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Citizen Kurchatov: Stalin's Bomb Maker


A New Science

Since 1925, Kurchatov had been working at the Physicotechnical Institute under the noted physicist Ioffe. He had conducted important and fruitful research in the field of electricity and was gaining a reputation as a good researcher and an effective manager.

Reacting to the explosion of scientific research in the West, Ioffe wanted Soviet scientists to take a larger part in the new field of nuclear physics. In 1932 he managed to acquire funding to start his own nuclear physics group at the Institute, and he put Kurchatov in charge.

Kurchatov spent most of 1933 studying articles published by western scientists on nuclear physics. In the fall, he attended a conference on nuclear physics hosted by Ioffe. A few scientists from western Europe attended, including Frederic Joliot and Paul Dirac. It was a turning point for many of the young Russian physicists in attendance. Among the other attendees was Khariton, who would play an important role in the later atomic program.


Kurchatov married Marina, 7 years his senior.

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