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 Georgy Flerov

Born:   March 2, 1913
Deceased:   November 19, 1990

eminent physicist


Georgy Flerov, a famous Russian physicist and one of the fathers of Soviet atomic bomb, was born in Rostov-on-Don in 1913.

After finishing school in 1929, Flerov tried himself at various jobs, like technician, machine operator, and electrician. In two years Georgy Flerov moved to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and started working at “Krasny Putilovets” plant, a very large machine-producing and metallurgical enterprise. In 1933 education of the future physicist went on, and Flerov was sent to Leningrad Polytechnic Institute to continue training. Five years later, Georgy Flerov graduated from the physics and engineering faculty of the institute, headed by famous Abram Ioffe. The career went on, and Flerov found himself employed in the laboratory of Igor Kurchatov in Leningrad Physics and Technology Institute.

The year of 1939 was the first year, when Flerov and his colleague Rusinov tried to launch a chain reaction of uranium fission, but failed. However, the experiment helped researchers find out an important parameter of the reaction – the amount of secondary neutrons. In 1940 the scientist in cooperation with Konstantin Petrzhak discovered a new type of radioactive transformations – spontaneous nuclear fission of uranium.

Great Patriotic War was the reason the research had stopped for a while. Georgy Flerov joined volunteer corps, but then was called up for military service. While being in Voronezh, the scientist popped up into a library of local university and thumbed up several scientific magazines. To his surprise, magazines contained no papers on nuclear physics – that meant all works in that fields have been classified. The discovery stimulated Georgy Flerov to write a letter to Stalin, in which the scientist tried to convince the Soviet leader to resume nuclear research in the Soviet Union.

In 1943 Georgy Flerov was withdrawn from the war campaign and included into a group of scientists, who were creating Soviet nuclear weapon. The scientist has identified interaction cross-section of slow neutrons with various materials, and critical mass of uranium-235 and plutonium. In 1949 Georgy Flerov participated in tests of the first plutonium bomb in the Soviet Union and in the world. In 1951 the physicist has developed e technique and designed equipment for neutron and gamma-ray logging of oil wells.

Further research the scientist has conducted in Dubna in the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research, where created a laboratory of nuclear reactions and headed it. Since 1953 the researchers was involved in developing techniques for synthesis and acceleration of heavy multiply charged ions, as well as physical and chemical detection and isolation techniques for unknown products of nuclear reactions. In 1954 the Institute obtained a 150-centimeter cyclotron, where nitrogen atoms could have been accelerated, and in 1955 the Institute of Atomic Energy hosted a source of monoenergetic ionic beams of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen.

Since 1956 research fellows of the laboratory, headed by Flerov, have synthesized new transuranium elements with numbers from 102 to 107. Researchers of the lab have discovered a new type of nuclear isomerism – spontaneously fissile isomers, delayed (after beta-decay) nuclear fission, emission of delayed protons, and etc. In 1971 Georgy Flerov succeeded in accelerating xenon ions in a system of two cyclotrons. Together with studying synthesis of heavy nuclei during reactions of heavy ions, researchers kept searching for superheavy elements in natural conditions.

Georgy Flerov was a full member of Soviet Academy of Sciences and laureate of many prestigious contests and awards. The researcher died in Moscow in 1990.


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