AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XXVIII, No. 1, Spring 1996


Ukrainian Nuclear Physicists Interviewed

The ongoing changes in the various nations of the Former Soviet Union have stimulated work to recover the history of the political struggles and scientific contributions of their scientific communities. With access to Russian archives still limited (and in some cases now becoming more difficult), oral history interviewing has assumed increased importance. An outstanding example is work undertaken by a senior Ukrainian nuclear scientist to preserve a history that might otherwise have vanished beyond recovery.

Yurij Mykolayovych Ranyuk has completed a series of tape-recorded oral history interviews with senior nuclear physicists on the origin and development of nuclear physics in Ukraine. The subject matter runs from pioneering disintegration experiments done in 1932 through the first Soviet thermonuclear explosions, with special attention to the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, the secret laboratory N1 in Kharkiv (1946-1958), and the role of Ukrainian physicists in atomic bomb work.

Ranyuk graduated from the Physical-Mathematical Faculty of Kharkiv State University (then Soviet Union, now Ukraine) in 1958 and received his Ph.D. in 1967. He served as a researcher in the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, where since 1980 he has been the Chief of the Electron Scattering Research Laboratory. His research has centered on nuclear physics experiments with electron accelerators; he is the author or co-author of about 200 scientific publications in Russian, Ukrainian, European and American journals. From about 1988 he became interested in the history of science, particularly the prewar history of his own institute and of physics in Ukraine in general.

The scientists interviewed by Ranyuk (in Russian or Ukrainian) are: Alexander Akhiezer, Alexander Bakai, Boris Lasarev, Vladimir Tolok, Dmitrij Volkov. The interviews are untranscribed but provided with abstracts; copies are deposited in the AIP's Niels Bohr Library. Partial funding for this project was provided by the grant-in-aid program of the Endowment Fund of the Friends of the AIP Center for History of Physics.

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