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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Igor Vasilievich Kurchatov

Igor Vasilievich KurchatovIgor Vasilievich Kurchatov was the founder of soviet nuclear physics. The extraordinary giftedness of Igor Vasilievich Kurchatov was noticed by a school mathematics teacher. He predicted for the young man a great future in the field of exact sciences.

Igor Vasilievich Kurchatov was born on January 12, 1903 in the town of Sime (Southern Urals) in the family of a forester and a rural teacher. His childhood and youth passed in the Crimea. The family was in poverty, so Igor, while studying at the Simferopol men's treasury gymnasium, graduated from evening art school, received the profession of a locksmith, and worked at the small mechanical factory Thyssen.

In 1920, after completing his studies at the gymnasium, Kurchatov entered the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics at the University of Taurida, which he completed ahead of schedule with excellent success in 1923. Since then, his life has been forever connected with physics. Until 1925 I.V. Kurchatov worked first at the Magnetometeorological Observatory in Pavlovsk near Petrograd, then at the Hydrometeorological Center in Feodosia, at the Department of Physics of the Azerbaijan Polytechnic Institute (Baku). From there he was invited to the Leningrad Institute of Physics and Technology, where he began his scientific activities under the guidance of Academician A.F. Joffe.

Until 1934, Igor Vasilievich studied dielectrics and semiconductors and, together with P.P. Kobeko discovered the phenomenon of ferroelectricity. For research in the physics of dielectrics, the 30-year-old Kurchatov was awarded the degree of Doctor of Physics and Mathematics in 1934 without defending a dissertation.

In parallel, I.V. Kurchatov studied the theory of the atomic nucleus. The results obtained in his department were world-class: they were led by a series of work with neutron sources, the discovery of nuclear isomerism and the observation (for the first time in the world) of spontaneous fission of uranium. The last work was carried out jointly with the young employees of G.N. Flerov and KA Petrzhak.

In 1935, his monograph “Splitting the Atomic Nucleus” and two textbooks for the physics departments of universities were published, and he was awarded the title of professor. Since 1937, Igor Vasilievich headed the cyclotron laboratory at the Radium Institute. “His” cyclotron became the most powerful neutron source in the USSR. In 1938, Kurchatov became a member of the Atomic Nuclear Commission under the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences. In 1939, under the leadership of I.V. Kurchatov began work on the construction of a cyclotron in LFTI.

Since 1933, Igor Vasilievich led the work of the organizing committees of All-Union conferences on the atomic nucleus, which were then widely held in the country. The conferences were attended by the most prominent physicists of the world: F. Joliot-Curie, R. Peierls, P. Dirac, V. Weisskopf and others. In 1940, I.V. Kurchatov made a report on fission of heavy nuclei at one of these conferences. At the same time, a plan for further research aimed at obtaining nuclear energy was drawn up in his department at LFTI.

During the Great Patriotic War I.V. Kurchatov gave his strength and experience to strengthening the country's defense, conducted practical work on the demagnetization of ships for the purpose of mine protection. The successful solution of the task was noted by the government in 1942 with the Stalin Prize, the first for Igor Vasilievich.

On September 28, 1942, the State Defense Committee recognized the need to resume work interrupted by the outbreak of war to investigate the possibility of mastering intranuclear energy. In the war years, this meant, first of all, the study of the possibility of creating a uranium bomb. Already in October 1942, I.V. was involved in these works. Kurchatov, and on February 11, 1943, a new order was issued by the State Defense Committee, by which Igor V. Kurchatov, forty-year-old professor of LFTI, was appointed scientific supervisor of the chain reaction of uranium fission (the “uranium problem”). In the future, until the end of life, I.V. Kurchatov was the permanent scientific leader of a large complex of work carried out in the Soviet Union,

In 1943, in Moscow, under the leadership of I.V. Kurchatov was organized by Laboratory No. 2 of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, which later grew up at the Institute of Atomic Energy named after I.V. Kurchatov.

In the same year, I.V. Kurchatov was elected a full member of the USSR Academy of Sciences.

During this period, he, relying on the pupils of the school of academician A.F. Ioffe , developed a wide front of work in various areas of the nuclear project: the separation of isotopes by diffusion and electromagnetic separation, heavy water reactors, etc. In 1944, I.V. Kurchatov attracted to work in the Laboratory number 2 YB Chariton , which in May 1945 appointed scientific director of the problem of creating an atomic bomb.

In August 1944, the construction of the cyclotron was completed at Laboratory No. 2.

In 1946, under the leadership of I.V. Kurchatov in Laboratory No. 2 assembled the first experimental nuclear reactor F-1 in Europe and Asia. During its construction, unique in purity graphite and metallic uranium, manufactured at Plant No. 12 in Elektrostal, were required. December 25, 1946 I.V. Kurchatov carried out the first chain reaction of uranium fission at the F-1 reactor, and on December 22, 1948 at the 817 (Base 10) plant, it launched a plant for the production of plutonium from uranium irradiated at the industrial reactor “A”.

In 1949, under his leadership, the first Russian atomic bomb, RDS-1, was tested, which meant the elimination of the US monopoly on the possession of nuclear weapons and their nuclear ambitions. I.V. Kurchatov was personally responsible for the development and testing of the first Soviet atomic bomb. The huge merits of I.V. Kurchatov in front of the country was then awarded the title of Hero of Socialist Labor and the second Stalin Prize.

In 1951, under the scientific supervision of I.V. Kurchatov tested two advanced atomic bombs RDS-2 and RDS-3, and Kurchatov receives the second star of the Hero of Socialist Labor and the third Stalin Prize.

He was one of the scientific leaders in the development of the RDS-6s hydrogen bomb, which was tested in August 1953. The design of the thermonuclear charge was based on the ideas proposed by A.D. Sakharov and VL Ginzburg . These tests were also directed by I.V. Kurchatov. The explosion of the hydrogen bomb proved the scientific and technological priority of Soviet science in the development of atomic energy. The great historical task facing Soviet science and technology was solved under the leadership of Kurchatov at a pace that surprised the whole world.

In 1954–1955 in KB-11, the first domestic two-stage thermonuclear charge RDS-37 was developed, successfully tested on November 22, 1955. This charge became the prototype of modern thermonuclear weapons. The research supervisor of the RDS-37 test was I.V. Kurchatov, who had to make extremely responsible decisions in the preparation and conduct of the test. For work on the creation of RDS-37 I.V. Kurchatov was awarded the Lenin Prize in 1957.

However, the goal and ideals of Igor Vasilievich always remained peaceful. “I deeply believe and firmly know,” he said, “that our people, our government, will only be given the good of humanity to the achievements of this science.”

Even before the end of military development, he sought to develop work on the peaceful use of atomic energy. At his suggestion, direct research in this area began in the late 1940s. Soviet scientists were tasked with designing and building a pilot industrial nuclear power plant to solve the scientific and technical problem of building larger industrial nuclear power plants. The scientific management of the work was carried out by the Institute of Atomic Energy.

In 1954, I.V. Kurchatov led the launch of the world's first nuclear power plant, which ushered in an era of peaceful use of nuclear energy. Since the mid-1950s, Kurchatov, together with his deputy at the Institute, academician A.P. AlexandrovHe led the development of a program for the development of nuclear energy in our country in the State Committee on the Use of Atomic Energy, which provided for the widespread use of atomic energy for energy, transport and other national economic purposes. Describing this program, Kurchatov wrote: “Great energy construction is being carried out in the Soviet Union. We have a variety of natural energy resources ... We will have enough resources available for the coming decades, but in the more distant future, atomic energy may turn out to be the practically inexhaustible and relatively cheap source that will provide an abundance of energy in the European part of the USSR. "

From the very beginning of the development of thermonuclear weapons I.V. Kurchatov also thought about the possibility of peaceful use of the energy of fusion of light nuclei. In 1950, a proposal was made to keep the hot plasma in a magnetic field and the fundamental principles of the design of a thermonuclear reactor were indicated. After making sure that success is possible, Kurchatov decisively proceeded to the organization of work on thermonuclear fusion at his institute. In 1956, he made speeches in England on the development of nuclear energy and the results of studies of the problem of controlled thermonuclear fusion in the USSR, which had historical significance for the development of international cooperation in the nuclear field. His report influenced the thermonuclear research program around the world.

I.V. Kurchatov was not only an outstanding scientist who created a school of experimenters in Soviet nuclear physics, but also the largest organizer of science of an unprecedented scale, leading the work on solving the atomic problem in the USSR. Not a single scientist had before him to lead such huge groups of people, and not a single scientist enjoyed such trust. Unusual personal charm, determination and complete dedication to the work literally infected everyone who worked with him. Under the influence of Kurchatov, a special work style has developed for scientists and nuclear engineers, which is now rightly called "Kurchatov" - a combination of simple human immediacy with the greatness of a purposeful and strong-willed scientist.

Igor Vasilievich spared no effort to disseminate nuclear knowledge and “nuclear culture” both domestically and abroad. Under his leadership, nuclear research centers were established in Tashkent, Tbilisi, Kiev, Alma-Ata, Minsk, Riga, Novosibirsk and other cities of our country. I.V. Kurchatov was one of the initiators of the foundation in 1956 of the largest scientific center in the socialist world - the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna.

I.V. Kurchatov supported the idea of V.I. Wexler in the field of accelerator technology and organized the construction of the world's most powerful synchrophasotron in Dubna at that time. With the participation of I.V. Kurchatov in 1954, it was decided to build high-energy accelerators in Kharkov, Gatchina and Protvino.

I.V. Kurchatov was repeatedly elected deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. The struggle for peace and nuclear disarmament was his relentless concern in the last years of his life. It is quite natural that the World Peace Council on April 20, 1959 awarded I.V. Kurchatov Silver Medal. Joliot Curie.

The government appreciated his exceptional merit, having awarded him the highest honors. I.V. Kurchatov - three times Hero of Socialist Labor, laureate of the Lenin and four Stalin Prizes. He was awarded five orders of Lenin and two orders of the Red Banner of Labor, medals "For the victory over Germany", "For the defense of Sevastopol", was awarded the Great Gold Medal to them. M.V. Lomonosov Gold Medal. L. Euler of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.

However, Igor Vasilievich continued to pay constant attention to his many years of duties as the scientific adviser of the Minsredmash. The sudden death due to a heart embolism by a blood clot on February 7, 1960 caught him in discussion with Yu.B. Hariton regular results of ground tests. He is buried near the Kremlin wall.

The whole life of Igor Vasilievich Kurchatov is the accomplishment of the scientist, citizen, in the name of happiness and prosperity of our Motherland, he is a vivid example for the living and future generations.

The name of Igor Vasilyevich was given to the Institute of Atomic Energy (now the Kurchatov Institute National Research Center), the Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant, the village where the Kursk NPP was built, the research vessel, the crater on the moon, the underwater ridge in the Indian Ocean, squares and streets in Moscow, Obninsk, Dubna, Sarov and other cities of the country. The city of testers at the Semipalatinsk test site is also named after Kurchatov.

The scientific achievements of Igor Vasilyevich Kurchatov are marked by the awarding of the Lenin and State Prizes, the conferment of the title of Hero of Socialist Labor, and the presentation of the Gold Medal of Peace named after Frederic Joliot-Curie. As a sign of the highest recognition of the scientist's merits, the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences established the Gold Medal and the Igor Kurchatov Prize. Kurchatov is the 104th element of the periodic system of Dmitry Mendeleev.

“In any business, it is important to determine priorities,” said Igor Vasilievich. “Otherwise, the secondary, although necessary, will take away all forces and will not allow reaching the main thing.”

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