Whether it's a conversation with a friend, a word that is penned, or a craft that is made, everything we do leaves a stitch in the fabric of time. Join us as we investigate the stitches of the past and present...
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: ... a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak" (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7).
Without the help of my high school lab partner, I
would have flunked out of Physics class. Despite my ineptitude for the topic, I
was fascinated by the concepts that my teacher, Mr. Baum, would impart while
sitting on top of his desk. He was excited about Physics and wanted us to be
too. I still understand very little about Physics, but appreciate those people
whose mind can grapple with science and ask lots of “what if” and “why”
questions (kind of like authors do when they’re making up stories!).
One such man who, credited with creating the first
self-sustaining nuclear reaction and awarded the Nobel Prize in 1938 for his
work with neutrons, was Enrico Fermi. Born in Rome, Italy, he was the son of a
railroad executive and a schoolteacher. His older brother, with whom he was
very close died at a young age, and Enrico threw himself into his studies to
cope with the loss.
Physicist Enrico Fermi
Initially a professor of theoretical physics at the
University of Rome, Enrico used the opportunity of his Nobel Prize trip to immigrate
to the United States to escape Mussolini’s recently implemented Italian Racial
Laws that impacted his Jewish wife, Laura. He joined the faculty at Columbia
University and then became a member of the Manhattan Project. Transferring to
the University of Chicago, he led a team of experimental physicists who were
tasked with creating the first nuclear reaction, without which a bomb would not
Built on the squash court under the school’s football
stadium, the nuclear reactor was originally referred to as an “atomic pile,”
then later dubbed “Chicago Pile-1.” Fermi himself described it as “a crude pile
of black bricks and wooden timbers.” The last of twenty-nine attempts was assembled
in November 1942 and was comprised of 45,000 graphite blocks and fueled by six
tons of uranium metal and uranium oxide. Because it operated at a low level
there were no shielding or cooling systems included.
Members of the Manhattan Project
Fermi determined that critical mass could be achieved
without completing the pile, and on December 2nd the first
human-made nuclear chain reaction occurred. The success of the reactor made
crucial progress in The Manhattan Project in their efforts to create an atomic
bomb. Fermi moved to Project Y where he was named assistant director of the laboratory
at Los Alamos, NM. After the war, he served on the Atomic Energy Commission and
returned to teaching at the University of Chicago where some of his graduate
students became the leading physicists of their time.
A freelance writer for over ten years, Linda Shenton
Matchett is the author of several romance novellas. Under Fire, the first in her trilogy about WWII War
Correspondent/Amateur Sleuth Ruth Brown is available from eLectio Publishing, Amazon, or your favorite independent bookstore. Visit Linda at www.LindaShentonMatchett.com.