Artjom Povzner and Lilia Morozovskia - Session II

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ORAL HISTORIES
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Interviewed by
Tanya Levin
Location
Moscow, Russia
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Interview of Artjom Povzner and Lilia Morozovskia by Tanya Levin on 1999 January 22, Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics, College Park, MD USA, www.aip.org/history-programs/niels-bohr-library/oral-histories/33699-2

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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

Levin:

This is a continuing interview with. Today’s date is the 22nd of January, 1999. And I am joined with Artjom, Lilia, and also with Yolena Arnova is also in the room. We’re going to talk a little bit about oceanography during the IGY.

Powsner:

Yes, about the scientific problem of the oceanography. I knew this program in the USSR consists of thorough [?] observation of the sea level and in variation of this sea level and oceans. Then long period waves, then the deep water circulation — circulation of the deep waters — Then [???] tropical plants. I translate now from Russian so maybe it’s not quite correct yeah?

Levin:

That is correct.

Powsner:

Maybe you can see it in conference and correct after this also. My mind takes in general. I ask you to do with my text everything what you do to correct. Maybe it would be useful if you before the multiplication could send me an e-mail. Or you will write in any case, yes?

Levin:

Yes.

Powsner:

So then were measurements of the quads in the oceans. In all oceans and all the seas. The planning of this works in oceanography was very interesting and very good and consists many new moments. I knew that this was important that all the observations were connected with a problem; an international problem, the problem of other countries. It was important that not just one ship and vessel will come and meet another vessel in the same region. It was not interesting. From this point of view it was distributed because of optimal geographical distribution. And they planned this American here, for example, in this region of the Pacific. Other people here. The other countries solve America. We had also vessels, yes? From this point of view distribution was very important.

Levin:

Who decided the distribution?

Powsner:

Oh?

Levin:

Who said America will do the Pacific? The Latin Americans will do the South Pacific?

Powsner:

No, for this I would need a map. They were distributed on the quadrants. They had the quadrants in the World Ocean. 600 miles, quadrants mainly. In this quadrants could work also the vessels of different countries if they had difficult possibilities. Different techniques, for example — American or who had vessels had one very good developed methods, techniques. We had some other preferences and so on. And from this point of view — and they worked also together. It could be, but it was planned. Not that they came like so on the street friends.

Levin:

So was it International Committee that decided which countries would cover what territories?

Powsner:

Yes, precisely.

Levin:

And you mentioned different techniques, that the English and Americans had one technique Russia had say another technique.

Powsner:

Yes. Not all the vessels were universal vessels — Scientific vessels with all the measurements and possibilities. For example, the echolods, they had not — at that time it was not so. In any case not all the ships had, for example, echolods.

Levin:

Ecologist?

Powsner:

Echolods.

Morozovskia:

It’s location by echo.

Levin:

Echo sounders?

Powsner:

Echo sounds. Now it is clear. Now each vessel has this equipment. And at that time, for example, not all had this. All the dredges for dredging. And they come together. It was very good cooperation. Somebody has these methods and techniques and equipment. The other country had invested with other possibilities and so on. And they came together in order to study the same quadrant.

Levin:

Oh really? That’s interesting. Was there something that Russia had? A certain method that they had that America did not that they got together?

Powsner:

Or they could concentrate observations. They need, for example, to have more lines.

Levin:

Latitude?

Powsner:

More cruise lines.

Levin:

Oh, cruise lines.

Powsner:

Two or more in the same place. At this time it was possible for Russian vessel. In the next year or the next month it was possible for the vessels of other countries.

Levin:

To what? It was possible for these vessels to cross the ocean?

Powsner:

Yes, yes. What is interesting here is it’s not so that the vessels of different countries have worked in the same place. No. What’s more interesting that they have planned to meet. That they exist a worldwide plan of study of world oceans with a time table.

Morozovskia:

A program.

Powsner:

Yes, not all the problems but also a plan because problems are not scientific directions and so on. And here we see also the planning of the concrete trips of the concrete cruises.

Morozovskia:

Yes, but on a certain problem.

Powsner:

Yes, yes.

Morozovskia:

On which all these —

Powsner:

It was an appendix. This plan was an appendix map to the scientific problem. And it was not only currents but also geological.

Morozovskia:

Geology was studied also by dredging.

Powsner:

Geological measurements, dredging, yes. Mainly dredging and chemical analysis. For example, they had found, discovered a lot of the so named congressions on the bottom.

Levin:

The manganese nodules?

Powsner:

Yes, yes, to that time.

Morozovskia:

Not only metallic, but other.

Powsner:

Metallic is special interest.

Levin:

When it came time to bring the data from all over the world, the oceans together, I know a lot of scientists did maps of what was studied from the cruise lines. They did topographic maps of the bottom of the ocean or barometric [?] maps of the Antarctic. A lot of scientists from Russia did those studies. How did they decide what standard the maps would be on — on the proportion of measurements?

Morozovskia:

They were just standard maps. So the scales are matched.

Powsner:

The scales depended from the purposes of this map. If you need very detailed things you have a [???] scale. The scales were not standard.

Levin:

I know that the British when they worked on some of the maps after this time for GEBCO, they had a great deal of difficulty because they wanted it on one scale and then the other nations had different scales that they worked on and didn't want to collect their data. So, different time.

Powsner:

Yes, I have some other information here also. It was so the participants of the IGY or the congress from work on the working group oceanography decided in which form the results might be published.

Morozovskia:

Or presented to the World Data Centers.

Powsner:

Presented to the World Data Centers or published, both. Or for example, the [Russian].

Morozovskia:

The degree of accuracy.

Powsner:

That they are precise. Then other type of measurements. All the data, how it must be published in which form in each country in order that all the data must be comparable. This is the main idea of the IGY to get the comparability of the data in all the observations. Not in framework of discipline.

Levin:

Was there ever an example of a country that sent in data that was not comparable that had to be changed around or sent back to the country to have them change it or put it back into a standard form?

Powsner:

If you have already measured something it is not in comparable units, yes? And so on and you don’t how to make it normal for — it’s lost. You have nothing to begin with dissertation. You have no prospects. But in general it must be in kilometers or in meters or in feet. This was also a problem. If it is not given, what is this number?

Levin:

If you have some numbers and data from a country and it just looked wrong — if it just looked — it couldn’t be, it couldn’t be. What did you do? Did that ever happen? Can you give an example of that if it did?

Powsner:

We had these faults also that not so quite primitive feet or meters, but in other cases we had also difficulties. The people sent some data, not explained data. In this not to send back, but the people was asked what did you mean. With this commence as well as comparable.

Levin:

Do you have examples of that you remember?

Powsner:

Not quite. I was immediately not connected with this activity to where the girls at the World Data Center for [???] could name. But it is not observations of science. This is not only for IGY. It’s not specific. Somebody send and forget to indicate what unit, for example or where it’s measured. They did have measure, but well the point is coordinates. Just fails or very, very often in general, not because of IGY. In IGY it was very important to have everything comparable.

Levin:

True. It would be very important. What was set up in order to convince the scientists to send in their data? Because I know that the scientists would want to keep their data to write reports. And they would want to write the articles using the data before other people see it.

Powsner:

The form of the data you mean, yeah? How was it handled, yes?

Morozovskia:

No.

Powsner:

In some disciplines, but not in the synoptic oceanography. Here this is not interesting. If you will give nothing to World Data Center you will get nothing also. You will not see what is to the same time. It is also a very difficult and very good example what you see. For example, paleomagnetic sciences or in other sciences you have difficulties, our World Data Centers. The people want to have published and then to send in formal publication well. It is possible, but it is too long. If you can’t publish immediately in this case you will not lose the time for the work comparison. But in this case in oceanography we had no difficulties of this kind. Because oceanography in this case only as a science about the ocean and water not about botany. But botany there is other problems.

Levin:

With classification?

Powsner:

Yes, because you know this [???] and so on. During IGY they discovered a lot of currents on different levels. Different speeds, velocities. It was very interesting. And it was not possible in this measurement if you could not have the measurements and data in oceanotic forms, it’s called the native form, at the same time. For example, one vessel can measure this current here in order to determine the direction of this place of this current. And from this point of view it’s the science, the oceanography, in general is also very important to combine this type of data with meteorological data to the same time. Meteorological data was very important for the study of the problems on the directions on the ocean surface and atmosphere. Here you had no problem that somebody refused to give data before they will be published because everybody was interested to have the data from the neighbors.

Levin:

But it was a problem to get it from the ocean bottom just because of the interest of the military and the oil industry in so many countries.

Powsner:

Yes, but at the normal way they published the results of these deep seismic soundings of the ocean bottom. For example, we had many works here in Sea of Okhotsk, and they have some profiles with seismic deep sounding. It was very interesting results. They discovered, for example, some new types of crust. Not continental crust, not oceanic crust, but intermediate. But it was impossible to send the [???] time of the data direct to the World Data Centers. Nobody will proceed, analyze them. It was important to process data and publish data. And here another situation because they’re observing events and processes, the world not so large, not so quickly. Like for example, these currents or interactions with most fields so on. Here you must have a synopsis, yeah? How about in this case, this button. It cannot run.

Levin:

It’s not going anywhere.

Morozovskia:

Or change its properties so quickly.

Levin:

That’s true. You mentioned that a lot of the people that work in the World Data Centers were women. Is that correct? You said the girls that worked in the World Data Centers? Here in Russia. Most of the people who worked in the data centers were women? Girls?

Powsner:

Yes, yes. This work requires accuracy.

Morozovskia:

Attention to detail.

Levin:

What percentage of the people working as scientists in the IGY were women?

Powsner:

For example, this work about the oceanic bottom in Sea of Okhotsk here in the Soviet Union and these cross sections were organized by Cosminskuni [?]in Petronia[?]. She was at that time also quite a top scientist. We had also a woman. It was a scientific secretary of our committee, Dr. Valeria Trotskiya. I believe I have mentioned her last time and then Kondorskaya. Do we have many women who have good leader position in the IGY problem.

Levin:

That’s interesting. That is very different from America where there weren’t very many women scientists. Did the government encourage women to go into science, or did it just happen?

Morozovskia:

I think it just happened. The women in our country are probably more interested in science. I don't know.

Powsner:

I was three times in America.

Morozovskia:

Women go to high school more often in Russia of course to such sciences as oceanography and geology and so on. More interested in that. I don’t know why. I can’t understand that.

Powsner:

Yes, but the staff in Russian center mainly consist of the people in [???], the old seaman.

Levin:

Disabled. Invalids.

Morozovskia:

Handicapped.

Powsner:

Handicapped people. That worked quite well because they understood not only science but understand the sea, the ocean, and so on.

Levin:

I was wondering too about the work that was done on the latitudes. Was there any idea at this time among scientists of using the latitudes, the studies, to determine if the continents were moving apart or together?

Powsner:

This problem was not studied in the IGY. It was in the confidence of other international organizations like Geological Union, Union of Geology, and partly of the Association for Geology of IUGG but not to the future interests of the IGY committee. The national committee.

Morozovskia:

It’s the problem of geology naturally.

Powsner:

Yes, yes.

Morozovskia:

The observations should be very, very fine observations. And I think only with a satellite they have studied —

Powsner:

I can find something interesting for your…

Morozovskia:

They really observed only some of that.

Levin:

The satellites. Right.

Powsner:

I don’t know whether interesting for you. It was sudden progress for particular topics. Also in our country it was seven problems of the measurements operated and approved for all those lessons. This is about temperature at salinity. That’s number one. Number two, problem observations for the currents. The third problem, observations of the elements of the waves in oceans. Elements of the wave. The fourth, hydra optical observations.

Levin:

Hydra optical?

Powsner:

Yes, hydra optics. It was new at that time. It was interesting. And then the fifth, the problem of the chemical works.

Levin:

[Inaudible sentence].

Powsner:

Like Mormons.

Levin:

Yes, yes.

Powsner:

Then the sixth, marine geology. And then the seventh was plankton. This is problem. This is little books, yeah? This was published in Russia because it was for Russian regimen. They have these problems particularly.

Morozovskia:

They took into consideration.

Powsner:

It was considerate with the whole IGY problem, yes? It is for our people. It was an extension of the international program for the concrete participants who work in the vessels.

Levin:

Really? Okay. So there was a little bit of study on the plankton at this time. So there was a small following of biologists, very small, just to accompany the geophysical, geological —

Powsner:

As indicator. As indicator of the movement, for example. Plankton. Or indicator of other events. Not only movement of the waters, but also of the temperature of the living conditions they had but were connected with earlier other study of the work of oceanography.

Levin:

When was it decided to bring some of the biologists along with some of the rest of the programs? Who said, “Well, maybe we should put a few biologists on some of the boats to take these studies?”

Powsner:

Biologists?

Levin:

Or was it geophysicists that were doing some of the studies on the plankton?

Powsner:

No. Plankton was started by the biologists, by the specialists in this field with their own purposes.

Levin:

Separate from IGY?

Powsner:

Yes. They gave also some information about the distribution of the movement of plankton, of the change of the contents of plankton in [???] or in other waters.

Morozovskia:

I don’t remember. Was it stated in the IGY program? This plankton and the biological research?

Powsner:

Oceanography. Plankton was part of the geophysical program too because many data of plankton were very important also for geophysical processes or study of geophysical processes and events and for understanding of the main [???].

Levin:

[Break] I was wondering if before we go and start talking a little bit about what happened after the IGY, the cooperation, is there anything else you feel we haven’t covered about the IGY that you would like to talk about? We have covered a lot about the International Geophysical Year. Before we move on to what happened after, is there something about IGY that we have not talked about that you would like to?

Powsner:

The development of cooperation if so from this form. There are many approaches. You can use an approach from the scientific — how the development of the science was after IGY or how it developed the cooperation. The cooperation was developed in the form. So it was very interesting in general. Only one problem: I must concentrate and try to express this with short phrase. Each discipline of the problem brought to the world a new organization, a new direction of cooperation. This process began during the assembly of IGY in Moscow. It was July of ‘58 in Moscow was the fifth assembly of sagi [?], of this International Committee of IGY. Bi-icksu [?] by international [???] of scientific unions. And this icksu assembly was in American[?]. About a thousand people came from all the countries; all from the countries whom with which we had not diplomatic relations. They got this weasel in the fur contest [???]. For example, we had no with South Africa. We had no. And South Africa became good visas. In London this is English people. Like English people. It was written that they are [???] from Johannesburg and so on.

Morozovskia:

Johannesburg was English.

Powsner:

Well, it’s the same as [???] with Taiwan [???]. They got the business from Japanese. But for us it was quite new. After this we have uses and procedure. And we could have a good representation here because to that time the former Soviet Union had many countries of political views, reasons. No diplomatic relations.

Levin:

And as a result of IGY?

Powsner:

IGY? Yeah, yeah. It was one of the factors that we got after we’d been ten years. We got this connection with South Africa, for example before this revolution in South Africa. The fifth assembly of sagi of IGY in Moscow here at Moscow University played a very important role for the development of the new organizations of the base of the IGY committee. For example, your beloved [???] became independent from the problem of IGY and created a new committee, SCOR (Scientific Committee on Oceanographic Research). Then a rocket scientist group, the group of sagi of IGY committee built a new committee COSPAR. Cosmic space research. Committee of Space Research. Then meteorology — they had also this WMO; this world organization. Very old, very good, very good with experience. It was this organization of this projects for the continuation IGY projects and measurements. It was built in the committee on atmospheric research, also by Hixel [?] Then especially was interesting, but the building of the organization of the new committee was later in ‘61. It was named Solar Terrestrial Physics. This is one of the results of the IGY in the system of the science. What the creation I would [???], quite new and very good for direction of science, [???] direction of physics. And these disciplines like World Days and aurora and airglow. Then geomagnetism — I mean not geomagnetism of the permanent field. I mean variation field. And the cosmic rays and solar activity. They were united in the new science, solar terrestrial physics. And then they give us SCOSTP now. This committee for Solar Terrestrial Physics.

Levin:

I was wondering when you mentioned COSPAR, the Committee on Space Research, I was wondering if you knew a little bit about their early work because I know one of the things that they were first concerned about was pollution of upper atmosphere by satellites and light and trash being put up. Do you remember any of the concerns over pollution of the sky?

Morozovskia:

Pollution of high atmosphere?

Powsner:

High atmosphere? Also yes included was the middle arch. COSPAR was responsible for the coordinated observation of the quite new satellites and rockets. You know what is rockets? Meteorological rockets are still a hundred kilometers from the Earth’s surface, the rocket systems.

Morozovskia:

So it’s almost a stratosphere.

Powsner:

Yes, this is also mesosphere.

Levin:

Do you remember the attempt by the U.S. at this time, about 1961, to put up in space little needles in a belt around the Earth for communications? It bothered the astronomers who wanted to view the skies to have the band of… Do you remember anything about that?

Powsner:

Ionosphere. I forgot to mention also this hill of ionosphere. You mean the radio wave propagation? The slide mirror?

Levin:

Right, exactly. Do you remember that?

Powsner:

Yes, yes.

Levin:

Because there were a lot of people, especially in Russia, who said that was a terrible idea. It was horrible for the US to do that. Some scientists, especially in the Netherlands and in England, were also very much against it.

Powsner:

I would like to know precisely. I want the answer to the ionosphere, not to your answer, not for your question. Maybe you can describe it more clearly.

Levin:

The U.S. military wanted to put up millions of little copper stipules in space in ionosphere from the Earth.

Powsner:

Yes, but it was not only this. The last time I told you about this Argus Project, about this nuclear explosion on the high about 500 kilometers in South Atlantic. They have interacted all the radio connections of Soviet aircraft and airplanes in the Arctic because of the rehearsal of this screen [?]. So you can have some explosion — or what do you? It was not included in the problem of IGY. It was experiment of this nuclear experiment — it was military. But they searched also for the science because they want — [Russian]

Morozovskia:

The scientists were inspired by these —

Powsner:

They had to explain what is it? Why would they have so effects? For example, we understand the geomagnetic field of the Earth is organized [???] pull. You don’t understand. No, you understand. So here is magnetic pole. Here is south.

Levin:

You’re drawing a picture of the globe and cosmic rays, the magnetic —

Powsner:

There are magnetic fields lines, magnetic pull, north and south magnetic, they begin here. If you begin here at the poles, for example an explosion and also particles along the line because there are magnetic electrified.

Morozovskia:

They follow the magnetic lines. They’re not really distributed, but they —

Powsner:

They come here. Here is a region of [???] of the artists. And here they distort the media. Distort and because here ionosphere and all the electro-magnetic interactions involved in this process. And for example, radio waves could not propagate in this case. I understand what you — only one. It was not included in the IGY problem. It was also a little bit later, after IGY.

Levin:

Also after the IGY there were other large expeditions, other large programs that began that used the International Geographical Year to do it. Do you remember the International Indian Ocean Expedition?

Powsner:

Yes, of course. It was this expedition. The [???] of this expedition was two persons. It was Professor Kort from our side, Director of the Institute for Oceanography for the Academy of Science and Professor Udintsev, our friend. And now he is a corresponding member of the Academy. They asked the demand [?] for government and so on through our committee. But the results of the first expedition was, it seems to me, published in ‘62 or ‘63. The first results of this expedition. Of the real big volumes of this works were also other countries could — but our people have only two vessels there. They needed more. The other came also there. They had also to fight with some political leaders about the fluids in this regions. For example, from the Soviet side of the America and other countries. America was not very happy. It was my personal impression. The impression I remember. They were not very glad. They were in at the beginning of this expedition, this organization of this expedition. Because their influence and so on, it was an empty zone. Nobody had some influence. It was nonsense. And then begin to study this India, Pakistan, also Malaysia. They were very interested to be visited by these scientific vessels, but they had no own possibility to participate on this research. This Indian Ocean was also a complex problem. They had also it seems an analysis of plankton and everything.

Levin:

The Americans weren’t very happy at first because? Were they looking to have more influence in that area with India and with Africa? With those regions?

Powsner:

No. In my opinion, and only in the beginning of this expedition, Americans were not happy. But after this they became members, participants.

Levin:

I know that they were one of the reasons why they wanted the expedition in the Indian Ocean was scientific because there wasn’t very much research in that area. But they also talked about helping the people in that region to have more food. They were going to find fish. They decided that it didn’t really happen that way. That the science worked, but there wasn’t the fish to be found. It didn’t solve everyone’s problems. In Russia, did the scientists talk about the same possibility at the beginning of perhaps finding food in the oceans to help these people? They did?

Powsner:

[???] the food also among history. Yes. They discovered also in biology fish, which we didn’t know. Our women didn’t want to buy this because nototania [?]. It was only during IGY. Why? Because we had a very good, not only we, but — excuse me please. [Break] Nototania and other also food resources were founded during the IGY.

Female:

: May I ask a specific question?

Levin:

Yes.

Female:

: My question is do scientists have at the time so called scientific wards of fish?

Powsner:

This is not my job. I don’t know about that.

Female:

: When scientists enrolled in your program, do you have scientific wards, or no?

Powsner:

Yes. You know, this is another one. Not biological so, this is quite economical, political sphere area where they decided how much [???] whales. For example, we had during IGY we had some difficulties. We had invited our whales float. We had many vessels, many ships for hunting of whales. It is not forbidden, but then… And we were invited to make some measurements. They visited some regions where the other vessels don't visit. For example, in the field of meteorology and surface waters in oceanography. Other people began to measure something and then began some scandal because they visited some region where Japanese worked. Then I let me know that there is distribution of sphere [?]. Here you can make fishing. Here in other country. Also in the free ocean. It’s not only nearby from the coasts of corresponding countries. This is also in the ocean. Also with the whales. The next time we didn’t invite them for these measurements because we understand that we came in this field of the very growth, of very big interest.

Levin:

Of course the idea of the seas being open has been challenged a couple of times. And with the Third International Law of the Sea, there was some worries that countries would take more of the ocean for their own use and that science in those regions, oceanography, would not be able to enter that territory to do work. Were you involved in some of the negotiations on that particular treaty?

Powsner:

Yeah, but only in connection with the seas. But not of an ocean. The seas. Not oceans. For example, in the Mediterranean Sea they had some difficulties and so on, but not in the ocean. But it is not drastic.

Morozovskia:

You mean that the oceans are too large? Too vast?

Powsner:

No, it’s not about large. It’s more important whether they’re conventions exist, which they regulate the using of these parts of ocean. The defense probably existing of this conventions. International agreements, I mean.

Levin:

Of course a lot of the IGY had to do with Antarctica, the study of that region. And you have on the wall the stations that the Soviets had in Antarctica. Shortly after the Antarctic treaty was passed, do you remember a little bit about that?

Powsner:

Yes. It was also one of the results of IGY. It was not made during IGY. It was for — I cannot remember, it was either ‘64 or ‘65 it was agreed.

Morozovskia:

The International Convention in Antarctica in 1965 or ‘66?

Powsner:

Yes, maybe. I have forgotten over the years, but you can find this very without difficulties.

Levin:

I was wondering though if you remembered the difficulty of trying to convince all the countries to have a continent that would be for science as opposed to exploitation for resources?

Powsner:

Yes.

Levin:

Particularly with Argentina and Chile thinking it was part of their country.

Powsner:

We discussed it the last time. Do you remember?

Levin:

We talked somewhat about that. Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about your science.

Powsner:

So I was dealing not with some geophysical problems. It was system analysis. System analysis and system approach, approach more, to the big organizational system like IGY or other measurement systems. Explaining of networks, for example, is methology or geomitism. Some methodical problems. But it was no very — I’m not an outstanding scientist. That you have no illusions about. Because I was very busy in this organizational administration. This organization of science. My whole life. Also, after IGY I was in the Soviet Geophysical Committee, mainly secretary of this committee and member of Bureau. And also I was Regional Secretary for the East European. The last time region, the geophysical region of International Secretary of [???]. I was advisory secretary in extra panel for WDC, World Data Centers. Also, from this point of view, for science I had not enough time and force and impetus.

Morozovskia:

Not strengthen enough.

Levin:

But during the IGY you took courses at night on geophysics?

Powsner:

Yeah.

Levin:

And afterwards you got your Ph.D. in?

Powsner:

Ph.D. I was from ‘66.

Levin:

What did you do your dissertation on?

Powsner:

The dissertation was about the using, the application of the system analysis to the big geophysical systems. This is a part of them. This is also on the example of IGY. Close connected.

Levin:

I wonder did you know, there is someone I have heard of in the USSR who had a job similar to yours, but she was working on setting up the aurora stations and the satellite stations — Alla Massevitch?

Powsner:

Yes, of course I know her.

Levin:

What was she like?

Powsner:

Very good.

Morozovskia:

She was one of the women scientists. Very famous and outstanding scientist.

Powsner:

At that time she was the deputy chairman of the Astronomical Council of the Academy of Science.

Morozovskia:

In Moscow for number of years she was the head of this council.

Powsner:

It was also interesting that close after the launching of the first Sputnik, the first satellite. We had to organize the great new network. And Alla Massevitch was the head of this network. I mentioned that during our last meeting here. The network of the observational station. This stations fixed Sputnik, fixed satellite, coordinate the [???] leads and so on. And they have difficulties because there exists a limit, a boundary between the people who are still do the launching. And this upset us. If we knew, if you could know when the satellite will be launched — I told you also, I have spoken about this. We could prepare this network, maybe for the first launching and they could function in this work, this network. And in this case we have lost many months because we had no reasonable network for the launching of the observation of the satellites. Alla made it.

Levin:

I remember seeing correspondence, letters between her and between Fred Whipple in the U.S. who was also helping to coordinate some of the stations at Harvard through the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. So there networks of course in these two nations that were set up. And throughout the world as well. And when you were working on this Ph.D. and the systems approach —

Powsner:

Yes, the system approach. I was here in this country the first person who tried to use their system analysis came from the background [?] from this country who was not suggested from [???] fifty on this century. To this organizational systems, because mainly this system analysis was used in the system of the natural science. And for on this networks like observations network here at IGY or IGY has a project, would not analyze from this point of view. And I wrote about several papers I published and so on.

Levin:

Did you have classes in this or was it something you designed? Were there professors teaching?

Powsner:

No, no.

Levin:

It was new?

Powsner:

No, no. I tell you, I was a typical organizer. But only I had interest for the science. But I could not enough work in the poor science. I had to have the other people to work.

Levin:

We had I know one scientist in America who did that. Do you remember Lloyd Berkner?

Powsner:

Berkner, of course. At that time I was a young man and Berkner was a famous person. One of the inner shadows [?] of the IGY. It just described in the Annals of IGY in Volume II A of Annals of IGY. Of special interest. And then it is very important to know it how they [???], Berkner, somebody else, how they began together and in the flat of Berkner [???] to say we can organize this IGY. It will be 25 years after the second polar year, but usually they wanted — the distance must be 50 years from the first polar year to the next. And that’s [???] what [???] organizes for a year. Two years from ‘53 till ‘55 or more, ‘56, gave this project a name of the First Polar Year. And then it seems to me it was the idea also from Lloyd Berkner that it must be named Geophysical Year because they wanted it all the geophysics also in the middle latitudes must work for the best direction. If all the geophysics must work for the for the [???] and artists of the polar fields for the regions. Or back. The measurements in [???] artists must serve for the worldwide geophysics of the planetary regions. So it depended from the approach.

Levin:

And your work on the Soviet Geophysical Committee, the people who were also on this geophysical committee, did most of them have your type of training where they had some science and then some interest in organizing and in relations between [???] ?

Powsner:

Yes, it was so. Our committee was a Geophysical Year worked from ‘55 – practically from the end of ‘54, till ‘60. And also the Committee for IGY. The staff was about ten persons, the technical staff. And then we organized in ‘61 all the basis of this committee. And other committee, the National Committee in IGG. I was the liaison, sort of combined both. And we have organized approximately the same stuff in new committees. Soviet Geophysical Committee, which was responsible not only for the representation of the interest of our activity and other institutions in the union for geophysics center of physics, but also because of projects. Projects in the made and new committees [???] casbars [?] and so on. In this realm. Because in other countries they had two committees mainly. One committee was only known for IGY or both IUGG, and other committee field for different projects. Maybe many projects or many committees for each project. We have to combine them, all the projects together in this Geophysical Committee. And on the very important role in this late Professor Beloussov — that this is the name which is closely connected with all the problems of cooperation. Beloussov, he was the vice president of IGY Committee, and really he was a very good diplomat also. He understood [???] problems despite he was a geologist. He understood the geophysics. It’s not very important to know each science, but he understood the direction. He had in the history of our country very interesting persons like Vernardsky. Vernardsky was a pupil of Beloussov. He worked with him together long time before the first World War. And from this point of view, this approach to the violent, yeah? By Vernardsky was also very nearby the thoughts of Beloussov. Beloussov was to the time of IGY the president of IGY Committee was the Vice President of Academy Professor Bardun, but had no connections to the geophysics. This is not important. He was very, very clever person, and understand our wishes very good. He had power. He was the first vice president of the Academy of Science. Our own country had many institutes and so on. Not like the National Academy of Science [???]. And from his point of view we were interested that Professor Bardun was — Beloussov was the first deputy chairman during IGY. And after IGY, Bardun died and Beloussov became the chairman of this new combined geophysical committee.

Levin:

Interesting. Of course, Beloussov had a lot of authority in Russian science as well, but he had also political authority. Some sort of —

Powsner:

Political because he was [inaudible].

Morozovskia:

He was not a member of the communist party.

Powsner:

No. In general he was not political. He has the understandings of science politics, yes? In general. But I know that [???] scientists in this journal, the gazette, they wrote something about him that he was representative of some official point of view and so on, but it was wrong. With him, I saw him three times a week. We visited the whole world with him. But he didn’t need interpreter, but other people in delegation. He has spoken English and French. Mainly French and German.

Morozovskia:

He was a very talented person and very broad minded. He was a geologist. A real geologist and devoted to his science. But he was such a strong personality that in the committee where Bardun was the president, it was evident that he is the actual leader. Bardun just said, “All right, I’m giving you money. All right I’m giving you this or that, but you need to go to some delegation or conference,” and so on. [switch tapes]… policy of the international cooperation between the scientists of the policy of the Soviet Geophysical Committee was Beloussov’s. He was a very strong personality, and I think one of the reasons why the Soviet Geophysical Committee had any weight, so to say, had any importance in international geophysical relations was the founded by Beloussov.

Levin:

The Ministry of Geology — is that a political unit or a scientific unit?

Powsner:

It’s a branch.

Morozovskia:

It has scientific institutes. The ministry, as any ministry, it has scientific institutes. But it is not a part of academy or of scientific fields.

Levin:

Did Beloussov work for the Ministry of Geology?

Morozovskia:

For the ministry, that’s right.

Powsner:

Through some projects only. For example, he suggested and was the first leader of this project of the deep water drilling. The drilling of the Kola Peninsula. He needed the contact his ministry, but he was a poor scientist. But he understand. And Beloussov here on the [???].

Morozovskia:

The science was pure.

Powsner:

Pure.

Levin:

The science was pure?

Powsner:

Pure scientist. Not practical. Not engineer.

Levin:

That is right. Pure science. So the people in the Ministry of Geology who were there all the time were mostly administrators? Or did they deal on the political level? As opposed to the scientists in the Academy of Science, the Ministry handled the administration or the politics or what?

Morozovskia:

For science or IGY?

Levin:

The Ministry of Geology in general. What did they do? Who were their ministers?

Powsner:

[???] very teach. Also geological server of the country. We have so much some things here. Some minerals and so on, and so this organization of this. Imitation of the [???] now. An area they had thousands expeditions. For the practical purposes. It's like industry.

Levin:

It’s more industry. Okay.

Powsner:

But they have also for purposes, they have also a network of old institutes. But from that they applied topics, problems.

Levin:

So your work that you did on the national committee and the Soviet Geophysical Committee on these committees after ‘61, did you deal more with the scientists, talking with them and helping them with their projects or more with the government? Or were you in between the two working?

Powsner:

No, it was from the opposite. We had some planning functions. Planning is the same was to that time like now money. Because if you are included in the scientific plan or research you could get money. Maybe not so much as you want, but in general you can be served in this way. We had coordination functions. Only, only for the researchers inside the country, which were connected with international projects. For example, after the IGY we had some projects like Upper Mantle Project — the study of upper mantle. It is solid Earth, you understand. And also it’s upper mantles in direction with Earth’s crust. And also core. But Earth’s crust mainly. And Beloussov was the English chapter of this international project in general in the world. It was approved by the international council of international scientists, scientific unions. And in our country you also had National Commission for Upper Mantle. This National Commission for Upper Mantle [???] the commission on the [???] of physics, about [???] and so on. I mentioned commissions and so on. Searching has compiled the problems with the participation of interested institutes. Then have some discussions. They invited the president for the other institutes here. What would they want to make reservations included or not included in this international program and so on. They elaborated the suggestions for the Academy of Science for the Ministry of Geology of other institutions, for universities. What could be done in front of this problem, these plans? And this plans served as a basis for getting the money. And our committee if approve this, had the right to approve this plans. What is important. Now we have [???].

Levin:

How did you decide, “Yes, this plan should be funded. We will give money to this plan and we will not give money for this plan”?

Powsner:

Not because it doesn’t correspond. They can work, but the additional money — he will not get additional money. It was a way to support the international cooperation. The national cooperation got additional money. Like in your country, for example. In ‘87 in America it was given about 30 billion dollars for global change and research. Global change and environment research. And each body wanted to— I have talked to my colleagues to form a way. They asked me how do you have some experience to formulate for the government, for the NSF, for some [???].

Morozovskia:

To get money.

Powsner:

In order to get money. I get my audience in front of people. Because it was interesting. Each wanted to be in this system of global change to that time. And our World Data Centers in Colorado want to be also included in this system because they smelled of the money. And then they had also to decide whether this activity is real connected, has a relationship to the global change problems or not.

Levin:

So they had to judge it by the science?

Powsner:

Yes. They had to judge it by the science and this committee on the global changes of your country. You have also this kind of committee, but you have only so much money for this purpose. Then they have to decide if you include that people get money for research, it is not for personal use, but for research. If not connected it could be the data activity used, which is also a problem of using of the data. So in our country, but we have not performed, but we did not know how much money each plan will be supported. [???] was not so that from good influence for the development of the cooperation for the topics which are connected with international projects.

Levin:

So it was very important to have international cooperation? But it is still important that the science be useful? Or if the topic is not helpful or not valid, then it still won't get funded even though it is?

Powsner:

Yeah, the topic can be very. Only you’re connected with the project.

Levin:

What if the topic is not very good?

Powsner:

The cooperation — if included in the cooperation it is good. It has specific interests, if you could.

Morozovskia:

They don’t say good or not good. But he principle was can this institute or can this ideological institution or party, I don’t know what, will they contribute the data or the information in some other way? Will they contribute to the main idea? The main purpose of this project? The Institute, for example, of Geology here and as well, it’s a very nice institute, they have many expeditions, and they’re very industrious, and they bring a lot of rocks and they study. But it doesn’t refer to [???].

Levin:

The big project we’re talking about —

Morozovskia:

Everybody wants to have money, extra money.

Levin:

The big project we’re talking about is the global change? This is the big project?

Powsner:

This is for example.

Levin:

What then about ground proposal? Did scientists, during the period following the IGY, did they write grant proposals where they say we need such money.

Powsner:

No, it is we speak now about the period between 1960 to 1990. Now the separation —

Levin:

Powsner:

But now the situation’s changed. It is not so. We have now not this possibility to prove that topics and so on.

Levin:

But before in this previous period, did scientists send in grant proposals to you? Or how did scientists get their money? Did they just say, “We need such and such money,” or did they say, “This is what we plan to do? Will you fund it?”

Powsner:

We worked mainly not — we had working groups for each specialty. For each project. Like the Upper Mantle project. During these working group they have a member of this working group represent institutes or universities and so on. They distributed the information about the new projects, the international projects. For example, there exists [???] project. This main principles of this project are so formulated. We here, the distributors, we have to know to whom. Now mainly we mention to everybody who sounds connected to this topics. At first if you have to choose the people — not only the people. It was institutes. In institutes they gave counter projects. We want to make that and that. Is it possible to include this in the project or not? And detail, very important detail for this was whether you can work without international possibilities. Whether you can decide these problems. Only on the base of our Soviet data. Do you need international data? Or if you will get the data, the data not international but the data of other countries, the quality of your research and the level of your researchers will grow in this case. It will change this. Now for example, it is very difficult to whether it’s necessary for geologists —

Morozovskia:

For example. [joke; laughter]

Levin:

It’s okay.

Powsner:

I am sure that your grandmother could understand German.

Levin:

She knew German.

Powsner:

She lived in the center of Europe, 60 kilometer from Vienna.

Levin:

A little bit farther. She was nearer to the Ukraine. She lived on the border. Humenne.

Powsner:

So an example of this, I can say there is mainly in Soviet earth. We have discussed all of this situation also in oceanography. For example, this morning —

Levin:

Plate tectonics.

Powsner:

No. Water.

Levin:

The current?

Powsner:

Yeah, currents and so on. You cannot measure the currents without participation of other countries because you have too small a number of vessels or network of meteorological stations. You need a thousand meteorological measurements. It’s not about forecasting of the weather. No, I speak about science meteorology, like ozone. Scientific, physical assessment must be done. You need a lot of materials of data from different regions. You cannot solve the problems of atmospheric physics without using the data of many countries from different regions and so on. But in [???] there is processes and events like earthquakes. Of course you need also the data from other scientific stations. Because estimate of the velocities of the running of the waves and so on. But in other cases, for example, structure of the Earth crust. You need here cooperation also, but not so [???].

Levin:

Immediately?

Powsner:

No, not completely, yes. You can wait. It tends not to happen with the structure if you will measure later, for example. You must work this. It is interesting. The cooperation is important in this case too only for other tasks. For the methodological tasks. You must compare the methods. Use the [???] in case and can be used in other cases, and how work the other people in these conditions. I speak now about the structure of the Earth crust, for example. Here’s this different — in any case they’re good. Science is included in the new project and back [???]. You can have very good science, yes? It’s included, but it’s not interesting for everybody. Because in this case, if you participate in this project you will not get additional knowledge of other quality.

Levin:

I was wondering, were there particular countries that was perhaps better? If say a scientist could say, “Well, we need international cooperation and we’re going to get the help of the Eastern Block or China.” Was that particularly wanted? Did you especially look for cooperation from certain nations? Or did it not matter as long as it was other countries?

Powsner:

Rephrase that?

Levin:

When a scientist said, “I have a project that needs international cooperation,” did it matter if they said, “It will be with the USA and Canada or with France.” Was it perhaps more important to get cooperation with the Eastern Block countries? Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, or with China? Was it seen as important to particularly get those countries to build unity within the Soviet sphere of influence?

Powsner:

You mean the time of IGY?

Levin:

Yes, around that time.

Powsner:

Now we have a changed situation. So the last time I thought about the resistance of the original cooperation.

Levin:

But that was IGY?

Powsner:

IGY. But in general? Not just for IGY, but after. It was not political, but in this case we had political regions and non-political regions also in other cases. What is to change was clear between this region, for example, East European region. And somebody is good in this region and had no difficulties. This is cheaper for food for the Romanian to come to East Germany than to West Germany. If they can solve their problem in this way. But it was not directed from above, directed who, how to work. They make us a project and say do you want to work? Who do you want to work with, I don't know, with Czech for example? At least you can work. But from which reasons. What reasons was to combine this combination or other combinations. If their events developed say in East Asia, so is this combination Czech and Poland not interesting.

Levin:

Okay, well I’d like to thank you for this interview, and I believe that’s all.