Soviet Union

Yuri Gagarin – the first Man in Space

Yuri Gagarin – the first Man in Space

On 12 April 1961, aboard the Vostok 3KA-3 (Vostok 1), Soviet pilot Yuri Gagarin became both the first human to travel into space, and also the first to orbit the earth. Youth and Education Gagarin was born on 9 March 1934 in the village of Kluschino near Gschatsk as the son of a Russian peasant family. His father Alexei Ivanovich Gagarin (1902-1973) was a carpenter in the collective farm there, his mother…
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Nikolai Vavilov and the Centres of Origin of Cultivated Plants

Nikolai Vavilov and the Centres of Origin of Cultivated Plants

On November 25, 1887, Russian and Soviet botanist and geneticist Nikolai Vavilov was born. Vavilov is best known for having identified the centres of origin of cultivated plants. He devoted his life to the study and improvement of wheat, corn, and other cereal crops that sustain the global population. He established 400 research institutes and made expeditions throughout the world (1916-33), leading Russian plant hunters on the first attempt to “cover the…
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Faster than the Speed of Light – Ilya Frank and the Cherenkov Radiation

Faster than the Speed of Light – Ilya Frank and the Cherenkov Radiation

On October 23, 1908, Soviet physicist Ilya Mikhailovich Frank was born. Frank received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1958 jointly with Pavel Alekseyevich Cherenkov and Igor Y. Tamm for his work in explaining the phenomenon of Cherenkov radiation, an electromagnetic radiation emitted when a charged particle (such as an electron) passes through a dielectric medium at a speed greater than the phase velocity of light in that medium. Family Background and…
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Iosif Shklovsky and the Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe

Iosif Shklovsky and the Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe

On July 1, 1916, Soviet astronomer and astrophysicist Iosif Shklovsky was born. Shklovsky identified the continuum radiation of the Crab Nebula as synchrotron radiation, and he linked x-ray stars to binary systems containing a neutron star. He is also remembered for his 1962 book on extraterrestrial life, the revised and expanded version of which was co-authored by American astronomer Carl Sagan in 1966 as ‘Intelligent Life in the Universe‘. Iosif Shklovsky – The…
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Konstantin Feoktistov, Space Engineer

Konstantin Feoktistov, Space Engineer

On February 7, 1926, Soviet cosmonaut and an eminent space engineer Konstantin Petrovich Feoktistov was born. Feoktistov was part of the team that would go on to design the Sputnik, Vostok, Voskhod, and Soyuz spacecraft under the leadership of Sergey Korolev.[1] He trained as a cosmonaut, and eventually launched 12 Oct 1964 for 16 earth orbits as one of the crew of Voskhod 1 (with Vladimir Komarov and Boris Yegorov), the world‘s…
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Yuri Knorozov and the Decipherment of the Mayan Language

Yuri Knorozov and the Decipherment of the Mayan Language

On November 19, 1922, Soviet linguist epigrapher and ethnographer Yuri Knorozov was born. Knorozov is particularly renowned for the pivotal role his research played in the decipherment of the Maya script, the writing system used by the pre-Columbian Maya civilization of Mesoamerica. “There are no indecipherable writings, any writing system produced by man can be read by man.” — Yuri Knozorov, Epigraphic Atlas of Petén Phase 1 Youth and Education Yuri Knorozov was born…
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The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project

The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project

On July 17, 1975, the US-American Apollo Command/Service Module docked with the Soviet Soyuz 19 in the course of the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project, the first joint U.S.–Soviet space flight, as a symbol of the policy of détente that the two superpowers were pursuing at the time. Due to the tense relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, space cooperation between both countries was quite unlikely in the early 1970s. Next…
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Lev Landau – Superfluidity, the Hydrogen Bomb and Sarcastic Remarks

Lev Landau – Superfluidity, the Hydrogen Bomb and Sarcastic Remarks

On January 22, 1908, Soviet physicist and Nobel Laureate Lev Landau was born. Landau made fundamental contributions to many areas of theoretical physics. He received the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physics for his development of a mathematical theory of superfluidity that accounts for the properties of liquid helium II  at a temperature below 2.17 K (−270.98 °C). Lev Landau – Early Years Lev Landau was the son of the Caspian-Black Sea Joint-Stock Company…
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The Russian Space Shuttle

The Russian Space Shuttle

On November 15, 1988, the Soviet space shuttle Buran took off for its one and only spaceflight. This remains the only Soviet space shuttle that was launched into space, as the Buran program was cancelled in 1993. Even though the Soviet’s space-craft program started officially in the 1950’s, not a single project came into production and was organized sporadically only. The very first steps towards the Buran program were taken when the…
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