Kurchatov Igor Vasilievich was the father of Soviet nuclear power. He played a key role in the creation and development of a peaceful atom and in the late 1940s supervised the development of the first atomic bomb in the USSR.
The article briefly describes the life path that was passed by the Soviet physicist Igor Kurchatov. Biography for children will be especially interesting.
The young physicist
January 12, 1903 in the village of Simsky Zavod (now Sim) in the Urals, Igor Kurchatov was born. His nationality is Russian. His father, Vasily Alekseevich (1869-1941), at various times worked as an assistant to the forester and land surveyor. Mother, Maria Ostroumova (1875-1942), was the daughter of a local clergyman. Igor was the second of three children: his sister Antonina was the eldest, and brother Boris - the youngest.
In 1909, after the family moved to Simbirsk, the Simbirsk gymnasium began, where Igor graduated from primary school. Three years later, after moving to the Crimea because of his sister's health, Kurchatov was transferred to the Simferopol Gymnasium. At first the boy succeeded literally in all disciplines, but after a teenager read a book on physics and technology, he chose physics as the occupation of his entire life. In 1920, working during the day and studying in the evening school, Igor graduated from the Simferopol gymnasium with a gold medal. In the same year he entered the Tavrichesky University.
the freedom of action
Igor Kurchatov (photo is given further in the article) was one of the best at the Department of Physics and Mathematics. Thanks to his academic achievements, he and one other student were assigned responsibility for the university physics laboratory and allowed to perform experiments freely. From these early experiments, Kurchatov drew an important understanding of the significance of practical evidence to support scientific perception, which in his further studies was very useful. In 1923 Igor graduated from the University with a diploma in physics, having completed a four-year course in three years.
Moving to Petrograd
Moving soon to Petrograd, he entered the Polytechnic Institute to become a ship engineer. As in Simferopol, Kurchatov had to work to learn and support himself. He was admitted to the Magnitometeorological Observatory in Pavlovsk, which enabled him to earn a living and do what he loved. Since the work in the observatory began to take a lot of time, Kurchatov fell behind in school and left the institute on the second semester. From now on, he decided to focus on physics.
After work as a researcher at the Baku Polytechnic Institute in 1924-1925. Igor Kurchatov was appointed to the Physico-Technical Institute in Leningrad, which was at the forefront of the study of physics and technology of that time in the USSR. Simultaneously, in 1927 he married Marina Dmitrievna Sinelnikova and worked as a lecturer at the Department of Mechanical Physics of the Leningrad Polytechnic and at the Pedagogical Institute. Here he spent his best years and accomplished some of his most important discoveries.
Igor Kurchatov: a brief biography of the scientist
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Kurchatov was carried away by what was then called ferroelectricity, by studying the properties and characteristics of various materials under the influence of an electric current. These studies led to the creation of semiconductors and attracted his attention to nuclear physics. After carrying out initial experiments with beryllium radiation, meeting and correspondence with the pioneer of this science, Frederic Joliot in 1933, Kurchatov began a fruitful work to curb the power of the atom. Together with other researchers, including Boris's brother, he made a breakthrough in the study of isomeric nuclei, radioactive isotopes of bromine, which had the same mass and composition, but had different physical characteristics. This work led to progress in understanding the structure of the atom in the Soviet scientific community.
At the same time (in 1934-1935) Kurchatov, together with the scientists of the Radium Institute (a scientific and educational organization established in the USSR as imitation of similar institutions founded by the pioneer of the study of radiation by Maria Curie in France and Poland), was engaged in studies of a neutron, a neutral subatomic particle , Which was little known at that time. Neutrons with high energies are used to bombard the nucleus of a radioactive atom, such as uranium, to split an atom and to release large amounts of energy during a nuclear reaction.
In the 1930s, researchers such as Joliot, Enrico Fermi, Robert Oppenheimer, and others began to realize that a nuclear reaction, with proper treatment, could be used to create a bomb of unprecedented explosive power. Kurchatov as one of the leading Soviet atomic scientists de facto was considered the leader of research and experiments in this field. For various reasons, including the lack of resources and politically repressive atmosphere of the Stalinist regime of that time, the Soviet Union lagged behind the rest of the world in the race for taming the atom.
News about the discovery in 1938 of the division of the nucleus by German chemists Otto Gan and Fritz Strassmann quickly spread across the international community of physicists. In the Soviet Union, the news aroused excitement and anxiety about the possible applications of this discovery.
In the late 1930s, the Soviet physicist Igor Kurchatov, whose photo is posted in the article, made a breakthrough in the nuclear reaction of radioactive isotopes of thorium and uranium with a group of researchers in Leningrad. In 1940, two of his colleagues accidentally discovered a division of the uranium isotope and under his leadership wrote a short article about this in the American edition of Physical Review, which at that time was the leading scientific journal that published articles on progress in nuclear research.
After several weeks of waiting for a response, Igor Kurchatov initiated the search for current publications to find out news about nuclear fission experiments. As a result, he found that American scientific journals had stopped publishing such data since mid-1940. Kurchatov reported to the Soviet leadership that the US, in response to the growing threat of a world war with the Germany-Italy-Japan axis, is probably making efforts to create an atomic bomb. This led to an intensification of research in the Soviet Union. The Leningrad laboratory of Kurchatov became the center of these efforts.
Demagnetization of the Black Sea Fleet
The advance of German troops deep into the territory of the USSR in July 1941 reduced the available resources in all sectors of the Soviet Union, including in the scientific community. Many of Kurchatov's researchers and physicists were assigned to solve current military tasks, and he himself went to Sevastopol to train sailors demagnetize ships to deal with magnetic mines.
By 1942 the efforts of Soviet intelligence in the United States confirmed the fact that the Manhattan Project is making progress in the creation of nuclear weapons. At the request of scientists and politicians, Igor Kurchatov was summoned from Sevastopol and appointed chief designer of the center for the development of a controlled nuclear reaction. This center will later become the heart of the Soviet Institute of Atomic Energy.
The Attenes of the Rosenbergs
At the institute, the Kurchatov group built a cyclotron and other equipment necessary to control the nuclear reactor. After successfully testing and using the US bombs at the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union stepped up efforts to prevent the American nuclear threat. December 27, 1946 Kurchatov and his team built the first nuclear reactor in Europe. This made it possible to obtain the isotope of plutonium, which is necessary for the creation of nuclear weapons. September 29, 1949, after successfully testing the atomic bomb, the USSR officially entered the nuclear age. In November 1952, an explosion of the American hydrogen bomb was carried out , which was many times more powerful, and on August 12, 1953, was marked by a similar achievement of the Soviet Union.
After the creation of atomic and hydrogen weapons, Kurchatov led the movement in the Soviet scientific community for the peaceful use of the atom. He helped design and build nuclear power plants. In 1951, Kurchatov organized one of the first nuclear power conferences in the Soviet Union and later became part of a group that on June 27, 1954, launched the first nuclear power plant in the USSR.
Kurchatov Igor Vasilievich: interesting facts
A nuclear physicist was a highly valued figure in the power circles of the Soviet government. In addition to membership in the presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, he became Hero of Socialist Labor three times, was a deputy of the Supreme Council and a respected politician. His talent as a leader is almost the same as the talent of a scientist, he allowed him to lead successfully more and more large organizations.
Kurchatov was highly appreciated by his colleagues in the international scientific community. Frédéric Joliot-Curie, Nobel laureate for fruitful work in this field, had a long conversation with him. In the late 1950s, Kurchatov participated in international conferences on nuclear energy and, together with other scientists, called for a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons. He also advocated the banning of atmospheric tests. In 1963, the Soviet Union and the United States signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Testing Nuclear Weapons in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water.
The civilian application of atomic energy, studied and developed under the leadership of Kurchatov, includes power plants (the first of which began work in 1954), the nuclear icebreaker Lenin. Also, the scientist supervised the research of thermonuclear fusion, developing the means to contain the plasma at the extremely high temperature necessary for initiating and maintaining the synthesis process in a thermonuclear reactor.
Practitioner, not a theorist
After two strokes in 1956 and 1957, Kurchatov moved away from active work, continuing to engage in nuclear physics, as well as the design and construction of several Soviet nuclear power plants. February 7, 1960 in Moscow, presumably from a heart attack, died Igor Kurchatov.
The biography of the scientist was not limited to the projects he devoted his entire life to. His theoretical works of considerable importance only secondary and usually lagged behind the works of the pioneers of nuclear physics of the early XX century. Only the application of the theory in practice made it possible to reveal the whole importance of its activity.
Dry out of the water
Soviet physicist Igor Kurchatov lived and worked in the oppressive and technologically oppressive atmosphere of the regime of Joseph Stalin. He managed to collect groups of outstanding scientists in difficult and harsh conditions and, moreover, to motivate these specialists to create a creative, productive community. He managed to remain in favor and out of jail during several Stalinist purges of the country's scientific and political leadership and simultaneously put forward his demands.
Kurchatov was by all standards a dedicated scientist who believed that the best place for developing and testing physical theories was the laboratory. Thanks to this practical attitude, the scientist inspired a whole generation of Soviet physicists to pass their principles and concepts through the crucible of the creative process. He was the teacher of many great scientists, including nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov.
Igor Kurchatov helped his country enter the technological epoch of the last half of the twentieth century, having formed a dual direction in the development of atomic energy in the Soviet Union. If he focused only on the creation of weapons, then the peaceful use of nuclear energy (nuclear power plants), perhaps, would not have appeared soon.