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The Manhattan Project and the Battle of Wits

Posted on July 19 2005

Emilio Gino Segrè, who shared the Nobel Prize in 1959 with Owen Chamberlain for the discovery of the antiproton, was also with the Manhattan Project team in Los Alamos in 1944. There, his preference for taking Sundays off to fly fish puzzled his mentor, Enrico Fermi. “‘Fermi asked Segre why,’ Rosen said. Segre said he sometimes went fishing. Fermi asked him what was so satisfying about fishing that it took precedence over the extremely important problems they must solve at the lab. Segre replied with a detailed explanation of the technology required for fly fishing in order to outsmart the fish. Rosen said Fermi concluded, ‘Finally, I understand and, it is a battle of wits.'” Carol Clark on

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