Magazine article Russian Life

An Earthly

Magazine article Russian Life

An Earthly

Article excerpt

The universe is so organized that only at the price of suffering and persecution can the world be given anything. The more selfless the gift, the harsher the persecution and the more severe the suffering. That is the law of life, its fundamental axiom... Greatness must pay for its gift in blood....

- Father Pavel Florensky

Alexander Chizhevsky would have recognized he wisdom of these words, written by his Soviet contemporary in science and suffering, Pavel Florensky. As scientist, historian, archaeologist, intellectual pioneer and convict, Chizhevsky experienced all the aspects of Stalin's paranoid empire: from the heights of scientific scholarship to the depths of the Gulag.

Alexander Chizhevsky (1897-1963), whose centennial will be celebrated February 7th, was a man of boundless genius. In the last edition of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, Chizhevsky is described as "a bio-physicist, who was also the founder of the Russian sciences of helio-biology and aero-physics." But such scientific titles are too small to contain the whole man, his tragedies and triumphs.

Chizhevsky was born in Tsekhanovyets (currently located in Poland) of Russian parents. His father, Leonid, besides being the town's mayor, also harbored a burgeoning intellectual curiosity which he passed onto his son. In 1915, Chizhevsky entered the department of mathematical physics at the State University. He graduated in 1919 but quickly re-enrolled as a student in the medical department, graduating in 1922. Able to balance many challenging duties at one time, Chizhevsky eventually received degrees from three different institutes (including the Moscow Archaeological Institute and the Moscow Commercial Institute), taught simultaneously at the Moscow State University and the Moscow Archaeological Institute and served as a consultant to the Biophysical Institute. In 1918, he finished his dissertation on the periodical nature of world history and was awarded a Ph.D. in world history.

Chizhevsky's work mainly dealt with our biosphere's vital relation to its Sun. Discovering the significance of the Sun's cycles on numerous phenomenon in our biosphere, Chizhevsky, in countless books and articles, proved scientifically that all organic life on Earth is the result of cosmic forces. …

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