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Citizen Kurchatov: Stalin's Bomb Maker



Kurchatov grew up in a changing and turbulent Russia. Born in January 1903 at the Simskii Zavod in the southern Urals, as a child Kurchatov was an excellent music student and played the balalaika with promising skill.

Igor KurchatovWhen Kurchatov was 11, Tsar Nicholas entered Russia into the First World War against Germany. Communist Bolsheviks led by Lenin took advantage of Russia's discontent and launched the October Revolution in 1917 to depose the Provisional Government which had taken control from the Tsar several months earlier. In 1918, the Soviet Union was established and Russia withdrew from the war with Germany but fought tsarist and foreign forces in a civil war.

Soon after the civil war ended in 1920, Igor Kurchatov entered college at Crimea State University and studied physics. He graduated with a degree in only three years. From there he went to the Polytechnical Institute in Petrograd to study ship building and work as a researcher at the Pavlovsk Observatory. During his stay there he published his first scientific paper, in which he investigated the radioactivity of snow: his first contribution to the growing science of radioactivity.


Lenin forms the Bolshevik Party with the purpose of organizing a violent revolution.

Germany declares war on Russia, beginning World War I.

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