Director’s Special Colloquium: ‘Enrico Fermi: The Pope of Physics’
Gino Segrè and Bettina Hoerlin, co-authors of “The Pope of Physics: Enrico Fermi and the Birth of the Atomic Age,” will present “Enrico Fermi: The Pope of Physics” at a Director’s Special Colloquium on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. The colloquium begins at 11 a.m. in the Building 402 Auditorium. All employees whose schedules permit are invited to attend.
Shuttle service will be provided starting at 10:15 a.m. with first stop at Building 201, then 212, 202, 203, 200, 205 and 362 to Building 402. Return trips will follow the talk.
Enrico Fermi has been called the last scientist who knew all of physics, having attained the heights of the profession as a theorist and experimentalist. Unique in numerous ways, this 20th-century physicist was entirely self-taught; the breadth and depth of his research remain unparalleled. Fermi’s 1938 Nobel Prize was picked up enroute in his flight from fascist Italy with his Jewish wife and children to a new life in America. In 1942 he became the lead scientist in the University of Chicago experiment that produced the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, a key precursor to building the atomic bomb. His role in the success of the Manhattan Project was critical.
This lecture combines Fermi’s personal life with his scientific contributions and illustrates how he was shaped by history and how he, in turn, shaped history. Legendarily apolitical, Fermi was reluctantly involved in American political decision making during the war and afterwards.The many challenges he faced, including the tensions between politics and science, are still relevant today.
Gino Segrè was born in Florence, Italy and grew up in New York and Italy. He is a graduate of Harvard University (A.B.) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D.). He is a professor, now emeritus, in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania and has been a visiting professor at M.I.T, Oxford University, University of California and New York University/Abu Dhabi. He also had been a visiting fellow at CERN (Centre Europeen Recherches Nucleaires).
Segrè has received awards from the National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the John S. Guggenheim Foundation, the John D. Rockefeller Foundation, the Liguria Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.
He is the author of over 100 papers in his field, several popular articles and four books for the general public including “The Pope of Physics: Enrico Fermi and the Birth of the Atomic Age” (2016), co-authored with Bettina Hoerlin. Segrè’s books have been translated into numerous languages. In 2008 Faust in Copenhagen was a finalist in the Los Angeles Times Book Fair and won the American Institute of Physics Award for Best Science Writing.
Bettina Hoerlin taught courses in health care disparities at the University of Pennsylvania for 16 years and was a visiting lecturer at Haverford College, Oxford University and New York University/Abu Dhabi. She also served as deputy and then health commissioner of Philadelphia, was director of various health related organizations, vice president for health affairs at the University of Pennsylvania and a consultant to several foundations. She graduated from the University of Colorado and received a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Hoerlin is the author of “Steps of Courage: My Parents’ Journey from Nazi Germany to America” (2011). The book was published in Germany under the title of COURAGE.
Hoerlin co-authored with her husband, Gino Segrè, “The Pope of Physics: Enrico Fermi and the Birth of the Atomic Age.” She grew up in Los Alamos and her parents, like her husband’s, fled anti-Semitism in Europe at the same time that Fermi did. Hoerlin and Segrè’s exhaustive research on “The Pope of Physics” took them to Rome, Pisa, the University of Chicago and Los Alamos, as well as to Trinity, the New Mexico site of the first nuclear explosion. Their book was an Editor’s Choice of The New York Time Book Review and chosen as one of the top ten best physics books of 2016 by Physics World.