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Pavel A. Cherenkov

Pavel A. CherenkovAKA Pavel Alekseyevich Cherenkov

Born: 15-Jul-1904
Birthplace: Nizhniaya Chigla, Voronezh Oblast, Russia
Died: 6-Jan-1990
Location of death: Moscow, Russia
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow, Russia

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist

Nationality: Russia
Executive summary: Cherenkov radiation

Soviet physicist Pavel A. Cherenkov was the namesake of Cherenkov radiation, the rather faint blue glow emitted from radium and radioactive materials when immersed in liquid. To increase his eyes' sensitivity to the effect over several years investigating this phenomenon, he routinely spent at least an hour in a completely darkened room before beginning his daily routine. Though he was unable to explain the source of the blue light, he quantified it in a 1934 paper and showed that the effect is not related to fluorescence.

In 1937 Ilya M. Frank and Igor Y. Tamm, two of his colleagues at the P. N. Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow, showed that the phenomenon is caused when the liquid slows the speed of light, and charged particles from the radium move through the liquid at velocities faster than that slowed speed of light. Called the Cherenkov effect, the principle has since been harnessed to develop high-speed particle detectors, and used in the study of subatomic particles and cosmic rays.

Cherenkov's supervisor at the Lebedev Institute, Sergei Vavilov, oversaw and guided Cherenkov's famous work, and is widely seen as deserving of at least partial credit. The Cherenkov effect is frequently referred to as Vavilov–Cherenkov effect, especially in the former Soviet Union, but he was not included when Cherenkov, Frank, and Tamm were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1958.

Father: Aleksei Cerenkov
Mother: Mariya Cerenkov
Wife: Marya Putintseva (m. 1930)
Son: Aleksei
Daughter: Elena (author)

    University: BS Physics, Voronezh State University (1928)
    University: PhD Physics & Mathematics, P. N. Lebedev Physical Institute, Moscow (1940)
    Teacher: Physics, P. N. Lebedev Physical Institute, Moscow (1940-53)
    Professor: Physics, P. N. Lebedev Physical Institute, Moscow (1953-90)

    Stalin Prize 1946 (with Ilya M. Frank, Sergei Vavilov and Igor Y. Tamm)
    Nobel Prize for Physics 1958 (with Ilya M. Frank and Igor Y. Tamm)
    Hero of Socialist Labor 1984
    Russian Academy of Sciences 1970

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