In this biography of Enrico Fermi (1901-54), who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1938 for his work on radioactivity by neutron bombardment and his discovery of transuranic elements and who achieved the first controlled nuclear chain reaction in Chicago in 1942, his student, collaborator, fellow Nobel Prize winner and lifelong friend Emilio Segrè presents the scientist, and explains in nontechnical terms Fermi’s work and his achievements.
“Segrè’s description of Fermi’s early life and his involvement with and commitment to physics is extremely interesting... Segrè understands and describes very clearly the outstanding characteristics of Fermi’s theoretical work: clarity and completeness... Segrè has succeeded admirably in describing Fermi’s entire scientific career, and this book is strongly recommended.” — M. L. Goldberger, Science
“We must thank Emilio Segrè for this authoritative, revealing and inspiring book. It covers in a masterly fashion the most exciting thirty years of modern physics and the character and activities of one of its greatest contributors.” — Nature
“A rich, well-rounded portrait of [Fermi] the scientist, his methods, intellectual history, and achievements. Explaining in nontechnical terms the scientific problems Fermi faced or solved, Enrico Fermi, Physicist contains illuminating material concerning Fermi’s youth in Italy and the development of his scientific style.” — Physics Today
“All that might be hoped for in a biography of one Nobel Prize winner in physics by another has been realized in Emilio Segrè’s biography of his friend, Enrico Fermi... A truly masterly drawing of Fermi’s character, along with his physics and the events through which he moved, Segrè has provided us with a brilliant appreciation of one of the most pre-eminent figures of modern physics.” — Physics Bulletin
“This excellent biography, written by one of the original group who worked with him during the 1930s at Rome, catches beautifully the style and spirit of its subject... With Fermi’s passing the age of the universal experimental and theoretical physicist is gone. Segre’s book tells the story of this heroic age of physics and of its principal actor; it is a delight to read, and I recommend it heartily.” — American Scientist
“Here we meet the man at work and we see the meticulous scientist... This book also shows us another facet of Fermi: that of the conscientious scientist torn between his love of pure research and his love of teaching.” — V. Barocas, Annals of Science
“Segrè is a sensitive biographer, responsive to all problems that can plague the creative scientist; he shows, above all, Fermi’s dedication, zeal, and extraordinary talents. Segrè has provided more than sympathy. Much that is new about Fermi’s youth in Italy appears here... [A] very rewarding book... Every physicist will want to read this biography, along with every reader who has an interest in intellectual developments during the 1920-1960 era.” — J. Z. Fullmer, The Ohio Journal of Science