It seems fitting to remember, on this 200th anniversary of Columbia University, the key role that the University played in the early experimentation and the organization of the early work that led to the development of atomic energy.
The following is a verbatim transcript of Enrico Fermi's last address before the American Physical Society, delivered informally and without notes at Columbia University's McMillin Theater on Saturday morning, January 30, 1954. His retiring presidential address was delivered one day earlier. The present speech, transcribed from a tape recording, is left deliberately in an unpolished and unedited form. Such informality would no doubt have been frowned upon by Fermi, who was very particular about his published writings. For those who knew Fermi or heard him speak, however, the verbatim transcript may serve (as no formal document could ever serve) to bring back for a moment the very sound of his voice. The paper was presented as part of the session “Physics at Columbia University” during the Society's 1954 annual meeting.