A brilliant scientist and unsurpassed experimenter. Peter Leonidovich Kapitsa


“Life is an incomprehensible thing. I think that people will never be able to understand human destiny, especially as complex as mine. ”
P. L. Kapitsa

Petr Leonidovich Kapitsa was born in Kronstadt on July 9 1894, in the family of the tsarist general, military engineer Leonid Kapitsa. His mother, Olga Ieronymovna Stebnitskaya, worked as a philologist and wrote children's books, and her father, Peter's grandfather - Jerome Ivanovich Stebnitsky - was a famous military cartographer and surveyor, a general from Infantry. Also, the future scientist had a brother, named after his father Leonid.
In 1905, the eleven-year-old Kapitsa was assigned to the gymnasium, but a year later, due to problems with the Latin, he left it and continued his studies at the Kronstadt real school. Peter graduated with honors in 1912 year, after which he wished to enter the University of St. Petersburg. However, the “realists” were not taken there, and Kapitsa eventually ended up at the electromechanical department of the Polytechnic Institute. Abram Fedorovich Ioffe, an outstanding Russian scientist, was his physics teacher. He is rightly called the “father of Soviet physics”, at various times he was engaged in: Nobel Prize winner Nikolai Semenov, creator of the atomic bomb Igor Kurchatov, physicist and chemist Yuli Khariton, experimental physicist Alexander Leipunsky.

Already at the beginning of his training, Ioffe drew attention to Peter Leonidovich and attracted him to classes in his laboratory. During the summer holidays of 1914, Kapitsa went to Scotland to learn English. But in August, World War I broke out; Kapitsa managed to return home only in the middle of autumn. At the beginning of 1915, he volunteered to go to the front, where he worked as an ambulance driver, part of the medical and sanitary unit of the All-Russian Union of Cities. His work was not at all calm, the detachment often fell into shelling zones.
Demobilized in 1916, Peter Leonidovich returned to his home institution. Ioffe immediately attracted him to experimental work in the physical laboratory he headed, and also obliged to participate in his seminars - the first physical seminars in Russia. In the same year, the scientist married the daughter of a member of the Cadet Party, Nadezhda Kirillovna Chernosvitova. It is known that he even had to go to China for her, where she went with her parents. From this marriage, Kapitsa had two children - the son Jerome and the daughter Nadezhda.

Peter Leonidovich published his first works in 1916 year, being a third-year student. In September, 1919 he successfully defended his thesis and was left at the Polytechnic Institute as a teacher in the Faculty of Physics and Mechanics. In addition, at the invitation of Ioffe, since the autumn of 1918, he has been an employee of the X-ray and Radiological Institute, reorganized at the end of 1921 into the Physico-Technical Institute.

At this harsh time, Peter Leonidovich became close to his classmate Nikolai Semenov. In 1920, under the leadership of Abram Fedorovich, young scientists developed a unique method for measuring the magnetic moments of atoms in inhomogeneous magnetic fields. At that time, nobody learned about the works of Soviet physicists, and in 1921, the Germans Otto Stern and Walter Gerlach repeated a similar experiment. This famous and later classic experience remained in stories under the name of Stern-Gerlach.

In 1919, the father-in-law of Kapitsa was arrested by the Cheka and shot. And in the winter of 1919-1920, during a Spanish flu epidemic, a young scientist lost his wife, father, two-year-old son and newborn daughter in eighteen days. It is known that in those days Kapitsa wanted to commit suicide, but his comrades kept him from this act. Nevertheless, Peter Leonidovich could not become the same and return to normal life - he walked around the institute like a shadow. At the same time, Abram Fedorovich appealed to the Soviet authorities with a request to allow his students to go on an internship in leading British laboratories. The influential Russian writer Maxim Gorky intervened in those years, and as a result, Ioffe’s letter was signed.
In 1921, Kapitsa, as a representative of the Russian Academy, went to Western Europe in order to restore his former scientific contacts. For a long time, the Soviet scientist was not given permission to enter - Europe in every way was fenced off from the Bolshevik contagion. In the end, entry was allowed, and 22 May, a young scientist arrived in England. However, here he faced another problem - they did not want to let him go to the laboratory to Rutherford, where he was sent for an internship. Ernest Rutherford himself bluntly stated that his workers are engaged in science, and not in preparing the revolution, and Kapitsa has nothing to do here. All the persuasions of the Russian that he came to science for the sake of science had no effect on the British physicist of New Zealand origin. Then, according to one of the versions, Peter Leonidovich asked Rutherford the following question: “And what is the accuracy of your experiments?”. The Englishman, surprised, said that somewhere around ten percent, and then Kapitsa said the following phrase: "So, with the number of employees in your laboratory of thirty people, you will not notice me." Cursing, Rutherford agreed to take the "impudent Russian" for a trial period.

From a young age in Kapitsa in one person there was an engineer, a physicist and a master of "golden hands". The engineering acumen and experimental skill of the Russian scientist made Rutherford so strong an impression that he personally obtained special subsidies for his work. A year later, Peter Leonidovich became the favorite student of the “father” of nuclear physics, remaining as such until his death. Throughout their lives, two legendary scientists have maintained close human and scientific relationships, as evidenced by their numerous messages to each other.

The topic of Kapitsa’s doctoral thesis was “Methods for obtaining magnetic fields and the passage of alpha particles through matter”. At 1923, brilliantly defended her at Cambridge, he became a doctor of science, having achieved, by the way, the prestigious James Maxwell scholarship. And at 1924, the Russian genius was appointed deputy director of the Cavendish Laboratory for magnetic research. His scientific authority grew rapidly. Not praising Rutherford called Kapitsa an "experimenter from God." The scientist was often invited to his own British companies to advise them.

However, Pyotr Leonidovich paid the main attention to work in the Cavendish Laboratory. To study the processes of radioactive decay, he needed to form powerful magnetic fields. The experimental installation of Kapitsa yielded record magnetic fields for those years, surpassing all the previous ones by six thousand times. According to Landau, this made the Russian scientist a "magnetic world champion." The physicist himself liked to repeat: “A good engineer must be an artist by 25 percent. Machines cannot be designed, they need to be drawn. ”

In 1925, Peter Leonidovich became a member of the local Trinity College, in which many members of the royal family studied, and in 1929 he was elected as a full member of the Royal Society of London. His teacher Ioffe in 1929 put forward the candidacy of Kapitsa for corresponding members of the USSR Academy of Sciences, which was later supported by other Soviet scientists. Also in 1931, Kapitsa was elected a member of the French Physical Society. By this time, Peter Leonidovich developed warm and trusting relations with many outstanding scientists.

The situation in Cambridge radically changed the state and mood of Kapitsa. At first he plunged into scientific work, and then gradually returned to normal life. He studied English literature and history, bought land on Huntington Road and began to build a house there on his own project. Later, the scientist organized the so-called "Kapitsa Club" - seminars for the scientific community of the University of Cambridge, held once a week in the laboratory of Rutherford. At these meetings, various issues of the development of science, literature and art were discussed. These meetings quickly gained wild popularity in England, and were attended by the most eminent English persons. And virtually all the “whales” of world science — Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg, Paul Dirac, and many others — visited the discussion of the questions of physics.

In England, an unpleasant story happened to Kapitsa. The young scientist bought himself a motorcycle, which he drove at breakneck speed. Once he lost control, flew off a motorcycle, rolled into a ditch, and only miraculously survived. Nevertheless, he severely broke his right leg and walked with a cane until the end of his life.

Already in the mid-twenties, the experimental installations of two great scientists became crowded in one laboratory, and Ernest Rutherford convinced the British government to begin construction of a huge new complex for conducting physical experiments on ultrahigh magnetic fields. In November 1930, the Council of the Royal Society of Money, bequeathed by the industrialist and chemist Ludwig Mond, allocated fifteen thousand pounds for the construction of new research premises at Cambridge. The opening of the laboratory, dubbed Mondovskaya, was 3 February 1933. Former Prime Minister, University Chancellor Stanley Baldwin said: “We are pleased that Professor Kapitsa works as a laboratory director. We firmly believe that under his leadership she will make an enormous contribution to the comprehension of the processes of nature. ”

At the same time, Kapitsa's friends tried to arrange his personal life. However, the scientist himself categorically refused any serious relationship, continuing to demonstrate tremendous advances in science. However, one fine day in 1926, Alexey Nikolaevich Krylov, a famous Russian shipbuilder and mathematician, came to Cambridge. Along with him was his daughter, Anna Alekseevna, who lived with her mother in Paris. Anna Alekseevna herself recalled: “Petya put me in a car, and we drove through museums all over England. We were always on the road together and, generally speaking, I was waiting for some personal confessions from him .... Day passed by day, but nothing changed. Without saying anything personal, Petya came to the station to escort us. However, a day later he came to us in Paris, put me into a car again, and the endless shows of French sights began again. And I realized - NEVER this man will offer me to become his wife. I had to do it. And I did it ... ". All the people who knew Anna Alekseevna said that this was an outstanding woman. Her role in the life of Kapitsa is unique and indescribable, she never worked anywhere, and paid all attention to the scientist. Peter Leonidovich almost never parted with her and idolized until the last day of his life. They were married in the spring of 1927, they had two sons: Sergey and Andrey. Subsequently, both became famous scientists. Despite the fact that the children of Kapitsa were born in Cambridge, everyone spoke exclusively in Russian with their families. Sergey Kapitsa later wrote: “If mother started speaking in English, then my brother and I understood - now they will start to scold”.

For thirteen years of work in England, Peter Leonidovich remained a devoted patriot of his country. Thanks to his influence and support, many young Soviet scientists got a chance to visit foreign laboratories. In 1934, Kapitsa wrote: “Constantly communicating with various scientists in Europe and England, I can assist commanders abroad to work in various places, which otherwise would be difficult for them, since my assistance is based not on official connections, but on favors , mutual services and personal acquaintance with the leaders ”. Also, Peter Leonidovich in every possible way promoted the international exchange of experience in the scientific field. He was one of the editors of the International Monograph Series on Physics, published at Oxford University. It was from these monographs that the light learned about the scientific works of Soviet theoretical physicists Nikolai Semenov, Jacob Fraenkel and Georgy Gamow.

Kapitsa (left) and Semyonov (right). In the fall of 1921, Kapitsa appeared in the workshop of Boris Kustodiev and asked him why he was painting portraits of celebrities, and why should the artist not paint those who would become famous. Young scientists paid the artist for a portrait with a bag of millet and a rooster

The activities of physics in Cambridge did not go unnoticed. The leadership of our country was concerned about the fact that Kapitsa provides advice to European industrialists, and often also works on their orders. Repeatedly, officials appealed to a scientist with a request to stay in our country for permanent residence. Pyotr Leonidovich promised to consider such proposals, however he put out a number of conditions, the first of which was permission to go abroad. Because of this, the issue was constantly postponed.

Every year, Kapitsa returned to the USSR to visit his mother and comrades. At the end of the summer, the 1934 scientist returned to his homeland once again. Among other things, he was going to visit the city of Kharkov, since since May 1929 has been a consultant to the local Ukrainian Physical-Technical Institute, and also to take part in a major international congress dedicated to the centenary of the birth of Mendeleev. But on September 25 Peter Leonidovich was called from Leningrad to Moscow. There, the deputy director of heavy industry, Georgy Pyatakov, recommended that he once again consider a proposal to remain in the country. Kapitsa refused and was sent to a higher authority to Valery Mezhlauk, who was the chairman of the State Planning Commission. It was he who first told the scientist that he would now be obliged to work in the USSR, and his English visa would be canceled. Kapitsa was forced to settle in a communal apartment with her mother in Leningrad, and Anna Alekseevna, who came with him, returned to the children in Cambridge.

Thus began one of the most difficult periods in the life of a genius scientist. He was left alone, without his beloved work, without his laboratory, without family, without students, and even without Rutherford, to whom he was strongly attached and who always supported him. At one time, Kapitsa even seriously thought of changing the field of his research and switching to the biophysics of interest to him for a long time, namely the problem of muscular contractions. It is known that he addressed this question to his friend, the well-known physiologist Ivan Pavlov, and he promised to find him a job at his Institute of Physiology.
23 December 1934 Molotov signed a decree establishing the Institute for Physical Problems, which is part of the Academy of Sciences. The director of the new institute was offered to become Kapitsa. In the winter of 1935, Peter Leonidovich moved to Moscow and settled in the Metropol hotel, he was given a personal car. Construction of the first laboratory building began in May on the Sparrow Hills. From the very beginning, Kapitsa began to be helped by an outstanding Soviet experimental scientist, the future academician Alexander Shalnikov. That he had the honor to become the closest assistant to the legendary physicist for the rest of his life. Alexander Iosifovich said that the construction of the institute buildings took place in extremely difficult conditions, often with Kapitsa "they had to explain to builders that there is a right angle ..." And yet, thanks to the vigorous nature of Peter Leonidovich, they managed to build the institute in a record two years.

The critical problem of the new institution was the critical shortage of facilities and instruments for laboratories. Everything that Kapitsa was doing in England was unique, unfortunately, for the most part, impossible to manufacture our industry. In order to continue his advanced research in Moscow, Kapitsa was forced to inform the leadership of the country that he needed all the scientific instruments and installations he had developed in England. In the case of the impossibility of transporting the Mondov laboratory equipment to the USSR, the physicist insisted on the need to purchase duplicates of these rare devices.

A brilliant scientist and unsurpassed experimenter. Peter Leonidovich Kapitsa

The decision of the Politburo for the purchase of equipment in Kapitsa in August 1935 30 was allocated thousands of pounds. After difficult negotiations with Rutherford, the parties managed to reach an agreement, and in December 1935 arrived in Moscow with the first devices. Laboratory equipment Monda arrived until the very 1937 year. The case was constantly stalled due to the sluggishness of the officials involved in the supply, and Kapitsa needed to write more than one letter to the top leadership of the country. Also, two experienced British engineers arrived in Moscow to assist Kapitsa in installing and configuring instruments: a laboratory assistant Lauerman and a mechanic Pearson.

The harsh statements peculiar to the talented physicist, as well as the exceptional conditions that the authorities created for him, did not facilitate the establishment of contacts with colleagues from the academic environment. Kapitsa wrote: “The situation is oppressive. Interest in my work fell, many fellow scientists are indignant without embarrassment: "If we did it, we would have done the same thing, we still couldn’t do that Kapitsa." In 1935, the physics candidate was not even raised for consideration at the elections to the members of the Academy of Sciences. A couple of times Kapitsa took part in the meetings of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences, but then, in his own words, "was eliminated." All this led to the fact that in the organization of the work of the Institute of Physical Problems, the scientist relied mainly on his own strength.

At the beginning of 1936, the family of the scientist received permission to return to the USSR, and soon Anna Alekseevna with children joined him in the capital. Together with his relatives, Peter Leonidovich moved to live in a small cottage of several rooms located on the territory of the institute. And in the spring 1937, finally, construction was over. By this time, most of the apparatus of the scientist had already been transported and installed. All this gave Kapitsa the opportunity to return to active scientific work.

First of all, he continued research on superstrong magnetic fields, as well as the field of ultra-low temperature physics. These works took him several years. The scientist was able to find that in the 4,2-2,19 ° K temperature range, liquid helium exhibits the properties of an ordinary liquid, and when it is cooled to temperatures below 2,19 ° K, its characteristics show various anomalies, among which the main one is an amazing decrease in viscosity. The loss of viscosity allowed liquid helium to flow freely through the smallest holes and even climb the walls of the container, as if without falling under the influence of gravity. The scientist called this phenomenon superfluidity. In studies of 1937-1941 of Kapitsa, other anomalous phenomena occurring in liquid helium, such as an increase in its thermal conductivity, were discovered and examined. These experimental works of Kapitsa marked the beginning of the development of a whole new field of physics - quantum liquids. It should be noted that Lev Landau, whom Peter Leonidovich invited from Kharkov, helped in his studies on the properties of superfluid helium Kapitsa.

Along with the activities mentioned above, Kapitsa was engaged in the construction of plants for the liquefaction of various gases. Back in 1934, the scientist built a high-performance liquefaction apparatus designed for adiabatic gas cooling. He managed to exclude a number of key phases from the process, due to which the efficiency of the installation increased from 65 to 90 percent, and its price fell ten times. In 1938, he modernized the existing turbo-expander design, achieving extremely efficient air liquefaction. Compared to the world's best Linde German machines, Kapitsa turbo expanders had three times less losses. This was a fantastic breakthrough, from now on the production of liquid oxygen could be safely put on an industrial track. In turn, this revolutionized the steel industry and it would not be an exaggeration to note that during the war Soviet production of huge quantities of tanks it would be impossible without this discovery. By the way, Kapitsa did not stop there - he personally took up the implementation of his methodology and did not give up this business until the production started working. For this, in 1944, Pyotr Leonidovich was awarded the title Hero of Labor. His work caused heated debate among scientists, both in our country and abroad. January 24, 1939 Pyotr Leonidovich was admitted to the full members of the USSR Academy of Sciences.
In 1937, the famous seminars, the so-called “kapichniki”, which soon became all-Union famous, began at the Kapitsa Institute. Peter Leonidovich invited not only famous physicists, but also engineers, teachers, doctors, in general, any person who somehow showed himself. In addition to special physical problems, the seminar discussed issues of social thought, philosophy, and genetics. After the seminar, all the main participants were invited to Kapitsa's office for tea with sandwiches. The opportunity to speak frankly, the trusting atmosphere were characteristic features of the “club” of Kapitsa and played the most noticeable role in the development of Russian physics.

The specific features of Kapitsa, a citizen and a scientist, are absolute honesty combined with a complete lack of fear and a hard, like a stone, character. The return of Peter Leonidovich to his homeland coincided with the repressions conducted in the country. Kapitsa at that time already had a high enough authority to dare to defend their views. During the period from 1934 to 1983, a physicist who was never a member of the Communist Party wrote over three hundred letters to the Kremlin, fifty of which were addressed personally to Joseph Stalin, seventy-one to Vyacheslav Molotov, sixty-three to George Malenkov, twenty-six Nikita Khrushchev. In his letters and reports, Pyotr Leonidovich openly criticized decisions that he considered wrong, offered his own versions of academic systems and reforms of Soviet science. He lived in full accordance with the established rule: “In any circumstance, one can learn to be happy. Unhappy is only the one who entered into a deal with his conscience. ” Thanks to his work, outstanding physicists Vladimir Fok and Ivan Obreimov were saved from death in camps and prisons. When Lev Landau was arrested on 1938 on charges of espionage, Peter Leonidovich managed to secure his release, although for this the scientist had to threaten to resign as director of the institute. In the autumn of 1941, the scientist drew public attention by making a warning statement about the likelihood of future creation of an weapons. And in 1972, when the authorities of our country initiated a question to exclude Andrei Sakharov from the Academy of Sciences, only Kapitsa opposed this. He said: “A similar shameful precedent has already been once. In the 1933, the Nazis expelled Albert Einstein from the Berlin Academy of Sciences. ” In addition, Kapitsa always fiercely defended the position of scientific internationalism. In his letter to 7 to Molotov in May, 1935, he said: “I firmly believe that real science must be out of political passion and struggle, no matter how much they strive to entice it. I believe that the scientific work that I have been doing all my life is the property of all mankind. ”

After the war began, the Kapitsa Institute was evacuated to the city of Kazan. Sergey Kapitsa wrote: “During the evacuation, we spent two nights with our mother and father in the tunnels of the Kursk railway station - the very same ones from which passengers now leave on the platforms.” Upon arrival, the Institute of Physical Problems was located in the buildings of Kazan University. During the war years, the physicist worked on the introduction of oxygen plants created by him into industrial production. 8 May The 1943 Decree of the State Committee on Defense established the General Directorate for Oxygen, the head of which was appointed Kapitsa.

In August, the 1945 under the SNK of the USSR established a Special Atomic Committee, which was entrusted with leading the development of the atomic bomb. Peter Leonidovich was a member of this committee, however, this activity was his. In many ways, this was due to the fact that it was about the manufacture of "weapons of destruction and murder." Using the resulting conflict with Lawrence Beria, who led the atomic project, the eminent scientist asked Stalin to release him from his work on the committee. The result was long years of opals. In August, 1946 he was removed from his post as head of Glavkislogorod, and also expelled from the institute he created. Eight years old Kapitsa was deprived of the opportunity to communicate with friends and colleagues, was under house arrest. He turned his dacha on Nikolina Gora into a small laboratory in which he continued to engage in research work. He called it “hut-laboratory” and conducted there many unique experiments on hydrodynamics, mechanics and plasma physics. Here, for the first time, he turned to high-power electronics — a new direction of his activity, which became the first step in taming thermonuclear energy.

In 1947, the Faculty of Physics and Technology began working at Moscow State University (turned into the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in 1951), one of the organizers and founders of which was Kapitsa. At the same time, he himself was appointed head of the department of general physics and began to lecture students. However, at the end of 1949, the famous physicist refused to participate in ceremonial meetings in honor of Stalin's seventieth birthday. Such behavior did not go unnoticed, Kapitsa was immediately dismissed.

Rehabilitation of the scientist began after the death of the leader. The Presidium of the Academy of Sciences adopted a resolution “On Assistance to Academician Kapitsa in the Work Carried Out.” Peter Leonidovich was appointed head of the Physics Laboratory of the Academy of Sciences, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Theoretical and Experimental Physics, and in 1955 he was reinstated as director of the Institute for Physical Problems. With 1956, he also became head of the Department of Low-Temperature Techniques and Physics at MIPT, and with 1957 he was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences.

After Kapitsa returned to his institute, he was finally fully able to continue his studies. The scientific work of the physicist in the 50-60-s of the years covered a wide variety of areas, including the nature of ball lightning and the hydrodynamics of the thinnest layers of fluid. However, his main interests focused on the study of plasma properties and the design of high-power microwave generators. Later, his discoveries formed the basis for a program to develop a fusion reactor with constant plasma heating.

In addition to achievements in the scientific field, Peter Leonidovich proved to be a remarkable administrator and teacher. The Institute of Physical Problems under his strict guidance has become one of the most prestigious and most productive institutions of the Academy of Sciences, attracting many famous domestic physicists to its walls. The success of the organizational activities of Kapitsa was based on one simple principle: “To lead is to not interfere with the work of good people.” By the way, Kapitsa did not have direct students, but the entire scientific atmosphere created by him at the institute had a great educational value in preparing new generations of physicists. In this regard, all employees of this institution could be called his students. All the time that Petr Leonidovich was directing the institute, not a single experimental work done in it was sent to the press without his careful study. Kapitsa loved to repeat to his colleagues: “True patriotism is not in praising the homeland, but in working for its benefit, in correcting its mistakes.”

In the 1965 year, after a thirty-year break, Kapitsa was given permission to go abroad. He went to Denmark, where he visited leading scientific laboratories and gave a number of lectures. Here he was awarded the prestigious award of the Danish Engineering Society - N. Bohr medal. In 1966, Peter Leonidovich visited England and delivered a speech in front of the members of the Royal Society of London dedicated to the memory of Rutherford. And in 1969, Kapitsa, together with Anna Alekseevna, visited the United States for the first time.

17 October 1978 Swedish Academy of Sciences sent Peter Leonidovich a telegram in which she informed the physicist of the Nobel Prize for research in the field of low temperatures. To recognize the merits of the Russian scientist, the Nobel Committee took almost half a century. Kapitsa shared his award with Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias, who jointly made the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation. In general, for his life, Peter Leonidovich was awarded a lot of high awards and titles. It is worth noting only that he was an honorary doctor of 11 universities located on four continents, as well as the owner of six Orders of Lenin. He himself was calm about this, saying: “Why is fame and fame needed? Only in order to create conditions for work, to make it better to work, to make orders run faster. For the rest, fame only hinders. ”

In life, the great scientist was unpretentious, he loved to wear tweed suits and smoke a pipe. Tobacco and clothing were brought to him from England. At leisure, Kapitsa repaired antique watches and excellently played chess. According to contemporaries, he put a lot of emotion into the game and did not like losing at all. However, he did not like to lose in any case. The decision to take or abandon any task - public or scientific - was not a surge of emotions, but the result of in-depth analysis. If the physicist was convinced that the matter was hopeless, nothing could force him to take on him. The nature of the great scientist, again according to the memoirs of contemporaries, is best characterized by the Russian word "cool." He stated: "Excessive modesty is an even greater disadvantage than excess self-confidence." It was not always easy to talk with him, Kapitsa "always knew exactly what he wanted, he could immediately and without bluntness say no, but if he said yes, you could be sure that he would do that." Kapitsa supervised the Institute as he considered necessary. Disregarding the schemes imposed from above, he independently and fairly freely disposed of the institution’s budget. The story is known when, seeing the garbage in the territory, Peter Leonidovich dismissed two of the three institute janitors, and the rest began to pay a triple salary. Even in times of political repression in the country, Kapitsa maintained correspondence with leading foreign scholars. Several times they even came to the capital of Russia to visit his institute.

Being already in his declining years, the physicist, using his own authority, fiercely criticized the current tendency, in his opinion, in our country to pass decisions on scientific problems from an unscientific position. He also opposed the construction of a pulp and paper enterprise threatening to pollute Baikal, condemned the attempt to rehabilitate Joseph Stalin, which began in the middle of the 60s. Kapitsa participated in the Pugwash movement of scientists for disarmament, peace and international security, expressed suggestions on how to overcome the alienation between the American and Soviet sciences.

Day 22 March 1984 year, Peter Leonidovich, as usual, spent in his laboratory. At night, he suffered a stroke, he was taken to a hospital, where he, without regaining consciousness, died on April 8. Quite a bit Kapitsa did not live to his ninetieth birthday. They buried the legendary scientist at the Novodevichy cemetery.

According to the materials of the book V.V. Cheparukhina “Peter Leonidovich Kapitsa: the orbits of life” and the site http://biopeoples.ru.
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  1. +7
    10 July 2014 09: 48
    Thank you for the beautifully written article, which is close to me on the subject, like physics.
    1. +7
      10 July 2014 11: 32
      I join in the gratitude.
      The amazing fate of a talented person not only in science, but also in interpersonal relationships.
      Social adaptation in any society can be judged by an extraordinary fate.
  2. +2
    10 July 2014 10: 27
    we do not have immunity from cosmopolitanism. Why are there so many good Russian cosmopolitan scientists? despite the fact that their colleagues abroad proactively create projects and plans for a nuclear attack on Russia, including them. but they still want to be caressed by the western master.
    1. -3
      10 July 2014 10: 54
      Minus for РRussia!
      1. +2
        10 July 2014 11: 47
        the same thing, but from different sources. This is the humane Western scientists came up with. with whom we want to be friends and with whom they want to cooperate.
      2. +2
        10 July 2014 12: 00
        read it wrong. understood what you mean. minus the health, I always write only in small letters.
  3. +3
    10 July 2014 13: 34
    In Kronstadt Kapitsa a monument is installed, quite decent. In his youth he was there on business matters, stayed near the monument and thought about what he had lived through. He knew his son personally, sometimes met, including at ceremonial meetings. I have the honor.
  4. +4
    10 July 2014 18: 09
    "About how many wonderful discoveries we have, the SPIRIT prepares enlightenment, and experience is the son of difficult mistakes, and genius, friend paradoxes, and chance is God the inventor ... (obvious-incredible) favorite transmission in childhood ... hi
    1. +3
      17 July 2014 15: 58
      Quote: Andrey Yurievich
      (obvious-incredible) favorite show in childhood ...

      Also did not miss a single issue. True, the leader is the son of Peter Leonidovich.
  5. +1
    10 July 2014 23: 24
    . Unhappy is the only one who entered into a deal with his conscience. ”

    Golden words good
  6. 0
    11 July 2014 06: 42
    Thanks to Olga for the excellent article.
    In the 70s, while still a schoolboy, he was very fond of watching the TV show "Obvious-Incredible", which was hosted by the son of a great scientist and also a great scientist Sergei Kapitsa.
    It’s a pity that now there are no such programs on Russian TV.
  7. 0
    11 July 2014 07: 12
    What "GLYBY" were in our science, in our country! And now...
    1. +3
      17 July 2014 16: 01
      Quote: Kruglov
      What "GLYBY" were in our science, in our country! And now...

      So was the education based on the works of these SCIENTISTS. And there was a popularization of SCIENCE, and not scientific delirium. Now try to turn the thinking of some individuals who are confident in the existence of otherworldly forces, super-light speeds and other nonsense.

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