Enrico Fermi tore a large sheet of paper into small pieces and dropped them. A few seconds later, the pieces were blown a short distance in midair and landed some eight feet away.
Fermi paced the distance, then consulted a chart he prepared earlier. Based on the corresponding data, he told the people around him that the shockwave that hit the air to blast the papers out was from a force of roughly about 10 kilotons of TNT exploding.
On that cool morning in July 1945, Fermi and his colleagues tested the very first atomic bomb. The blast magnitude was later calculated to be 20 kilotons. That won Fermi the betting pool started by senior physicists in the project.
Once again, Fermi was correct in his guess using such a mundane test for such a complex problem. “The Pope of Physics”, his colleagues called him, for they said…