The Last Man Who Knew Everything
The Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age
David N. Schwartz Hillsdale BIOGRAPHY 530.092 FERMI 2017
Interesting reading. Enrico Fermi was a remarkable man who wrote little about himself and his motivations. Shwartz wrote about what Fermi did and said, little about what he thought.
Fermi was an excellent mathematician and good at approximation and teaching. Mussolini and Hitler frightened away the best minds of Europe; Fermi's wife Laura Capon was ethnically Jewish, and the couple fled to America (after Fermi received the 1938 Nobel Prize) to protect her. Fermi ended up at Columbia, where he designed and tested the first subcritical atomic piles. The physicists and the experiments moved to Chicago in 1942. Laura moving into their house at 5537 South Woodlawn in September 1942.
- p209 The CP-1 reactor went critical for 28 minutes on December 2, 1942 .
- p212 Compton: "The Italian navigator has just landed in the new world. The earth is not as large as he had estimated"
- Conant: "Is that so. And were the natives friendly?" Compton: "Very friendly"
- ... Enrico -- who hated cigarettes -- refused ...
- p215 "part of the difference, surely, was Szilard's uncanny ability to squeeze the best-quality uranium and graphite from commerciel suppliers ... Fermi learned to "think like a neutron"
- p218 the 1943 CP-2 was a "neutron factory" used for material testing
- p222 X-10 Reactor at Oak Ridge TN online November 4, 1943, one megawatt.
- p228 Hanford B reactor construction in October 1943, 250 MW. cooled with Columbia river water
- p229 Reactor went critical September 26, only nine megawatts then fail. Xenon-135 ( 9 hour half life, 100,000 times better neutron absorber) was the cause, and more fuel rods (2004 rods full load) were the cure.
- p233 Full B power February 1945, D and F soon followed, producing plutonium for Fat Man.
- p323 Fermi was an outstanding lecturer (Rabi and Tellar dismal)
- p345 Fermi died in his sleep of metastatic esophageal cancer on November 28 1954, 230am, age 53.
- p351 Laura writer:
- p353 Laura died in 1977