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Enrico Fermi

Often referred to as the "architect of the nuclear age," Enrico Fermi was born on September 29, 1901 in Rome, Italy. After graduating from the University of Pisa in 1922, he was a lecturer at the University of Florence for two years. Fermi left the University of Florence to become a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Rome.

In 1934, Fermi perfected his theory on beta ray emissions in radioactivity and continued studying radioactive isotopes through neutron bombardment. He also believed he discovered the first transuranic element when he irradiated uranium with neutrons. This bombardment induced a reaction, which was later discovered by other researchers to be atomic fission.

In 1938, Fermi was forced to leave Italy because of the fascist regime under Mussolini and

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traveled to the United States and became a physics professor at Columbia University. In the same year, Fermi received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on nuclear energy. Fermi moved to the University of Chicago in 1942 where he developed the first atomic pile and produced the first nuclear chain reaction. In 1942, Fermi and Dr. Leo Szilard finished a project in which they controlled the release of nuclear energy.

During World War II, Fermi joined a team of scientists in Los Alamos, New Mexico to develop the atomic bomb. At the end of the war, Fermi pioneered research on high energy particles. He died on November 28, 1954.