At 3:25 P.M. on December 2, 1942, the Atomic Age began inside an enormous tent on a squash court under the stands of the University of Chicago's Stagg Field. There, scientists headed by Enrico Fermi engineered the first controlled nuclear fission chain reaction. The result, sustainable nuclear energy, led to creation of the atomic bomb and nuclear power plants—two of the twentieth century's most powerful and controversial achievements.
Four years earlier the Italian scientist received the Nobel Prize for Physics. Planning to defect, Fermi attended the award ceremonies in Stockholm with his wife and children. Like so many intellectuals who left fascist Europe, Fermi came to the United States and worked at Columbia University.