Iosif Shklovsky

Iosif Shklovsky

Overview
Iosif Samuilovich Shklovsky (Ио́сиф Самуи́лович Шкло́вский; sometimes transliterated Josif, Josif, Shklovskii, Shklovskij) (Hlukhiv
Hlukhiv
Hlukhiv or Glukhov is a historic town in Sumy region of Ukraine, just south from the Russian border . As of 2001, the city's population is 35,800...

, Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

, July 1, 1916 – Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, March 3, 1985) was a Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 astronomer
Astronomer
An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

 and astrophysicist. He is remembered for work in theoretical astrophysics
Astrophysics
Astrophysics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe, including the physical properties of celestial objects, as well as their interactions and behavior...

 and other topics, as well as for his 1962 book on extraterrestrial life, the revised and expanded version of which was co-authored by American astronomer Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

 in 1966 as "Intelligent Life in the Universe."

He won the Lenin Prize
Lenin Prize
The Lenin Prize was one of the most prestigious awards of the USSR, presented to individuals for accomplishments relating to science, literature, arts, architecture, and technology. It was created on June 23, 1925 and was awarded until 1934. During the period from 1935 to 1956, the Lenin Prize was...

 in 1960 and the Bruce Medal
Bruce Medal
The Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal is awarded every year by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for outstanding lifetime contributions to astronomy. It is named after Catherine Wolfe Bruce, an American patroness of astronomy, and was first awarded in 1898...

 in 1972.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Iosif Shklovsky'
Start a new discussion about 'Iosif Shklovsky'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Iosif Samuilovich Shklovsky (Ио́сиф Самуи́лович Шкло́вский; sometimes transliterated Josif, Josif, Shklovskii, Shklovskij) (Hlukhiv
Hlukhiv
Hlukhiv or Glukhov is a historic town in Sumy region of Ukraine, just south from the Russian border . As of 2001, the city's population is 35,800...

, Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

, July 1, 1916 – Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, March 3, 1985) was a Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 astronomer
Astronomer
An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

 and astrophysicist. He is remembered for work in theoretical astrophysics
Astrophysics
Astrophysics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe, including the physical properties of celestial objects, as well as their interactions and behavior...

 and other topics, as well as for his 1962 book on extraterrestrial life, the revised and expanded version of which was co-authored by American astronomer Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

 in 1966 as "Intelligent Life in the Universe."

He won the Lenin Prize
Lenin Prize
The Lenin Prize was one of the most prestigious awards of the USSR, presented to individuals for accomplishments relating to science, literature, arts, architecture, and technology. It was created on June 23, 1925 and was awarded until 1934. During the period from 1935 to 1956, the Lenin Prize was...

 in 1960 and the Bruce Medal
Bruce Medal
The Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal is awarded every year by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for outstanding lifetime contributions to astronomy. It is named after Catherine Wolfe Bruce, an American patroness of astronomy, and was first awarded in 1898...

 in 1972. Asteroid
Asteroid
Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

 2849 Shklovskij and the crater Shklovsky (on the Martian
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

 moon Phobos
Phobos (moon)
Phobos is the larger and closer of the two natural satellites of Mars. Both moons were discovered in 1877. With a mean radius of , Phobos is 7.24 times as massive as Deimos...

) are named in his honor. He was a Corresponding Member of Soviet Academy of Sciences beginning in 1966.

Early life


Shklovsky was born in Hlukhiv
Hlukhiv
Hlukhiv or Glukhov is a historic town in Sumy region of Ukraine, just south from the Russian border . As of 2001, the city's population is 35,800...

, a city in the Ukrainian
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 part of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

, into a poor Ukrainian Jewish family. After graduating from the seven-year secondary school, he worked as a foreman
Construction foreman
A construction foreman is the worker or tradesman who is in charge of a construction crew. While traditionally this role has been assumed by a senior male worker, the title in the modern sense is gender non-specific in intent...

 on building Baikal Amur Mainline. In 1933 Shklovsky entered the Physico-Mathematical Faculty of the Moscow State University
Moscow State University
Lomonosov Moscow State University , previously known as Lomonosov University or MSU , is the largest university in Russia. Founded in 1755, it also claims to be one of the oldest university in Russia and to have the tallest educational building in the world. Its current rector is Viktor Sadovnichiy...

.

There he studied until 1938, when he took a Postgraduate Course at the Astrophysics Department of the Sternberg State Astronomical Institute
Sternberg Astronomical Institute
The Sternberg Astronomical Institute , also known as GAISh , is a research institution in Moscow, Russia, a division of Moscow State University. The institute is named after astronomer Pavel Karlovich Shternberg.The asteroid 14789 GAISH was named in its honour.-External links:*...

 and remained working in the Institute until the end of his life.

Research


He specialized in theoretical astrophysics
Astrophysics
Astrophysics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe, including the physical properties of celestial objects, as well as their interactions and behavior...

 and radio astronomy
Radio astronomy
Radio astronomy is a subfield of astronomy that studies celestial objects at radio frequencies. The initial detection of radio waves from an astronomical object was made in the 1930s, when Karl Jansky observed radiation coming from the Milky Way. Subsequent observations have identified a number of...

, as well as the Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

's corona
Corona
A corona is a type of plasma "atmosphere" of the Sun or other celestial body, extending millions of kilometers into space, most easily seen during a total solar eclipse, but also observable in a coronagraph...

, supernova
Supernova
A supernova is a stellar explosion that is more energetic than a nova. It is pronounced with the plural supernovae or supernovas. Supernovae are extremely luminous and cause a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy, before fading from view over several weeks or months...

e, and cosmic ray
Cosmic ray
Cosmic rays are energetic charged subatomic particles, originating from outer space. They may produce secondary particles that penetrate the Earth's atmosphere and surface. The term ray is historical as cosmic rays were thought to be electromagnetic radiation...

s and their origins. He showed, in 1946, that the radio-wave radiation from the Sun emanates from the ionized layers of its corona, and he developed a mathematical method for discriminating between thermal and nonthermal radio waves in the Milky Way
Milky Way
The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains the Solar System. This name derives from its appearance as a dim un-resolved "milky" glowing band arching across the night sky...

. He is noted especially for his suggestion that the radiation from the Crab Nebula
Crab Nebula
The Crab Nebula  is a supernova remnant and pulsar wind nebula in the constellation of Taurus...

 is due to synchrotron radiation
Synchrotron radiation
The electromagnetic radiation emitted when charged particles are accelerated radially is called synchrotron radiation. It is produced in synchrotrons using bending magnets, undulators and/or wigglers...

, in which unusually energetic electrons twist through magnetic fields at speeds close to that of light. Shklovsky proposed that cosmic rays from supernova explosions within 300 light years of the sun could have been responsible for some of the mass extinctions of life on earth.

In 1959 Shklovsky examined the orbital motion of Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

's inner satellite Phobos
Phobos (moon)
Phobos is the larger and closer of the two natural satellites of Mars. Both moons were discovered in 1877. With a mean radius of , Phobos is 7.24 times as massive as Deimos...

. He concluded that its orbit was decaying
Orbital decay
Orbital decay is the process of prolonged reduction in the altitude of a satellite's orbit.This can be due to drag produced by an atmosphere due to frequent collisions between the satellite and surrounding air molecules. The drag experienced by the object is larger in the case of increased solar...

, and noted that if this decay was attributed to friction with the Martian atmosphere, then the satellite must have an exceptionally low density. In this context he voiced a suggestion that Phobos might be hollow, and possibly of artificial origin. This interpretation has since been refuted by more detailed study, but the apparent suggestion of extraterrestrial
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

 involvement caught the public imagination, though there is some disagreement as to how seriously Shklovsky intended the idea to be taken. However, Shklovsky and Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

 argued for serious consideration of "paleocontact" with extraterrestrials in the early historical era, and for examination of myths and religious lore for evidence of such contact.

His 1962 book, Вселенная, жизнь, разум (“Universe, Life, Intelligence”), was expanded upon and reissued in 1966 with American astronomer Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

 as co-author under the title “Intelligent Life in the Universe” (1966). This was the first comprehensive discussion of this field. Discussing the biological as well as astronomical issues of the subject, its unique format, alternating paragraphs written by Shklovsky and Sagan, demonstrated the deep mutual regard between the two and allowed them to express their views without compromise.

In 1967, before the discovery of pulsar
Pulsar
A pulsar is a highly magnetized, rotating neutron star that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation. The radiation can only be observed when the beam of emission is pointing towards the Earth. This is called the lighthouse effect and gives rise to the pulsed nature that gives pulsars their name...

s, Shklovsky examined the X-ray and optical observations of Scorpius X-1
Scorpius X-1
Scorpius X-1 is an X-ray source located roughly 9000 light years away in the constellation Scorpius. Scorpius X-1 was the first extrasolar X-ray source discovered, and, aside from the Sun, it is the strongest source of X-rays in the sky...

 and correctly concluded that the radiation comes from an accreting
Accretion (astrophysics)
In astrophysics, the term accretion is used for at least two distinct processes.The first and most common is the growth of a massive object by gravitationally attracting more matter, typically gaseous matter in an accretion disc. Accretion discs are common around smaller stars or stellar remnants...

 neutron star
Neutron star
A neutron star is a type of stellar remnant that can result from the gravitational collapse of a massive star during a Type II, Type Ib or Type Ic supernova event. Such stars are composed almost entirely of neutrons, which are subatomic particles without electrical charge and with a slightly larger...

.

Quotes


In the September 1965 issue of Soviet Life, he made the following statement regarding prospects for the future of humanity:
Profound crises lie in wait for a developing civilization and one of them may well prove fatal. We are already familiar with several such critical (situations):
(a) Self-destruction as a result of a thermonuclear catastrophe or some other discovery which may have unpredictable and uncontrollable consequences.
(b) Genetic danger.
(c) Overproduction of information.
(d) Restricted capacity of the individual's brain which can lead to excessive specialization, with consequent dangers of degeneration.
(e) A crisis precipitated by the creation of artificial intelligent beings.

Personal life


His memoir, Five Billion Vodka Bottles to the Moon: Tales of a Soviet Scientist, was published posthumously in 1991 by W.W. Norton & Co.

In “Five Billion Vodka Bottles to the Moon,” Shklovsky recalled his visit to Philip Morrison
Philip Morrison
Philip Morrison, was Institute Professor Emeritus and Professor of Physics Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology .-Early life and education:...

, who in 1959 had co-authored with Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

 colleague Giuseppe Cocconi
Giuseppe Cocconi
Giuseppe Cocconi was a former director of the Proton Synchrotron at CERN in Geneva. He is known for is work in particle physics and for his involvement with SETI.-Life:...

 the paper in Nature magazine which marks the beginning of the modern search for extraterrestrial life, and their discussion of such issues. Bitter over Soviet anti-semitism, of the five pioneer investigators of the field, Cocconi, Morrison, Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

's Frank Drake
Frank Drake
Frank Donald Drake PhD is an American astronomer and astrophysicist. He is most notable as one of the pioneers in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, including the founding of SETI, mounting the first observational attempts at detecting extraterrestrial communications in 1961 in Project...

 (of the 1961 Project Ozma
Project Ozma
Project Ozma was a pioneering SETI experiment started in 1960 by Cornell University astronomer Frank Drake, at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank, West Virginia. The object of the experiment was to search for signs of life in distant solar systems through interstellar radio waves...

 and the Drake equation
Drake equation
The Drake equation is an equation used to estimate the number of detectable extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. It is used in the fields of exobiology and the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence...

), Sagan, and Shklovsky, Shklovsky was quite aware of sharing his Jewish identity with both Morrison and Sagan. Indeed, Sagan's Jewish heritage was also Ukrainian Jewish.

He was known for his sharp wit and extreme likability. Colleagues in the astronomy department at the University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

, remember fondly his visit there in the 1970s. Well known for his "Intelligent Life in the Universe," he was asked by a graduate student if UFO sightings are as common in the Soviet Union as in the United States. "No," he replied. "In this area the Americans are far more advanced than us."