Remembering Fermi




James Cronin

Enrico Fermi Institute, University of Chicago





A combination of the discovery of nuclear fission and the circumstances of the 2nd World War brought Enrico Fermi to Chicago, where he led the team that produced the first controlled, self-sustained nuclear chain reaction. Following the war in 1945 Chancellor Hutchins, William Zachariasen, and Walter Bartky convinced Fermi to accept a professorship at the University of Chicago, where the Institute for Nuclear Studies was established. Fermi served as the leading figure in surely the greatest collection of scientists the world has ever seen. Fermi's tenure at Chicago was cut short by his death in 1954. My talk will concentrate on the years 1945-54. Examples of his research notebooks, his speeches, his teaching, and his correspondence will be discussed.