AUTHORFermi, Enrico
TITLEThe Development of the First Chain Reacting Pile
PERIODICAL TITLEProceedings of American Philosophical Society
DATE PUBLISHED1946
VOLUME NUMBER90
ISSUE NUMBER1
PAGE NUMBERS20-24
ISSN0003-049x
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Presented by Enrico Fermi in a November 1945 symposium on atomic energy and its applications, this short paper details the events and thinking that led to the first successful, controlled neutron-fission chain reaction, a seminal achievement in nuclear physics and one that was critical in the development of the first nuclear weapons in the United States. Fermi provides an interesting, first-hand perspective on the work initiated at Columbia University in 1941, transferred to the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago in early 1942, and culminated on December 2, 1942. The experiment proved that neutron fission could be achieved with natural uranium and pure graphite and that it was easy to control.


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