Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov


Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov lived his life as an eminent Soviet Nuclear Physicist, dissident and human rights activist. He was a prominent figure for reforms and civil liberties in the Soviet Union, therefore earning him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975. He also had a few prizes named after him in 1988, usually going out to anyone who participated in, and impacted, civil rights and liberty movements. He was, as quoted by the Nobel Peace Committee, the 'spokesman for the conscience of mankind'. A few books written by Andrei Sakharov are Sakharov Speaks and My Country and the World. The scientist studied many things, but among the most important were cosmic rays, the Soviet Atomic bomb Project, explosively pumped flux compression generators, anti-matter, worm holes and quantum gravity. Even after confused feelings about science and the materials he worked with
Image Courtesy of Nuclear Weapon Archive
to make more dangerous, he stuck with cosmology and became a human right activist.​ [⁴][¹⁹][²⁰][²¹]

Insight and Influences

Andrei Sakharov was born in Moscow, RSFSR on May 21, 1921 to Dmitri Ivanovich Sakharov and Ëkaterina Alekseyevna Sakharova. Andrei's father was a prominent Physics teacher and writer of textbooks, popular science books and exercise books. As a young boy, the elder Sakharov would take Andrei to the lab and show him experiments that amazed him so much, he went home and experimented on his own. Of course, Dmitri encouraged on his son as much as possible and gave him the desire to find fulfillment in what he did.[³] He and his family lived in a large communal apartment with other relatives and a few strangers. The home was a happy place with a respect for hard work and a traditional family spirit. They all shared a love for literature and science, and that impacted greatly on young Andrei.

Andrei's father enjoyed, and was particularly good at, the piano. Chopin, Greig, Beethoven, and Scriabin were favorites, and he made a living during the Civil War doing accompaniments for silent movies at the theater. Another family member that was important to Andrei was his grandmother, Maria Petrovna. He stated in his autobiography that she 'was the good spirit in the house' and how he had the 'most vivid memory of her reading to us those evenings'. She would read to him Pushkin, Dickens, Marlowe or Beecher-Stowe, and the Gospel. His mother and grandmother were both believers in the Lord, but his father was not. At the young age of 13, Andrei also decided that he did not believe either. Andrei was born and grew up as the first Soviet generation of Communist ideals. [⁵]

Although he began in the seventh grade after receiving an initial education at home, Andrei excelled in school life; always taking tests with distinction and studying at prominent schools.[²] He had great interest, not only in the scientific field, but in the Literature field as well, finding great pleasure in writing and learning about the life of Alexander Pushkin. As an introvert, Andrei stayed silently to himself; always dreaming and getting lost in the world in his head. When Andrei entered Moscow University in 1938, it wasn't the best time for study, due to the Stalinist purges costing the department it's best teachers. It only escalated, however, when the German invasion took place, forcing Andrei to work on duty during aerial raids, extinguishing incendiary bombs and unloading railroad cars. With the extra work, though, led Andrei to begin his first experiments, for a magnetic device was in need to find shrapnel in wounded horses. In October 1941, the remaining students, who had not died in the war, were evacuated to Central Asia to continue studies. Though it was cut a year, Andrei graduated with honors in 1942. With the war being as bad as it was, Sakharov declined an offer to go to graduate school. Instead, he began working in a lab at a cartridge manufacturing plant in Ulyanovsk on the Volga River. It was there in that lab that he met his wife, Klavdia Vikhireva, a lab-technician. The couple had three children together; two daughters and a son, whom they raised together until Klavdia died in 1969. While working in the cartridge lab, he authored a few engineering inventions, and through those inventions, led him to some problems of theoretical physics. In early 1945, Andrei decided to give it the old college try, and went back to school at the Lebedev Institute to continue his study of physics. He then received his doctorate for his work in particle physics. [¹]

Major Contributions

In his long life, Andrei Sakharov contributed many things to better the field of science, and the world in general. Known in scientific circles as the 'Father of the Soviet Atomic Bomb', he was a successful scientist, however, he is also known as Soviet Russia's most prominent political dissident, making him successful in politics as well. After he entered the Lebedev Institute in Physics, he joined the Soviet research group, working on atomic weapons. At the young age of 32, Sakharov became the youngest person ever elected into the Soviet Academy of Sciences. He also wrote many scientific articles and had his achievements recognized all over the world.[⁵]
Image Courtesy of The Hoot

After the end of the war, he began to study cosmic rays and in mid-1948, he participated in the Soviet Atomic Bomb Project under Igor Kurtchatov, and on August 29th of 1949, the finished result was tested. Another contribution from the Russian scientist was to the Hydrogen Bomb after he moved to Sarov. In 1951, he compressed magnetic fields with explosives and created and tested the first explosively pumped flux compression generator. He decided to name these devices MC or MK (magneto-cumulative) generators. The radial MK-1 created a pulsed magnetic field consisting of 25 megagauss (2500 teslas) and the next helical MK-2 produced 100 million amperes in the year of 1953. Taking the idea further, Sakharov then designed, studied, and tested an MK-driven "plasma cannon" where a small aluminum ring was vaporized because of the large eddy currents into a stable, self-confined toroidal plasmoid shot to 100 km/s. He later suggested to change the copper coil in MK generators by a large superconductor solenoid to magnetically compress and focus underground nuclear explosions into a shaped charge effect. He believed and theorized that he could could focus 10^23 protons per second on a 1 mm^2 surface, then envisaged to make the two produced beams collide into each other. Unfortunately, we do not know if any experiment based on his findings and data has ever been successful.

After all this innovation and experimentation, Andrei returned to fundamental science, where his focus stayed with cosmology and particle physics. [⁸] One of the things he worked diligently on was trying to explain the baron asymmetry of the universe. In fact, he was the first scientist to introduce the idea of two universes, called 'sheets', connected by the Big Bang. Sakharov determined that there was a complete CPT symmetry, where the second sheet is entaniomorph (P-symmetry), that has an opposite arrow of time (T-symmetry) and is largely populated by antimatter (C-symmetry) because of an opposite CP-violation. In his model, the two universes do not interact, except through a local matter gathering whose density and pressure would become high enough to connect the two sheets through a bridge with no space-time between them, but with geodesics continuity beyond the radius limit allowing an exchange of matter. Andrei's name for these said singularities were collapse and anti-collapse, which are an alternative to the pairing of black hole and white hole in the famous wormhole theory. For an alternative theory to quantum gravity, he also introduced the idea of induced gravity. [¹¹][¹²][¹³][¹⁴][¹⁵][¹⁶][¹⁷][¹⁸]

Affect and Effect

The affects and effects on Andrei Sakharov are diverse as they are prominent. The famous scientist contributed much to his time, and that bled into contributing to the future, what with his research and in-depth studies. From his intelligent father, to his warm, loving, religious grandmother, to the environment around him, Andrei had been exposed to many different points of views over his long life. His home, a traditional and independent place, taught him humanity in the midst of Communism and his father taught him the importance of education in the midst of oppression. If it weren't for the life Andrei lived in early years, and even from what he picked up on later in life, he would not have been the barrier-breaking, controversial, compassionate scientist that he was.

Maria Petrovna, Andrei's beloved grandmother, and Ëkaterina Alekseyevna Sakharova, his equally loved mother, were the two religious figures in the Sakharov household. They taught the young boy love and understanding and compassion, that later contributed to his dissident standing in Communist Russia. His father, a Physics teacher and textbook writer, was intelligent and intuitive, adding to Andrei's love and understanding of science. Another one of Andrei's father's decisions made had an affect on him, and that was atheism. Andrei's father didn't believe in a God, and when Andrei turned 13, he decided that he, too, didn't believe. However, as Andrei got older, he realized that there was some sort of Heavenly being out there that was causing all this science to happen.
After the German invasion during the war, Andrei and his schoolmates were relocated to Asia to continue their studies, causing Andrei to have to work in the fields with diffusing bombs and doing other odd-jobs. This exposure to the way of war most likely led to his interest in war explosives and the way they work, only reinforcing his career as a working part of the Soviet Atomic Bomb Project. After he graduated from Moscow University, he quit school and began to work in a factory where he met his wife with whom he had three children. However, after being out of school for a while, he decided to go back and he chose to go to the Lebedev Institute, where he furthered his study of Physics. He received his doctorate in Physics, and soon after became one of the youngest members of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. [⁴][⁵]

Andrei dedicated much of his time to education, and then the Soviet Atomic Bomb Project. He contributed much to the world of explosive war craft and affected the way we fight today through his findings. However, with his realization that humane and peaceful ways were what he was seeking, he immediately halted his work in explosives, and delved himself into cosmology and universe theories, forever changing the way we think about outer-space and the expansive universe in which we live today. With his giving up of hydrogen and atomic bombs, Sakharov became a prominent dissident in Russian society, making sure his voice and message of equality and fairness and humanity were heard loud and clear.

If not for him, Russia may not have gotten to where it is now, and for that the population of the large, progressing country is grateful; expressed beautifully by the statue of Andrei Sakharov with his hands tied behind his back in the Sakharov Gardens.


The legacy left behind by Andrei Sakharov has changed his future and our present. With his work in explosives in warfare, the universe we live in, and his own personal war against the horribleness of Communist Russia, he left a legacy for scientists, and people in general to learn from and practice.

In the field of science, he broke many barriers; contributing much to atomic bombs, nuclear bombs, hydrogen bombs, cosmology, astronomy, physics, particle physics, theoretical physics, and many other types of science with his diverse experiments and discoveries. Today, we have theories on parallel universes, to which he contributed with his ideas of two universes, one consisting greatly of anti-matter, and the other belonging to us with matter. With his work in the Soviet Atomic Bomb Project, he helped to further the work in explosives to make them stronger and to arm Russia. He also had a large hand in the Hydrogen
Image Courtesy of Dark Roasted Blend
bomb after moving to Sarov a bit later.

The Sakharov Prize, awarded yearly by European Parliament, is an award for people involved in human rights and those not afraid to be dissidents. It was named in honor of Andrei for his own work in the betterment of human lives and his devotion to making the world safer. The Andrei Sakharov Prize, awarded every other year by the American Physical Society, is given to accomplished scientists who are innovative, yet hold the standards of safety and have high regards for human life and liberties. The Andrei Sakharov Prize for Writers Civic Courage was established in October 1990 and also named in honor of him. The Andrei Sakharov Foundation was founded primarily to keep Sakharov's vision alive and to help remember him and his doings. [¹⁰]

Andrei has such a legacy, in fact, that he has a Street in Moscow named after him (Sakharov Boulevard) and a Sakharov Center. There is also a square named after him in Yerevan, capital of former-Soviet Armenia and a Sakharov Museum in the apartment on the first floor of the 12-storied house where he and his family lived for 7 years in Nizhny Novgorod. There is a statue of Andrei in the Sakharov Park in Moscow, and a public square in Vilnius in front of the Press House named after him in 1991 because the Press House was occupied by Soviet Russia until then.

During the 1980's there was a street in D.C., in front of the Soviet Embassy, that was named after him as an act of protest to his arrest. This showcases the love and admiration his generation had for him, and is the reward for his courage and acceptance of his dissident status. But it's not just his generation that admired him for his selfless acts, but this one, too, and surely the generations yet to come. [⁹][⁷]


1.) http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1975/sakharov-autobio.html
2.) http://www.moreorless.au.com/heroes/sakharov.html
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4.) http://www.notablebiographies.com/Ro-Sc/Sakharov-Andrei.html
5.) http://www.aip.org/history/sakharov/
6.) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/public/story_page/015-61231-292-10-43-902-20090925STO61210-2009-19-10-2009/default_en.htm
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9.) http://www.yale.edu/annals/sakharov/sakharov_list.htm
10.) http://asf.wdn.com/
11.) A.D. Sakharov: "Expanding Universe and the Appearance of a Nonuniform Distribution of Matter", ZhETF 49: 345-358 (1965); translation in JETP Lett. 22: 241-249 (1966)
12.) A.D. Sakharov: Violation of CP Symmetry, C-Asymmetry and Baryon Asymmetry of the Universe, Pisma Zh. Eksp. Teor. Fiz. 5: 32-35 (1967); translation in JETP Lett. 5: 24-27 (1967)
13.) A.D. Sakharov: "Magnetoimplosive generators", UFN 88:4, 725-734 (1966); Sov. Phys. Uspekhi 9: 294-299 (1966).
14.) A.D. Sakharov: "Antiquarks in the Universe" in "Problems in theoretical physics", dedicated to the 30th anniversary of N.N. Bogolynbov, Nauka, Moscou, pp.35-44, 1969
15.) A.D. Sakharov and I.D. Novikov: "A multisheet Cosmological model" Preprint Institute of Applied Mathematics, Moscow, 1970
16.) A.D. Sakharov: "Topological structure of elementary particles and CPT asymmetry" in "Problems in theoretical physics", dedicated to the memory of I.E. Tamm, Nauka, Moscow, pp.243-247, 1972
17.) A.D. Sakharov: "Baryonic asymmetry of the Universe", ZhETF 76: 1172-1181 (1979); translation in JETP Lett. 49: 594-599 (1979)
18.) A.D. Sakharov: "Cosmological model of the Universe with a time vector inversion". ZhETF 79: 689-693 (1980); translation in JETP Lett. 52: 349-351 (1980)
19.) Bonner, Yelena. "Об А.Д. Сахарове" (in Russian). http://www.sakharov-center.ru/sakharov/. Retrieved 2009-11-02
"Греки в Красноярском крае (Материалы из книги И.Джухи «Греческая операция НКВД»)" (in Russian). http://www.memorial.krsk.ru/Articles/Djuha.htm. Retrieved 2009-11-02

21.) Drell, Sidney D., and Sergei P. Kapitsa (eds.), Sakharov Remembered, pp. 3, 92. New York: Springer, 1991