Skip to main content
Create interactive lessons using any digital content including wikis with our free sister product
. Get it on the
Research the Topic
Pages and Files
(How common items work)
(How toys work)
Medicine and Pharmacy
Enter New Projects Here
rico Fermi was born on September 29, 1901 in Rome. He gained his PHD in physics from the University of Rome in 1924. He then became a Physics professor at the University of Rome, and was one of the best professors there, despite his age.
When Enrico Fermi was teaching at the University of Rome, he stumbled on a few scientific discoveries. He was very young and impulsive, and o
ne day decided randomly to put paraffin between the target source of isotope production; the power of it was multiplied by almost 100X. He discovered slow neutrons, which are neutrons with a kinetic energy under 1 volt. Despite its low energy, this neutron creates nuclear energy, and was a revolution in science. Using these neutrons, he found another way to create radioactivity as well. Enrico Fermi used this discovery for shining nuclear energy on different elements, and to record the results. He noticed that some elements became radioactive when surrounded with slow uranium neutrons. He moved to America, and when America entered WWII in 1941, Enrico Fermi set out to become the first to create a controlled nuclear chain reaction. Under a football stadium in 1942, he achieved this. He discovered that it was possible to ignite a nuclear chain reaction, contain it, and eventually stop it. It was his energy that was stored in the nuclear bombs that US dropped. Fission is when an element splits into two parts, which was a key factor in the creating of the atomic bomb. After that, he accepted a position at the University of Chicago. He died on November 29, 1954 from sickness.
How He Did It
His first important achievement was the improvement of isotope production. Instead of using the previous best way to do it, with boron, aluminum and helium, he just simply used neutrons. This new method of isotope production worked by counteracting the positive charge, and wasted much less energy than the previous method. These neutrons he used were created by shooting alpha particles at beryllium, and adding that to a mix of beryllium and radon.
About 2.2 pounds of the nuclear bomb had the power of 40,000,000 pounds of TNT. When the bomb was released, the area around it heats to almost 10,000,000,000 degrees, or about a million times that of the sun. All of this heat is released in less than a ten thousandth of a second.
In 1938, he won the Nobel Prize for Physics.
After he died, the radioactive element 100 was named Fermium in his honor. The Fermi level was also named after him, and it measured the energy of the most loosely held electrons in a solid.
Enrico Fermi and the Revolutions of Modern Physics.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Print.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2013. Web. 6 Sep. 2013.
The Grolier Library of Science Biographies
Danbury: Grolier, 1997. Print.
help on how to format text
Turn off "Getting Started"