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Oral History Transcript — Dr. Artjom Powsner and Lilia Morozovskia

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Interview with Dr. Artjom Powsner and Lilia Morozovskia
By Tanya Levin
In Moscow, Russia
January 19, 1999

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Artjom Powsner and Lilia Morozovski; January 19, 1999

ABSTRACT: In this interview, Artjom Powsner and Lilia Morozovskia discuss the International Geophysical Year. Topics discussed include: the Soviet National Committee for the International Geophysical Year; Vladimir Belousov; Ivan Pavlovich Bardin; Moscow State University; Valeria Alexavia Trotskiya; Aleksandr Khristoforovich Khrgian; Nikolay V. Pushkov; Sputnik; Anatoli A. Blagonravov; seismology; oceanography; women in science; International Council for Science (ICSU); Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR); Committee on Space Research (COSPAR); Operation Argus; Vladimir Grigor'evich Kort; Gleb Borisovich Udintsev; Soviet Geophysical Committee; Alla Massevitch; Lloyd Berkner.

Transcript

Session I | Session II

Levin:

My name is Tanya Levin, and this is an interview with Artjom Powsner. Do you have patronymic, a middle?

Morozovskia:

Mitrovich. His fatherís name was Dimitri.

Levin:

And for that reason itís Dimitrovich.

Morozovskia:

My name is Lilia, and my fatherís name is Leanida, so Iím Leanidanan, but you can call me Lilia.

Powsner:

And Artjom you can call me.

Levin:

This is an interview with Artjom. It is the 19th of January, 1999. And this being tape recorded in Moscow. And we are joined with Lilia, and what is your last name?

Morozovskia:

Morozovskia.

Levin:

And you also participated in IGY as an administrator?

Morozovskia:

Yes, I was from the start. There were two of us. A typist, you know, who types on a typewriter and myself. We were the first. And then the scientific secretary and that was Valeria Alexavia Trotskiya. She was the first scientific secretary of Geophysical Committee. And of course our president. Thatís Beloussov.

Powsner:

No, no, Bardun.

Morozovskia:

Oh, Bardun. Iím sorry. The Commission Bardun. That was bureau and the members of the bureau. None of them are alive now.

Levin:

I should also say that we are joined by Alexi, who is also helping in case of translation problems. Artjom, usually when we start an interview we talk a little bit about a personís early life. When were you born?

Powsner:

I was born in 13th of October, 1926.

Levin:

And where were you born?

Powsner:

Moscow.

Morozovskia:

Weíre both Moscowvites.

Levin:

When were you born Lilia?

Morozovskia:

19th of November 1935, in Moscow.

Levin:

And Artjom, what did your parents work at?

Powsner:

My father was the director of a school, of the Normal School. My mother worked at home.

Morozovskia:

Housewife.

Levin:

Did you go to the school that your father directed?

Powsner:

Yes, in the beginning.

Levin:

When you were little?

Powsner:

Yes, yes, little.

Levin:

After school did they teach science at all?

Powsner:

Of course. Thatís a standard program.

Levin:

Did they have you perform experiments?

Morozovskia:

Experiments with what? Physical experiments?

Powsner:

Physical. And I preferred also geography in school.

Levin:

Geography — interesting.

Powsner:

Physical geography.

Morozovskia:

At that time all schools were the same. Now we have specialized schools.

Levin:

What type of house did you grow up in? Did you live in an apartment? A dorm?

Powsner:

Apartment.

Levin:

And did the apartment have a library, or a lot of books?

Powsner:

In my home? Not very much. Not very many. Usually the libraries of our —

Morozovskia:

Your father had a large library?

Powsner:

Yes, yes. It was a library of course, but it was not a library of science books, but of belles lettres mainly.

Levin:

What books did you like to read as a child?

Powsner:

Iím not so famous a person, yes until I think that itís for so many details by Einstein or someone. So, now what books? Everything was interesting. I cannot remember. I am old person.

Levin:

Did you have any relatives who were scientists?

Powsner:

Relatives? No, many teachers.

Morozovskia:

Both of his aunts were teachers.

Powsner:

Yes, yes, mainly teachers.

Levin:

When did you become interested in studying science?

Powsner:

I was interested after the school. I had some interest, but I changed my interest. At the last I had interest just for the law. In general, yes, for military disciplines and sciences — law. And then I had to change my orientation. I got interest for the geophysics and Earth science in general. Especially of the planning of the big projects like IGY because I was involved in the IGY also. But the first time after gerodade [?] and of the institute, the first time I worked in Germany.

Levin:

In East Germany?

Powsner:

In East Germany mainly. I was also in West Germany. But I worked in Berlin.

Levin:

But this was after your early school?

Powsner:

After the institute. Because my first education, my first high school I graduated it was from foreign trade, for specialized for foreign trade.

Levin:

In high school?

Powsner:

High school, yes, my first high school. After this —

Morozovskia:

He studied law.

Powsner:

To graduate and out of the Moscow University. It was after my return from Germany I had to have some studies to learn in the Moscow University. Geographical faculty rank.

Morozovskia:

And he made his doctorís thesis there at the GeographicalÖ

Powsner:

Geography.

Levin:

Was your schooling interrupted by World War II?

Powsner:

No, I was evacuated from Moscow to the Ural. In the Ural we had a school [inaudible].

Morozovskia:

Sort of childrenísÖ

Alexi:

A place where children stayed all the day and night.

Morozovskia:

Yes. Not only all the day and night, but theyíve stayed there without their parents. Artjomís father was working at that time at a certain institution. I donít remember which.

Powsner:

Ministry.

Morozovskia:

Ministry, yes. And the Ministry had arranged that the children of the workers of this ministry would be evacuated from Moscow because Moscow was almost in the circle. So they were evacuated with teachers, and they have set this school in Ural. Whatís the name of the nearest town?

Powsner:

Bardun?

Morozovskia:

Bardun?

Powsner:

Nearby from Bardun to the Ural.

Morozovskia:

So they lived without seeing their parents because most of their fathers were in the army and mothers were in Moscow. Had to stay in Moscow.

Powsner:

Also evacuated to Kubash mainly or to others to middle Asia or central Asia.

Morozovskia:

But without their children because it was difficult to have schooling in different places if you were evacuated to other — telling you the history of the War. So it was aÖ

Powsner:

Two years.

Levin:

And you were able to continue studying in Ural?

Powsner:

Yes.

Morozovskia:

They had good teachers there. Really professional teachers. And of course they had stoves and they had to heat the houses of the school itself where they slept by themselves. So they did all the — carried the water to the kitchen.

Powsner:

Everything. Very primitive conditions there. In the winter about 40 degrees Celsius. Minus. But dry. Dry it is not so dangerous. I would suggest to ten or 20 degrees Celsius. Dry, then five degrees.

Morozovskia:

Like today. Very much like today.

Levin:

So after the War you returned to Moscow?

Powsner:

Yes.

Levin:

And you had finished school already?

Powsner:

Yes.

Levin:

So at this time you decided to go to Moscow University?

Powsner:

Not University. I observed this institute for the trade, for the foreign trade. I learned there very hard German language. It was interesting. And also law. I prepared also a work about German law, prepared also a paper about it and wanted to have a dissertation in the field of private law and trade law. And then I had to change my life to geography and geophysics.

Levin:

Why? Why did you have to change?

Powsner:

Not because I came back from Germany. I was four years there. I saw a lot of prospects for my development as a scientist in the field of law. See, I did want to work farther like I work in Germany, for example, or the Foreign Trade Ministry because itís what they did not distinct for me. But then I was invited to this committee of the IGY as an administrative person.

Levin:

Who invited you?

Powsner:

Mrs. Trotsky, Valeria Trotsky. She was the secretary of the Soviet National Committee for IGY.

Morozovskia:

Scientific secretary we call it.

Powsner:

Scientific secretary she was doctor to the [???] and so on. She is now in Australia. She married an Australian scientist, Dr. Cole, a very famous person. She also was the president of the Association of —

Morozovskia:

Not she, but he.

Powsner:

She was also.

Morozovskia:

President?

Powsner:

Yes, of the Association.

Levin:

Earlier?

Powsner:

Earlier. And then Cole was.

Morozovskia:

Oh.

Powsner:

Cole at that time was the president of the [???] for some time. From his point of view — he visited Moscow. She — both, they — visited Moscow in September of last year. And he let me meet her and discuss some problems.

Morozovskia:

Them.

Powsner:

Them. So Iíll speak with mistakes, okay?

Morozovskia:

I am very [???] mistake, not serious, butÖ

Powsner:

So, they —

Levin:

You were invited to IGY about 1955, or earlier?

Powsner:

The 5th of May of Ď55.

Morozovskia:

May Ď55.

Powsner:

In the beginning of the creating of this committee of IGY.

Levin:

How did you begin working on geophysics before 1955? Did you go back to school?

Powsner:

Nothing. I was not connected to geophysics. I worked in the committee, mainly administrative functions. I had to write some letters. I had to visit some institutions, some ministries, and so on and also to help in other problems also in the field of the law because we had some problems in IGY of judicial (?) characters. And then parallel with them, I worked, for example, in the day and in the evening. I dealt with the study of geophysics.

Levin:

Is that when you began your interest?

Powsner:

Yes, yes. I had some connection that extends to the university. My scientific supervisor was very famous person in our country. Especially [???] and also the history of the science, Professor Khrgian. How to write it in English is very difficult.

Morozovskia:

This is a [???].

Powsner:

No, no, no. Armenian.

Morozovskia:

Armenian, Iím sorry. Itís an Armenian. Of course he was not an Armenian — strictly Armenian.

Powsner:

He was chairman of the Physics of the Atmosphere.

Morozovskia:

Extremely talented.

Powsner:

And he helped me was official also my supervisor. About ten years I had to study at the institute to create a university ten years, and to become Doctor of Science.

Levin:

Under Khrgian. And so during the IGY was this formal study that you did with the university or was it informal? It was your own study as a doctorate student?

Powsner:

He was my supervisor.

Morozovskia:

He was his scientific leader for the doctorís thesis. He was aspiring to be a doctor, and there must be someone who would show him how to work and what to do.

Powsner:

Looked at all the articles, which was published by me.

Morozovskia:

This is the usual procedure in our country. I donít know how in the U.S.A., but everyone who wants to be a candidate or a doctor must have someone.

Levin:

I was just confused as to when you started taking classes. When you started study at the university. Was it Moscow State University? When did youÖ?

Alexi:

He started the post graduate study in 1962.

Levin:

Thank you. After IGY?

Alexi:

After graduation from Moscow University. There were two stages. At first the Institute for Trade. Then as a student in the Moscow University. And then as a post-graduate also the Moscow University.

Levin:

Okay. And as a student in the Moscow State University, you were taking classes at night while you worked on IGY during the day? Is that right?

Morozovskia:

Um hmm [yes], thatís right. Of course, he had to study as an extern.

Levin:

External student, right. That is interesting. You were working on the political problems of IGY. What particularly were you working on?

Powsner:

You mean the program? It was a problem to invoke all the observation network including also expedition, not only stations of the [???]. Was this very big territory?

Morozovskia:

A single program.

Powsner:

Yes, to invoke. In the [???] network to include this that we could work in the same methods in order to get the comparable information, comparable data from the whole world. And this part of the world was long time practically excluded from the development of the world network of the —

Morozovskia:

Of the rest.

Powsner:

Yes, of the rest.

Levin:

Why?

Powsner:

Why? For political reasons, and it was very interesting how this progress was well decided because you have network, for example, in metallurgy or in geometry or in seismology or in [???], and so on. How to include it? We have [???] other equipment, in general old, or not too old, but good. But we have to get the comparable results of the whole world. It seems to me it was a first difficulty. The main difficulty. How to decide this problem, to build new stations, for example, in the places, in the cities where we had no observations, for example. To organize new expeditions, like to Antaxis [?] or in the world oceans. For example, in the beginning of IGY, you have only three oceanographic ships. During the IGY we could use about twenty ships because we could invite the other ships and other fishers and also military also. And they worked for the IGY.

Levin:

Wonderful.

Powsner:

And then it is also, we could make this geographic distribution of observations. To bring it to the other stages, on the higher stage.

Levin:

Who decided the standards that the whole world had to agree on?

Powsner:

Who decides how to make it for instance?

Morozovskia:

At the International Meeting.

Powsner:

No, we had a committee; it was a community and representatives of different institutes and ministries and so on — mainly scientists — also administrative people.

Levin:

Just in Russia?

Powsner:

Here in Moscow. It was the National Geophysical committee. Excuse me, that is later. But now we had another name. Soviet Committee for IGY.

Levin:

And you were on this committee?

Powsner:

Yes.

Levin:

Then once the Soviet committee decided what they wanted to do, did they take their proposal to the International Meeting?

Powsner:

Yes, but not only this committee, but we have twelve working groups from the specialists and representatives of the institutions which had money. This was the structure, so we want to combine the possibility of the scientists and their representatives, for example, ministers of universities and so on, people who decide how to spend money and from where to take them. Then these people and each working group —

Levin:

Was it hard for them to be convinced that they should pay for IGY? That they needed a lot of money to do this?

Powsner:

Yes, yes. And it was the beauty of the ministries, of different administrative bodies.

Levin:

How did they decide finally to —?

Powsner:

How did they decide? The position of our committee had foreseen Ö [switch tape]Ö must be started from the ministry, from finance, organizations who had money and so on. It was so from the government. This committee was organized by the Academy of Science, but this committee has very good power.

Morozovskia:

Influence.

Powsner:

Influence or power, maybe also. Because they could say nobody wanted to organize expedition to Antax [?] for example. It was not necessary for also the chief of the High Meteorological Service was against this [???]. And we must to brief him.

Levin:

How did you do that?

Powsner:

Through government and so on. Of course we had an active person in our staff.

Levin:

And the government was interested in Antarctica?

Powsner:

In general, not. But we showed them that this is very important because in the beginning not, but after this.

Levin:

How did you show them it was important?

Morozovskia:

I suppose, Artjom, I think that the most powerful argument was that the Americans are going to make bases in Antarctica. Australia —

Powsner:

Yes, also competition. Itís also competition among the countries, yes? If you say that American or other countries want to organize something and we have not or we have very bad devices, we had to buy new devices for our station for example. Itís a shame, yes?

Levin:

I know that in America the way that the scientists convinced their government to do Antarctica was they told them that it was important for the military to be able to understand that area.

Powsner:

Yes, but not only. I know the opinion of American scientists who began this work. It is only an impression, because America has invited and worked in these researches many army and power forces. Air forces. Because of aviation and so on. It does not [???]. But they work it from the quite seal [?] purposes. But if you show, for example, the pictures of that time, the pictures of the American station, for example, in the South Pole. So you see these American forces army, but everybody —

Morozovskia:

[In Russian] navy.

Powsner:

Navy. [In Russian] Aviation. Air Force, Air Force, fine. But it was only so that they had no other possibility. But our expeditions, we tried to organize on a seal basis. But their purposes were the same — the program of IGY.

Levin:

Did anyone say anything that the Americans are sending their military there? Were they concerned about that or did they make any mention of that?

Powsner:

Yeah, it is important. No, no this argument was false. It is not so. But I heard about this argument. I heard, but it is not because we knew very well. Donít forget that each year, or more than a year, we had these international conferences in different places of the world. And in these conferences our scientists met the American scientists, and knew practically everything about the American plans and the same was from our side.

Morozovskia:

They trusted each other.

Powsner:

This trust, and ghost of the trust was a very important element of IGY.

Morozovskia:

May I add a few words? Everybody was very enthusiastic, everybody. No matter how small a country, but always representatives were at an IGY conference. Always somebody is writing from all over the world. I think that IGY — of course Iím a patriot of IGY — but I think that IGY somehow broke this War between Russia and the Western world. Well, at least it made a great — how do you call it? Breakthrough. Because scientists have shown that we can trust each other. At least when it means our health, the health of our children, the health of our planet and so on.

Levin:

There is this trust between the scientists, but was there also a trust between the governments at this time? And was it always a free communication between the scientists?

Powsner:

Yes. We had good communications between scientists. And also in many publications I met this fact that the cooperation between scientists in framework of IGY program had quite different influence of the political relationship or confrontation, maybe. A positive influence because we joke — a sort of play that we wanted to have that our relationship on the scientific level are more important than on the level of politics, politicians, or governments. For example, we had our dissertation that we have to choose between. One variant that this task will be made on the government level, or on the academic level. We preferred that the field must be done on the academic level because we had more freedom in this case. If you have an agreement between countries — there was about 60 countries, itís impossible to have some agreement, to prepare this agreement, they will lose a lot of time for this purpose. You need three or five years to prepare all the documents and agree with everybody. In this case we didn't want that. You canít in framework of this multi-lateral cooperation to have some bilateral agreements between — also on the level of the governorís level. It was not necessary, because if you have to change one letter or one paragraph or one number in the agreement on the government level, you have so much to write and so on, form the article, conversations. It could be only [???].

Morozovskia:

Like a brick.

Powsner:

And so the mechanisms are very interesting IGY. If some governments, they have some very good agreements and so on, it is not very important. Itís more important how the system will handle the level of the people who practically work.

Levin:

So the scientists handled most of the questions?

Powsner:

Yes, yes. Not — informal also. IGY was on a non-governmental level.

Morozovskia:

Thatís why I think it was a success.

Levin:

So did the scientists, when they chose to make the agreements, how did they come to a consensus among themselves? And did they have to get some sort of support? Did they have to say to the government, ďWell we decide this. Can we do it?Ē Or did they not need permission?

Powsner:

It depends. If it was for — but not each one.

Levin:

It depends what?

Powsner:

It depends from this which problem it was. For example, if the problem was defense, depended on the money or new devices or new techniques, if you have to buy something from abroad and so on, in this case our people, our scientists had to ask, not for example, Ministry for the Trade and so on but not a high level. In general the freedom had a very good — was very good.

Levin:

So that was in general how it worked. What about for specific problems such as the question of who would represent China? There was a question of two Chinas and two Germanys. How was that worked out? How did Russia feel about that problem? The scientists and the government?

Powsner:

I can tell you about Germany, for example. But China we did it to get some positive results because Thailand was represented. And this big territory of China on which the IGY was more interested than Thailand, itís clear. But this was very political, and it seems to me we had no much success in China problem. In Germany it was also difficult, but I participate in this problem, was very active. And we and America also together, an American scientist suggested that this is not important. It was important to know that it was not procedure to accept —

Morozovskia:

Accept countries into the IGY.

Powsner:

Each country who was wanted to work.

Morozovskia:

There were no very difficult procedures.

Powsner:

If a country wanted to work, to be a participant of IGY, it must say only about it, distribute some information that they will have some real observations, stations, programs, and so on, with the principles of the IGY.

Levin:

Do you remember which Americans did that?

Powsner:

Yes. We and Americans decided; and then this principle of the participation together with America. It was agreed with America also that participation of the country depends not from the problem of somebody, of some organization. Not. Each country can't say, ďI [???] here.Ē This hearings procedure. Thereís not membership like, for example, in —

Morozovskia:

U.N.

Powsner:

No, just not member procedure. A hearings procedure. But in this case we had difficulties with China, yeah, with Germany. With Germany it was so. I knew a lot of people also in the first years from East Germany, scientists also. And some people also from West Germany. We met here in the Geophysical Committee and we drank very long, very good. We had some alcohol, quite enough, in order to decide this problem. It was the first stage or level of the scientists. German, West and East, were agreed to work together. Here in Moscow in hotels mainly or at home and so on. Because here, not especially for this problem, scientific working groups. And it was quite — we fought about the limitation — West Germany, what they will say to their people and East Germany what it is possible to say to their government. Both positions must be acceptable for both sides. But if we had enough vodka we could refine these positions, and the main principle was that we organize these regions, you had to solve each European region of IGY. And the same also in America for the North American Region, you had also Asia regions, regional conferences. We had also a regional secretary from our country. Professor Boulanger. He was leader of this region. He was regional secretary I appointed from the AGI, from the main committee of IGY. They appointed this regional. This regional secretary was very obliged to bring all the countries which were included in this region into IGY. For example, we had the same procedure with Mongolia. We had difficulties. They have very poor network and so on. But we could —

Morozovskia:

They could reach agreement and no longer —

Powsner:

They built some new stations and so on in Mongolia.

Levin:

With the help of Russia or by themselves?

Powsner:

No, with the help of our country. But in general they had to make something. The same with Germany. The German democratic republic was very active member or participant of the IGY. Very good.

Morozovskia:

And federal.

Powsner:

Federal yes, but it was another region. And this regional secretary state discussed this problem also about the participation of those countries, of East Germany and West Germany. But it was a problem decided on the vodka level. Yes?

Levin:

How come this did not work with Red China?

Powsner:

This principle of that hearing, of the free hearing for the participants of IGY, wasnít a bad rule in the Chinas, because Taiwan did both. China and Taiwan said that [???] in this country is China. Yes? It was hesitation that each was so.

Levin:

And they could not work together? Like Germany.

Powsner:

They could not. Because the people from the Far Eastern, they consumed very few vodka. For them it was this way not possible. But in general there was the influence of the political people more than here. From this point of view we were both interested in the technical and scientific point of view to participate in the Germanys. But there in China, the big China, the False Republic of China, requested from the central organization of our IGY that it must be brought to refusal, that Taiwan refused this participation. But it was impossible. If you invite everybody to take part in these observations and general scientific works, and somebody said also, ďI want to be there,Ē and you kind of bring him to refusal, you kind of ask him to refuse.

Levin:

Why was Taiwan interested in IGY do you think? They didnít have the scientists that large China had.

Powsner:

Yes of course, but in general no. They have also yes. Now they have many good scientists.

Levin:

But back then?

Powsner:

Then? Then also. Taiwan. I saw a little island, but in general it was not so little because very many people were in immigration from the big China. They wanted to work and have more freedom and so on — The reason why Taiwan was also interested. But if youíll speak about this problem, for us, for all the participants of IGY, it was the central organizations, it was very important optimal geographic distribution of operation. And unfortunately Taiwan was not very interesting from this point of view. But we could have said to them, yes, ďYou are not interested.Ē We could have said this. How about we work together? They could not work. I know that Prof. Pushkov was the Deputy Chairman of our national committee on IGY. He wrote private letters to China's participants, and Chinaís participants, they participated on the regional conferences. And he has spoken with them and wrote them letters about his problems. That maybe they will build one Chinese national committee. Well, Taiwan went onto continental China. Thatís was Pushkovís suggestions.

Levin:

Did he write to the government of these countries or to the scientists?

Powsner:

Scientists, all the scientists of the lab.

Levin:

Pushkov, was he a professor of?

Powsner:

Professor Pushkov was Director of the Institute of GeomitismÖ [switch tape] Övery clever person and self-made man. He was very sincere. He wrote to them these letters. The hesitation in big China was so that if they become this letters from Pushkov, they brought them to the government or to the party, yes? And then they make of our governmental or level, the Chinese government wrote to our government that this Pushkov tries to convince the Chinese scientist for forbidden actions. He has not very great, but he had some difficulties here.

Levin:

Here with the Russian government? What happened to him?

Powsner:

Yes, Pushkov. Nothing happened, but he was reprimanded.

Levin:

Did you hear as well about the problems between Argentina and Chile and England and Antarctica? They were each claiming territory that the other said was theirs.

Powsner:

Yes because Argentina declared Antaxis [?] as a part of his country. Now [???] Russia, we have this arctic sector yes? We declared this, but itís not interesting for me. Maybe it is interesting for the shelf and so on research, exploration, and the scientistís explorations but from this point, from political point. Not only in England. It was not — another conflict between England and Argentina. Antaxis was a conflict in July Ď55. It was at a Antaxis conference in Paris. And they used a geographical map. Well, this Argentinaís limits [???] was not given, was not marked. Argentina was very angry at Beloussov, the first deputy of the chairman of our committee, Professor Beloussov. He suggested that his map will be not an official map. Only geography based. And they could — I know only this.

Levin:

So only a physical map of the region rather than political boundaries?

Powsner:

Yes, but it was a physical map. But Argentina made this [???] on the physical maps. Not good maps in general. I saw this map after maybe — these scientists didnít understand the dangers of this problem. They lost two days for this argument. And only if they fix it in the protocol this problem will be nothing published, and also the IGY that nothing could [???] nothing. As for [???] two days [???], this conference was maybe only seven days. And two lost.

Levin:

What about Sputnik? Where were you when it went up? Were you in Moscow when Sputnik was launched?

Powsner:

Moscow. I was in Moscow. I was responsible for all these letters for the answering of the many letters, which we got here. Maybe we answered only half of them.

Levin:

About how many did you get?

Powsner:

Thousands.

Levin:

Thousands. From all over the world.

Powsner:

Thousands. This was different. It was sort of our delegation was to the same time for October of Ď57 in Russia in Washington. It was a working group for satellites and rockets.

Levin:

How appropriate.

Powsner:

Yes. And nobody knew that Sputnik will be launched at this time. And our chief of the delegation, Professor Blagonzaivov, was our much known specialist for the rocket artillery and so on. He did know it. And the American scientists came to him, this working group, and ďWhat just happened?Ē I didnít know it. It was very top secret in our country. The date. Because they are afraid that maybe we are not launch or something will happen bad. It was very bad for the science because if you know before you can prepare your network. Yes but with delay we have organized — not only we. I mean the IGY people and American, all the companies. We helped organize this quite new network, mainly in astrological observatories, but also in other places. Observation of this Sputnik, yes? Of the orbit. So we had, it seems to me, 40 stations of that kind.

Levin:

Were you involved in some of the difficulties of the laws that had to be created to deal with these new satellites because now you have something that was passing over another nationís territory? It was over-flying it.

Powsner:

Yes, yes. It is a very good question. I visited our foreign ministry about it because they called me and asked me. I was deputy secretary of our committee at that time. After this, in the end of this period there were scientific secretaries. But they called me and say, ďSomebody wants to launch satellite, and what do you think?Ē Whether the status of the non-governmental organization of IGY is enough that we get not some troubles and maybe they will shoot and solve somebody?

Levin:

We will shoot at it?

Powsner:

Whatís the problem? Whether I was maybe was [???] to repeat it. Whether itís this status of non-governmental organization like Saghee [?], like IGY participants is enough that everybody will agree the satellites will fly about the territory of this country because it is confidence of the government if you fly through. If you want to fly through the territory with aircraft, with airplane, so you must ask this country because they have some services who [???]. In this case I have been, not because I — because at that time I am a specialist for the law. I understand something not only in geophysics. The geophysics of that time, I understand quite little. And then I saw that maybe they will inform UNO (United Nations Organization) to this organization will the problem of IGY, will descend the problem IGY and not only satellites, also balloons, and so on but organization where UNO, said — it was also everything in the five seven. They answered us from the stuff, which is good, but all this can be done for the scientific purposes. But you must tell about precisely of the period of the beginning of this flight. But our country didnít do it. But everybody was so happy that they have these instruments for the science and so on that nobody noted this fault. But with balloons we had difficulties. For example, the balloons for the cosmic rays measurements for the upper atmosphere measurements of different for the geomagnetic service also. It was very interesting for the Dopson measurements in the ozone. And so on. We have these balloons and these balloons came to some countries and this direction was strange. But if we, or somebody who launches balloons, informed this country that this is IGY, this was okay. IGY was very popular.

Levin:

About seismology, I hear that in the Far East — we just came from an interview, and they were developing new methods of using seismic instruments to tell about Earthquakes and also large explosions. Was there talk at this time about using the seismic instruments to record atomic explosions?

Powsner:

No, no, it was not connected at that time. In any case, no. In general to seismology. Seismology is an additional discipline. In the previous plane of IGY you had no seismology and no [???]. Because this is solid Earth. IGY had a main purpose to study interaction of different Earth hills and processes in different areas and different — From this point of view it was the suggestion of our committee and Beloussov that seismology must be for the future compartment because this connections also now is very doubtful between the seismology and for example atmosphere of solar activity and so on. But for the future epics, if you compare IGY with the future maybe you can note something, observe some interesting facts about this relationship. And from this point of view itís not political. Itís just not.

Levin:

Was there any problems with classification of data? For instance, when Russia was working in her territory or say the U.S. in theirs with sensitive areas and political national security, was there any trouble trying to get people to publish their data?

Powsner:

No. We had some difficulties using graded [?] data for two reasons. Now for military reasons mainly. More importantly it was connected with oil and other things, yes and with commercial secrets. From this point of view, for example, America had no secrets of [???] and we had secrets in our country, but in many [???]. And then — but in general this is all interesting. For example, before the IGY appeared all the data, which was connected for example with upper atmosphere was a secret in our country but especially for IGY. We were fighting for this with corresponding institutions.

Levin:

With scientists in other —

Powsner:

Yeah, yeah. They could prove that it was necessary for the science. And in general we had no difficulties. Only — or not. Iíll say nuclear radiation maybe we had difficulties because nuclear radiation from there comes the danger of nuclear radiation if you have an atomic bomb, for example, in our country. Fortunately we had also at that time our surface, explosions of the Earthís surface. And then came other [???] in the eastern direction. And Japanese were not very happy with this situation. And our people we had during one assembly of IGY in Ď58 in July. We had an assembly here in the university. Suddenly the Japanese said in some report, in some paper that the main influence is from the Russian for the Japanese from the Russian explosions. Not from the American who make this. And it was a very good scandal, and our people wanted some. But it is so. The measurements belong to the Japanese only. Chinese didn't participate in IGY if also they would not help the Japanese to that time. It was too little realm [?] of observations. It was a position.

Levin:

It was the position of Russia?

Powsner:

Not only Russia. Russia — also many people understand this. But in general Iím sure that Japanese could not speak wrong, lie. They wouldnít have. Because you can compare these other measurements to the time they are published. But it was published and so — Not precisely. Americans had these explosions, higher explosions, and 400 kilometers.

Levin:

In the atmosphere.

Powsner:

The atmosphere. Dr. Trotskiya elaborated a method of fixation of the precise time of this. And after this it was one of the reasons why this high atmospheric nuclear explosion was forbidden. Today, in the morning I have spoken only German.

Levin:

Interesting. So did Soviets send a delegation for the committee of nuclear radiation, or did they just decline?

Powsner:

No, no. Decline. This working group had no representative from our country. But this was wrong. The people in this Ministry for the Nuclear obtained permissions. They said they had very influence. Academy could not do with them what they say, ďNo, Iím not interested to publish at the time of our explosions.Ē

Levin:

Was it also part of that committee throughout the world, except Russia, to look at the level of radiation that people throughout the world were being exposed to? Was it part of the work of the Committee of Nuclear Radiation to determine how much the people throughout the world were being exposed to?

Alexi:

This is another topic. This is not the IGY. This is the Magatan.

Powsner:

This is quite another thing. Itís not connected. But it was organized later than the IGY. It may be also as a result of IGY as a result of this activity in the working group nuclear radiation. But it has come out after some years.

Levin:

Another problem I thought might have come up from receiving this data all around the world, what happened if a country sent in data that seemed suspicious? Did you ever get data from say the Third World, Latin American or Africa, that didnít seem correct?

Powsner:

So that time we have got from this data — you know you have the system of both centers yes? The American and USSR. Also we had a system of the specialized centers. It was for disciplines. Just a, b, and c. And all these centers got this data also from the countries of the Third World. But what was very important, to me was a very important note, that on the beginning of the IGY the most of the stations in Africa, for example, or in South America, belonged to the big countries from the first world, yes? Because just in fact. This process that after the IGY we had difficulty with. But in general in the first world we had very few stations. Also organized by station, which were organized from England to Germany and so on. Americans mainly. But after if they become independent they have lost the station. They have no money, no interest, only for VELA project after IGY. VELA was a project as it was a seismological project of America for the observation of the nuclear explosions and developed the automatic stations. But it was late. In general we had pretty limited number of stations with these countries. But they worked good.

Levin:

They worked well. Did Russia send advisors to these countries or equipment to them? To Africa or to Latin America?

Powsner:

Yes, yes.

Levin:

They did?

Powsner:

Yes.

Levin:

You said that after independence the Third World countries lost interest in the centers and then of course the people from outside cannot enter those countries easily. That was mostly Africa. What about Latin America? They had scientists there then who were working.

Powsner:

In Africa it may be more precisely. They had not lost interest. I said only after IGY the situation changed because the states of Africa became independent. And new independent countries, states had no wish or money to support these observations. But in South America you have enough of IGY. It is written there. I am sure that you can find something. I know this very good representative, for example, in my memory felt — that for example a lot of the geometric measurements were done during this time during IGY. Itís not immediately connected with the IGY program, but interesting it was progressing in South America and radiation stations. It is radiation stations that geomagnetic gradiations [?]. It is not so geomagnetic observatories they have all three continents to measure and so on, but it is only radiation, yes? Itís a simple device and they have a lot of this simple device, and from this point of view it is really important because it is equator and south of the equator.

Powsner:

And the Western Hemisphere. It was interesting. And then they have very good observations in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro and nearby from this. Itís just also not here. Itís more about Soviet. Maybe I can find something for you now. Maybe during IGY, four or five meridians, international meridians of the stations, which could go through this meridian. They sent the data that they have some measurements and special problems. And these countries are recommended, these countries which have territorials in these meridians to build these new stations or have some new measurements in this line like this meridian from pole to pole.

Levin:

Why is that one particular meridian?

Powsner:

Itís interesting because you see here the residual effect from the geophysical events. Perhaps some differences between equators for example, of a pole. You can see this process better if you have this meridian. You have concentrated measurements of observations along this meridian.

Morozovskia:

I think itís to see better the effect of not only the meridian, the effect of latitude.

Powsner:

Latitude effects.

Morozovskia:

You see the latitude, high latitude on the same meridian. High latitude — now how is the turbulence here? At the same moment how is the turbulence in the equator? And on other latitudes on this meridian.

Powsner:

America has so meridian. In USA where the observation — where the networks have good geographic distribution it was not so important. But in this country of South America and Central America it was important to build new observation. The main observation was built, was organized, with help from American institutes and the universities and from this point of view. But it was [???].

Levin:

They remained at the disposal of these countries?

Powsner:

Yes.

Levin:

Was Russia concerned about that? Did they want to somehow send their own equipment so that perhaps they would have some influence in that region as well?

Powsner:

No because it was against the spirit of the IGY.

Levin:

And yet?

Powsner:

Disorganized. If you can help it. We helped [???] to Vietnam. We organized a station in Vietnam. In Mongolia I said about it. Then we helped organize some expeditions in Africa. Metallurgic [?] expedition later, and also to this time. And so on. We have other trouble.

Morozovskia:

The stations were organized and the equipment was carried to the station, and then when —

Powsner:

Beliroski [?] is a political compliment in IGY. Must be very, very careful. Because the basis of this problem of the enterprise of IGY, the base was the spirit of the help. With the result that we get the worldwide data. If somebody can help to liquidate and some raccoon[?!] in network. The problem in IGY, they use this [???] . This is good. Nobody is angry or not happy that America helps the south — the nature [???] of it. America was also as regional secretary as leader of the region was responsible for this.

Morozovskia:

And then still it was for the progress of science.

Levin:

But did you realize that afterwards these people that had been helped would naturally have this reaction? This sort of relationship thing continuing with those that had helped them?

Powsner:

Yes, but not absolutely. For example, in Vietnam the beginning of War it was impossible to have this station. This station was very good in nearby from equator, which was very, very important. Then we have a station a geomagnetic station, in North Vietnam and Poland also. In this case not. I cannot say that in any case it was this relationship where continue. Itís just different.

Levin:

How did the Latin Americans feel about being asked to take these particular measurements? Did they say, ďWell, this isnít practical for us? We want to do something else. We want to do our own program.Ē

Powsner:

Sure.

Morozovskia:

You see, a program was worked out on which almost all countries, participants agreed if you can do these measurements then you do it; if you donít then you donít. But then you donít get the data to see whether you really need the station or not. In such a thing as network stations for every country it is vitally important to have as many connections with other countries and other stations as you can.

Powsner:

In geophysics there is a problem in general. Measurements and science. Each scientist who works in the observatory, he must have some data, he must measure immediately. And to the same time heís interested to participate on the large science. To write some reports, to make data processing and analysis and so on. In general you have also [???] to country. Also in Russia, also in America. Itís very difficult to divide. This is how the people make measurements and they are the people who make proceeding analysis. Everybody wonít have the clean work without some expeditions. Itís hard to measure something. From this point of view this is a general problem of the science of the Earth, yes? Because only some is particular in some specific fields of the science you can observe this division of two categories of the specialists. For people who measure and people who make up only. Plus thereís combination of both.

Morozovskia:

And still of course there are scientists who can generalize, make conclusions, and give photograph. And there are people who would probably wish to do that but canít. And sometimes of course this problem arises because the people at stations, of course they think we have obtained all this data and we must give it out, we must give it away. But they donít have just as scientists in his study — he canít be everywhere. So he must collect. The same scientists at the station, he must give.

Powsner:

Also the country. May I continue this idea? Also the country. You could divide, for example, in your case, South America, or Africa. Somebody in this country can say, ďI donít want measure of interest of the uncle [?]. I would like to have [???] also.Ē And in IGY we had some mechanism to combine these wishes, but not in any country. In the poor country where you have only one station, for example, you cannot find the people of both categories, yes? Well based on the commercial basis, now you can have some people observers liaison [?], likely we say. This is observers, not just as technical people. But during the IGY it was necessary. It was not some automatics, like now automatic stations and computers and digitized [???] and so on. That was important that somebody who measures in the station must have some knowledge about what he measures, about the results. Because you can, for example, in methology, you can make quite standard operations. It is enough for methological point. For meteorological observatory it is not enough because the people must see whether it's [asks for word in Russian].

Morozovskia:

Itís [???] rich, or something really worthy of processing and putting into study.

Powsner:

Whether itís a sense or not, these measurements. After this you have right [?]. Many stations in South America, they stopped measurements in these little countries. Piragua, Peru.

Levin:

How was it treated with the organization of the leadership of the IGY? Was there a problem trying to decide how many delegates from Russia would be in the leadership (I know you had Beloussov) and how many were from the West? Or was it just not important where they were coming from?

Powsner:

No, it was so. They had some organization. It was a council of the countries. Each country was represented with one person. This council. So about 60 persons were represented in this council. And then it was a working organ, a working body. It was an international — it was a committee for IGY. It consists of the representative of the unions. Not from country. Three from IGG, one from ERC, just regular. From geographical union and so on because geographic union was represented for the [???] measurements mainly and were very important in creation of National Geological because itís in the corner of the climate change. This problem also not through county, but in this system as a consult the [???] was clear. Thereís only one per country. Here was disproportional. It was clear because the unions could not eliminate only one of the two or three persons from different country and could not coordinate discrimination between these countries that was good geographic distribution. It must be personal. But for this they have also working groups. The main organizations in the framework of the structure of IUGG. Working groups also each discipline. And there was organized the best specialists of the world. And here the chairman wanted to have now maybe everybody. Not only the best, but also the representative from the weak start-up regions. Maybe not from each country. Not from South America, only one. But it could be enough. Then there began to work this mechanism of regions. For example, in the group for metrology you could have only one from each region. And if they need information for the planning, for the coordinating of problems, of the national problems, the main task of the working groups was coordinating of the national problems. And if he needs somebody, this regional secretary, he can get from his countries. Which in many cases it was not necessary to have all people represented. They are represented in one person at this councilÖ advisor council, excuse me. The people had to [???] country as each representative of the country had veto. If for example, somebody tells we donít want — if some country refuses the participation of some observation, itís fair. But if they are against, for example, some new direction of measurements and so on, if somebodyís against, then in this case they will not accept and include in the problem of this discipline.

Morozovskia:

[Asks question in Russian]

Powsner:

Nuclear radiation, [???].

Levin:

So it was not included?

Powsner:

It was included in spite of all this.

Morozovskia:

Against. Because obligation [?] was against it.

Levin:

To travel to countries — oh, I was going to ask you about the leadership. Did you know or did you meet with Sidney Chapman or Nicholai and some of the top level, the president of the IGY and his secretary Herbay and Nicholai, Chapman?

Powsner:

Nicholai, Herbay, Chapman. We knew of the people personally very good, very well.

Levin:

For traveling to conferences, was it difficult to attain visas? Who helped to attain your visas to leave Russia?

Powsner:

To Russia? For visiting Russia?

Levin:

For you to leave Russia.

Powsner:

To other countries. No, no. It was other limits. Money.

Levin:

When the Soviets, Russians traveled abroad — when they left the country to go to these conferences, did they have people that they brought with them? Not just say Lilia, one translator, but were there also KGB agents that went with them?

Powsner:

It was another area. In our committee, we have suggested the persons who must go because it was not so like in normal congresses. It was representative of our National Geophysical Committee. We must have an opinion, whether this person or another. It depended from his contribution in our national program. And then we give this list of the persons to the Academy of Science. And your question about [???]. Surely they have some. But immediately we were not connected with this stage. Maybe it was some persona non grata who didn't get or it was shorted the list because Academy has lost so much money — Just different. But this stage it belongs not to our competence.

Morozovskia:

Yes, the main thing was to make a list of the delegation and then hand it over for an officer of the Academy. And then they look it through and then they — well, the committee gave a list.

Powsner:

The Academy gives of stuff. Responsible for the trips. All these functions. Also visa and so on and maybe [???] also. They must have the scientistís lists. But they make it. If it gets some wrong we have very good fighters, like Beloussov or other people. Pushkov. They went to Academy and make a scandal if somebody was stopped.

Morozovskia:

To the president from the academy.

Powsner:

Kardebeof(?) from Academy or from somebody else. If necessary they make a scandal. In general, I must say that this is another principle. This working group and these assemblies consist of the representative of the district in some countries in general. Itís not so like I was after this committee, scientific secretary of Geophysical Committee. Now I am a scientist here because I'm too old. My position was here. Iím in the underlines, Iím underÖ

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