By Gloria B. Lubkin, Forum Past Chair
The aboriginal talk, by T. D. Lee (Columbia University), was alleged “Fermi at Columbia and Reminiscence of Chicago Days.” Lee said that aback the aboriginal anti-Semitic law was anesthetized in Fascist Italy in 1938, Fermi wrote to George Pegram, afresh armchair of the Columbia physics department. Fermi reminded Pegram that aback they had met a brace of years earlier, Pegram asked if Fermi would be absorbed in advancing to Columbia. Aback Pegram promptly offered him a job, Fermi cabled his acceptance. Afresh Fermi wrote afresh to ask if Pegram knew of any job opportunities in the US for added outstanding adolescent Italian physicists, and mentioned Emilio Segrè (who was in Berkeley on a fellowship); Bruno Rossi, Guilio Racah, Ugo Fano, and Franco Rasetti. Fermi declared anniversary person’s expertise, conjugal status, and cardinal of children. Fermi was “very humane,” Lee said. “His foremost worries were about his colleagues and their adaptation if they remained in Italy.”
That December Fermi and his family larboard Italy for Stockholm, area he accustomed the 1938 Nobel Prize for Physics. Instead of abiding to Italy, the Fermis accustomed in New York on 2 January 1939. Aback Niels Bohr accustomed in New York two weeks later, Laura and Enrico Fermi met him at the dock. Although Bohr had been told by Otto Frisch about the abstracts of Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann, the access of fission by Frisch and Lise Meitner, and Frisch’s beginning confirmation, Bohr did not acknowledgment the arresting analysis to Fermi. On 20 January, Lee said, Willis Lamb alternate from Princeton, area he had aloof abstruse of the fission analysis from Bohr. It was a Saturday morning and the Pupin Physics Lab was deserted, but Lamb was acquisitive to advance the big news. Fermi accustomed afterwards lunch, and Lamb told him. Fermi bound abolished to his lab, acumen that there was a abundant easier way to axle fission. On 25 January, Fermi and several colleagues succeeded.
After World War II, in 1946, Fermi abashed to Chicago. That aforementioned year Lee accustomed from China on a fellowship. “One of the best adored contest in Chicago was in 1948 aback Maria Goeppert-Mayer gave an absorbing but somewhat abashed allocution on levels of altered nuclei and why there were some abstruse adherence numbers.” At the end of her talk, Fermi said, “‘Is there any adumbration of spin-orbit coupling?’ The alarm rang and that was the end of the seminar.” A few weeks afterwards she gave a additional seminar, “and that was the carapace model.” At this additional academy Lee initially thought, ” ‘No, not again,’ because the aboriginal [seminar] was absolutely confusing. But the additional academy was absolutely different. Maria started with Fermi’s catechism and the abracadabra numbers formed out magically. This afresh led to the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physics.”
Fermi already asked Lee the approximate temperature of the Sun at its center. Lee replied, “Ten actor degrees.” Fermi asked “How do you know?” Lee told him he had looked it up. Fermi asked if he’d absolute the cardinal and Lee replied, “It’s absolutely complicated. It’s not so accessible to accommodate these equations.” Fermi appropriate that Lee body a huge specialized accelerate aphorism that would accredit the band-aid of two radiative alteration equations, one that complex the 18th adeptness of the temperature, and the added that complex the alternate of temperature to the 6.5th power. Over the abutting few weeks Lee congenital a accelerate aphorism that was 6.7 anxiety long, and agitated out the all-important integration. “It was abundant fun,” he said.
The additional allocution was by Richard Garwin (IBM Analysis Labs), whose affair was “Working with Fermi at Chicago and Los Alamos.” Garwin came to Chicago in 1947. Afterwards a few months of advance assignment he got up the adventuresomeness to ask Fermi if he could advice in Fermi’s lab. Fermi had a apparatus boutique in his lab, including a lathe and a acid saw. Although he had abundant account for the technicians in the axial apparatus shop, he acquainted they were too fastidious, and would booty ten times as continued to accomplish commodity ten times added accurate than was needed. Aback the new Chicago cyclotron started alive the beams bare to be extracted and targets positioned. In the cyclotron, rather than accepting the targets army on probes, Fermi devised a trolley barrow that abashed forth the cyclotron rim. The barrow agitated a baby chestnut or carbon ambition that could be addled into and out of the beam.
Garwin recalled, “Among my abjure is one already cited by T. D. Aback I abutting the adroitness in 1949 afterwards I got my PhD, I was accustomed my own class at the Institute of Nuclear Studies.” Garwin was active accomplishing abstracts on the betatron and planning abstracts for the cyclotron. “One day Fermi came in (I’d absent the seminar) and in archetypal appearance asked if I’d anticipation about including spin-orbit interactions in the adding of beachcomber functions and activity levels. So I anticipation about that.” Two weeks afterwards Fermi came in and asked Garwin if he had fabricated any advance on the abstraction and Garwin said, “None. So he said he’d allocution to Maria Mayer about it. I’d artlessly lacked the adventuresomeness to put bottomward what I was doing, aces up a new challenge, where, in fact, I would not acquire done as able-bodied as Maria.”
Because Chicago paid adroitness salaries alone nine months in a year, Fermi appropriate that Garwin argue for Los Alamos in the summer. Fermi had gone to Los Alamos in Fall 1944 and formed there through 1945. “He wasn’t in allegation of any development group, although there was an F accumulation called for Fermi. He was a admired adviser accepted as ‘the Pope.'” If anyone bare to apperceive the acknowledgment to a adding he’d appearance them how to do it, “or in extremis, accommodate an answer.” During the summer of 1950 Garwin aggregate an appointment with Fermi, area bodies would appear to allocution to him.
One company was Frederick Reines, who appropriate that with all the explosions demography abode at the Nevada Test Site, he could put a detector underground and ascertain antineutrinos from the beta adulteration of fission products. A 17-kiloton nuclear weapon would be fabricated with a few kilograms of uranium and crop neutrinos alone from fission products. Fermi responded that it would be bigger to use one of the avant-garde reactors that austere several kilograms of uranium anniversary day. “So Fermi’s advancement led Reines to do the added achievable experiment—at a reactor—for which Fred accustomed the Nobel Prize in 1995.”
At Los Alamos Fermi was concerned with abounding things, including the Taylor instability. “It’s a actual important abnormality in nuclear ammunition and added fields,” Garwin said. Fermi approved a two-dimensional model, in which a ample argot of aqueous moves into close actual and a attenuated argot moves in the adverse administration and falls. He apparent the problem numerically but wasn’t annoyed with the solution. One afternoon, John von Neumann came by, saw Fermi and asked what he was doing. Von Neumann alternate fifteen account afterwards and wrote on the blackboard how to access the botheration analytically. Fermi leaned adjoin his column and said, “That man makes me feel I apperceive no mathematics at all.”
“Fermi acclimated to say he could break alone six problems, but he was actual acceptable at transforming any added problem into one of those six.” His awkward access begin the attenuated argot proceeding into exhaustion with a ample amplitude and compatible dispatch at 8/7 g. In the added accurate analytic adding that he did with von Neumann, the attached dispatch was still 8/7 g. “Fermi had it actual right.”
Back at Chicago, Garwin recalled, Edward Teller (a Chicago adroitness member) alone by with his latest enthusiasm. Fermi remarked, “That’s the alone monomaniac I apperceive with added than one mania.”
The Fermi canonizing session’s aftermost apostle was Fermi’s aftermost alum student—Jerome Friedman (MIT), whose appellation was “A Student’s View of Fermi.” Friedman recalled that aback he entered the University of Chicago in 1950, “I had no accreditation in physics.” During his abbreviate time in Chicago, Friedman said, Fermi led the accumulation that apparent the alleged (3,3) resonance, which has isotopic circuit 3/2 and circuit 3/2. Fermi did not jump to conclusions, and “it took him some time to acquire its validity. It was the aboriginal adumbration of basement in the nucleon.” His assignment additionally served to affirm allegation agreement and isotopic circuit attention in the able interaction.
When Friedman anesthetized the PhD exam, he summoned all his adventuresomeness and asked Fermi if he could do his PhD analysis beneath Fermi’s supervision. “He said, ‘Yes.’ I was overjoyed, and he didn’t alike ask about my qualifications.” On a few occasions Friedman was arrive to parties at the Fermi home. “His acceptance were his continued family. Often there were parlor games; he was actual aggressive and acutely admired to win.”
“Fermi was a airy man with a acceptable adroitness of humor,” Friedman said. Fermi enjoyed the anniversary Christmas affair area the acceptance poked fun at chief adroitness members. Valentine Telegdi, afresh a inferior adroitness member, “had an astonishing adeptness to imitate some of the arch abstracts in physics. At one Christmas affair Val was amid in a huge box with aflame lights that represented a computer. It was called the Enriac or Fermiac; I don’t bethink which. Fermi’s articulation emanated from the box in a actual slow, accurate manner. This computer was declared to acknowledgment any adjustment of consequence catechism and did so. Fermi was acutely amused.”
At Chicago abounding speakers visited. Fermi would accordingly acquire abounding comments and questions. “His questions were affable but sometimes devastating to the speaker. They usually started off with, ‘There is commodity I do not understand.’ And afresh it was a botheration for the speaker.”
In the summer of 1954 Fermi went to Italy, area he became ill. Aback he alternate to Chicago in September, he and Friedman coiled to anniversary added in the corridor. “I was addled by how angular he looked.” The abutting day Fermi had basic anaplasty and was begin to acquire busted cancer. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar told Friedman that aback he and Herbert Anderson visited Fermi at the hospital, they were initially at a accident for words. Fermi sensed their adversity and put them at affluence by asking, “Tell me, Chandra. Aback I die, will I appear aback as an elephant?” Afterwards that the chat went smoothly.
After Fermi’s afterlife on 28 November 1954, Friedman was asked to accumulate calm the things in his mentor’s office. “I begin alone about four books, and one was by his adolescence friend, Enrico Persico. It was bright Fermi didn’t charge books. He formed out aggregate for himself. Over bisected a aeon afterwards I still attending aback in awe at this abundant physicist and arresting animal being.”
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