AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XXXII , No. 2, Fall 2000



Russian cartoonThis drawing in a book among those recently donated to the Niels Bohr Library tells the story of "Archimedes Birthday," an annual tradition at the Physics Department of Moscow State University. The practice started in 1960 when students at a Komsomol conference resolved to establish May 7th as the birthday of the great ancient physicist, and it continues today despite a temporary period of underground existence in the late Soviet years due to conflicts with administration. The tradition included a popular show on the stairs in front of the Department and an evening performance of an amateur opera on physics themes. The book includes the libretto and scores of the most famous of these operas, also called "Archimedes," which tells the story of a young ancient physicist choosing his calling despite the temptations of other available career paths symbolized, correspondingly, by Venus, Mars, Bacchus, and Apollo.

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