[Ginzburg, early 1970s]
Vitaly Ginzburg, early 1970s (Photo from Sullivan collection)



NATIONAL RADIO ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORY ARCHIVES

Papers of Woodruff T. Sullivan III: Tapes Series

Interview with Vitaly L. Ginzburg
At Grenoble, France
30 August 1976
Interview time: 70 minutes
Originally transcribed as typescript only by Bonnie Jacobs (1977), retyped to digitize by Candice Waller (2017)

Note: The interview listed below was originally transcribed as part of Sullivan's research for his book, Cosmic Noise: A History of Early Radio Astronomy (Cambridge University Press, 2009). The original transcription was retyped to digitize in 2017, then reviewed, edited/corrected, and posted to the Web in 2017 by Ellen N. Bouton. Places where we are uncertain about what was said are indicated with parentheses and question mark (?). Places where we are uncertain about what was said are indicated with parentheses and question mark (?).

We are grateful for the 2011 Herbert C. Pollock Award from Dudley Observatory which funded digitization of the original cassette tapes, and for a 2012 grant from American Institute of Physics, Center for the History of Physics, which funded the work of posting these interviews to the Web. Please bear in mind that: 1) This material is a transcript of the spoken word rather than a literary product; 2) An interview must be read with the awareness that different people's memories about an event will often differ, and that memories can change with time for many reasons including subsequent experiences, interactions with others, and one's feelings about an event.

Click start to listen to the audio for tape 72B of the 1976 interview.

Begin Tape 72B

Sullivan

This is talking with Professor Ginzburg at Grenoble on 30th August ’76. Can you tell me what your training was, and then how you got involved in radio astronomy?

Ginzburg

Yes, I will tell. I was finished at Moscow University, Physical Faculty, in 1938. And, in fact, a possible few words, you have enough tape?

Sullivan

Oh, I have plenty of tape.

Ginzburg

I finished just as an “Optic” and my work as a student was cosmic ray, an associate of cosmic ray “kanalenstrahlung.” It is some emission in the electric discharge, etc. (not interesting anymore) But just after finishing the University, it happens that I change to theoretical physics, and my supervisor, not officially, but in fact was the late Professor Tamm, who originated the Cerenkov radiation explanation, and afterwards I was also very close, also the late, unfortunately, Professor Landau. This was, so to say, my background. So, until the beginning of the War, I was working in elementary particle physics and electrodynamics, quantum theory of the Cerenkov effect, the Cerenkov effect in crystals, particles with higher spin, etc. When the War begins, the last War, I finished Moscow University in 1938, as I mentioned. Two years I was “aspirant,” we call it in Russia – it is something like pre-doctoral in the United States. And I did my PhD thesis – it is called in Russia “candidats degree,” but it is the same as PhD – the same papers, exams, etc. And I defended it in 1940

Sullivan

And what was the topic of that?

Ginzburg

The topic was several equational quantum dynamics, with some additions – just what I mentioned. And I became – in Russia, we have two degrees, we have candidat or PhD, and also a Doctor of Science, which is needed to be a Professor – you need to be a Doctor of Science. And that year, it was a special stipend for such allowances for preparing the second degree. And I came in 1940 to the Lebedev Physical Institute of the Academy of Sciences, where I am still now. So no change in my (?) And I begin like this doctorate, in Russia it is to prepare the second degree. And I was in the beginning working in elementary particles and to finish with this, I defended in ’42 – in war time – the second dissertation of elementary particles. And it is other part of the story, but when the War begins and we were waiting for – to take the troops, how do you call it, draft? – to be drafted. I was waiting to be drafted; only by chance I was not drafted. In fact, I was drafted, but afterwards, the Academy was equated to (?). It is not important now. But in any case, when the War begins, of course, I was not satisfied to doing elementary particles. And all our group in Lebedev Physical Institute asked for other people who was nearer to something more real than elementary particles to advise what to do to help for defense. And quite by chance one man advised me to work in radio propagations of the ionosphere. It is, in fact, the beginning of the whole story – that is why I was involved in all the things. And I begin to work in radio propagation in the ionosphere. My first paper was about the refraction of radio wave (?) from the ionosphere. And now a few words about (?). During the War, all the time I was partly doing also elementary physics, but my war effort, so to say, in what I was doing – it was radio wave propagation in ionosphere. My friend was working on propagation near the surface of the earth.

Sullivan

This was for radio communication?

Ginzburg

Yes, but I was working in radio propagation. Afterwards, I come back, but now, I would like to finish this way. I worked in 1945 when atomic bomb explodes and the War ended, and it was organized a new radio physics faculty in Gorky was 400km from Moscow, and I was a young Doctor of Science – I was the youngest in Russia, something like this. But it was something in Russia, and it gives you possibility to have a professorship, but in Moscow it was not possible. And I was invited to Gorky, so I was many years visiting professor of Gorky University. In fact, I have a Chair in Radio Wave Propagation, and having this Chair, I prepared the book of the Radio Wave Propagation in the Ionosphere. After all, this book, in fact, it was published several times, and I finished this story mentioning here, I wrote you, Propagation of Electromagnetic Waves in Plasmas, Pergamon Press, 1970, second edition, which is better than my Russian book because the translator was Skyes who translated Landau books and also co-translator was Professor Roger Taylor, a professor from Sussex University, and they mention many mistakes, etc. So, why I am mentioning this is because here you will find all the references – everything till 1970 in radio wave propagation and also about radio emission of the sun. And to that topic I will come back.

Sullivan

And you began working on this during the War?

Ginzburg

Yes, I began to work on this is 1941.

Sullivan

When was the first Russian edition?

Ginzburg

The first Russian edition was in ’47. But the title was Propagation of Radio in Ionosphere – or something. But you would have here all the references. – This Skyes was very accurate – he gave a good reference, so it is the best source for everything connected with radio propagation in the sun – it is the best source. So that is why I mention it.

Sullivan

Let me ask about during the Wartime. Was there any radar research done in Russia during the War?

Ginzburg

Yes, but I have no connection with it. I was connected with the late Professor Papaleksi. It was in Russia. It is important for you because he -

End Tape 72B

Click start to listen to the audio for tape 73A of the 1976 interview.

Begin Tape 73A

Sullivan

This is continuing with Professor Ginzburg on 30 August ’76.

Ginzburg

To finish with this, after this book was finished I, in fact, already don’t work more in the field. In fact, we published together with Dr. Rukhadze a book which is one step further and it is in Russian. It is called Waves in Magnetic-Active Plasma. And it is published in English in the Handbook of Physics in the, one of the last chapters, I don’t remember, 52 or something. But, it is easy to find it. And I finished working in this direction. So now I come to science back. I give you a good reference. Coming to (?) of course, I was working in radio wave propagation and now I begin the story connected with this paper. It is just connected with your question. You see, in Russia it was during this years – pre-Wartime – one great man and his friend. The great man was the late Professor Mandel’shtam. He was a really great man and he was a teacher of Tamm and all others. And he discovered with Landsberg what you call the Raman effect – discovered earlier and better here in our opinion (?). But it is not connected with our story. This Mandel’shtam had many “horses,”optics, and the second “horse” was oscillations, radio wave propagation, etc. And in this second direction his nearest friend and collaborator was Professor Papaleksi, who also was at this time during the War, he was a full member of the Academy and he was also in the Lebedev Institute. And during the War it happened that I was in the laboratory when he was the Head and I was connected with him. I was independent, but connected to the work of this laboratory with radio wave propagation. And Mandel’shtam and Papaleksi (it would be interesting to you) during the ‘30s had ideas to have reflection from the moon, rather moon radar. And they thought about this and something was even published in the Russian literature. You can find this easily. In Russia it is published in the collected papers by Mandel’shtam and in the collected papers by Papaleksi, after their deaths.

Sullivan

In a book?

Ginzburg

Yes, there is such a book of their collective papers.

Sullivan

And one of these papers is a 1930s paper talking about the possibility of -

Ginzburg

No, I’m afraid there is no special paper, but some included in something else or in the – some paper which is accompanied, but in fact, I mention that it is possible to prove, not all the (?) such as my memory. So they thought about possibility to look for reflection from the moon. And with this I have no connection at all, but my story begins with Professor Papaleksi ask me to – how it is possible to have also reflection from the sun. And from this paper begins, as you see. This is beginning of the story. Papaleksi asked me because I was, of course, a very educated man, and the solar corona saw the corona in the ionosphere – the same laws, the same things. Now you understand. I have just at this moment the right ground with propagation of electromagnetic waves (?) and also naturally Professor Papaleksi asked me, “You know, why I am interested in obtaining reflection” – how to say in English.

Sullivan

Just a radar reflection -

Ginzburg

Yes, from the sun – this tell me if coefficient of reflection would be high, low, etc. It was his question, it is here. And I began to think and in the end of the paper I answered his question and it is possible to have a reflection. But what is most interesting in this paper is that I understood that the sun have to be a powerful emitter of radio waves. Because of Kinchoff theory and because it was some indications of the solar corona is very hot, and if it is hot and the radio waves cannot penetrate near the chromosphere, it is natural to have this. This is contained in this paper. It is quite correct and everything is all right.

Sullivan

Did you know about any of the work going on in the West right after the War?

Ginzburg

Here I quote several papers. It is all I knew. That the radio emission of short waves in Southworth and about Reber also – low temperature, a short note by Appleton on the sporadic emission. But you know I like to quote. It is not the case I know something that not quote. So everything I know is here.

Sullivan

So you didn’t know about the radio bursts or any of this?

Ginzburg

No, Appleton have already seen something, which I try to interpret with radio bursts.

/
Sullivan

Oh that’s right, Appleton did a short article – that’s right.

Ginzburg

Yes. It is the first part of the story. The second part naturally – quite naturally – it was, oh of course, I have interest in this, it have to proceed how to say – to continue. And in this connection I looked for literature and it is partly answer to your question – I like to write reviews for a special physical science and I wrote two – possibly you have them here – ’47 and it was another in nearby time. Only in (?) it was two – connected with radio emission of the sun. It was a review of radio emission of the sun and your results. I remember that in one of these papers it was proposal to use sun diffraction of the sun limb, which was afterwards more carefully done with Getmantsev and myself. But the first mention was something here.

Sullivan

In this review article, I see.

Ginzburg

In one of the two. It was two.

Sullivan

You were thinking of using the limb of the moon?

Ginzburg

Yes.

Sullivan

A knife-edge?

Ginzburg

Not a knife-edge. That is another part of the story. But diffraction – diffraction edge to see the resulting power. At edge it is much more trivial. But diffraction is also trivial, I do not say. [laughter] But in any case, I am not – would like to say about the merit, but I say about the source. So it is here in these two papers, and in one of them it – it was a development here about the edge. It is important to my story because Professor Papaleksi became rather enthusiastic about all this solar affair, and he himself proposed to use solar – it is to your story it would be interesting – proposed to use solar eclipse just as you mentioned – as a sharp edge. Because at some time it was no good resolution at all, and he said if we have a total eclipse, we can during the total phase the radio emission would be half, one millionth but something like that. And that is why he organized expedition to Brazil. It is 20th of May in ’47.

Sullivan

Right.

Ginzburg

Yes, and prize for me because work was to include in this expedition. During the long time I was an exceptional man in Russia because, nobody traveled at that time, and I was in Brazil. I was in (?) expedition.

Sullivan

Oh, you were on that ship.

Ginzburg

Yes, yes, yes. But I was connected in radio wave propagation mainly – in fact, I always experiment – so I was, as I mentioned – it was my prize. It was a prize for working in the field – in my case, I was active practical work. I was on this ship, yes.

Sullivan

And, so can you – in the article they describe how they had to order the Captain to move the ship around by changing the ropes – so can you tell me about that?

Ginzburg

By the way, not quite. I will tell you the story. We came to this place -

Sullivan

via -

Ginzburg

Yes, something near Rio de Janeiro. And I was the main part of the expedition – come to the middle – to the inner part of the country.

Sullivan

To the inland?

Ginzburg

Yes. And we have optical observations, failed completely with the bad weather, and I was connected with radio wave sound in ionosphere. And it was quite successful. And Khaikin and Chikhachev on this ship came to Bahia and there they observed, so I wasn’t on this ship at the moment of observation. But then the paper was published.

Sullivan

I know that paper.

Ginzburg

All right.

Sullivan

Do you remember, at all, any stories that they told about this experiment? I would love to —

Ginzburg

Oh, it was – they used all installations of radar installations.

Sullivan

Was it a mattress spring sort of?

Ginzburg

One and a half meter. Quite a moderate – but I can’t tell you anything, in fact, outside publishing the paper. Many years ago, the observation, and I remember that they – the result – it was really the first result about solar eclipse. The radiation was quite successful – it is really the high temperature correct.

Sullivan

Indeed. Was there any trouble in getting the Navy to agree to give you a ship?

Ginzburg

Yes, you see, in fact, I forgot to remember that Professor Papaleksi died before the departure. And possibly it was taken already the decision – our Director was the late president of the Academy S. I. Vavilov. It is not his brother the biologist – it was physicist. And he was president of Academy and he applied for these things. It was already the decision to give us this ship, etc. In Russia, you know, if it is the decision on the highest level, everything afterwards works. So, we have the ship. It was something curious because the ship was in Lepaya, it was in Latvia. And it was even impossible to go out because it was ice. Exceptionally always first time during this hundred years. And you see, we have special icebreakers. And this icebreaker put us out of this Lepaya. (It is interesting to you). And I remember that it was after the War time and our ship came to small city in Sweden. It called (?) And in this city it have to go on around some little island to make it safe so it would not be exploded on the magnetic mines. It is demagnetization – some demagnetization process. And afterwards, we came and it was a horrible thing for me because I am seasick and because of this delay with the ice, etc., our ship was absolutely empty on all those waters, so I feel myself very badly indeed. When we came to Southhampton, in Southhampton, I remember well an injection against the yellow fever was done because it was supposed that we would come to a very wild part of Brazil. In fact, it was a beautiful hotel and no yellow fever. And afterwards, I remember my wife was very upset that when we began our way from Southhampton to South America, a huge storm took place. Even by radio it was announced that this (?) And we came back to Southhampton, but after one or two days, we began to travel to North America, and afterwards, when we finish this, this ship came to Argentina, Uruguay, Holland first time, because on the way back it takes some cargo.

Sullivan

So you had a whole tour?

Ginzburg

Yes, whole tour.

Sullivan

What kind of ship was it? I thought it was a military ship.

Ginzburg

No, no, no. Absolutely, no. It is a ship which reparation obtained from Finland – Griboyedov that we’d call it. It is ship 5,000 tons. It is ship which was used by Finns to take food from America to Finland.

Sullivan

So it was a cargo ship, actually?

Ginzburg

Yes, it was quite a cargo ship – 5,000 tons, something like that. And this ship was given to us.

Sullivan

Very interesting. During the late ‘40s, did you know about the work that Shklovsky was doing about this time?

Ginzburg

You see, just at this moment I have – it is already third or fourth time here – but I must tell you. It is just happens that I am in very bad relation with Shklovsky. We do not speak – we were friends in the past, but we have a personal quarrel. And we do not speak now during 7 years. I believe that in such conditions the most – the best thing for me not to speak about him at all because it can be biased. I wouldn’t like to do it. Excuse me please, but I would avoid him from this story. You – everything you can prove – you must see everything in the papers, etc. So about personal things, of course, are different.

Sullivan

But I just want to know, did you know about each other’s work at the time? You were at different Institutes.

Ginzburg

In fact, we were in different institutes and we are of the same age. And during the long period till ’67, so it is many years, we are quite communicative. In fact, I can say that – this is my work – was published -

Sullivan

The ’46 paper.

Ginzburg

’46. And he also published a paper in ’46 about the same topic with some other technique, etc. And I, in any case, haven’t knew about his paper, anything.

Sullivan

You did not know about it at that time?

Ginzburg

Yes, but afterwards we have, of course, contacts, and but I would like to avoid the subject. You understand this because in other case I can say something wrong and I wouldn’t like. I speak with you and he is unable to speak, and in any case it is not my – I am not -

Sullivan

Ok. Back in the Soviet Union, after this expedition, did you continue to work on astrophysical -

Ginzburg

Yes, yes, yes. I come to this point. So after this eclipse, about – here it is mainly about sun in quiet conditions, as you know – and afterwards, it is important that I just was a Professor in Gorky and my activity – I belong to rare now animals which work in many directions – many papers and in solid state, superconductivity, etc., etc., so what I like to mention because I was, have a Chair in Radio Propagation – Radio Astronomy in Gorky. And I had very good postgraduate – graduate and postgraduate people – I shall give you all these names.

Sullivan

The Chair was in Radio Propagation?

Ginzburg

It is called Radio Propagation, but in fact, I have done all I like. Partly changed to Radio Astronomy. So, the best man in this team was Zheleznyakov with whom I have many papers published. And also Getmantsev was my graduate, names – Gershman, Denisov, Beneditov, Mityakov, Pisareva, and many others. So the activity was there. And now I will proceed with this. Not speaking about radio propagation as done with these people – about radio astronomy. First, after all (?) think I’m with (?) working radio in solar emission of excited sounds so to say. Of non-thermal emission of the sun. And, all these papers practically is quoted in this book.

Sullivan

In the 1970 Pergamon Press?

Ginzburg

Yes, a chapter on Radio Wave Propagation – the sound and sun solar emission. And our thing is quoted there, so you would find everything there.

Sullivan

I’ll definitely check that.

Ginzburg

And I hope that we have done something especially about solar emission of second type – even now these papers are co-authored -

Sullivan

Of the type two bursts?

Ginzburg

Third – of the type three bursts.

Sullivan

The type three bursts – I see. But now that next article I have as – if we go in chronological order is with Getmantsev, and you talk about the lunar occulation.

Ginzburg

Yes, this I mentioned already.

Sullivan

Right. The next one is where you show that the electron-electron collisions don’t give any negligible absorption?

Ginzburg

Ah, but it is radio wave propagation -

Sullivan

Well, but its still relevant to radio astronomy.

Ginzburg

Yes, yes, yes. This is, of course, (?)

Sullivan

But now we come to ’51 in the (?) Academy in which you talk of the first time about synchrotron.

Ginzburg

No, unfortunately, not first time. So I would like to finish this line. This line was with (?) with solar emission. It was in ’58 – something -

Sullivan

A ’59 article?

Ginzburg

Yes ’59. It was several things all in here. So it is one line. Solar radio emission. All of it. This second line because it is, I abandoned it, so I would come later to the (?). The second line was some propagational effect connected with oscillations with twinkling.

Sullivan

The ionosperic scintillations?

Ginzburg

Yes, yes, yes. Atmospheric, interstellar, and intergalactic – all these things was with Pisavera and also I have my own several papers most probably it is also quoted in this 1970. I don’t remember if I had anything published afterwards. But I claim, it is not good in Russian to claim something – it means something so special “she claims.” You have (?) But you would prove everything I hope. [laughter] So I “claim” that in our papers with (?) it was and my own, it was the first time that many of these effects like, for instance, twinkling in intergalactic space, twinkling in many things -

Sullivan

Interstellar regions?

Ginzburg

Interstellar, and many things – you have to read it. I don’t remember myself. But, unfortunately, it is not very easily available. It was part – part was published, but it is very important material. You must definitely – if you like to have a history from the first source. Not about myself only, but Shklovsky and everybody. You must look – I will give you this. It was proceedings.

Sullivan

Is it this 1955 conference?

Ginzburg

Yes, ’53 and ’55.

Sullivan

Right, the (?) conference?

Ginzburg

Yes. It was two proceedings. Very important book.

Sullivan

Yes, I know that book.

Ginzburg

It definitely all the best. And it was a discussion and here you will see many interesting things which I wouldn’t tell you due to these obstacles. Who was they was – who what was said.

Sullivan

Ok, I will definitely – I know that book – I haven’t looked at it very much, but I will definitely do that.

Ginzburg

Yes, and you know Russian?

Sullivan

A very little bit, but somebody will help me.

Ginzburg

So the second part of this story. I don’t know what part, but in any case, it is connected with propagation effects. But I abandoned this very soon. It is my weak point and my strong point. I don’t like to tell things I understand in general and I come to other things.

Sullivan

You don’t stay with something for a long time?

Ginzburg

Yes, so now I begin the story if you have nothing against connected with – to the most important single, etc. You understand?

Sullivan

Yes. I wish all my people were so organized. You’ve got it all organized how you want to say it. Most people -

Ginzburg

It is just I come to this point. I, in fact, I must say that I am not a strong man at all. It happened that I was educated in such time in Russia where it is not so organized education so I have not finished the school, in fact. And the University came to the second course, so I don’t learn astronomy at all. Never! And afterwards I was already a grown-up man, and lazy to learn, so for me all these things is very difficult till now. I don’t know. But any case just in this spirit – ’51 or something like this – I already have something behind me what I mention to you – I mean solar physics and some propagation, etc., and just in this year I came to the other topics which is now seems to be much more interesting. It is radio astronomy, origin of cosmic rays, and in general high energy astrophysics – all. How it begins, as far as I remember, of course, I looked for radio astronomical news, and I knew that there are radio stars, as it was called at that time, was observed. And people suppose that this radio stars are something, unusual, stars very much of them, etc., etc. And afterwards, I have seen a paper, so I wasn’t first – wouldn’t claim that I was first. I have seen the papers by Alfvén and Herlofson and by Kiepenheuer, and you know who this is.

Sullivan

Right, 1950.

Ginzburg

Yes, but what I can say about my merit, in my merit, that I understood immediately, all other in Russia and all sides – many years – have any suspicions. But I immediately understand that it is very effective because I physicist – for me it was absolutely clear – the mechanisms was used for X-ray, etc. So this my paper in ’51 which you mention. It is just, of course, I quote Alfvén, Kiepenheuer to take the credit for me. It is this paper.

Sullivan

Yes, here it is here. Here’s the English and the Russian.

Ginzburg

So you can see without any difficulty.

Sullivan

This is the 1950 paper.

Ginzburg

1951.

Ginzburg

You see, also Alfven, Herlofson, Kienpenheuer – everything is here. So my conscience, how to say, is absolutely safe. But I have done something important. I believe there is a because – here it is my own (?) because I recollect their results and prove everything, etc., etc., and have seen that it works very good, and it is quite astonishing how these things was not adapted by others. I wouldn’t speak about Russia – you would see everything in this ’53 and before because I convince (?) 2 or 3 years about this.

Sullivan

You convinced them that this was -

Ginzburg

That it was the best and that it works, and they claimed that no it is not the case, etc.

Sullivan

You mean you had trouble convincing other -

Ginzburg

Of course! In Russia, I convince them till ’53 and other countries afterwards. I will give you an example. For instance, in Shklovsky’s book, first edition, it is – he mentioned my paper of ’53 so there are other explanations about radio emission. But it is no need to go on – the first example. Second example, I said I was unable to travel and I sent a paper to Manchester Symposium of Radio Astronomy. I don’t remember what year it is.

Sullivan

’55.

Ginzburg

’55. And two papers were not published in the volume of the symposium and one of them about this synchrotron radio emission. It is quite amusing for the history of radio astronomy. This you must definitely – and I mention in my (?) symposium paper. So it is not only my work. If you would look to Manchester Symposium, it would give your book some fun. It is also very interesting. If you look in Manchester Symposium -

Sullivan

You mean the Paris Symposium?

Ginzburg

No. If you look in Manchester Symposium, there are a note in the preface that two papers are not published, even not mentioning mine. Two papers is not published! But one of them is mine – I don’t know the other. Because it was a short review of somebody who mentioned this possibility, but the main paper was (?)

Sullivan

Right, but you say you sent the paper and it still did not get published?

Ginzburg

Yes. I said that (?) was at the Symposium and they announce it but it was not published. Afterwards (?)

Sullivan

I’ll have to ask Van de Hulst about that. He was the Editor.

Ginzburg

Yes, yes. Oh! I pushed him very strongly. I told him.

Sullivan

Afterwards?

Ginzburg

Yes, yes. I met him. He said, “oh, oh, it was a mistake.” Yes, yes, yes.

Sullivan

I see.

Ginzburg

It is not a story I tell all (?) No, he make a mistake – everybody makes a mistake. Afterwards I – at the Paris Symposium I sent other paper. In the Paris Symposium there were two papers. One which (?) about radio emission and one about other things. And there as far as I remember, I’m not quite sure, I mention that my paper wasn’t published in Manchester. So you would see this in Paris Symposium is the next very important source.

Sullivan

I was just noticing that at the Manchester Symposium that you did have a paper -

Ginzburg

No.

Sullivan

Paris Symposium -

Ginzburg

I have it – Paris, too. In Manchester, I have no paper. It is possible on other topics -

Sullivan

I don’t see any here for Paris Symposium.

Ginzburg

Really. Nobody would look after us. (?) I definitely know this. I have this volume so there is no doubt.

Sullivan

Ok, I’ll check that. I must have made a mistake.

Ginzburg

So in Paris Symposium and in Paris it was already adopted, the synchrotron thing, and I was unable to travel at that time. So it is the first part of the story. The second part of the story – I must quote and here to avoid some misunderstanding – I even give here or here, I don’t remember. We have (?) two papers on synchrotron radiation. These two papers both is printed in Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics. One in ’65, one in ’69. I don’t remember in which of them I specifically, intentionally give the history of synchrotron research. Due to some quarrels, I don’t know. I don’t remember… It is also included in my paper in Scientific American, I wrote. It is quite a good paper, I believe. It was mistake. It is not important. In any case, it was also in Scientific American, after a Physics of Cosmic Rays – or something like this.

Sullivan

And this was about when?

Ginzburg

It is also history of synchrotron and cosmic rays. But it is not so interesting. Look better for this. I remember now that it is mistakes here in translation. These are the serious papers – Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Let us close this chapter about synchrotron.

Sullivan

Well, not quite yet. May I ask you a couple of questions?

Ginzburg

Yes.

Sullivan

Why do you think there was so much reluctance to accept this mechanism in the - ?

Ginzburg

Oh, I believe because they were not physicists. For physicists it is very clear and immediately clear, absolutely transparent, mechanism. And the rest – it was just a merging of physicists and astrophysicists. I can tell you in my general view, if you like.

Sullivan

Yes, I would like to hear that.

Ginzburg

About the development of astronomy during the 30 years. But it was just – But I can say even now astronomy change – it is better if I – I believe our time is the second greatest revolution in astronomy in the sense that the first one was connected with Galileo. It is an open-to-discussion question what to call a revolution. Some people call changing views and I would call it what is here a change of (?) which influence change of views also. What I mean. Galileo first used telescope and that changed astronomy. Of course, change of views was connected with Copernicus. Also, now change of views connected with General Relativity, but what I have in mind it is change of astronomy for optical to all wavelengths of astronomy.

Sullivan

That’s right.

Ginzburg

It is a giant process which begins with Jansky, Reber, and all these things. And it goes , and it is now near completion – in some sense – because they have gamma rays, X-rays, and we think even about neutrino and about gravitational astronomy. It is a giant process. Of course, this giant process is connected with input into astronomy of many physicists. And physicists have their own language, their own customs, their own understanding, etc. I am trained as a physicist. To astronomers, some new processes which wasn’t used in astronomy is something, they don’t understand it. I understand what I can say to you. This synchrotron is very peculiar thing – in this second paper, the second ’69, was published because it was errors even in our own papers connected with this moving of the helix and not on the – usually for simplicity people look for synchrotron radiation on the circle. But movement of the helix have its own peculiarities. So I would like to say that, of course, here was done a lot, and what I can say you -

Sullivan

In your paper in 1950, you – cosmic ray electrons had not been measured then -

Ginzburg

Yes.

Sullivan

There was only an upper limit of 100 times smaller by Rossi.

Ginzburg

Yes. And after Rossi, it was observed, you see -

Sullivan

Right. But you seemed quite confident that they had to be there?

Ginzburg

Yes! Because it is – Oh! – it is also physics and not astronomy. Because it is – if you have cosmic rays – we know that there are cosmic rays which are accelerated somehow, and there are protons and nuclei. How is it possible (?) I don’t remember even, but for me it was no question. Of course, but what it is, is the physical sense or not physical – it is science because I calculated it and I see that it is enough one percent to give the relation. If I come to the conclusion that you must have 100% and we don’t (?), then I would strong surprised and not believe it. So it is all right.

Sullivan

Let me also ask about this business where you calculated that it might be synchrotron radiation that was causing these bursts that this Forsyth had found. And you say that, well maybe it’s electrons in the earth’s atmosphere.

Ginzburg

Yes, I don’t know -

Sullivan

Do you know if what’s happened to this at all?

Ginzburg

In fact, many people afterwards used something – not mine I claim, but simply it have some development, but I have done nothing in this direction. So you will find if anything is interesting in this respect. May I mention, speaking about this synchrotron (?) I would also like to quote. (?) Is the first in ’51 is was translated for (?) It is easier possibly to you in German. And it is also in a supplement – ’56. Everything is here. Now I must – the last possibly part of this story mentioned it is connected with cosmic ray origin. You see, the point is that you are more interested in radio astronomy – but naturally this work brings – put me to the question of radio wave propagation and I proceed with this radio wave propagation using radio astronomy. And in this connection I put for you here the last results – no, the last results (?) (?) it is my paper and the last onc it is with Review of Modern Physics ’76. I don’t remember the page. And now I would like to mention also the paper with (?) about the radio emission of pulsars and mechanisms of pulsar radio emission.

Sullivan

Can I ask you a question before we change to pulsars? It seems to me that one of the attractiveness of the synchrotron theory would be that it would explain both the radio emission and, with something that was already known to be there – the cosmic rays – all at once, right?

Ginzburg

Yes.

Sullivan

But what about the idea – you had papers saying that supernovae and novae were the origins of cosmic rays and so you could also explain the discrete sources in the same overall model?

Ginzburg

Yes. It begins to work – it is called astrophysical cosmic rays, high energy astrophysics connected with this. Of course! It is – you see, I can in a few words it is – radio astronomy is a tool and from this tool we know that there are discrete sources in our galaxy, radio galaxy – it is a quarrel you can see here. And it is two points here. First of all, we assume that electrons is only 1% and if we assume that the computation it is sometimes connected with Burbidge, but here I must say definitely you will see everything in ’53. But it is possible (?) knew of it, but it was all this calculation. If you take this into account you come to the conclusions that cosmic ray is important, dynamical and energetical source in radio galaxies, supernova, etc. It is first. And the second, even in the cases it is dynamical, not so important, it is a source of information. But weak point of all this was that we must argue about cosmic rays indirectly. We must assume that everywhere the ratio of electrons to (?) it is weak point. And now which I would like to finish, in fact, I would answer your question, but my story I would like to finish saying that now the next great step in all these things is connected with gamma astronomy. Gamma astronomy gives us a possibility to look, not for electrons, but for a nuclear component because this nuclear component make (?) zeros and these (?) You understand the case? And all this you would find for instance here.

Sullivan

In your ’76?

Ginzburg

Yes. No, it is not only my work I do not claim but I try —

Sullivan

But you think that’s the important thing?

Ginzburg

Yes, very important and I understand that you wish – you plan to give history of radio astronomy. But my argument would be, of course, it would be impossible to take all these things but some connection. Even with few words – half a page – but you must mention the development – the roots, all the radio -

Sullivan

Oh yes, I definitely plan to. In fact, like you say, I think it’s very important because it was the first spectral region that was opened up and it led to all the others. And also, I’m very interested in the relation between how the optical astronomers accepted radio astronomy, and I might ask you about the Russian optical astronomers.

Ginzburg

Oh, they were very reluctant to us. Till now, I’m treated as a physicist – it is for me not important. In fact, I am a physicist. But for them, I’m physicist and it happens so – you see, it is a difference between physics and astronomy. Astronomy till now it is a corporation and you have here Astronomical Union and all astronomers a sound the world can (?) etc. Nothing like this in physics. So many physicists. So it is not such a brotherhood or, it is not a brotherhood, in fact. But you understand. Here contact is much more so – for instance my own work I would say astronomy and astrophysics is 25% of my work. It is very roughly. But about – as people know, it would be even more because most – I know this astronomy possibly – not more, but not proportional to the amount to the number of papers because it is different fields. Here it is more concentrated. I finished the story. I with few words about the present state, I am now nearly 60 years old. I will be 60 the 4th of October so it is very soon.

Sullivan

That’s a very good Russian date for science, isn’t it? That was your birthday present.

Ginzburg

[laughter] So it is not the best age, of course, for creative intensive work but I still trying to work hard and have a -

Sullivan

Well, I think you’re still producing quite a bit.

Ginzburg

Many people and – but during the last years I am not very active in astrophysics you might say to finish this I would say that the field I’m looking all the time it is cosmic ray origin. And you see here this review of (?) is the last work. There is something new, for instance, for radio astronomy very interesting that now this idea about radio halos I believe we (?) new many people so that there (?) but I spoke it is something in our paper with (?) but here I spoke with (?) and they give examples of galaxies which show that there are… with them you can have some information about science itself. So in the future I expect to work (?) with origin of cosmic rays because it is my some beloved field.

Sullivan

The origin and also the (?)

Ginzburg

(?) It is conditionally origin. Origin it is like all the field. But also this work (?) this paper about pulsars was – it – pulsars is too complicated for me so I abandon pulsars. Here I spoke about nuclear galaxies (?) also my former postgraduate is very active in the field and we prepare his (?) for this conference but my own most important work during this last year was such (?) So I mainly work in physics. I am finished and like to answer your questions.

Sullivan

Yes, I have a few specific questions. In an article in Doklady in ’56 you talk about some unaccounted for intensity fluctuations in the radio sources could be due to a phase screen which is near the nebulae. Is that what you were referring to when you talked about interstellar scintillation?

Ginzburg

Yes, near the nebulae, outside the nebulae -

Sullivan

In the interstellar regions?

Ginzburg

Yes, yes.

Sullivan

I must admit I did not know about that – that looks very interesting. Now, what is this paper also in ’56. It’s called the “Displacement Towards the Red in the Spectra of the Sun and Stars?” What is that about?

Ginzburg

Oh, it is not connected with radio astronomy or (?). You see, I also was as many others interested in verification of general relativity. And one of the ways to verify general relativity as you know it is redshift in the gravitational field. At that time, it was not clear what it is and it was papers by (?) saying that it is wrong, etc. So this paper, as far as I remember, first of all I look about the sun. In the sun the picture is of the (?) If it is a limb and the limb redshift is full redshift and here it is lower.

Sullivan

At the center, right.

Ginzburg

Yes. And I explain this with some convection which is possibly correct and the end of this paper I propose to prove this redshift in the satellites with radio waves.

Sullivan

I see. Actually you also have a paper in ’58 with Getmantsev and Shklovsky on the possibility -

Ginzburg

No, Shklovsky, that is impossible. (?) and Shklovsky possibly – we have the one.

Sullivan

No.

Ginzburg

We have the common paper. I have only one paper with Shklovsky -

End Tape 73A

Click start to listen to the audio for tape 73B of the 1976 interview.

Begin Tape 73B

Sullivan

Continuing with Ginzburg on 30 August ’76.

Ginzburg

Yes, it is something I don’t know. It is possible about some conference, some short note. I don’t remember. Or it is a collection which was my paper and his – but I don’t remember. We had such ideas that it was published in some places, it was special collections, I don’t remember, how to use satellites for different kind of research.

Sullivan

Was this ever done in the Soviet Union? Radio astronomy from satellites? When was the first time?

Ginzburg

Yes, yes, yes. It was done. But I have connection only with these ideas but the results – it was by this working group (?) and others. But I don’t remember.

Sullivan

About when -

Ginzburg

Nothing very exciting. It was long waves around something, but it is not impressive as far as I remember.

Sullivan

About when was that? Do you remember?

Ginzburg

In the ‘60s. But I don’t remember. They have done something and also use satellites to ionopsheric research, of course. So (?) It here a question mark. (?)

Sullivan

Now you have a book in ’59 with (?) on Design of Parabolic Antennas.

Ginzburg

No, no. It is definitely not right.

Sullivan

Oh, maybe there is another Ginzburg.

Ginzburg

Yes, Ginzburg is very -

Sullivan

Is there another Ginzburg?

Ginzburg

(?) No, no. It is definitely. (?) I have a lot of books but this I haven’t.

Sullivan

Well, I didn’t think so. It’s probably another Ginzburg.

Ginzburg

Yes, it is quite a common name.

Sullivan

That probably explains this, too. [Looking at references]

Ginzburg

Not this, but this.

Sullivan

Most of these.

Ginzburg

No, here is this something, possibly the right location but this —

Sullivan

Ok, I’ll check. I wanted to ask about the pulsar business. My study is ending in the early ‘60s because it gets to be too big a field then. But I am going to go to the discovery of the pulsars and I have talked with a number of the people at Cambridge. And, of course, there is a famous story relative to you, and I was wondering if you would be willing to tell it to me.

Ginzburg

It is that I was there, and they tell me nothing!

Sullivan

Were you visiting the Cavendish Lab?

Ginzburg

Yes. I will tell you the story. I was only once in my life, unfortunately, I was living abroad with my wife for a rather long time. It was just Cambridge, we stayed for 3 months in the end of ’67. I was (?) Fellow of Churchill College. I had two course lectures on the origin of cosmic rays, and I spoke with all these people and may I say I’m quite open then. I do not like to have any secrets, I never hide anything of science, I immediately tell in Russia. And sometimes somebody steal something, but I think about this it is too complicated.

Sullivan

Yes, I agree.

Ginzburg

So I was there (?) and I like Ryle especially in other people, so when I come back to Russia, I just come back in the end of January of ’68, and just pulsars was published.

Sullivan

In Nature.

Ginzburg

And my first was very uneasiness – I was there, so they think that I am a robber or something like that. It was this uneasiness. I remember by the way, that I was going around the Lab and possibly once even met this Miss Bell and others. They say something about – I’m not interested in apparatus, so I (?). Of course I wouldn’t ask myself. I suppose that they would say that. So it has become clear that they have a secret, and I knew nothing. So my first feeling was bad. But afterwards, and I am very glad that it happened with me, afterwards I understood them. That is the point. If they wouldn’t tell only me, it would be wrong, but they haven’t told to anybody. And that is all right. So, not thinking about anything. I not wrote them I forgive you. I was excited about pulsars, and I wrote a popular booklet, and some articles in Russian saying this story, and saying my first impression was bad saying what I said to you. But now I understand that they have right that they have wish to do this thing, etc. And I send simply to Longair or to somebody else who was – who knew Russian – without any (?) but because they were claiming that they had secrets, etc., for them it was interesting and they even translated this and put on the blackboard or something. That is the whole story. So I, in good relation with them.

Sullivan

Right. I think that you said that there was no hard feelings at the Brighton meeting in 1970.

Ginzburg

Of course, no! I’m – you see, it would be very stupid. There are such people who very – I’m possibly if I was young I cannot understand but now I understand such things. It is nothing personal.

Sullivan

If you were the director of an institute that discovered pulsars, do you think you might do the same thing with the secrecy?

Ginzburg

Ah, possibly – I know I wouldn’t have such a hard mood. Because I openly speak of everything, I wouldn’t do this, but I cannot accuse them that they have done. It is nothing wrong.

Sullivan

But, so even if you had very good evidence that you had contact with extraterrestrial intelligence, or something you don’t think you’d be able to keep it a secret.

Ginzburg

Personally, I such a man that I wouldn’t keep it a secret. But I understand them. For them it was more dangerous than for anybody because if anybody else found the same pulsars they would – how would they prove that they had. So I say that it is all right. In fact, it is now – I think it is possibly part of the secret, but I just propose them for the Nobel Prize. One of the possibly many. But I receive this questionnaire from the Committee. And I propose (?) – only mistake was possibly I made that I have to propose 3. It is possible to give to three why not give also to Miss Bell. I simply haven’t thought about this – this is not anything against her – I don’t now have it. But it would be better to give to three to avoid this trouble. That is the story.

Sullivan

I was just looking at the 1946 paper on the sun. And I don’t think I have the Russian version here, unfortunately.

Ginzburg

I also have the Russian version – here.

Sullivan

You say here that considerable interest attaches to the possibility of directly determining the temperature of the corona in conjunction with the conjecture that this temperature reaches a million degrees. It sounds like it wasn’t certain -

Ginzburg

Yes. How to prove. This is quite correct translation. As far as I remember, at that time, it was on direct evidence that the temperature was high due to lines, etc. And just with this method, it is possible to measure.

Sullivan

Ok, let me see if there are any other questions I have. Oh yes, in a paper – the last sentence, in a paper being prepared for publication -

Ginzburg

Oh. Possibly he was… only he died soon.

Sullivan

Do you think you could possibly check if there was a paper because I’d be very interested in this?

Ginzburg

No. My advice to you is the following. Definitely in this book (?) it is collective paper by Papaleksi he died. It was a collective paper. Everything is there.

Sullivan

Ok. The other thing I wanted to ask you about was that very shortly after the War the three groups successfully bounced radar off the moon.

Ginzburg

Yes.

Sullivan

In America, in Hungary, there was this fellow Bay and there was also in the Soviet Union. Now do you know anything about effort in the Soviet Union?

Ginzburg

No, I don’t know. I definitely know that Papeleksi haven’t done it. I even don’t remember who have done it.

Sullivan

I’m afraid I don’t know the names either.

Ginzburg

No, I also. I cannot say anything about it. You make hard work. But very interesting.

Sullivan

Oh, I find it very interesting. When I get tired of doing science I do history of science. I wanted to ask you about your opinion of the importance of this paper by Getmantsev in ’52.

Ginzburg

Cosmic ray electrons. Yes, I know this paper.

Sullivan

It seems like this is an important paper. Do you agree with that?

Ginzburg

Yes. I agree, but in fact –

Sullivan

(?)

Ginzburg

Yes. May I translate to you the end. “The author is thankful to Professor V. Ginzburg for (?) of the problem of this investigation, and remarks which he made in the course of preparation.” So he was my graduate and I told him – look (?)

Sullivan

You were still guiding him -

Ginzburg

One step further of this my (?). It is no case that I would – it is the first paper when this formula was possibly (?), etc. but, between us, don’t use these things – writing things – anything about him. But of course, I can myself to put -

Sullivan

Well, it’s here in the English translation, also.

Ginzburg

Ah ha, (?) Of course, I said to him take that spectrum and -

Sullivan

See how it works -

Ginzburg

But I never prescribe other work – we can do it together, or something. Afterwards, we had a common paper by him and Fradkin published in this volume. Where it is all included in this.

Sullivan

Where did the idea for the power law spectrum come from? Was that measured and put into protons?

Ginzburg

No, no, no. It is simply that – yes, I don’t remember exactly. But, it is natural to make power law – simplest. (?) and the cosmic rays. It is interesting – I would say something. It is interesting to hear your own voice in these things. “We are speaking about the history of radio astronomy – it is very interesting and exciting field.” Please put it how it sounds.

[Interruption]

Sullivan

I’d like to ask you if you look back over the development of radio astronomy from World War II to the beginning of the 1960s, do you have any general comments that you can make as to how it’s developed?

Ginzburg

The history of radio astronomy? Oh, as usual, in this case, many mistakes, many lost possibilities. If we come back, for instance, you see I always was in very difficult position because I don’t observe myself, and do not make experiments. So I always have to persuade somebody to do it. And I’ve persuaded, but my experience is very, very bad indeed, to persuade anybody to do anything is very hard. I remember one story. It was Van de Hulst proposed this, or in fact, it was possibly Professor Oort, proposed, I don’t remember. But, it is also the same thing.

Sullivan

Right, Oort told -

Ginzburg

Look what can be in hydrogen! Out of this remark, everybody would understand.

Sullivan

Well, that’s not true.

Ginzburg

[laughter] But it is not – I don’t know this really – and have nothing against him, so (?) But I think that in any case, I remember very well that it was absolutely clear that we must have hydrogen in the late ‘40s. And we spoke to people – “Do this!” “Oh it is very difficult, very difficult.” And afterwards, I remember one thing: when I don’t know who observed first – detected first the hydrogen line –

Sullivan

Ewen and Purcell.

Ginzburg

Yes. When it was done, I remember that one of our men came to me and said, “Why do you not insist on it? Because it is so easy! Why do you not persuade me?” It is many things. For instance, these things about occultation with sun occultation, that you can use this Fresnel diffraction. It was in ’47 and one (?) mention already (?) paper with Getmantsev it was everything already. Why don’t you do it? Nobody was to do the same thing, same with polarization. And I must mention this – about polarization of radio waves, it just I claim that it is my idea about polarization of radio waves. And you would see this in these collections in ’53, ’55.

Sullivan

Are you talking about the galactic background now?

Ginzburg

Galactic background and sources, that they had to be polarized (?) that this is (?) synchrotron theory. Also, nobody wished to do afterwards, Razin, who was also my postgraduate, have done something. It is very difficult to convince people to do something. They look for you, possibly you are not correct. It is possible. They look for others. And also I understand people. But in any case, I am answering your question about history. Looking back, I see that it was possible to do much more. Even I was able to do much more. It’s hard to say – we always make mistakes. But it is a very bright development, and may I say on a high note, I’m very, very happy, indeed, that during my lifetime – I hope not all the lifetime – part of lifetime – I have seen many exciting and very interesting things with the development, and taken active part in this. I feel some satisfaction. But, in fact, the dissatisfaction is on the same footing as the satisfaction. [laughter] End of story.

Sullivan

Thank you very much. That ends the interview with Ginzburg on 30 August ’76.

End Tape 73B


Modified on Wednesday, 06-Sep-2017 16:37:22 EDT by Ellen Bouton, Archivist (Questions or feedback)