NBA History of Science Seminar

Peder Jacob Ellehave Kragh, "Niels Bohr and the Soviet Union between the Two World Wars: Resources at the Niels Bohr Archive."

It is well known that Niels Bohr had personal contacts with many physicists in

Peder Jacob Ellehave Kragh, Master's thesis colloquium (Specialekollokvium)

Germany in the period c.1917 - c.1941, but it is less known that Bohr also had widespread contacts with physicists in the Soviet Union in the same period.

Bohr and people working at "Institut for Teoretisk Fysik" in Copenhagen had in this period correspondence with more than 20 physicists from the Soviet Union, for example George Gamow, Lev Landau (Nobel Prize in 1962) and Peter Kapitza (Nobel prize in 1978). Besides correspondence with physicists in the Soviet Union Bohr also had correspondence with other scientists and political figures in the Soviet Union (notably Josef Stalin).

In my talk I will elucidate Bohr's contacts with the Soviet Union as documented by the material available at the Niels Bohr Archive in Copenhagen. I will shed light on some of the topics Bohr discussed with Soviet physicists such as Gamow, Landau and Kapitza.

I will furthermore look more generally at the different aspects of Bohr's contacts with people in the Soviet Union, what made these contacts important for Bohr and the physicists in the Soviet Union, and what they focused on.

Selected sources:
Archival documents the Niels Bohr Archive, Copenhagen. Correspondence Bohr-Gamow, Bohr-Landau, Bohr-Kapitza and many others.

BOAG, J. and RUBININ, P. and SCHOENBERG, D. ed.: Kapitza in Cambridge and Moscow, North-Holland 1990, the Netherlands
GRAHAM, L.: Science in Russia and the Soviet Union, a Short History, Cambridge University Press 1993, England
JOSEPHSON, P.: Physics and Politics in Revolutionary Russia, University of California Press, 1991, USA

Advisors: Finn Aaserud (NBA), Ole Ulfbeck (NBI)