Pioneering atomic engineer dies at 95

April 3, 2008 at 3:41 PM
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SEATTLE, April 3 (UPI) -- Arthur "Pete" Peterson, an engineer who oversaw construction of the Chicago reactor where the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction took place, has died at 95.

Peterson died March 24 in his sleep at his home in North Seattle, Wash., his son, Arthur Peterson Jr., told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

A native of New Jersey, Peterson received degrees in civil engineering from New York University and Cornell. In 1941, he joined the U.S. Army and was assigned to what became known as the Manhattan Project, the secret effort to build a nuclear bomb.

Peterson worked closely with Enrico Fermi, the Italian physicist who led the team that set off a chain reaction under the University of Chicago football stadium, his son said. Fermi and Arthur Holly Compton often went with Peterson for dinner but Peterson's wife said she didn't realize for years who she had been feeding, the Post-Intelligencer said.

After the war, Peterson continued to work on nuclear power, first for the Atomic Energy Commission and then in private industry, the report said.

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