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How Fermi Became Fermi

April 10, 2018 - 4:00pm
David Schwartz

Enrico Fermi was one of the most significant figures of 20th century physics, with major contributions across a wide range of subdisciplines. Fermi revolutionized 20th-century physics with his theory of beta decay and his development of quantum statistics.
David N. Schwartz, the author of the recently published biography of Fermi, “The Last Man Who Knew Everything,” will discuss the development of Fermi as a physicist; the role of nature, nurture and historical circumstance in his career; and the characteristics behind both his strengths and his weaknesses. Are great physicists born, do they make themselves, or do others make them? How does the accident of one’s birth influence a career like Fermi’s? What was it that enabled Fermi to continue to contribute to the field well beyond the age when many great physicists are content to rest on their previous achievements?
David N. Schwartz holds a Ph.D. in political science from MIT and is the author of two previous books. He has worked at the State Department Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, the Brookings Institution and Goldman Sachs. He is the son of Melvin Schwartz, who shared the 1988 Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of the muon neutrino in 1962.

Hosted by: Nick Hadley

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