Moskovskiĭ fiziko-tekhnicheskiĭ institut [Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology]

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Mikhail Shifman, Ida Cohen Fine Professor of Theoretical Physics at the William I. Fine Theoretical Physics Institute at the University of Minnesota. The interview begins with Shifman’s thoughts on the differences between the physics community in Russia versus the US, as well as his thoughts on the future of supersymmetry. Then Shifman turns to his family history and memories of growing up Jewish in Russia under Communist rule. He describes his early interests in math and physics, and he recalls that reading Feynman’s lectures (translated into Russian) swayed him toward physics. Shifman recounts his undergraduate education at the Moscow Institute for Physics and Technology, where he had access to many great Russian physicists. He discusses his decision to focus on high energy physics and his graduate studies at the Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics (ITEP). Shifman recalls the November Revolution and its implications for his PhD research which led to the penguin mechanism. Then Shifman discusses being hired by ITEP after his PhD, and he overviews his research areas such as gluon condensate, axions, and his work connecting Yang-Mills with supersymmetry. Shifman recalls his decision to immigrate to the US and the offer that led him to the University of Minnesota, as well as the cultural shift and transition that came with that move. He recounts the honor of receiving the Sakurai Prize, as well as his many book projects. Toward the end of the interview, Shifman talks about his more recent work in supersymmetric solitons, shares his thoughts on the future of the Standard Model, and reflects on the impact of SVZ sum rules.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Vyacheslav Romanov, Research Physical Scientist at the National Energy Technology Laboratory. Romanov recounts his upbringing in the Urals region of the Soviet Union, and he describes his education at a special high school for gifted students in Moscow. He explains the circumstances that led to his enrollment at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology for graduate school and his dawning realization that one can make sense of the world through physics. Romanov discusses his thesis research on the kinetics of light-matter interactions, and he describes his postgraduate work for the Soviet Space Program to develop thin film solar cells to power the International Space Station. He discusses the collapse of science funding after the breakup of the USSR and the opportunity he saw to emigrate to the United States at part of the Symposium on Diplomacy and Global Affairs in Washington, D.C. Romanov explains why he got an MBA from Waynesburg College and how this program put him on the path to U.S. citizenship. After a stint in the materials science industry, he describes his PhD research in physical chemistry and spectroscopy at the University of Pittsburgh, and how this led to his employment at NETL, first as a postdoc and then as a full-time employee. Romanov explains his initial work in geology and data analysis, his subsequent work in optimizing power plant generation, and his current research in reducing the environmental footprint of energy systems with machine learning. He describes the political and economic ramifications of his research, and he explains why carbon-based energy is central to the transition to a de-carbonized future, which, he asserts, will take decades to realize. At the end of the interview, Romanov explains why global efforts to mitigate environmental energy problems must rely on successful cooperation between the U.S. and China. 

Interviewed by
Arthur Guenther
Interview date
Abstract

Beginning of studies in molecular spectroscopy at Moscow Institute of Physics (MIFI) (1948). Invitation to Lebedev Institute (FIAN) by Mikhail Aleksandrovic Leontovich, head of the lab and MIFI theoretical physics department. Early radio spectroscopy work there with Aleksandr Mikhailovich Prokhorov using synchrotron. Inadequacy of low sensitivity equipment leading to development of maser-laser technology. Use of CsF molecule to solve problem of increasing the resolution of microwave frequency region. First indications of success reported at Conference on Radiospectroscopy, USSR Academy of Sciences, 1952 and first publication in field of quantum electronics with Prokhorov. Laboratory of Oscillations study of self excitation in a beam resonator system. Work atmosphere at FIAN. Basov’s work during World War II, 1941—1945. 1946, student at Moscow Institute of Physics. In 1948 joined Lebedev Physical Institute. Comments on relationship of Soviet politics and physics work. Comparison of American and Soviet science. Meeting with American scientists working in same area; comparison of their work with his. Colleagues working on semi conductor laser problems. Funding of laser programs. Scientific developments parallel with Maiman’s ruby laser. Development of three-level maser. Diversification of laser technology in USA and Russia. Current laser research; history of laser development at Lebedev; prize winners in laser technology. Work atmosphere in newly developed Laboratory of Quantum Radiophysics. Applications of laser; research using modern spectroscopic methods; investigations on the properties of coherent radiation.