by Academician Yevgeny VELIKHOV, President of the National Research Center "Kurchatov Institute" (Moscow)
Igor Kurchatov is one among those few scientists of the 20th century who have impacted greatly the march of history both in our country and all over the world. A superb researcher and intellectual, a high-principled Russian patriot and in the same breath a citizen of the world, Kurchatov kept honor and dignity in a period of tyranny, triumphant ignorance and overweening ambition.
The 110th birth anniversary of Kurchatov* is an opportune occasion for giving a balanced appraisal of this great man. At the same time, it is a moment of self-appraisal to us, too, useful for future historians: after all, we have witnessed and remember his time.
Naturally, I do not aspire to a historical analysis but shall only air my personal view of Kurchatov's growth as creator, a view from his, Kurchatov Institute, where I have been working all my conscious life.
* See: Ye. Velikhov, "He Dreamt of a Sun on Earth", Science in Russia, No. 1,2003.--Ed.
Igor Kurchatov. 1930s.
The first period of Kurchatov's life was devoted to work at the famous Fiztekh*, the Leningrad Institute of Physics and Technology, founded in 1918 by Academician Abram loffe. It was an excellent scientific establishment on a par with the highest international standards. A talented experimentalist, Kurchatov began his first experiments there on dielectric physics related to electric properties of crystals, breakdown mechanism and creation of new insulation materials. There were problems, though, if we recall Ioffe's failure to use fine-layer insulation in electrical engineering. But also, his first spectacular success: the discovery of ferroelectricity, quite enough to many other scientists for the rest of their life.
At that time (in 1932), a neutron was discovered by James Chadwick in Great Britain, a positron by Carl Anderson and deuterium by Harold ... Читать далее