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THE SQUASH COURT EXPERIMENT
As the pile grew, so did the entire project. Fermi moved his materials to an abandoned squash court under a football stadium at the University of Chicago.
His pace accelerated because they were proceeding on the premise that the Germans were close to atomic success.
Six weeks after the pile had been started, its critical size was reached.
Three brave young men jeopardized their lives by ascending the pile, ready to cover it with liquid cadmium if anything went wrong.
Almost fifty scientists and several incredulous observers mounted a balcony to watch. One physicist remained on the floor; it was his job to extract the final cadmium control rod. Unbearable tension permeated the atmosphere.
Fermi completed his calculations, waited for a propitious moment, and then gave the signal.