© 2019

L.I. Mandelstam and His School in Physics


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Alexander Pechenkin
    Pages 1-8
  3. Alexander Pechenkin
    Pages 9-30
  4. Alexander Pechenkin
    Pages 31-53
  5. Alexander Pechenkin
    Pages 55-74
  6. Alexander Pechenkin
    Pages 75-87
  7. Alexander Pechenkin
    Pages 89-111
  8. Alexander Pechenkin
    Pages 113-123
  9. Alexander Pechenkin
    Pages 153-168
  10. Alexander Pechenkin
    Pages 169-181
  11. Alexander Pechenkin
    Pages 183-191
  12. Alexander Pechenkin
    Pages 205-220
  13. Alexander Pechenkin
    Pages 235-238
  14. Back Matter
    Pages 239-259

About this book


This biography of the famous Soviet physicist Leonid Isaakovich Mandelstam (1889–1944), who became a Professor at Moscow State University in 1925 and an Academician (the highest scientific title in the USSR) in 1929, describes his contributions to both physics and technology. It also discusses the scientific community that formed around him, commonly known as the Mandelstam School. By doing so, it places Mandelstam’s life story in its cultural context: the context of German University (until 1914), the First World War, the Civil War, and the development of the Socialist Revolution (until 1925) and the young socialist country. The book considers various general issues, such as the impact of German scientific culture on Russian science; the problems and fates of Russian intellectuals during the revolutionary and post-revolutionary years; the formation of the Soviet Academy of Science, the State Academy; and the transformation of the system of higher education in the USSR during the 1920s and 1930s. Further, it reconstructs Mandelstam’s philosophy of science and his approach to the social and ethical function of science and science education based on his fundamental writings and lecture notes. This reconstruction is enhanced by extensive use of previously unpublished archive material as well as the transcripts of personal interviews conducted by the author.

The book also discusses the biographies of Mandelstam’s friends and collaborators: German mathematician and philosopher R.von Mises, Soviet Communist Party official and philosopher B.M.Hessen, Russian specialist in radio engineering N.D.Papalexy, the specialists in non-linear dynamics A.A.Andronov, S.E. Chaikin, A.A.Vitt and the plasma physicist M.A.Leontovich.

This second, extended edition reconstructs the social and economic backgrounds of Mandelstam and his colleagues, describing their positions at the universities and the institutes belonging to the Academy of Science. Additionally, Mandelstam’s philosophy of science is investigated in connection with the ideological attacks that occurred after Mandelstam’s death, particularly the great mathematician A.D.Alexandrov’s criticism of Mandelstam’s operationalism.


Combinatorial Scattering of Light Mandelstam School Mandelstam and Tamm Mandelstam's Life Story Operationalism for Classical Physics Radio Engineering Raman Effect Scientific Biography of Mandelstam Social and Ethical Functions of Science Theory of Oscillations German Scientific Culture Physics in the USSR

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.School of PhilosophyLomonosov Moscow State UniversityMoscowRussia

About the authors

Alexander Alexandrovich Pechenkin graduated from the Mendeleev Moscow Institute of Chemistry and Technology in 1963, and received his Ph.D. from the Institute of Philosophy at the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1968. In 1976 he graduated from the Mechanico-Mathematical Faculty (School) at Lomonosov Moscow State University.

In 1985 Pechenkin received his Doctor of Science degree from the Institute of Philosophy. In 1985 he was appointed Professor of History at the USSR Academy of Sciences Science Institute of History of Science and Technology.


He has received various grants and honors from the Russian Foundation of Scientific Research in Humanities and from the Russian Foundation of Fundamental Research and other international institutions, including:


-          1995 the German Museum (Munich) three-month fellowship

-          1998–2003 State Stipend of Russian Federation

-          1997–1998 Fulbright Program Grant

-          1998 American Institute of Physics. Grant in Aid

-          1997, 1998, 2002 the British Academy fellowships

-          2001 Central European University fellowship

-          2003 Rockefeller Archive Centre one-month residency fellowship

-          2004 American Philosophical Society, John Slater fellowship

-          2004, 2005, 2006, 2017 Chemical Heritage Foundation Library fellowships

-          2011 Robert W. Allington Fellowship from Chemical Heritage Foundation

-          2014 fellowship from Kone Foundation

-          1992–1993, 1993; 1995–1996; 2001 Central European University and Open Society Institute Grants


He has authored 8 Russian and 2 international books and is the editor of five contributed books. He has also contributed chapters to various books and written numerous scientific publications.

Bibliographic information