Chicago, Illinois, 1942. World War II was raging: one year after the attack on Pearl Harbour, the US were finally fighting back and the VI Russian army corps was in shambles. But the war was being fought in scientific labs as well. Knowing that the Germans were working hard, in 1939 the Americans had followed a suggestion by Albert Einstein and asked young Italian scientist Enrico Fermi to join a team of researchers headed by General Groves. On December 2nd, 1942, Enrico Fermi and 40 coworkers successfully tested the first atomic pile in the basement of a university campus - a real milestone both for physics and for 20th-century history. Produced to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of that event, this documentary starts with a thrilling narration of that December 2nd and with a step-bystep staging of the first controlled nuclear chain reaction in history. The life of the famous Italian scientist and the circumstances that forced him to leave Italy for good in 1938 are then narrated with the help of archive footage and interviews with his wife, his colleagues (including Edoardo Amaldi), one of his highschool teachers and even his janitor. A talented young graduate from Pisa University, Fermi was the first Italian ever to become a professor of theoretical physics - a job specifically created for him by Orso Mario Corbino, also a key supporter of the Romebased scientific group called "I ragazzi di Via Panisperna". His trip to Stockholm, where he was invited to receive the Nobel Prize for his research on slow neutrons and artificial radioactivity, marked his farewell to Italy, where racial laws had created an unbearable climate, and his arrival in the United States, where he became even more famous and successful.