CERN Accelerated


CERN’s (European Organization for Nuclear Research’s) temporary citizens migrate here from any of over a hundred nations of the world to run the largest experimental facility on Earth. Their passionate quest to understand the mysteries of the universe underlies everything that is CERN.

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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).

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Transmedia, Europe and the Neutron Trail

Slide from my upcoming talk at TEDxTransmedia Rome: September 30, 2011.

Rome, Italy vies to be called the starting point of the Neutron Trail. It is the birthplace of Enrico Fermi and his wife Laura and where I will celebrate my grandfather Enrico’s 110th birthday on September 29, 2011 at a special location in Rome.

The next day, I am giving a TEDx talk at the MAXXI, also in Rome. The occasion: TEDxTransmedia, a conference dedicated to socially responsible media. Transmedia is current lingo for utilizing a variety of media — books, websites, films, apps, games, songs, events, etc – to spread coherent content. The idea is to utilize the strengths of each type of media to share specific aspects of a story in a multi-dimensional, and at its best, interactive form.

The Neutron Trail is a dynamic, multi-dimensional inquiry, into our shared nuclear legacy, perfectly suited to taking advantage of the variety of media the term transmedia suggests. For example, playing a ceremonial game of squash in 2009, tied the physics of a squash ball to the the physics of the first nuclear reactor. The game was filmed and made into a video loop displayed at M.I.T. as part of a larger exhibition questioning our mental contructs and beliefs around the development of nuclear energy and the a-bomb.

Next stop CERN, Switzerland to visit the European Nuclear Research Institute. If all goes as planned, I’ll tour the facility and meet with the renowned nuclear physicist and renewable energy advocate, Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia.

Stay tuned for updates as events unfold.

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Trinity Day and the First Atomic Bomb Test


Trinity blast after 10 sec. July 16, 1945 at 5:30 am.

In the dark of night, on July 16, 1945 a few scientists and military personnel gathered in the remote desert of New Mexico, USA. Sixty–six years ago the world was at war. The two key aggressors were Germany under the Nazis and Japan.

The secret desert meeting was code–named Trinity and the purpose was to test the first atomic bomb.  Continue reading

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Enrico Fermi Time Capsule Opening

What's in the Enrico Fermi time capsule? Olivia Fermi, Dr. Paul Weiner (grandson of Enrico Fermi), Kathy Weiner and Ben Weiner (great-grandson of Enrico Fermi). Photo: Blythe Olshan-Findlay/Olivia Fermi

If you were around in 1949, and someone asked you to select items to place in a time capsule, what would you have picked? This was the task my grandfather Enrico Fermi was given and today we learned what he chose. Continue reading

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Montclair State University Hosts Neutron Trail

Students with Olivia Fermi after her Neutron Trail presentation at Montclair State University March 23, 2011. From left to right: Mariam, Stephanie C. Lear, Merari Mejia, Olivia Fermi, Binta Jalloh and Marianela Parra. Photo: Stephanie C. Lear

Students and faculty from the colleges of science and art at Montclair State University in New Jersey welcomed me to their campus last week. Both my Neutron Trail – Elemental presentation, a keynote to launch their Second Annual Physics and Art Exhibition (Wed, March 23) and Neutron Trail workshop (March 24) were well attended and enthusiastically received. Continue reading

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BBC World Radio Interview with Olivia Fermi

In the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima Nuclear plant in Japan last week, BBC Radio contacted me. In this five minute interview, aired this morning, I also talk about the Neutron Trail, my grandfather Enrico Fermi’s response and the future of nuclear energy.

Listen to Olivia Fermi – BBC World Update Radio Interview

To read the transcript: Continue reading

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First Steps for Neutron Trail Documentary

In our Neutron Trail documentary film shoot yesterday, John O'Brian and I shared nuclear postcards.

Last summer I was thrilled when two executive producers approached me to make a feature-length documentary about the Neutron Trail. Yesterday was our first day of shooting. Continue reading

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Nuclear Cinema as Cultural Mirror

Sunagawa #5 (1955) by Nakamura Hiroshi. ANPO: Art x War.

Watch enough nuclear documentaries and it’s a self-sustaining Atomic Film Fest.

To better understand the history and cultural impact of the emergence of the A-bomb and the Cold War, I’ve popped in and out of my DVD player well over a dozen of these flicks. Titles include: The Day After Trinity (1981), Atomic Cafe (1982), Radio Bikini (1987), White Light/Black Rain (2007) and last year’s Countdown to Zero (2010); plus extras like original US Department of Energy (DOE) propaganda films, deleted scenes and interviews. Continue reading

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Sharing Stories… On the Neutron Trail

Artifacts of my grandparents: first edition cover of Laura Fermi's New York Time's bestseller Atoms in the Family and Enrico Fermi's sliderule; both atop his Nobel Prize book (with hand-painted calligraphy). Nobel Prize book courtesy Special Collections University of Chicago Library. Photo: Olivia Fermi © 2010.

I’ve been travelling on the Neutron Trail, learning about our shared nuclear legacy for a decade (really a lifetime). At times randomly, at times with some passionate focus – studying, researching, talking with physicists, survivors and activists, travelling to places like Los Alamos, New Mexico where the first atomic bomb was engineered, including making nuclear art with dancers and poets. Continue reading

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