Happy Birthday Enrico Fermi 110

For years I have wanted to visit my grandfather’s lab on Via Panisperna in Rome. Events transpired to make the first visit today, on the anniversary of Enrico Fermi’s birth 110 years ago.

It was here where he taught quantum mechanics, gathering some of Italy’s brightest rising stars around him; and where, with the collaboration of these same students, he did his Nobel Prize winning work bombarding elements with slow neutrons. The tools and methods they used to explore radioactivity back in the 1930’s were rustic to say the least.

In this little  6 min video: tour of building now under construction – in three years will reopen as Centro Fermi, including radioactive? goldfish pond and a toast to Enrico. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Oct 7, 2011 – Thanks to Mark Haney! for cleaning up the sound and adding Respighi track to the Via Panisperna Enrico Fermi video (Mark’s comment below).

Posted in Essays.

7 Responses to Happy Birthday Enrico Fermi 110

  1. What a wonderful, personal tour through history, Olivia. Those goldfish and their radioactive pond!!! And how refreshing to see that politics and science could work together to move us all forward. It will be interesting to see the “after”—the finished project that emerges from this glimpse at “before.”

  2. joy hakim says:

    Hooray for this project. Enrico Fermi’s life and accomplishments are worth celebrating.

  3. Olivia!
    Well done! Another step along the path to shifting the energy to greater awareness.

  4. mark haney says:


    Congrats on your video! What a remarkable opportunity to be able to visit the birthplace of the atomic age at the end of the quantum era. I look forward to 3 years from now when you can tour the restored building. By then you may be reporting on the new physics, beyond the speed of light.

    I took it upon myself to make a new version of your video – cleaned up the audio and while I was at it added a little Respighi. I remember reading (maybe in your Grandmother’s book?) that Respighi and Enrico met on a ship from Brazil and Enrico wanted Respighi to explain how he decided on the notes for his music. Respighi couldn’t explain it to Enrico’s way of thinking but they remained friends regardless, so I thought ‘Fountains of Rome’ appropriate.

  5. Olivia Fermi says:

    Hi Mark,
    Thank you. It’s really beautiful what you’ve done and I love the playful choice of music. Will post so everyone can hear it.
    best wishes,

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