Recalling founders

News, 17 September 2021

On 17 September, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research celebrates the birthday of Mikhail Grigorievich Meshcheryakov, an outstanding experimental physicist and a talented science organiser, a laureate of USSR state prizes, Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences, the founder and the first Director of the research centre in Dubna. He was a founder of Dubna itself.

The main scientific works of M. G., as he was called not only at work, but also in the family, were in the fields of accelerators, nuclear physics, and elementary particles. The research that he conducted allowed detecting the resonance effects in nucleon-nucleon interactions and establishing the dependency of π-meson spectra on the size of irradiated nuclei. A number of his works were devoted to the problem of automation of physics research.

Igor Vasilyevich Kurchatov was Mikhail Grigoryevich’s scientific supervisor, and later a friend, who attracted a talented graduate student to work on the USSR Atomic Project. In 1946 – 1947, Meshcheryakov was a USSR observer during the tests of US atomic bombs on Bikini Atoll, and then was an expert of the UN Atomic Commission.

In 1947 – 1949, M. G. Meshcheryakov, D. V. Efremov, and A. L. Mints supervised the construction of the first Soviet 680 MeV Synchrocyclotron, which was the largest proton accelerator in the world until 1953.

Mikhail Grigoryevich was appointed Director of the Hydroengineering Laboratory of the USSR AS, at which the accelerator was built. Thanks to the rapid development of experimental research on the Synchrocyclotron and significant scientific results, in 1953, the Hydroengineering Laboratory was transformed into the Institute of Nuclear Problems of the USSR AS, which became part of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research established in 1956. In 1966, together with N. N. Govorunov he was the founder and the first director of the Laboratory of Computing Techniques and Automation (currently the Laboratory of Information Technologies).

Meshcheryakov as the founding father was proud of his creation, as well as for the contribution of researchers and employees to the development and prosperity of the scientific centre. His famous quote is the following, “The history of the Institute is the evidence showing that the result of the dedicated efforts of our peoples and collective mind of our governments and scientists is a great scientific and social achievement. The acknowledgement of this fact is manifested by the international fame of JINR, fundamental discoveries by the scientists of JINR, and the high-standard level of their civic consciousness.”