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Enrico Fermi passes away

Today in Masonic History Enrico Fermi passes away in 1954.

Enrico Fermi was an Italian physicist and professor.

Fermi was born in Rome in 1901. He was the youngest of three children. His brother, the middle child, died in 1915 while undergoing surgery. He came from a Roman Catholic family and was baptized in the Catholic church at the insistence of his Grandparents. Later in life Fermi was an agnostic.

From a young age Fermi had an interest in science and physics. Prior to his brothers passing they would experiment with electric motors. Fermi would also read whatever scientific materials he could fine.

After graduating from high school in 1918 at the age of 17, Fermi applied to and got in to the Scuola Normale Superiore. Although room and board was free at the school, Fermi's parents were reluctant to let him go, having already lost a son just three years before. Eventually this parents would let him attend university.

On the entrance exam for school, Fermi was classified first place. This was after submitting an essay and having an interview with a professor who was impressed to say the list with Fermi's ability with mathematics.

In 1926 Fermi began applying for professorships in Italy. In Italy at the time professorships were granted by competition. Fermi's first attempt at a University in Sardinia was unsuccessful. Later that same year he would get a professorship at the Sapienza University of Rome.

Fermi would quickly get noticed by his peers and members of government. In March of 1929 Fermi was appointed to the Royal Academy of Italy by Mussolini. In April of the same year he would join the Fascist party, although he would come to oppose fascism.

In 1928 Fermi married Laura Capon. In 1938 the couple would leave Italy to escape the persecution of the Italian Racial Laws. The laws were designed to bring the country more in line with German National Socialism and Fermi's wife Laura was Jewish. In fact some of Fermi's research assistants and colleague were affected by the new laws. This was also the year that Fermi received his Nobel Peace Prize.

Fermi and his family headed to the United States. His reputation preceded him and was almost immediately was offered 5 chairs, choosing to work at Columbia University.

Eventually Fermi would begin work on on nuclear reactors and led the team that designed and built Chicago Pile-1 and was present at other reactors as they came on line. He would later work with J. Robert Oppenheimer on the Manhattan Project and was present at the Trinity test.

After the war, like Oppenheimer, Fermi opposed the escalation of nuclear weapons. Fermi also made contributions to theoretical Physics and helped to establish policies regarding nuclear power.

Fermi was initiated in FRS. Adriano Lemmi Lodge in Rome, Italy.