George Volkoff

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George Volkoff
George Michael Volkoff.jpg
George Michael Volkoff
George Michael Volkoff

(1914-02-23)February 23, 1914
DiedApril 24, 2000(2000-04-24) (aged 86)
AwardsOrder of Canada
Order of the British Empire
Scientific career

George Michael Volkoff, OC MBE FRSC (February 23, 1914 – April 24, 2000) was a Russian-Canadian physicist and academic who helped, with J. Robert Oppenheimer, predict the existence of neutron stars before they were discovered.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Moscow. His father was a Russian engineer who emigrated to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1924. Unable to find work, his father moved the family to Harbin, Manchuria in 1927. His mother died soon after moving to Harbin. In 1936, Volkoff's father returned to Russia but was exiled to the arctic camps as part of the Great Purge where he would die.[1]


Volkoff returned to Vancouver and entered the University of British Columbia where he received a Bachelor of Arts in physics in 1934 and a Master of Arts degree in 1936. He then studied with J. Robert Oppenheimer at the University of California, Berkeley where he published his paper "On Massive Neutron Cores" and earned his Ph.D. in 1940.[2]


In 1940, he joined the physics department of the University of British Columbia as an assistant professor. During World War II he worked on the Manhattan Project at the Montreal Laboratory. From 1961 to 1970, he was the head of the department. From 1970 to 1979, he was the Dean of Science. He was a member of the University of British Columbia Senate for three periods: 1950 to 1954, 1961 to 1963, and 1969 to 1979.

He was the president of the Canadian Association of Physicists from 1962 to 1963.


In 1946, he was made a member of the Order of the British Empire. In 1994, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada for having "contributed to the general development of physics in Canada and, in particular, at the University of British Columbia".[3]

He died in Vancouver in 2000.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "In Memoriam - George Michael Volkoff". Canadian Association of Physicists. Archived from the original on 2006-10-11.
  2. ^ Vogt, Erich (November 2000). "Obituary: George Michael Volkoff". Physics Today. 53 (11): 76. Bibcode:2000PhT....53k..76V. doi:10.1063/1.1333309. Archived from the original on 2013-10-11.
  3. ^ Order of Canada citation Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine