January 01, 2003

Father of the Atom



This year marks the centenary of Soviet physicist Igor Kurchatov, under whose guidance the first Soviet atomic bomb was created.

Born on January 12, 1903 in a small Urals town,  Kurchatov studied at the Tauride University in the Crimea, graduating in 1923 and moving to Leningrad to work at the Physics-Technical Institute. Beginning in 1932 he worked in nuclear physics.

During the Second World War, in 1943, Stalin appointed Kurchatov to head up the Soviet effort to build an atomic bomb. Under Kurchatov, the USSR exploded its first nuclear bomb in 1949, its first hydrogen bomb in 1953 and constructed its first nuclear power station in 1954. From 1953-1959 Kurchatov supervised the creation of the first atomic ice-breaker “Lenin.”


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