controlled chain reaction. He was also involved in the Manhattan Project to build an atomic bomb.

After the Second World War, Fermi returned to Chicago University as Professor of Physics. He died of cancer in Chicago on 28 November 1954.

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