Igor Vasilievich Kurchatov


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(1903–1960) Russian physicist

Kurchatov, born the son of a surveyor at Sim in Russia, was educated at the University of the Crimea, from which he graduated in 1923. Shortly afterwards he was appointed to the Leningrad Physico-Technical Institute where, in 1938, he became director of the nuclear physics laboratory. At some time during the war he moved to Moscow to take control of his country's military and industrial atomic research.

Under Kurchatov's direction the Soviet atomic program was remarkably successful. The Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb in 1949, its first hydrogen bomb in 1952, and constructed a nuclear power station in 1954. Before 1978, element-104 was known in the Soviet Union as kurchatovium. (The American claimants to the discovery named it rutherfordium, which is now the accepted name.)

Subjects: Science and Mathematics.

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