Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Sakharov Stories

When I was at secondary school, one of the biggest news stories was the ongoing changes happening in the Soviet bloc.  From perestroika and glasnost, then on to the demise of the Soviet Union and the rest of the communist countries in Eastern Europe.  It was through these stories that I learned the name of Andrei Sakharov for his role as a peace activist. I think I was vaguely aware at the time that he had a background in science, though I can't remember now if I knew he was a nuclear physicists.

Sakharov died while I was still at school, in 1989, in time to see most of the changes.  Now, in 2012, when 1989 is more than half my life ago, I am a nuclear physicist (though an inferior sort to Sakharov), and I note that the journal Physics-Uspekhi has published a series of articles commemorating Andrei Dmitrievich, on what would have been his 90th birthday, yesterday.  The all-round good guys and gals of the publishing arm of the Institute of Physics publish the english translation of Physics-Uspekhi, and being the generous sorts they are, they make all articles free to read for the first month after publication.  There are some nice biographical articles there, by old names from Russian physics, and they are worth a read.  There are some more technical ones, too, which are probably less suitable for a general audience...