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Nobel Prize Winning Inventor Of The H-Bomb Dies At 93

November 9, 2009

Vitaly Ginzburg, one of the creators of the Soviet hydrogen bomb and later a Nobel Prize-winning Russian physicist, died in Moscow on Sunday at the age of 93, The Associated Press reported.

The Russian Academy of Sciences said on Monday that Ginzburg died late Sunday of cardiac arrest.

Ginsburg and two other scientists won the 2003 Nobel Prize in physics for their contribution to theories on superconductivity.

He was born in Moscow on October 4, 1916 to a doctor mother who died of typhoid in 1920 and an engineer father. Ginzburg’s first marriage was to a fellow student, Olga Zamsha, in 1937. The couple divorced nine years later after having a daughter, who also became a physicist.

He also won the Stalin prize and was showered with benefits and accolades for his work on the government project that developed the Soviet hydrogen bomb in the early 1950s.

Ginzburg also authored several groundbreaking studies in various fields like quantum theory, astrophysics, radio-astronomy and diffusion of cosmic radiation in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Gennady Mesyats, the director of the Lebedev Physics Institute in Moscow, where Ginzburg worked, called many of his studies Nobel Prize caliber.

Mesyats said in televised comments Monday he could hardly list all the fields of physics to which Ginzburg contributed.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called Ginzburg one of the top physicists of our time whose discoveries had a huge impact on the development of national and world science.

Ginzburg said in his autobiography written for the Nobel Prize Committee that he was born into a Jewish family in 1916, a year before the Bolshevik Revolution, and grew up in times of economic degradation and hunger.

In the late 1930s, a time of Stalinist purges and pervasive anti-Semitism, Ginzburg was blacklisted and faced persecution, but “was saved by the hydrogen bomb,” he wrote.

In 1953, he became a member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences and was also a longtime editor of a leading scientific magazine on theoretical physics and educated hundreds of disciples.

Ginzburg was a devout atheist and strongly opposed the growing role of the Russian Orthodox Church in state affairs after the 1991 Soviet collapse. He protested its attempts to have a say in political and secular matters and introduce religious lessons in schools.

He told a Russian newspaper in 2007 that “Orthodox scoundrels” wanted to lure away children’s souls by teaching religion in schools.

Several Orthodox Christian groups threatened to sue him for “offending millions of Russian Christians.”

Ginzburg said he had given up hope of winning the Nobel prize after having been nominated regularly for the past 30 years.

“I had long ago forgotten to think about this,” he said.

Ginzburg remained active as a scientist and public figure well into his advanced age. He was also a strong supporter in the global triumph of democracy and “secular humanism” to help overcome such threats as Islamic terrorism, poverty and AIDS.

“I am still inclined to believe in the brilliant future of mankind,” he said in the autobiography.

Ginzburg is to be buried in the Novodevichye Cemetery in Moscow, where many of Russia’s most famous political, scientific and cultural figures rest.

Image Courtesy Wikipedia

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