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by M. LEBEDEV, Executive Secretary, Russian Pugwash Committee at the RAS Presidium

In 2003 Academician Mikhail Millionshchikova leading Russian expert in mechanics, applied physics and power engineering, who was also a prominent public figure and organizer of research-would have marked his 90th birthday. Oil industry engineer by education, he possessed an outstanding range of scientific interests and provided tangible contributions to the progress of many branches of modern science and technology. His interests covered the movements of oil in geological strata, theoretical problems of turbulence, filtration gas dynamics, separation of isotopes, high-temperature reactor engineering, plasma physics, etc. He was actively involved in the establishment and development of research centers of the USSR Academy of Sciences in this country's eastern regions and the former Soviet republics. His participation in the Pugwash Movement of Scientists for Disarmament and International Security received international recognition.

Upon his graduation from school in Grozny in 1928, he entered the Oil-Mining Department of the local technical college which received the status of an institute two years later. Upon graduation in 1932 he was engaged in oil-mining research. The engineering and mathematical talents of the young graduate came to light during the construction in the Starogroznensky district of a pilot well for the extraction of residual oil. The results of this work provided the basis for his first scientific publications.

In a bid to continue his education he left his hometown in 1934 and moved first to Leningrad and then to Moscow, where he entered the department of post-graduate studies of the Chair of Aerodynamics of the Moscow Aeronautical Institute (MAI) which was then headed by one of the founding fathers of Russian helicopter engineering Prof. Boris Yuriev, later Member of the Academy of Sciences.

During his post-graduate course under the guidance of the outstanding mathematician of the 20th century, Acad. Andrei Kolmogorov, and continuing his association with Prof. Yuriev, the young researcher picked up on the theory of turbulence-an area of mechanical studies which often defies mathematical description. And he attained some really important results which retain their importance to this day (he studied phenomena of damping of isotropic turbulence and obtained solutions which determine this phenomena at what is known as the final stage of degeneration).

Another serious achievement of the young scientist during that period was the "Millionshchikov hypothesis"

Pages. 62


dealing with equations of turbulent phenomena. In 1938 he defended his thesis "Attenuation of Pulsation in Homogeneous Isotopic Turbulence".

While continuing his work at MAI, he became closely associated with researchers of the laboratory of Acad. Sergei Christianovich-an outstanding expert in mechanics-at the Central Institute of Aero- and Hydrodynamics (TsAGI) named after N. Zhukovsky. The only interruption in this cooperation was during the Great Patriotic War with Nazi Germany.

In 1941 the MAI was evacuated to Alma-Ata, and in 1943 the young researcher was delegated to the newly established Institute of Aircraft Engineering in Kuibyshev. His studies in underground hydrodynamics conducted at the new center helped boost the effectiveness of oil prospecting and extraction in the areas of the "second Baku" (in what is now Tatarstan). Dr. Millionshchikov was in charge of a research staff who worked in conjunction with other centers on the problems of the introduction of new technologies and materials into aircraft engineering. This helped boost the output of Russian combat aircraft, aircraft engines and other gear for army needs.

In 1946 Mikhail Millionshchikov returned to Moscow where he defended his thesis for a degree of Doctor of Sciences. The thesis, entitled "Certain Methods of Exploitation of Oil Wells", was based on calculations and experiments which he had conducted earlier at TsAGI. His ideas on methods of exploitation of oil wells and oil extraction were of great importance for that industry during the hard war years. While studying problems of geodynamics Dr. Millionshchikov obtained mathematical solutions of the problem of liquid filtration through perforated pipe buried into the ground. Shortly after he was appointed deputy director of the Institute of Mechanics of the USSR Academy.

Together with Acad. S. Khristianovich, Acad. Millionshchikov has been one of the founders of the theory of gas ejectors * . He discovered, among other things, the phenomenon known as the "critical ejector regime", which helped develop up-to- date wind tunnels and promoted the progress of high-speed aircraft engineering. Another practical application of these studies was Prof. Millionshchikov's method of electricity generation with the help of gas ejectors.

The studies of Mikhail Millionshchikov on the theory of filtration and gas dynamics had an important role to play in designing long-distance trunk gas pipelines (Saratov- Moscow) and high-capacity gas-processing plants (town of Dashava, Ukraine).

In 1949, few months before the test blast of the first Soviet A-bomb, Mikhail Millionshchikov was invited


* Ejector - jet device for the suction of gases and liquids using the kinetic energy of another gas or liquid. - Ed.

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by Acad. Igor Kurchatov to join his experts working in nuclear research. His studies at the Laboratory of Measuring Instruments of the USSR Academy were associated with different areas of nuclear physics and power engineering. From 1960 and to the end of his life he held the post of Deputy Director of the famous Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy (now-the Russian Research Center of the same name).

Acad. Millionshchikov provided a tangible contribution to the theory of gas-dynamics and centrifugal methods of isotope separation. He helped promote R&D work at many Russian nuclear centers. He also designed what are called "correction devices" which help save gas centrifuges in different kinds of emergencies. Devices developed under his personal guidance were later put into industrial production.

This R&D work was of great importance for the development of industrial units for the production of enriched U-235.

At his post of Chairman of the State Quality Acceptance Committee of the USSR Ministry of Medium Mechanical Engineering Acad. Millionshchikov attached great importance to the quality of our industrial output. That was of great importance for strengthening of the country's defenses. Prof. Nikolai Sinev, who headed for many years the Central Engineering Design Bureau of the same ministry, had this to say about the many years of their joint work: "He was an energetic and dedicated person who was able to generate an atmosphere of creativity in our research staff. M. Millionshchikov had a major role to play in dealing with the difficult problems of isotope technology. He was concerned with links between science and industrial production and was able to associate scientific quests with work on technical problems. He possessed a high sense of responsibility and civic duty. This was demonstrated, for example, when he, contrary to the opinion of some influential persons who kept saying that the observed defects will be eliminated, rejected a set of machinery which was already being prepared for mass production. Mikhail Dmitrievich had a high sense of comradely solidarity. He was always tactful towards people around him and was always ready to come to their assistance."

From the early 1960s Prof. Millionshchikov studied what was called the direct ("machineless") method of heat transformation into electricity. An important stage of this work was the launching in 1964 of the world's first

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nuclear converter reactor on fast neutrons, called "Romashka". This marked the start of the production of space nuclear power reactors for specific applications-the thermoelectric unit "Buk" and "Topaz-1". These on-board units of the first generation, launched in the 1970s - 1980s successfully performed in orbital flights, helping to strengthen our country's defenses and reaffirming its leadership in space technology and nuclear power engineering.

The research staffs headed by Acad. Millionshchikov provided tangible contributions to high-temperature rocket engineering, studies of low- and high-temperature plasma and to designing and building of power units for space research. From 1967 Acad. Millionshchikov headed a department of the USSR Ministry of Medium Mechanical Engineering called "Aviation-Rocket Nuclear Power Units".

At a ceremony to mark the 70th birthday of Acad. Millionshchikov, the President of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Acad. Anatoly Alexandrov, had this to say about his research at the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy into the gas dynamics of special isotope separator machines: "According to prognostications of American scientists made in 1948, it should have taken the Soviet Union some 20 years in order to achieve practical results in the area of nuclear technology in which Millionshchikov was engaged. But our first pilot units were launched in that same year of 1948. That goes to show the magnitude and responsible nature of the work he was entrusted with and how well he and his research staff coped with the problems before them."

Practically all through his life Acad. Millionshchikov was concerned with the training of highly skilled research specialists. At the age of 17, the then 2nd year student began teaching at the Grozny Oil Institute which now bears his name. Later on he lectured for many years on aerodynamics at MAI and the Air Force Engineering Academy named after N. Zhukovsky. In 1949 he founded the Chair of Isotope Separation at the Moscow Mechanical Institute of Ammunition which later became Chair of Molecular Physics of the Moscow Engineering Physical Institute of which he was the head for more than 20 years.

Acad. Millionshchikov also achieved broad recognition as one of the leading figures in the administration of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Apart from his post of the Vice-President, he also headed various academic councils, committees and commissions, was one of the founders of its

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Far Eastern and Ural research centers and several academic institutes. 1963 saw the establishment of new departments of the Academy, and Acad. Millionshchikov became the first Academic-Secretary of the Department of Physical and Technical Problems of Power Engineering and Chairman of the Section of Physico-Technical and Mathematical Sciences.

In one of his speeches in the late 1970s Acad. Skryabin, Chief Learned Secretary of the Academy Presidium said: "For more than 10 years Mikhail Millionshchikov held the post of Vice-President of the USSR Academy of Sciences. He was a remarkable and many-sided personality: a man of strong will, a brilliant organizer of science, demanding of himself and of others. On the other hand he was very vulnerable and keenly aware of every injustice, who loved people around him, was eager to help them. Working together with him was great luck. Mikhail Dmitrievich was tactful like no one else in helping people in trouble and helping them in their work. He was fond of people around and they were fond of him."

At his post of Chairman of our National Pugwash Committee Acad. Millionshchikov promoted the establishment of an atmosphere of mutual confidence between scientists of East and West. This was especially important when work was under way on the agreements on nuclear non-proliferation and on limitations on systems of antimissile defenses. They were produced with his participation. And deserving of special mention is his role in the establishment and promotion of a dialogue between Soviet and American scientists on key political issues, which was vitally important at the time of the war in Vietnam and the introduction of Soviet troops into Czechoslovakia, when official relations between the two super-powers were practically halted.

Acad. Millionshchikov took a most responsible attitude to his numerous social duties and responsibilities. That included his post of the Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Russian Federation. But while being engaged into volumes of organizational, administrative and sociopolitical activities, Acad. Millionshchikov remained a man of science to the end of his life. In 1969 - 1973 he resumed work on problems of turbulence. He organized-and headed-the Laboratory of Theory of Turbulence at the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy where he developed an original theory of turbulent flow in smooth and rough pipes of unspecified cross-section.


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M. LEBEDEV, GIFTED SCIENTIST AND ORGANIZER OF RESEARCH // London: Libmonster (LIBMONSTER.COM). Updated: 10.09.2018. URL: https://libmonster.com/m/articles/view/GIFTED-SCIENTIST-AND-ORGANIZER-OF-RESEARCH (date of access: 23.04.2021).

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