Enrico Fermi is known as the "father of the atomic bomb".
Born Sept. 29, 1901 in Rome, Fermi attended the University of Pisa. He became a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Rome in 1927. While there, he discovered a method of splitting a uranium atom by bombarding the nucleus with neutrons. For this, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1938. After travelling to Sweden with his family to accept the prize, Fermi chose not to return to Fascist Italy, but instead went to London. In 1939, he came to the United States and taught at Columbia University.
Fermi was placed in charge of the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago in 1942, where he led the research that gave rise to the first atomic bomb. In a laboratory beneath the football stadium Fermi and his colleagues created an atomic pile - graphite blocks, uranium, and cadmium control rods. On December 2, 1942, the world's first controlled nuclear reaction took place.
The project was moved to New Mexico in 1944, and on July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb was detonated at Alamogordo Air Base. Three weeks later, bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending World War II.
Fermi returned to the University of Chicago until his death of cancer on November 28, 1954.