Maria Goeppert-Mayer Lecture Hall Kersten Physics Teaching Center
5720 S. Ellis Avenue
Kersten Physics Teaching Center
Fermi, Szilard, and the First Chain Reaction
William Lanouette, Atomic Heritage Expert and Author
Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard share the patent for creating the world’s first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction; achieved December 2nd, 1942 at the University of Chicago. The more famous Fermi, a Nobel laureate in physics and distinguished professor, receives most of the credit for this historic achievement. Yet Szilard’s little-known discoveries and designs – both to construct and to control their reactor – proved to be essential keys to their success.