Born in Rome, Italy, Enrico Fermi was primarily self-taught. At the age of 17, he had already acquired a thorough understanding of classical physics. With his friend Enrico Persico, Fermi performed experiments, using handmade apparatus and thus obtaining an excellent grasp of experimental physics. He trained in Pisa, Gottingen, and Leiden, working with leading figures in the new quantum mechanics. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Pisa in 1922 and returned to Rome in 1926, where he spent several years working on the statistical mechanics of particles and wrote the first textbook on modern physics to be published in Italy. In 1934 Fermi began a series of experiments producing new radioactive isotopes by neutron bombardment. This was the work for which he was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1938. After the prize ceremony, Fermi did not return to Italy, because of the Fascist regime, but emigrated with his wife and two children to the United States. As part of the atomic bomb effort, Fermi directed the design and construction of the first nuclear reactor at the University of Chicago, which began operating in December 1942. He spent the next two years with Arthur H. Compton leading the American team that constructed the first atomic bomb. Fermi was one of the few modern physicists to excel in both theory and experiment. His accomplishments were foundation points for many branches of physics, including studies of the statistics of particles obeying the exclusion principle, quantum electrodynamics, beta-decay, artificial radioactivity, pion-nucleon collision, and nuclear chain reactions. Fermi died of cancer in 1954. The next year the newly discovered element with atomic number 100 was named fermium in his honor.