Russia on the rise

From Yu.S. Osipov's book
«Academy of Sciences in the History of the Russian State» Moscow, «NAUKA», 1999

1917, a year of great upheavals came. The Russian Empire collapsed. Most scientists did not accept the October Revolution On November 21, 1917, the General Assembly of the academy addressed the scientists of the country with a message expressing their negative attitude toward the revolution. Meanwhile, however, the Academy did not reject professional cooperation with the new power. In December 1917, S.F.Oldenburg noted that “Russia was on the verge of ruin”, and stressed at an annual meeting that “men of science cannot help being fully aware that without their work public education and culture are unthinkable, as any worthy human existence without the latter”.

A new, almost 70-year, period of unprecedented development of science and education in the country began. But a period dramatic, maiming the fates of many thousands of scientists, a period of inadmissible intrusions of power and ideology in science. It is just in this period that attempts to dissolve the Academy were made.

Since February 1918, at a decision of the General Assembly, the Emperor’s St.Petersburg Academy changed its name for the Russian Academy of Sciences. For the first time, the principle of elected leadership was introduced. The outstanding geologist A.P.Karpinsky was elected President.

The Academy actively joined in the resolution of socio-economic and cultural problems of the country. A Commission on the Study of natural Productive Forces and Natural Resources set up under the aegis of the Academy in 1915 on the initiative of V.I.Vernadsky was involved in the process. Research into the Kursk magnetic anomaly and the mineral resources of the Kola Peninsula was launched.

Under the leadership of G.M.Krzhizhanovsky, subsequently and Academician and Academy’s Vice-President, a State Plan for the country’s Electrification (GOELRO) was worked out, for many years becoming an extensive program for construction of hydroelectric power stations and high-voltage lines, and serving as a basis for industrialization of the entire country.

Modeled on the RAS, the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine was set up in 1918, with V.I.Vernadsky as President, and the Academy of Sciences of Belorussia in 1929.

From 1918, within the Academy system, research institutes were set up; in particular, the Engineering Physics Institute headed by A.F.Loffe, Institute of Physics and Mathematics headed by V.A.Steklov. The number of scientific workers of the Academy increased fourfold, as compared with 1917. The government’s decision of 1925 to proclaim the Academy the “highest all-Union scientific institution” become a recognition of the Academy’s role in the life of society. It was named the USSR Academy of Sciences. Scientists working outside of the Academy in higher educational establishments, branch institutes and other organizations started being elected to the Academy, which enabled to unite most outstanding men of science, without bureaucratic obstacles.

With the goal of improving the Academy’s interaction with the central state institutions, at a decision of the government of 1934, the Academy’s Presidium and a number of academic scientific institutions were transferred from Leningrad to Moscow. In 1935, a Department of Technical Sciences was set up. In 1938, the Academy already had 8 departments: Physics and Mathematics, Technical, chemical, Biological, Geological and Geographical sciences, Economics and Law, History and Philosophy, Literature and Language. In the national republics and major regions of the Russian Federation the Academy started setting up its branches and bases subsequently turned into the Academies of Sciences of the union republics, scientific centers, and regional divisions.

Dear colleagues, taking into account the shortage of time, le me further on, with the exception of but a few, not to name the members and workers of the Academy, now living. You will know them easily from the context. Otherwise, I would have to name most on those present.

In 1957, a Siberian Branch was set up and, later on, specialized scientific centers in Pushchino, Troitsk and Chernogolovka. In the late sixties, the Ural and Far-Eastern Branches were transformed into scientific centers, and then, in the eighties, into regional divisions. An outstanding role in the organization of regional divisions, branches, scientific centers was played by V.L.Komarov (subsequently, President of the Academy of Sciences), M.A.Lavrentyev, S.L.Sobolev, A.A.Troimuk, S.A.Khristianovich, S.V.Vonsovsky, N.N.Krasovsky and our other scientists. First Chairman of the Siberian Branch M.A.Lavrentyev has actually created a system for managing science in the regions, which was subsequently developed by G.O.Mrchuk and V.A.Koptyug, and used in the Ural and Far East. In the early sixties, the creation of the Academy of Sciences in all the union republics was completed. The academy of Sciences was assigned coordination of the activities of the republican Academies.

As the Academy grows, its contribution to world science grows too, as well as to the solution of problems facing the country. I will mention just a few of the outstanding achievements.

A major contribution to the development of modern mathematics and its applications was made. I.M.Vinogradov and his disciples obtained outstanding results in the theory of numbers. Most difficult problems were solved. Fundamental results in constructive function theory. Differential equations and probability theory were obtained by S.N.Bernshtein. The remarkable results of N.N.Luzin laid foundations for a further development of the theory of functions of a real variable in this country. In the twenties, N.N.Luzin set up the well-known Moscow school of function theory, where many outstanding mathematicians, organizers and leaders of native scientific schools of various branches of mathematics had grown. The remarkably diverse works of A.N.Kolmogorov had an enormous impact on the development of modern mathematics. In his work on function theory and functional analysis, classical mechanics, information theory, and, first of all, probability theory, mathematical statistics and turbulence theory, fundamental problems were solved, basic results obtained and new problems posed, bringing to life a great many of new research works. L.S.Pontryagin and his school obtained outstanding results in the fields of algebraic topology and theory of optimal control. Let me mention the famous Pontryagin principle. The theory of differential equations, methods of mathematical physics and functional analysis were developed by the works of I.G.Petrovsky, S.L.Sobolev, A.N.Tihonov and their disciples. In the mathematical works of M.V.Keldysh and M.A.Lavrentyev, outstanding results in the field of complex analysis, potential theory, functional analysis and approximation theory were obtained. Most difficult problems of mathematical logic, algebra, geometry ad topology were studied in the fundamental works of P.S.Novikov, A.I.Maltsev, P.S.Aleksandrov and many other prominent mathematicians. Major results were obtained in the field of calculus and mathematical modeling by A.N.Tikhonov, A.A.Dorodnitsyn, and others. Effective numerical methods for solution of problems in mechanics, physics, geophysics and technology, enabling to solve many difficult applied problems, were worked out. The works of L.V.Kantotovich on mathematical economics were awarded a Nobel prize. Under the leadership of S.A.Lebedev, studies leading to creation of first domestic fast-operating computers, uncluding the BESM-1 (1952), at the time the most efficient computer in Europe, were launched. I will specially note the basic contribution to mathematics, mechanics and theoretical physics, made by N.N.Bogolyubov, who for more than 25 years headed the Mathematics Department of our Academy.

The most important results were obtained in the field of mechanics. The theory o nonlinear oscillations is due to N.M.Krylov, N.N.Bogolyubov, L.I.Mandelshtam, A.A.Andronov, and others. A major contribution to the development of aerodynamics was made by M.V.Keldysh, V.V.Struminsky, A.A.Dorodnitsyn; elasticity theory, by N.I.Muskhelishvili; filtration theory, by P.Ya.Kochina, whose centenary was marked in May this year (I think we now have a good occasion to pass Pelageya Yakovlevna our best wishes with our applause); the mechanics of machines and mechanisms, by A.A.Blagonravov and I.I.Artobolevsky. The theory of small-scale turbulence structure was created in the works of A.N.Kolmogorov and A.M.Obukhof. Major achievements were obtained in the mechanics of solids, liquids and gases, mechanics of porous media, mechanics of navigational systems, motion stability theory, control theory and their applications.

The Academy’s achievements in the field of astronomy and astrophysics, including the studies of the distribution of diffused matter in world space, received a wide recognition.

Astronomers’ observational base was extended substantially. The world’s biggest Crimean and Special astronomical observatories were constructed. The latter possesses one of the world’s largest optical and radio telescopes. Outstanding results in the study of evolution of the Galaxy were obtained by V.A.Ambartsumyan, solar physics by A.B.Severny, and relativist astrophysics by Ya.B.Zeldovich. Important results were obtained in radioastronomical observations. Planets radiolocation, and X-ray astronomy.

It is difficult to overestimate the contribution to the development of physical sciences by the world-famous school of physics, headed by A.F.Ioffe and Leningrad Physical Engineering Institute, engendering a number of new institutes and scientific trends.

Physics in the Academy has always been on a high level. Here is a far from complete list of outstanding achievements in the field. D.V.Skobeltsyn discovered showers in cosmic rays, G.N.Flerov and K.A.Petrzhak spontaneous nuclear division. V.I.Veksler laid foundation for the principles of operation of high-energy particle accelerators, G.I.Budker was first to propose and apply his colliding beams method, which became basic in studies on high-energy physics. At the Serpukhov accelerator, new elementary particles and important laws in the physics of elementary particles were discovered. At underground observatories, neutrino physics and astrophysics were developed. Studies on superhigh-energy particles coming from outer space were performed. Relativist nuclear physics develops successfully, and synthesis of the heaviest trans-Uranium elements is carried out. The works of physical theorists deepened the understanding of nuclear structure and elementary particles, made a large contribution of the creation of the theory of strong interactions, i.e. quantum chromodynamics. Synchrotron radiation was predicted.

Fundamental results in the theory of high-temperature plasma and problems of controlled thermonuclear synthesis were obtained. I.E.Tamm and A.D.Sakharov offered a basic idea of holding plasma in a magnetic field; in particular, in a Tokamak-type plants and in the development of the problem of inertial thermonuclear synthesis.

Fundamental research of luminescence was performed by S.I.Vavilov and his disciples. P.A.Cherenkov discovered, and I.E.Tamm and I.M.Frank supplied a theoretical explanation to the phenomenon of light radiation by a charged particle moving with a speed exceeding the phase speed of light in a medium. G.S.Landsberg and L.I.Mandelshtam discovered combination diffusion of light in crystals. N.G.Basov and A.M.Prokhorov laid foundations for quantum electronics, created a number of types of lasers, and determined areas of application of laser technology.

Important results were obtained in nonlinear optics, nonlinear laser spectroscopy. Foundations for color holography were laid. Wide-scale research into spreading radio waves of different bandwidths was performed. Major results were obtained in statistical radiophysics and in the theory of potential noisestability of radio communications. Science owes E.K.Zavoisky his discovery of electronic paramagnetic resonance, and P.L.Kapitsa the discovery of liquid helium super-fluidity. Theoretical explanation of this phenomenon and development of the theory of superconductivity is due to L.D.Landau, N.N.Bogolyubor, and others.

The contribution to solid-state physics is very important, including the development of the quantum theory of the condensed state of matter, and of semiconductor physics. Principles of creation of power semiconductors of current transformers, semiconductor heterostructures and lasers on their basis, and principles of acoustoelectronics were worked out. Exitons in semiconductors were discovered and studied. The works of L.F.Vereshchagin on the technology of producing artificial diamonds led to the creation of an industry of synthetic supersolid materials.

Among the Nobel laureates are N.N.Sepmyonov (1956), P.A.Cherenkov, I.M.Frank, and I.E.Tamm (1958), L.D.Landau (1962), N.G.Basov and A.M.Prokhorov (1964), and P.L.Kapitsa (1978).

Greatest achievements in chemical sciences are obtained by the schools of L.A.Chugaev, I.I.Chernyaev, A.A.Grivberg on the chemistry of complex compounds; N.D.Zelinsky, S.S.Namyotkin, on the chemistry of hydrocarbons and petrochemistry; N.S.Kurnakov in the field of physicochemical analysis. Foundations of modern organic synthesis were laid by the works of A.E.Favorsky, I.N.Nazarov and N.N.Vorozhtsov. A major contribution to the development of catalysis theory was made by A.A.Balandin and G.K.Boreskov, electrochemisty by A.N.Frumkin, and physicochemical mechanics by P.A.Rebinder. Nobel laureate N.N.Semyonov experimentally discovered and created a theory of branched chain reactions. Chemical kinetics, combustion and detonation theory were given a brilliant development in the works of Ya.B.Zeldovich, V.N.Kondratyev and N.M.Emanuel. New physical methods for stimulating chemical transformations by radiation, laser radiation and shock waves were developed. A new direction in chemistry, the chemistry of element-organic compounds, which A.N.Nesmeyanov called a “third continent of Chemistry”, was created by A.N.Nesmeyanov, G.A.Razuvaev, I.L.Knunyants, M.I.Kavachnik, and father and son Arbuzovs.

Many other directions in modern chemistry and its applications developed considerably. Chemical scientists made an invaluable contribution to the development of home in the 20th century. S.V.Levedev created the world’s first technology for producing synthetic rubber. The works of V.A.Kargin, S.S.Medvedev, N.S.Enikolopov, V.N. Tsvetkov on the chemistry and physics of polymers enabled to start production of synthetic materials. The works of I.P.Bardin and A.A.Baikov found wide application in metallurgy. An outstanding role in the development of electrical welding and special electrometallurgy belonged to the studies of B.E.Paton and his colleagues.

Among the achievements determining progress in biology, one cannot help marking the discovery by N.I.Vavilov of the law of homologous series in hereditary changes, the works of N.K.Koltsov on the gene structure, the pioneer studies of A.N.Belozersky on nucleic acids, gene systematization and the original theory of the origins of life by F.I.Oparin.

The works of I.P.Pavlov and his school led to major developments in the physiology of the central nervous system. P.K.Anokhin, M.N.Livanov had major successes in the study of the brain function; L.A.Orbeli, Kh.S.Koshtoyants and E.M.Kreps, in the development of evolutional physiology; A.A.Ukhtomsky, in the physiology of labour. A.M.Ugolev discovered membrane digestion. The development of space physiology in the works of V.N.Chernigoncky and V.V.Parin prompted launching man into space.

An informational theory of emotions was developed. Important results in psychophysiological micromapping and physicochemical mechanisms of the nervous system were obtained.

The results of fundamental studies by A.N.Severtsov and I.I.Shmalgauzen in the field of evolutional morphology of animals, Ye.N.Pavlovsky and K.I.Skryabin in the files of parasitology and helminthology, M.S.Gilyarov in the field of biogeocenology are widely known.

In the fifties, sixties and seventies, our scientists successfully took part in the solution of problems of global importance. Among them are the creation of a vaccine against poliomyelitis enabling to practically eliminate this terrible children’s disease. Foundations for radiobiology were developed. Radiation disease and methods for its treatment were developed. With the most active participation of our country, the Earth’s population was vaccinated against smallpox. Successes in the field of space physiology are well-known.

Since the sixties, studies in the field of physicochemical biology and biotechnology are being developed intensely. V.A.Engelgardt, A.A.Baev and others did much to learn the structure and functions of biologically active compounds; Yu.A.Ovchinnikiv, in studies on mechanics of functioning of biological membranes; A.L.Kursanov, in studies on substance transport in plants.

In this period, research into a theoretical basis for prospecting new sources of mineral resources and their exploration were given large-scale development. In all the regions of the country, new institutes were created with in the Academy framework, the world’s largest scientific fleet set up, wide-scale expeditions embracing not only the USSR territory, but also the World Ocean were carried out. A new system in the history of the Earth was discovered, outstanding results in studying the depths structure were obtained. Geological cartography became the most important direction of work. The created geological and special maps became a scientific basis for new most important geological discoveries.

The works of I.M.Gubkin, A.A.Trofimuk and their disciples supplied theoretical foundations for the discovery of major oil and natural gas provinces. V.I.Vernadsky, D.I.Shcherbakov and their disciples did much to create the world’s largest resource basis for nuclear industry. A.N.Zavaritsky discovered giant natural resources of iron ores in the Urals and in region of the Kursk magnetic anomaly; A.E.Fersman, the unique resources of apatites in the Kola Peninsula; V.S.Sobolev, diamonds in Siberia; V.A.Obruchev and Yu.A.Bilibin, gold in the northeast of the country; S.S.Smirnov, non-ferrous metals and rare earths. All this became a weighty contribution to the power of our homeland, In the field of earth sciences, well-known scientific schools were formed: in tectonics (N.S.Shatsky, A.V.peyve, V.V.Belousov); in paleontology and stratigraphy (V.V.Menner, B.S.Sokolov); in lithology and geochemistry of sediment accumulation (N.M.Strakhov, V.B.Ronov); in geochemistry of isotopes and geochronology (v>I>Vernadsky, A.P.Vinogradov, A.I.Tugarinov); in physiochemical petrology (D.S.Korzhinsky); in crystallography and mineralogy (N.V.Belov, A.G.Betekhtin, F.V.Chukhrov); in geophysics (G.A.Gambutsev, M.A.Sadovsky).

In the postwar period, a powerful experimental base was set up in the Academy, the world’s largest scientific fleet created, wide-scale experimental studies of the World Ocean were performed. Results obtained with the help of space facilities were used more and more in the earth sciences. In solving theoretical problems, the Moon, Venus and data on other solar system planets’ were taken into account.

The role of the Academy is particularly important in the field of outer space research and exploration.

The world’s first Earth satellite launched in 1957 and the flight of Juri Gagarin became possible thanks to the work of scientists headed by S.P.Korolyov, M.V.Keldysh, V.P.Barmin, A.F.Bogomolov, V.P.Glushko, V.I.Kuznetsov, N.A.Pilyugin, and others. The Academy’s scientific achievements in deepening our ideas about the terrestrial space, atudying the effect of the processes in space on the ionosphere and Earth atmosphere, as well as in the development of space became well-known. With the help of space exploration vehichles and equipment, pioneer studies of the Moon and the nearest planets of the Solar system, Venus above all, were carried out.

In economics studies, it is necessary first of al to note the creation of methods for drawing up a balance sheet as a basis for national economy planning by K.V.Ostronityanov, N.A.Voznesensky and V.S.Nemchinov. In studies on the problems of philosophy, of special interest is the development of natural history in the works of B.M.Fedrov, M.E.Omelyanovsky, and their school. Among the works on theoretical problems of the state and law, of special importance was the development o a scientific basis for the country’s legislation and legal reform. In the field of sociological and politological studies, an accent was made on the development of methods to study social processes.

Fundamental studies on the history of Russia were performed by N.M.Druzhinin, B.D.Grekov,Ye.V.Tarle, L.V.Cgerepnin, and others. Ye.M.Zhukv and other scientists carried out basic studies on the history of foreign countries. The works of native orientologistts I.Yu.Krachkovsky, I.A.Orbeli, V.M.Alekseev, N.I.Konrad and their colleagues, works of Slavonic scholars and ethnographers are well-known. The discovey by A.V.Artsikhovsky and V.L.Yanin of birchs bark letters in Novgorod and other towns, investigations by B.B.Piotrovsky of the ancient settlements in Transcaucasia, by S.P.Tolsov in Khoresm, by A.P.Okladnikov in the south of Siberia received a world recognition. The academic scientists discovered many new pages in the history of World War II.

Significant studies in the field of literature were performed by philologists. A lot of work on the studies of the languages of the peoples f Russia and the rest of the world was done by V.V.Vinogradov, L.V.Shcherva, and others.

©РАН 2018