Historical Encyclopedia of Atomic Energy

By Stephen E. Atkins | Go to book overview

S

Sakharov, Andrei

Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989) was a Soviet physicist who led in developing the hydrogen bomb for the Soviet Union and was later a famous political dissident. He was born on May 21, 1921, in Moscow. His father was a professor of physics. Sakharov was married twice: to Klavdia Alekseyevna Vikhireva (1943), a chemist, and Elena Georgievna Bonner (1972), a pediatrician and political dissident. In 1938 Sakharov started his studies at the Moscow State University. During the fall of 1941, he evacuated with his school to Ashkhabad in Middle Asia, to escape the war. After graduating from Moscow State University in 1942, Sakharov worked for the next 3 years in a war production plant as an engineer. Sakharov wrote several papers on theoretical physics and sent them to Igor Evgenievich Tamm. Tamm, of the Physics Institute of the Academy of Science (FIAN) subsequently recruited Sakharov in 1945 as a postgraduate student. Sakharov's doctorate was delayed because he failed the ideological examination required before the defense of his thesis, but he was able to defend his dissertation in November 1947. In 1948 Tamm invited him to work with a group of young scientists on the hydrogen bomb. Working at a secret laboratory in Turkmeniya, an area close to the Iranian border, he spent the next 18 years designing the Soviet hydrogen bomb. Others were working on aspects of the hydrogen bomb problem, but Sakharov came up with an alternative design and called it “First Idea.” He characterized it as a layer cake—alternating layers of light elements with heavy elements. Tamm accepted this idea immediately, as did Zeldovich at Arzamas-16 (Sarov). Beria ordered Sakharov to continue his work at Arzamas-16. In 1957, Sakharov began to question his responsibility for the problem of radioactive contamination from nuclear explosions. The Soviet Union resumed testing of nuclear weap-

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Historical Encyclopedia of Atomic Energy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • A 1
  • B 40
  • C 69
  • D 107
  • E 114
  • F 124
  • G 143
  • H 155
  • I 169
  • J 183
  • K 193
  • L 201
  • M 223
  • N 240
  • O 267
  • P 276
  • Q 296
  • R 299
  • S 318
  • T 357
  • U 380
  • V 391
  • W 397
  • Y 406
  • Z 408
  • Chronology of Atomic Energy 411
  • Selected Bibliography 427
  • Index 445
  • About the Author 492
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