Golitsyn Boris Borisovich

(18.02.(02.03).1862–04(17).05.1916)

 

An outstanding Russian scientist in the field of physics and geophysics, one of the founders of Russian seismology, academician.

Born in St. Petersburg in the family of the Horse Guards Prince Boris Nikolayevich Golitsyn, an officer of the General Staff, a direct descendant of Field Marshal M.M. Golitsyn, ally of Peter I. Received an excellent general education at home and in a private school, then during 1876–1880. studied at the Naval Cadet Corps.

While still a cadet, Golitsyn participated in swimming in the Baltic Sea. In the rank of midshipman, he graduated from the corps of the first in academic performance with entry to the marble. Before him opened a successful naval career, but he was attracted to science. In 1881, after sailing in the Mediterranean, Golitsyn wrote off the ship and appealed to the Maritime Ministry to allow him to enroll as a volunteer at the university, but was refused and offered to enter the Maritime Academy. It would probably have happened if he did not show signs of tuberculosis. At the insistence of the doctors, he went to Florence.

Having taken medical treatment, Golitsyn in 1884 entered the hydrographic department of the Maritime Academy in St. Petersburg, and having finished it second in terms of academic performance, he resigned, realizing the long-standing desire to devote himself to science.

In 1887, he went abroad and entered the University of Strasbourg, where he took up physics. In 1890, after graduating from the University, Golitsyn received a Ph.D. degree in his thesis on molecular optics on the topic “On the Dalton Law”.

During the years 1891-1894. Golitsyn performed the duties of a private assistant professor at Moscow University, combining them with the duties of an extraordinary professor at the Department of Physics at Yuryevsk University (now Tartu) and with active scientific activities. During this period he carried out a number of works on the physics of dielectrics and the theory of blackbody radiation, he first introduces into the scientific circulation a number of relations that implicitly contain the Wien displacement law and the Raym-Jeans equation.

Golitsyn's activities were very versatile. In addition to scientific and teaching work, and he lectured in physics at Moscow, Yuryevsky (Tartu) universities, the Maritime Academy, Women's Medical Institute, at the Higher Women's (Bestuzhev) courses, Golitsyn was a member of many academic commissions, worked together with academician V.I. Vernadsky - one of the initiators of the creation of the Commission for the study of the natural production forces of Russia. In 1896, Golitsyn, together with O.A. Backlund led an expedition on the southern island of Novaya Zemlya, which conducted astronomical and geophysical observations during a solar eclipse, during 1899-1902. He participated in the “degree measurement” expedition that worked on Svalbard.

But first of all, Golitsyn entered the history of Russian science as the founder of Russian seismology. Its main merit was the creation of an instrumental base for seismological observations, without which the development of seismology is impossible. In 1902, he developed a galvanometric method for recording seismic vibrations and designed a special platform for research and calibration of seismographs. He designed and developed a seismograph with electromagnetic attenuation, a Golitsyn seismograph, based on the transformation of mechanical vibrations into electrical ones. Electric oscillations are applied to a galvanometer and cause oscillations of the galvanometer frame, on which a mirror is fixed, illuminated by a focused light beam. Fluctuations of the light "bunny" are fixed on photo paper, mounted on a rotating drum. Thus, a seismogram is obtained. At the beginning of the 20th century, Russia, thanks to Golitsyn, was the leader in terms of the development of seismological equipment, which enabled it to receive records of earthquakes of the highest quality. All Russians and most foreign seismic stations were equipped with Golitsyn seismographs. The galvanometric method has existed for many decades, and in our time there are certainly Russian seismic stations that have not yet switched to modern digital registration.

The contribution of Golitsyn to the development of the theory of seismic wave propagation, the method of determining the coordinates of the earthquake epicenter according to one station, equipped with a three-component installation of seismographs, the solution of one of the main tasks of seismology — the study of the Earth’s internal structure. His name is the layer of the lower part of the Earth’s upper mantle, the “Golitsyn layer”, located at depths of approximately 400–900 km and characterized by an intense increase in the speeds of seismic waves.

In 1906, Golitsyn founded the Pulkovo seismic station near St. Petersburg. A marble memorial plaque is fixed on the station's wall: Here, on the seismic station Pulkovo, from 1906 to 1916, its founder, an outstanding Russian physicist, one of the founders of seismology, academician Boris Borisovich Golitsyn worked”.

 

Bust B.B. Golitsyn in front of the seismic station

Building of Pulkovo seismic station

Memorial plaque B.B. Golitsyn


In 1911, he was elected president of the International Seismic Association. Golitsyn's Lectures on Seismology, published in 1912, became the reference book of seismologists. By this time, its author has proved himself as an excellent organizer. In essence, he reorganized the entire system of the seismological service of the Russian Empire. Since 1913 he was the director of the Main Physical Observatory.

Golitsyn's activities received international recognition. He was elected an honorary member of the Frankfurt Physical Society, a corresponding member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences, a foreign member of the Royal Society of London. Organizational talent and great public authority allowed Golitsyn to organize the work of the Main Military Meteorological Department under the most difficult conditions of the First World War, which he headed until the end of his life.

He died in St. Petersburg from pneumonia. He was buried at Nikolsky cemetery of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery.

A mountain in the southwestern part of the Land of Olaf V on the island of Western Spitsbergen. Named participants of the Russian-Swedish expedition on the "degree measurement".

 

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