Incredible Kapitsa: the amazing story of the life of the famous scientist

“Portal” to another dimension appeared at the corner of the famous House of academicians on Lenin, 13. Here 63 years of his life he lived a Russian scientist, educator Sergei Kapitsa.

Opened in honor of the 90 anniversary of his birth, a memorial plaque really creates the impression of a transition from the past to the future. Many gathered near the house Kapitza friends of the scientist in his birthday remembered him so light and positive that it seemed, and there was five and a half years that he is not with us, that’s going to push the button of the TV, and he is the permanent host of the TV program “Obvious — improbable” with its perpetual “good day!”. We have collected the most touching memories of him.


photo: Natalia Muslinkina

Plaque on Lenin,13

It all began on 14 February 1928 in Cambridge English. The family of the emigrant Anna Krylova and brilliant Russian scientist Peter Kapitsa sent abroad to build bridges with Western scientific schools, the son was born “with a weight of 9 ¼ pounds, healthy and loud boy.”.. He grew very inquisitive, temperamental, didn’t like to lose, and always set the bar high for ourselves and tried to achieve it. And at age 15, when he enrolled at the Moscow aviation Institute, specialty Aeronautics, and soon took the controls of the training plane 2. And at age 36, when he headed the Moscow Institute of physics and technology (MIPT) Department of General physics… Over the years, the freshness of perception of the thoughts have not disappeared, but it was joined by a deep scientific knowledge, accumulated wisdom, and that made Sergei Petrovich unique link between high science and simple viewer, often far from the fundamental theories.

“A man in the house»

Remembers the Soviet and Russian sculptor, academician of the Russian Academy of arts, the author of the memorial plaque in honour of Sergey Kapitsa on Leninsky Prospekt, 13, Georgy FRANGULYAN:

— I, like all of us, Soviet television viewers, met with Sergei Petrovich on TV. His transfer was a favorite for many, many years. Its form of presentation, serious problems were available to all. It inspires confidence that there are things that can be overcome, despite the fact that you’re unprofessional. He had amazing humility and respect for people.

Sergey Petrovich visited me in the Studio. I remember him very carefully, like a true researcher, and studied my work. Then I was doing “Choice” — the statuette to the award “the Resistance” which was given to people who risked their lives to save others. He was on her presentation and said: “I understand the essence of your sculptures, they are four-dimensional”. You know, not three-dimensional and four-dimensional! It was very flattering to me, because I just tried to look deep into the solution to spatial problems. The same principle I have tried to embody in a memorial plaque dedicated to the memory of Sergei Petrovich. It’s unusual — it is the only commemorative plaque, which, as it hugs the corner of the house. Her two Kapitza — on the one hand he was in his youth, how he came to this house, on the other hand, his fairly advanced age, altered, emaciated, with sad, wise eyes. I remember how he joked: “In my youth, I took mind and now I’m taking beauty”. For many, the Board would be a surprise: after all, few people remember him when he was still young, and on the other hand, he is not the same as we remember him on the TV show. I showed the beginning and the end. The angular composition as it shows that Kapitza goes from us as a four-dimensional cube into another dimension.

“Could joke, without deviating from the essence»

Says ex-President of the Russian Academy of Sciences academician Vladimir FORTOV:

— Once we with Sergey Petrovich invited UNESCO, in Paris, for the “round table”, which was called “Science in different aspects”. There were a lot of people, mostly in the Humanities, a huge audience. Suddenly spontaneously had the theme of “Science and religion”. It turned out, a lot of people wanted this theme to be and in the end quarreled. When the temperature of personal relationships got to be too much and some were ready almost to fight, stood Sergei Kapitsa and said, “you Know, my friends, is the concept of “knowledge” and “faith.” Here, for example, Mrs. Jones knows that she has a child of Mr. Jones, and Mr. Jones… believe in it.» Everyone smiled, this immediately took the pressure off, and we continued the discussion of complex themes in a friendly tone. He was able to defuse the situation relevant joke, not deviating from the point. Remember, on the same “round table” on the question of the difference between the perception of religion by atheists and believers, he replied: “Believers are sure that God invented man, and atheists believe that man invented God.”

“He didn’t like small dogs»


Sergei Kapitsa and Svetlana Popova. Photo: Scientific Russia

Recalls Executive producer, Director of TV company “unbelievable”, who worked with the master for fifteen years, Svetlana POPOVA:

— The main secret of the program’s success was his own credibility in the scientific world and among viewers, not only in our country. To him the program was ready to come and large, scientists, and novice. Everyone was worried, beforehand asked questions. We often went to each other’s homes, and once it became clear that he does not like small dogs. And I have just had two Masya and Basia. And if Basia someone jumped in my lap, and it meant that she recognized the man as a friend. Sergei Petrovich was “lucky”. However, he only stroked the dog and immediately asked to remove it. Meanwhile in the house Kapitsa at the family table at basi and Masi knew his place. Later in one of the programs “Obvious — improbable” entitled “do animals Think?”he’s allowed to sit next to her at a round table, a huge dog, and during a broadcast told a touching story about the seals whom he had met in the far East, in the area of Kuril ridge: “When our boat reached the shore, he was immediately surrounded the seals and stuck out of the water its muzzle, brand smart, dog. I asked the boatswain: “What do they want?”— “And that they listen to music,” he says. We have at the moment from the speaker really was music, which the seals were entangled. After we conducted a little experiment: I turned off the speakers animals, turning bewildered heads, swam away; turned on — re-appeared”.

“The plane took a seat near the emergency exit»

Says a former subordinate at the MIPT Kapitsa, physicist Victor VESELAGO:

— I don’t understand why Mr. Jackson was never elected an academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences. I believe that his election would decorate our Academy. But you understand how it is sometimes… At the time, even periodic not included in the Academy of Sciences. But Sergei Petrovich appreciated in Europe. He was a member of the International European Academy of Sciences. One day he was flying to Rome for another meeting, and I about their business, and we accidentally met at the airport at the reception. We talked and it turned out that we both are interested in particular places in the plane. Due to my tall height, and Sergei Kapitsa was good, we had seats near the emergency exits, before which plenty of space for stretching of legs.

Why Plisetskaya cursed into the air from Kapitza

Says TV presenter Evelina ZAKAMSKAYA:

— Remember the first aired in 2010, when Sergey came to our Studio in connection with the announcement of Nobel laureates in physics. It so happened that they were our compatriots Andrey Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, are his former students. Kapitsa was a sought-after speaker that day, and very interestingly told us about the invention of graphene. In the Wake of this successful first television experience we struck up quite a friendly relationship as possible, given our age difference and the individual. Several times went to the theater, I remember visiting him in the hospital a year and a half before his departure. Thought I’d drop by for a minute, I’m not going to bother. He brought fruit, ice cream. But it turned out that he felt fine and we spent probably two hours. Talked about everything: about my home town about decompression sickness, he was fond of diving.


Frame from the TV program “Obvious-improbable”. Photo: a frame from the video

It is very interesting to tell about the heroes of his transfer, as he sought their favor and understanding. Because it came not only scientists, but also artists. “What were you talking to Maya Plisetskaya? — I asked once. — She’s a great dancer, and you’re a scientist?”. — “And we talked about the role of creativity in art and science.” And told a funny episode, as they were doing a programme about Plisetskaya in the Pushkin Museum. They had a stand-up pass the stairs, during which they speak the background music, the words, the audience can’t hear. Have already begun to withdraw, as from some lady POPs up and spoils the picture. Shoot a second take, in which Plisetskaya Kapitsa talks about a similar situation with a lady during the filming of “Anna Karenina”, where she played the role of Betsy. There in the frame all the time appeared cleaner, and the Director could not stand, swore loudly at her mate: “Go on … hence!”. When the ballerina repeated this phrase Director Sergei Petrovich, her face came close up to the camera. Kapitsa was immediately warned: “Maya Mikhailovna, you know, a certain percentage of our audience knows how to read lips.” Then the editors have received many letters from angry viewers with the words: “do you think you are: people’s artist and so expressed!”.

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