The Bruce Medalists


  Photo ca. 1970, courtesy Herbert Friedman
Iosif Samuilovich Shklovskii
1 July 1916 1972 Bruce Medalist 3 March 1985

Iosif Shklovskii was born in the Ukraine and began his education at Vladivostok University, but he soon transferred to Moscow State University and earned his doctorate at its Shternberg Astronomical Institute. He worked as a professor at Moscow University, as founding head of the radio astronomy department at the Shternberg Institute, and from 1972-85 as chief of the astrophysics department of the Institute of Space Research in Moscow. He investigated the solar corona, showing that its temperature is of the order of a million kelvins and that it is confined by magnetic fields. He proposed a new distance scale to planetary nebulae, and made theoretical and radio studies of supernovae. He proposed that cosmic rays from occasional nearby supernovae might be the cause of mass extinctions on earth. He is best known for explaining the continuum radiation of the Crab Nebula as synchrotron radiation. After the 1957 launch of Sputnik I Shklovskii worked on space astronomy. He successfully explained some x-ray stars as binary systems containing neutron stars. He wrote several popular books, including the famous Intelligent Life in the Universe, translated and expanded by Carl Sagan. He was one of the first major astrophysicists to propose serious examination of the possibility of extraterrestrial life. He had major influence on the Soviet space program and educated many important scientists. Note: His name is also transliterated as Shklovskij or Shklovsky. The only correct spelling is in the Cyrillic alphabet: Шкловский.

Presentation of Bruce medal
Mercury 1, 4, 6 (1972) (photo)

Other awards
National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Jansky Prize, 1968.
USSR, Lenin Prize, 1960.

Biographical materials
Kurt, V.G. & I.N. Minin, “Iosif Samuilovich Shklovskij (1 July 1916 - 3 March 1985), on the occasion of his 75th Birthday,” Zemlya Vselennaya 6, 37-41 (1991). [in Russian]
Popov, Leonid, in People’s History [in Russian].
Shklovsky, Iosif, Five Billion Vodka Bottles to the Moon: Tales of a Soviet Scientist (W.W. Norton, New York, 1991).

Anonymous, Soviet Astronomy 29, 364-65 (1985).
Beyer, Robert T., ed., Soviet Astronomy Letters 11, 131-32 (1985).
Goldberg, Leo, Sky & Telescope 70, 2, 109 (1985).
Scheglov, P.V., Astron. Vestn., 19, 4, 359-61 (1985) [in Russian].
Scheglov, P.V., QJRAS 27, 700-702 (1986) [translation from Astronomical Herald].

Columbia Encyclopedia
Friedman, Jon R., Portrait Sketch
Shklovskii as a young man, courtesy Yuri Ilyasov
Sternberg Astronomical Institute, Moscow University

Named after him
Minor Planet #2849 Shklovskij

More references

The Bruce Medalists

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