Remembering founding fathers: Nikolay Nikolaevich Bogoliubov

News, 21 August 2021

On 21 August 1909, a famous Soviet physicist and world-renown mathematician Nikolay Nikolaevich Bogoliubov was born. He was one of the founding fathers of JINR, the first director of the Laboratory of Theoretical Physics and the director of the Institute in 1965–1989.

The scale of his personality impressed his contemporaries and continues to surprise descendants. It is symbolic that the most populated street in Dubna – Bogoliubov Avenue – is named after him.

N. N. Bogoliubov wrote more than 300 scientific papers during almost 70 years of his scientific career. The full collection of them is published in 12 volumes.

Thus, he made a fundamental contribution to the creation of theories of superconductivity and superfluidity (jointly with L. D. Landau), quantum field theory (jointly with D. V. Shirkov), theory of symmetry and study of quark models of elementary particles, development of the statistical mechanics of equilibrium and non-equilibrium processes. The name of Bogoliubov has come down into scientific history in two methods: the Hartree – Fock – Bogoliubov method, a variational method in quantum theory, and the Krylov – Bogoliubov method aimed to obtain approximate analytical solutions of nonlinear differential equations with small nonlinearity.

In science, N. N. Bogoliubov left an imprint not only as a brilliant researcher but also as a talented administrator who often combined several positions at a time. At the beginning of the 1950s, he was one of the founders of the first Soviet nuclear centre in Sarov (now VNIIEF). Then N. N. Bogoliubov was sent to work in Dubna. He devoted more than 30 years of life to develop the Joint Institute. He established the Laboratory of Theoretical Physics and then headed it, and several years later he became the director of the Institute. Moreover, in different years, N. N. Bogoliubov was Academician Secretary of the Department of Mathematics and a Member of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Director of the Mathematical Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences n.a. V. A. Steklov, and a deputy of the USSR Supreme Soviet. Furthermore, he was a founder of the Institute of Theoretical Physics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

Being a world-famous outstanding scientist, N. N. Bogoliubov was also a perfect organiser and teacher with numerous students, among whom there were A. A. Logunov, A. N. Tavkhelidze, D. V. Shirkov, V. G. Kadyshevsky, A. N. Sissakian, I. Todorov, Nguen Van Hieu, V. A. Matveev, G. M. Zinoviev, V. P. Shelest, D. I. Kazakov, and others.

N. N. Bogoliubov established two world scientific schools: of nonlinear mechanics and theoretical physics. Those who were close with Nikolay Nikolaevich noted his knowledge in various fields of human activity and remarkable traits.

According to the memories of his permanent secretary N. S. Isaeva, the door to his office was always open.

“Great erudition of Nikolay Nikolaevich in history, linguistics, literature was amazing…” this was the way Academician Dmitry Shirkov spoke about the scientist. “He had sharp mind and humor, he was a polymath in a wide variety of fields and perfectly knew seven languages”.

There are famous words by the founder of cybernetics and the artificial intelligence theory Norbert Wiener said about Nikolay Nikolaevich: “Aren’t there several Bogoliubovs – outstanding specialists in mathematics, mechanics, and physics?”