Physics (фізика; fizyka). Originally ‘physics’ referred to the study of all aspects of nature. In the mid-19th century it was still synonymous with ‘natural philosophy.’ The earliest extant Ukrainian source on natural philosophy is the retelling of Aristotelian ideas in the Izbornik of Sviatoslav (1073). In Ukraine attention was first devoted to quantitative problems in the Protestant Socinian schools, which appeared at the end of the 16th century (eg, Berestechko in Volhynia and Khmilnyk in Podilia). They produced mathematical and technical manuals for artisans and merchants, handwritten in the Ukrainian vernacular. Arithmetic and astronomy were taught in the Ostroh Academy (est ca 1576), the first institution of higher learning in Ukraine. Considerable attention was devoted to the natural sciences in the Kyivan Mohyla Academy (est 1632). Teofan Prokopovych’s lectures on natural philosophy, physics, and mathematics at the academy were lucid treatments of much that was known on those subjects at the time.

From the 1730s, natural philosophy was taught at Kharkiv College; in 1765 physics-related subjects, such as structural engineering, geodesy, and artillery and ballistics, became part of the curriculum; and in 1795, after the college merged with the Kharkiv Central Public College, physics was taught as a separate subject.

In the early 19th century, Kharkiv University was the center of physics research in Ukraine. The first professor of physics there was Atanasije Stojković (1805–13). Timofei Osipovsky studied atmospheric optics and argued against the Kantian concept of space and time. His former student Mykhailo V. Ostrohradsky was the first Ukrainian to contribute to the development of physics and mathematics on the international level. He copostulated the Gauss-Ostrohradsky theorem on the transformation of a volume integral into a surface integral, one of the cornerstones of continuum mechanics and electrodynamics, and solved a number of outstanding theoretical physics problems. In 1882 a Kharkiv University lecturer, Mykola Pylchykov, investigating the polarization of light scattered by the atmosphere, found that blue light is scattered more than red, and corrected the prevailing view that the sky is blue because of air fluorescence. Fundamental discoveries in theoretical mechanics were made at the university in the last decade of the 19th century. By generalizing S. Kovalevska’s 1889 theoretical studies of dynamical instabilities, Aleksandr Liapunov provided a starting point for applied areas, such as radio technology and control theory. Recently, interest in his work was revived in studies of nonlinear dynamics and chaotic systems; the so-called Liapunov exponent is now an established indicator for determining if a motion is chaotic.

At Kyiv University the basis for experimental physics research in Ukraine was laid by Mikhail Avenarius from 1866 on. Avenarius is best known for his discovery of the temperature dependence of the electromotive force of thermoelements (Avenarius’s law) and for his systematic measurements of the critical temperatures of fluids. In 1884 the first chair of theoretical physics in Ukraine was founded at Kyiv University. It was first held by Nikolai Shiller, who made important contributions to electrodynamics (highly regarded by James Clerk Maxwell) and showed that differential equations describing the second law of thermodynamics contain an integrating factor that is a universal function of temperature. Shiller also founded the Kyiv Physics and Mathematics Society (1890); it played an important role in the development and popularization of physics in Ukraine.

Substantial contributions were also made by physicists working at Odesa University. There N. Umov introduced the concepts of energy density and the vector property of energy flow in 1874, and Mykola Pylchykov conducted the first measurements of radioactivity in Ukraine in 1900.

Soviet Ukraine

Kyiv. From 1918 important work in mathematical physics, in particular on approximate integration of differential equations, was carried out in the Physical-Mathematical Division of the newly founded Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Papers published in the 1920s in the academy’s serials and subsequently abroad brought international recognition to those doing theoretical work in Ukraine. Of special significance was Mykola Krylov and his student Nikolai Bogoliubov’s development of modern nonlinear mechanics. Subsequently, Bogoliubov became world-renowned for his seminal contributions to statistical, nuclear, and particle physics and quantum-field theory.

The department of experimental physics organized in 1923 at the Kyiv Polytechnical Institute by Oleksander Goldman was the first modern physics research center in Ukraine. Properties of dielectrics and semiconductors were investigated there. In 1929 the department was transformed into a multifaceted Physics Scientific Research Institute, which in 1936 was renamed the Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR. In 1927 Goldman started Ukraïns’ki fizychni zapysky (later Fizychni zapysky, 1926–41), the first Ukrainian serial devoted exclusively to physics. By that time Ukrainian physics and other scientific terminology had been largely codified. Fizychni zapysky contributed substantially to the further development of physics terminology. In 1926 Naum Morgulis established, as part of the department of physics at Kyiv University, a laboratory for physical electronics, where experimental and theoretical work was conducted on the ionization of surfaces. In 1930 the laboratory became part of the Physics Scientific Research Institute.

Ten other physics-related research establishments at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine have been based in Kyiv: the Institute of Mechanics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (est 1919); the Institute of Hydromechanics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (est 1926); the Main Astronomical Observatory (est 1944); the Institute of Electrodynamics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (est 1947); the Institute of Metal Physics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (est 1955); the Institute of Semiconductors of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (est 1960), where theoretical and applied laser physics is studied; the Institute of Geophysics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (est 1960), which also develops and improves geophysical methods for discovering new mineral deposits; the Institute of Technical Thermophysics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (est 1947), which directs its efforts at investigating alternative and renewable energy sources; the Institute of Theoretical Physics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (est 1966); and the Institute for Nuclear Research of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (est 1970). The last two institutes have in short order acquired international renown, the former for its research in quantum-field theory (Ostap Parasiuk, P. Fomin, V. Miransky, G. Zinovev), nuclear and plasma theory (Oleksii Sytenko, I. Simenoh, V. Kharchenko, I. Yakymenko), condensed-matter physics (Viktor Bariakhtar, I. Dziub), and quantum biophysics (Oleksander Davydov, V. Hachok, E. Petrov, I. Ukrainsky), and the latter for its experimental facilities and a strong theoretical group (Vilen Strutynsky, V. Fushchych, Dmytro Petryna of the Institute of Mathematics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR). Some of the other scientists who have contributed significantly to the advance of physical knowledge are V. Stryzhak (neutron physics at Kyiv University, 1960–76), M. Brodyn, I. Horban, Andrii Lubchenko, Marat Shpak (optical properties of solids), and Solomon Pekar (polaron theory).

In 1990 the founding congress of the Ukrainian Physics Society was held in Kyiv; Viktor Bariakhtar was elected president.

Kharkiv. In many respects, scientific research output from Kharkiv has rivaled and even surpassed Kyiv’s. In 1919 Dmytro Rozhansky established a radio-physics laboratory at Kharkiv University, and in 1924–5 magnetrons for radio-wave generation were developed at the Kharkiv Institute of People's Education (KhINO) by Abram Slutskin and D. Shteinberg. The All-Ukrainian Association of Physicists was founded at the KhINO in 1926; headed by Andrii Zhelekhivsky, it also had branches in Kyiv (headed by Oleksander Goldman), Dnipropetrovsk (by A. Malinovsky), and Odesa (by E. Kirilov). A department of physics was founded at the KhINO in 1927; it was directed by Rozhansky. In 1928 the Ukrainian Physical-Technical Institute was established. It developed rapidly into a major physics center for the entire USSR. The vigorous development of experimental nuclear physics at the institute was exemplified by the 400-KeV electrostatic accelerator brought on-line in 1932 and by the 3.5-MeV facility made operational in 1937 (the most powerful in Europe at the time). Soviet heavy-water production was first achieved there by Oleksander Brodsky in 1934. Major contributions were also made to theoretical and experimental nuclear, high-energy, plasma, low-temperature, and solid-state physics. Important discoveries were made in the areas of antiferromagnetism, ideal diamagnetism of semiconductors, nuclear magnetism, dynamics of magnetic moments, interacting spin waves (magnons), and magnetoacoustic resonance.

In 1938 the Ukrainian Physical-Technical Institute was renamed the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR. Today substantive theoretical work on supersymmetry is conducted there (Dmytro Volkov). Salient postwar experimental achievements are exemplified by the bringing on-line in 1964 of a 2-GeV electron accelerator (Kyrylo Synelnykov, I. Hrishaiev), and by the breakthroughs in high-frequency and turbulent-plasma heating and in the confinement and control of thermonuclear plasma (Ya. Fainberg). Research in advanced fusion technology is pursued with the torsatron saturn (1970, the world’s first) and the Uragan 1–3 series of stellarators (Volodymyr Tolok).

Notable scientists have been associated at one time or another with the Ukrainian Physical-Technical Institute (UPTI) and Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR (KhIPT). In 1932 Aleksandr Leipunsky, Kyrylo Synelnykov, Anton Walter, and Georgii Latyshev were the first in the USSR to induce the disintegration of a stable nucleus (lithium) by means of accelerated protons. Leipunsky became internationally known in 1934 while working in England in Ernest Rutherford’s laboratory; there he obtained the first experimental evidence for the existence of the neutrino. In 1930, while working at the UPTI, the Russian physicist V. Fock became well known in the atomic and nuclear physics community for his contribution to the Hartree-Fock self-consistent field approximation. The 1962 Nobel Prize winner Lev Landau headed the UPTI theoretical department in 1932–7. His imprint has been strongly felt there to the present day. There he and his student Illia Lifshyts wrote the landmark ten-volume Course of Theoretical Physics, which is still used world-wide. Isaak Pomeranchuk, author of the Pomeranchuk theorem, worked at the KhIPT, as did Oleksander Akhiiezer and Oleksii Sytenko, who are known for their theory of plasma fluctuations, Lifshyts (theory of metals), M. Asbel and E. Kahner, who discovered cyclotron resonance in metals, and Viktor Zelensky (materials science).

In 1960 the Physical-Technical Institute of Low Temperatures was founded as an offshoot of the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, where fundamental and applied investigations have been conducted in superconductivity, the electronic properties of solids, the molecular physics of heat exchange, macromolecules, and cryogenics (see Lev Shubnikov). Physics research has also been conducted at Kharkiv University; the Kharkiv Polytechnical Institute National Technical University; the Kharkiv Astronomical Observatory; and the Institute of Radio Physics and Electronics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (est 1955), known for the discovery of the 10.4-Hz acoustic laser. A recent outgrowth of the latter institute is the Radio Astronomy Institute (est 1986), directed by Semen Braude. It has operated the decameter-band radio telescope UTR-2, the largest in the world (in 1989) in the 10- to 25-MHz range, which has located some 60 new discrete decameter sources. The UTR-2 is the main component of the new system of four decameter-band interferometers (dubbed URAN, an acronym for Ukrainian Radiointerferometers of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine) with baseline lengths of between 40 and 900 km.

Lviv. Under Austrian rule, pioneering work was done at Lviv University in 1900–13 by Prof M. Smoluchowski on the theory of fluctuations. He contributed greatly to a microscopic understanding of the second law of thermodynamics. Under Polish rule, in 1935–6 L. Infeld worked there on general relativity and nonlinear electrodynamics. In the early 1960s strong spectroscopy and solid-state research groups were formed at Lviv University under the direction of Abba Glauberman, and Ukrainian textbooks on quantum mechanics and atomic physics were written. It was also at Lviv University that Orest Vlokh discovered the phenomenon of electrogyration, and Ihor Stasiuk provided a theoretical explanation for it. In the 1970s and 1980s major research in statistical condensed-matter physics was carried out at the Lviv branch of the Institute of Theoretical Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR (since 1991 a separate NANU institute) under the guidance of Ihor Yukhnovsky. Yukhnovsky’s school developed the collective-variable method for the study of electrolytes (the first microscopic treatment including all interparticle forces), was the first to model successfully second-order phase transitions in several areas of physics, and obtained significant results in the theory of metals and in crystal optics.

Physics research was also conducted by the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of the Metrology of Measuring and Control Systems (est 1977); the Lviv Astronomical Observatory (research in astrometry, solar physics, and theoretical astrophysics); theLviv Polytechnic National University, where the school of V. Milianchuk has worked on atomic spectroscopy, quantum electrodynamics, and general quantum-field theory; and the Institute for Applied Problems in Mechanics and Mathematics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (est 1978).

Odesa. As a professor (1918–22) at the Odesa Polytechnical Institute, the Soviet physicist Leonid Mandelshtam made substantive contributions to the theory of and experiments on light scattering from crystals (Raman scattering, Brillouin-Mandelshtam scattering). In 1926 a State Physics Scientific Research Institute was founded. There a group under E. Kirilov investigated photochemical and photoelectric reactions in the photographic process and obtained new and extensive data on the photoelectric effect in semiconductors and on the luminescence of dyes and crystals. In 1933 the institute became part of Odesa University. In the late 1940s V. Fedoseev and D. Polishchuk conducted work at the university on evaporation, burning, and gas dynamics of liquid and solid fuels, which found applications in jet engines and rocket motors. Physics research is also done at the Odesa Astronomical Observatory (est 1871), which operates five reflector and five refractor telescopes, a URAN-4 radio telescope (since 1981), and a synchronized satellite-tracking facility in co-ordination with additional observation stations in Kyiv, Lviv, and Uzhhorod; the Odesa Electrotechnical Institute of Communications (est 1930); the Odesa Hydrometeorological Institute (est 1932); the Odesa Institute of Naval Engineers (est 1930); and the Odesa Technological Institute of the Refrigeration Industry (since 1970).

The Crimea. There are two important physics-related research institutions in the Crimea: the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory (est 1945) near Bakhchysarai, with Europe’s largest reflector telescope, a 22-m radio telescope, and a solar telescope (with which A. Severny discovered rapid solar pulsations), and whose research laboratories developed a solar telescope for the SALUT space laboratory and have collaborated with Canadian astrophysicists on very long baseline high-precision interferometry (ASTRON); and the Marine Hydrophysical Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, based in Sevastopol since 1963.

Donetsk. At the Physical-Technical Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (est 1965), an offshoot of the Physical-Technical Institute of Low Temperatures of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in Kharkiv, the main thrust of research has been in materials science (the effects of high pressures and intense magnetic fields at low temperatures on the magnetic and electronic properties of solids). Oleksander Halkin, director of the institute from its inception until 1982, Viktor Bariakhtar, and Kyrylo Tolpyho are largely credited with establishing and maintaining the high scientific level. Among its significant achievements are the discovery of an intermediate state in ferromagnetics and the determination that the transition from fragility to plasticity constitutes a phase transition linked to the number of mobile dislocations. Applied physics research on nonlinear systems is conducted at the Institute of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (est 1970).

Dnipro. Notable physics research dates back to Georgii Kurdiumov’s school on phase transitions in metals at the Dnipropetrovsk Physical-Technical Institute (1932–44). The Institute of Mechanics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (est 1980) in Dnipro specializes in the dynamics of complex mechanical and hydromechanical systems. Of note is its research on high-speed transportation involving magnetic levitation. Dnipro National University (est 1918) has an applied physics research laboratory.

Poltava. Since 1926 the Poltava Gravimetric Observatory has carried out high-precision measurement of the precession and nutation of the earth’s rotational axis and of the tides of the earth’s mantle and crust.

Chernivtsi. Research has been conducted at a branch of the Institute of Semiconductors of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (interesting results on narrow-band semiconductors have been obtained by Kornii Tovstiuk), at Chernivtsi University (theoretical solid-state physics), and at a branch of the Lviv-based Institute for Applied Problems in Mechanics and Mathematics.

Uzhhorod. Research in theoretical high-energy physics, axiomatic quantum-field theory (Y. Lomsadze), and experimental atomic physics (J. Zapesochny) has been carried out at Uzhhorod University and at a branch of the Institute for Nuclear Research of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

Serials. Physics research has been published in Ukraine mostly in the serials of the VUAN and other bodies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine: Protokoly zasidan’ Fizychno-matematychnoho viddilu Ukraïns’koï akademiï nauk u Kyievi (1918–19); Dopovidi Akademiï nauk Ukraïns’koï RSR, Seriia ‘a’ (since 1918); Zapysky Fizychno-matematychnoho viddilu VUAN (1923–31); Trudy Fizychno-matematychnoho viddilu (1923–9); Zbirnyk prats’ Instytutu tekhnichnoï mekhaniky (1926–9); Fizychni zapysky (1932–41); Physikalische Zeitschrift der Sowjetunion (1932–8), published by the Ukrainian Physical-Technical Institute of the VUAN in Kharkiv in German and English; Visti Instytutu hidrolohiï (1938, 1940); Visti Instytutu hidrolohiï i hidrotekhniky (1948–51, 1963); Izvestiia Instituta gidrologii i gidrotekhniki (1951, 1953–6, 1959–63); Zapysky Kafedry matematychnoï fizyky (1937–9); Dopovidi Viddilu fizyko-khimichnykh i matematychnykh nauk (1944); Trudy Instituta fiziki (1951–6); Ukraïns’kyi fizychnyi zhurnal (1956–78 and since 1989), Ukrainskii fizicheskii zhurnal (1978–88), Fiziko-khimicheskaia mekhanika materialov (since 1965), Fizika nizkikh temperatur (since 1975), Visnyk Kyïvs’koho universytetu: Seriia fizyky (since 1962), Visnyk Lvivs’koho universytetu: Seriia fizyky (since 1962), Fizika mnogochastichnykh sistem (since 1972), and Fizika, khimiia i mekhanika materialov (since 1988). Starting in the 1930s Ukrainian physics periodicals came under strong government pressure to publish in Russian (see Russification). The premier Ukrainian physics journal, Ukraïns’kyi fizychnyi zhurnal, which appeared in Ukrainian until 1972, had a parallel Russian edition from 1972 until 1978, and from 1978 was published in Russian only. Since 1989 this journal has published contributions in Ukrainian, Russian, and English.

Khramov, Iu. Fizyky: Dovidnyk (Kyiv 1974)
Shul'ha, M. Khronolohichnyi dovidnyk vitchyznianoï fizyky (Kyiv 1980)
Azarov, A.; et al (eds). Istoriia Akademiï nauk Ukraïns'koï RSR (Kyiv 1982)
Khramov, Iu. Fiziki: Biograficheskii spravochnik (Moscow 1983)
———. Biografiia fiziki: Khronologicheskii spravochnik (Kyiv 1983)

Oleksa Bilaniuk, Marko Horbatsch

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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