"How Fermi Became Fermi"

Date: 
Mon, 10/23/2017 - 4:15pm
Location: 
428 Pupin Hall

David Schwartz

D N Schwartz & Co

"How Fermi Became Fermi"

Enrico Fermi was one of the most significant figures of 20th century physics, with major contributions across a wide range of sub-disciplines. How did Fermi become Fermi? Drawing on research undertaken in preparation for his forthcoming biography of Fermi, “The Last Man Who Knew Everything: The Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age” (Basic Books, December 5, 2017) David N. Schwartz will discuss the development of Fermi as a physicist; the role of nature, nurture, and historical circumstance in his career; and the characteristics behind both his strengths and his weaknesses. Are great physicists born, do they make themselves, or do others make them? How does the accident of one’s birth influence a career like Fermi’s? What was it that enabled Fermi to continue to contribute to the field well beyond the age when many great physicists are content to rest on their previous achievements?

About the speaker

David N. Schwartz holds a PhD in political science from MIT and is the author of two previous books. He has worked at the State Department Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, and at Goldman Sachs in a variety of roles in both London and New York. He lives in New York with his wife, Susan. His father, Melvin Schwartz, was on the Columbia physics faculty from 1958 to 1966, and returned as the first I.I. Rabi professor of physics in 1994.