Science: Attack on the Atom

Last week Columbia University showed off its prize catch of the season: visiting Nobelman Enrico Fermi of Rome, who will conduct advanced courses in theoretical physics this winter. Before a room full of eager chemists at Manhattan's Hotel Pennsylvania, bright-eyed, bubbling Professor Fermi made clear and simple sense of his prize-winning specialty: disintegration of atoms. He told the chemists how he releases enormous quantities of energy through neutron bombardment, how, like a modern alchemist, he transforms one element into another.

Neutron bombardment is so simple, said Professor Fermi, that "even theoretical physicists" (notorious for their aversion to laboratories) can do it. First...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!