Celebration of 110th anniversary of Academician Georgy Flerov

Media, 06 March 2023

2 March marked the 110th anniversary of the birth of the famous scientist Georgy N. Flerov (1913 – 1990), the founder and first Director of the Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions JINR. In honour of this date, on 3 March, members of the JINR Directorate and leadership of the Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions laid flowers at the monument to G. N. Flerov on Veksler Street. The key event of the celebration was a special seminar dedicated to the memory of the scientist. The Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions hosted the seminar, as well as a presentation of the book issued in commemoration of the anniversary of Academician Flerov.

JINR Director Academician Grigory Trubnikov delivered his welcoming speech, “Today is a great event in the life of not only our city, our Institute, but also the whole Russian science. It is the anniversary of Georgy Nikolaevich Flerov. He was a great scientist who left a bright mark on world science. Bold, energetic, defending scientific truth, a person with high responsibility and a high degree of risk.” Grigory Trubnikov highlighted that Flerov was gifted with brilliant scientific intuition and at the same time with perseverance. It allowed him to defend the ideas and experiments in which he believed, involving people around him in them, starting with students and ending with the leaders of the country. “Only such pressure and faith give fantastic results. Flerov’s name is on the Periodic Table, on the pediment of the Laboratory at which he worked, it is known to all citizens of Dubna,” the JINR Director concluded.

“Today is a festive day for our whole Institute. We are celebrating the 110th anniversary of the birth of the founder of our Laboratory, the first Director who created it and brought it to the top,” Sergey Dmitriev, JINR Vice Director, stated. He highlighted that the main memory of Georgy Nikolaevich are the achievements of FLNR JINR and the name of element 114 of the Periodic Table.

At the seminar, speakers devoted their reports to different stages of the scientist’s life path. Scientific Leader of the Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions JINR and an outstanding student of Georgy Flerov, Yuri Oganessian spoke about the beginning of Flerov’s career, his student years, and work with Igor Kurchatov, who at that time headed the department of Leningrad Physicotechnical Institute, at which Flerov received his training. Flerov considered Kurchatov his teacher all his life. Academician Oganessian spoke about the history of the discovery of uranium spontaneous fission in 1940 made by Georgy Flerov and Konstantin Petrzhak. “In the Soviet Union, this discovery attracted a lot of attention. It was considered as evidence that Kurchatov and his staff worked at the same level as scientists at leading research centres in the West,” Yuri Oganessian said.

Honorary Scientific Leader of the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre – All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF, Sarov), Head of the Department of Electronic Measurement Systems at NRNU MEPhI, Academician Radiy Ilkaev spoke about the role of Georgy Flerov in the Soviet atomic project and his contribution to the development of All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (VNIIEF), at which Flerov worked for four years. During that short period, the scientist created a school of experimental physics at this institute and laid the foundations for creating a unique base of facilities for nuclear physics and radiation research. In the atomic project, Flerov’s group was responsible for creating methods and conducting critical mass measurements and organized about a thousand experiments on 40 different substances. After the first test of the atomic project, Flerov was awarded the title of Hero of Socialist Labour. “I would like to emphasise that when creating the first samples for nuclear tests, Flerov’s work was decisive. Without these experimental experiments, it was not possible to conduct tests. Flerov, in fact, was one of the organizers and participants of the test of the first Soviet atomic bomb and the first hydrogen bomb,” Radiy Ilkaev summed up.

Advisor to the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Academician Boris Myasoedov (V. A. Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry of RAS) delivered to participants of the seminar welcoming message by President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Gennady Krasnikov and Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Stepan Kalmykov, in which they wish FLNR further success in the scientific activity. Academician Myasoedov devoted his report to the synthesis and study of superheavy elements by G. N. Flerov. The career path of the speaker in science began in Dubna in 1954. “As a scientist, I was born thanks to Georgy Nikolaevich. He was more than a mentor — he was a brilliant man in every way,” Boris Myasoedov said.

As part of the special event, a presentation of the photo book “Academician Georgy Nikolaevich Flerov. Portrait against the background of the epoch” was held. The book of the RMP Publishing House (Real Modern Pictures), which publishes biographical and corporate books, is dedicated to the life and path in science of a famous scientist. It reveals his character and the image of the time in which he lived. The publication includes a large number of previously unpublished photographs and documents from the JINR and FLNR archives, as well as from personal archives. Mikhail Lukichev and Natalia Shaulskaya are the authors of the book.

Director of the publishing house Mikhail Lukichev said that work on the book about Academician Flerov had begun in October 2022 at the suggestion of Director of the Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions Sergey Sidorchuk. Yuri Oganessian, an editor of the JINR Weekly Newspaper “Dubna: science, community, progress” Evgeny Molchanov, and the JINR Scientific Information Department under the leadership of Boris Starchenko helped to publish the book. Mikhail Lukichev highlighted the idea that JINR had a fine tradition of honouring the memory of the Institute’s founders, world famous scientists, and that such a tradition was not preserved in all the scientific centres.

The author defined the target audience of the book as follows, “This book is primarily for those who do not know the main character. But would like to learn more about him for the next generation of scientists, young people who should learn to live and work by the example of such people. Flerov is an excellent example of how you can achieve a lot in life using your brain and skills,” he highlighted.

Atomic project and synthesis of superheavy elements:
110th anniversary of G. N. Flerov