Enrico Fermi: nuclear physicist and childish practical joker

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The Nobel prize-winner was an undoubted genius.

But his fascist sympathies and teasing cruelty alienated his family and colleagues.

Enrico Fermi may not be a name as familiar as Einstein, Feynman or Hawking, but he was one of the greatest figures of 20th-century physics, with a reputation for infallibility.

In Rome, pioneering atomic science under Mussolini, he was nicknamed ‘the Pope’.

Spek 3cEscaping to America where he created the world’s first nuclear reactor, he was dubbed ‘the last man who knew everything’.

Yet he was no Renaissance man: he knew everything about physics, and didn’t care much about anything else.

It is testimony…

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