Nuclear Reactions

1942: A Historic Breakthrough, an Uncertain Future

Seventy-five years ago, University of Chicago scientists led by Enrico Fermi ushered in the Atomic Age by achieving the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.

Commemorating the Discovery at UChicago

Recognizing the historic significance of this development, the University is organizing a series of public events beginning in fall 2017 to commemorate and discuss the complex legacy of what transpired on December 2, 1942.

Events will explore questions around the experiment’s long-term impact on nuclear physics and engineering, its subsequent applications in medicine and nuclear energy, and its role in the first development of nuclear fission weapons.

The anniversary presents an opportunity to engage scientists, artists, policymakers, and others around a set of issues that continue to change our world in profound ways.

Featured Events

Saturday, Sept. 23
Fermilab Open House
10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 2
The Nuclear Past is Prologue: A Conversation with Valerie Plame, 75 Years After Fermi
5:30-7 p.m. 

Museum of Science and Industry
RSVP required — seating is limited

Thursday, Oct. 26
Argonne OutLoud: Nuclear Energy and Technology – from 1942 to the 3rd Millennium
6:00–8:00 p.m.
Argonne National Laboratory, Building 240

View all commemoration events