Yulii Borisovich Khariton
|Yulii Borisovich Khariton|
Yulii Borisovich Khariton, 1924
|Born||27 February 1904
Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
|Died||December 19, 1996
Sarov, near Moscow, Russia
|Institutions||Institute of Chemical Physics|
|Alma mater||Leningrad Polytechnical Institute, Soviet Union
University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
|Doctoral advisor||Ernest Rutherford|
|Other academic advisors||Abram Ioffe|
|Known for||Soviet atomic bomb project|
|Notable awards||Hero of Socialist Labor
Order of Lenin
Lomonosov Gold Medal (1982)
Yulii Borisovich Khariton (Russian: Ю́лий Бори́сович Харито́н, 27 February 1904 – 19 December 1996), was a Russian physicist who is widely credited as being one of the leading scientist in the Soviet Union's nuclear bomb program.
Since the initiation of the atomic bomb project by Joseph Stalin in 1943, Khariton was the "chief nuclear weapon designer" and remained associated with the Soviet program for nearly four decades. In honor of the centennial of his birthday in 2004, his image appeared on a Russian postal stamp by the Russian government.
Family, early life and education
Yulii Borisovich Khariton was born in Saint Petersburg in Russian Empire to ethnic middle class Russian Jewish family, on 27 February 1904.:xii His father, Boris Osipovich Khariton, was a political journalist, an editor, and a publisher, who had attained a law degree from Kiev University in Ukraine.:xlii:xii His father worked for the newspaper Rech, the main organ of the Constitutional Democratic Party, and was a well known figure in the political circles of Russia. After the revolution occurred in that dismantled the Tsarist autocracy in 1917, Boris Osipovich Khariton had clashes with the Bolsheviks and constantly at odds with the Vladimir Lenin's ideology.:xlii His father was exiled to Baltic states from Russia in 1922 at the age of forty six along with professors and journalists on one of the so-called Philosophers' ships, subsequently working for an emigrant newspaper in Latvia.
His father, Boris Khariton, remained in Latvia until the annexation of Latvia by Soviet Union in 1940 and, at the age of sixty-four, was then arrested by the NKVD where he was sentenced to seven years in work labor and sent to Gulag where he passed away.:xlii
Yulii's mother, Mirra Yakovlevna Burovskaya, was a theatre actress who acted in various plays in the Moscow Art Theatre but left Russia in 1910 due to illness that had to be treated at the European resort.:xlii Yulii was six year old when his mother left him and was taken care by an Estonian woman when hired by his father who was in exiled in Latvia.:134 Yulii's mother never returned to Russia and divorced his father, only to marry her psychiatrist, Dr. Max Eitingon.:xli
Yulii was homeschooled by his Estonian housekeeper, hired by his father, who taught him German language and began attending the regular school at age eleven.:xliii In Saint Petersburg, he went to attend a trade school which he completed at age of fifteen and found work at a local mechanical workshop where he learned how to operate various machinery.:xlii
In 1920, he joined the Leningrad Polytechnical Institute to study the mechanical engineering but later chose to study physics, which he found to be very stimulating subject.:xliii He studied physics under Russian physicists, Abram Ioffe, Nikolay Semyonov, Alexander Friedmann, but was more fascinated with work of Semenov whose research work used the techniques of physics in chemistry, which Semenov called "chemical physics.".:xliii His talent was recognized by Semenov who supported his research project in the investigations in light-emitting ability of phosphorus combined with oxygen, and reported the results in both German and Russian languages.:xliv In 1926, he completed his degree in physics from the Leningrad Polytechnical Institute and stopped working on his project as he prepared for his first foreign trip to England. :xlv
Before departing, he was introduced to Pyotr Kapitsa by Semenov who asked the latter to help Yulii to secure fellowship at the Cavendish Laboratory in England, and left to attend the University of Cambridge to do his doctoral in physics under Ernest Rutherford in 1926.:xlv At Cambridge, he worked with James Chadwick on investigating the sensitive of the eye with respect to the weak light impulses and alpha radiation; he earned his PhD in 1928 from Cambridge University under Ernest Rutherford's supervision.:xlv
Soviet atomic bomb project
In 1928, he decided to take up the residence in Germany to be near his mother but was appalled and frightened by the political propaganda by the Nazi Party in the Germany; therefore returning to Soviet Union while his mother left for Palestine.:xlv
In 1931, he joined the Institute of Chemical Physics and eventually headed the explosion laboratory until 1946, working closely with another Russian physicist Yakov Borisovich Zel'dovich on exothermic chemical chain reactions..:xlvi
In 1935 he received his doctorate in physical and mathematical sciences. During this period, Yulii Khariton and Yakov Zel'dovich conducted experiments regarding chain reactions of uranium. He was elected as a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1946, and as a full member in 1953.
He received the following honours:
- Three times Hero of Socialist Labor (29.10.1949, 12.08.1951, 04.01.1954)
- Six Orders of Lenin (29.09.1949, 11.09.1956, 07.03.1962, 1964, 1974, 1984)
- Order of the October Revolution (1971)
- Order of the Red Banner of Labor (1945)
- Order of the Red Star (1944)
- Sublette, Carey (19 December 1996). "Yuli Khariton". nuclearweaponarchive.org. nuclearweaponarchive. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
- Dalyell, Tam (23 December 1996). "Obituary: Yuli Khariton". The Independent. Independent Russia Bureau. Independent. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
- "Yuli B. Khariton". Atomic Heritage Foundation. Atomic Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
- Hargittai, Istvan (2004). Buried Glory: Portraits of Soviet Scientists. London, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. clxxii. ISBN 9780199985616. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
- Подвиг Юлия Борисовича Харитона Archived May 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. (Russian)
- Человек столетия, или как создавался ядерный щит России[permanent dead link] (Russian)
- Hargittai, Istvan (2010). "Yulii B. Khariton". Judging Edward Teller: A Closer Look at One of the Most Influential Scientists of the Twentieth Century (google books) (1 ed.). New York: Prometheus Books. p. 495. ISBN 9781616142698. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
- Оппенгеймер и Харитон: параллели жизни Archived May 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. (Russian)