Orest Khvolson

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Orest Khvolson

Orest Danilovich Khvolson or Chwolson (Russian: Орест Данилович Хвольсон) (November 22 (N.S. December 4), 1852 in Saint Petersburg – May 11, 1934 in Leningrad) was a Russian physicist and honorary member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences (1920). He is most noted for being one of the first to study the gravitational lens effect.[1]

Orest, son of the noted Orientalist Daniel Chwolson, graduated from St. Petersburg University in 1873. He began teaching at his alma mater in 1876 and would become a professor in 1891. Orest Khvolson authored a number of works on electricity, magnetism, photometry, and actinometry. He proposed the designs of actinometer and pyrheliometer, which would be used by the Russian weather stations for a long time. After 1896, Khvolson was mainly engaged in compiling the five-volume Physics Course (Курс физики), which would improve immensely the teaching of physics throughout the country and remain a principal textbook in universities for years to come. It was even translated into the German, French, and Spanish languages.

His most noted accomplishment was in 1924, when he published about gravitational lenses in Astronomische Nachrichten, a scientific journal on astronomy. In the article he mentioned the “halo effect” of gravitation when the source, lens, and observer are in near-perfect alignment[2] (now referred to as the Einstein ring), although he did not explicitly discuss the use of the ring as lens. The concept of gravitational lenses, did not get much attention until 1936, when Albert Einstein wrote about the gravitational lens effect.[3] The "halo" effect of a gravitational lens, where one source (sun or galaxy) produces a ring around another source is referred to as an Chwolson ring,[citation needed] or Einstein ring.

He became an honorary member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labour. The crater Khvolson on the Moon is named after him.[2]

Important publications[edit]

  • Chwolson, O (1924). "Über eine mögliche Form fiktiver Doppelsterne". Astronomische Nachrichten. 221 (20): 329–330. Bibcode:1924AN....221..329C. doi:10.1002/asna.19242212003.
  • Traité de physique[dead link] O.-D. Chwolson (French translation of Kurs fiziki by E. Davaux) Paris : A. Hermann, 1906–1928


  1. ^ Sauer, Tilman (2010). "A brief history of gravitational lensing". Einstein Online. 4. p. 1005.
  2. ^ a b Turner, Christina (February 14, 2006). "The Early History of Gravitational Lensing" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 25, 2008.
  3. ^ Tilman Sauer (2007). "Nova Geminorum 1912 and the Origin of the Idea of Gravitational Lensing". Archive for History of Exact Sciences. 62 (1): 1–22. arXiv:0704.0963. doi:10.1007/s00407-007-0008-4.