AUTHORSegrè, Gino / Hoerlin, Bettina
TITLEThe Pope of Physics: Enrico Fermi and the Birth of the Atomic Age
PUBLISHERHenry Holt and Company
CITYNew York, NY
DATE PUBLISHED2016
ISBN978-1627790055


This biography of influential physicist Enrico Fermi focuses on his contributions to nuclear physics and the development of the atomic bomb. It chronicles Fermi’s scientific work while at the same time describing the national and international forces that influenced his life. The biography includes explanations of Fermi’s work on the statistical mechanics of particles that obey the exclusion principle, his theory of weak interactions, and the work with his Rome research group, known as the “Boys of Via Panisperna,” on the effects of neutron bombardment on heavy nuclei. The book then traces Fermi’s journey from Italy to the United States, where he and his family relocated after his being awarded the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics. At the University of Chicago, Fermi oversaw the building of the first critical nuclear reactor; subsequently he worked at Hanford, Washington with Plutonium breeding reactors; and his activities at Los Alamos culminated in the successful test of the first atomic weapon, which he observed in New Mexico in 1945. In addition to his scientific contributions, Fermi was among a group of scientists who advised the U.S. government on the use of the atomic bomb on Japan, and he opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb in 1949. Gino Segrè, one of the authors, is a physics professor at the University of Pennsylvania; his famous uncle Emilio was Fermi’s first student in Rome.


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