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Atomic power scholar voted top Illinois scientist

September 18, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A University of Chicago scholar who led the construction of the first nuclear reactor and helped develop the first atomic bomb has been selected as Illinois’ top scientist in history in an online vote.

Enrico Fermi’s selection is part of the Illinois Top 200 project overseen by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield’s State Journal-Register and the Illinois Bicentennial Commission. By the bicentennial on Dec. 3, there will be top-10 lists in 20 categories.

A Monday statement from the Lincoln library says James Watson came in second on the scientist list. He helped discover the shape of DNA molecules, which paved the way to other ground-breaking discoveries about genes.

Voting is already underway for the next category, top Illinois athletes. Nominees include Michael Jordan and Dick Butkus.

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