Sergey Kapitsa

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Sergey Kapitsa
Sergey Kapitsa.jpg
Born (1928-02-14)14 February 1928
Cambridge, England
Died 14 August 2012(2012-08-14) (aged 84)
Moscow, Russian Federation
Citizenship British
Fields Physics, demography
Institutions Kapitza Institute for Physical Problems, RAS and Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
Alma mater Moscow Aviation Institute
Known for TV science magazine host since 1973
Notable awards UNESCO's Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science, 1979 and USSR State Prize, 1980

Sergey Petrovich Kapitsa (Russian: Серге́й Петро́вич Капи́ца; 14 February 1928 – 14 August 2012) was a Russian physicist and demographer. He was best known as host of the popular and long-running Russian scientific TV show, Evident, but Incredible. His father was the Nobel laureate Soviet-era physicist Pyotr Kapitsa, and his brother was the geographer and Antarctic explorer Andrey Kapitsa.

Life and career[edit]

Kapitsa was born in Cambridge, England,[1] the son of Anna Alekseevna (Krylova) and Pyotr Kapitsa. His maternal grandfather was Aleksey Nikolaevich Krylov, naval engineer, applied mathematician and memoirist, and the developer of the insubmersibility technique. Kapitsa graduated from the Moscow Aviation Institute in 1949. He was Senior Research Fellow at the Lebedev Physical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences and Professor at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.

Kapitsa's contributions to physics were in the areas of applied electrodynamics and accelerator physics; he is known, in particular, for his work on the microtron, a device for producing electron beams.[2] In later years, his research focus was on historical demography, where he developed a number of mathematical models of the World System population hyperbolic growth and the global demographic transition.

His activities in science popularization included hosting the Russian Television program, Evident, but Incredible, starting in 1973, for which he was awarded UNESCO's Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science in 1979[3] and the USSR State Prize in 1980, and editing the Russian edition of Scientific American from 1982 onwards. He was also active in issues of science and society through his participation in the Pugwash conferences and the Club of Rome. In the 1980s he, along with Carl Sagan, was outspoken about the possibility that international nuclear war would bring about a nuclear winter, making presentations in the US Senate in 1983[4][5] and the United Nations in 1985.[6] He was an advocate of planetary exploration and served on the advisory council of the Planetary Society.[7] In 2012, Kapitsa was awarded the first gold medal of the Russian Academy of Sciences for outstanding achievements in the dissemination of scientific knowledge.[8]

Kapitsa was a pioneer of scuba diving in the Soviet Union, he shot the first underwater film about the Sea of Japan, which was shown at international film festivals, in particular in Cannes, where it was second only to the film by Jacques Cousteau.[8]

Kapitsa was the vice president of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and president of the Eurasian Physical Society, and was a strong proponent of restoring support for science in Russia.[9]

On 14 August 2012, Kapitsa died at the age of 84 in Moscow. He is remembered for his role in the popularisation of science and, after forty years of hosting Evident, but Incredible, holding the record for being the longest serving host of a TV programme.[8]


Sergei Kapitsa on a postage stamp of 2015.

5094 Seryozha main-belt asteroid, discovered on 20 October 1982, was named in honor of Sergei Kapitsa.[10]

On 5 March, 2014 the President of the Russian Federation signed a decree "On memorialization of S. P. Kapitsa".

On February 12, 2015 the Publishing and Trading Centre Marka issued a commemorative postage stamp and a postmark with image of Sergei Kapitsa.[11][12]



  1. ^ "Russian Archives Online – Interview transcript – Sergei Kaptisa". The Russian–American Center. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  2. ^ Kapitza, S. P.; Melekhin, V. N. (1978), The microtron (translated from the Russian by I. N. Sviatoslavsky; English edition by Ednor M. Rowe), Harwood Academic Publishers 
  3. ^ "Kalinga Prize Laureates". United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "U.S., Soviet scientists say nuclear war likely to doom life on earth", Miami Herald, December 9, 1983 
  5. ^ Strout, Richard L. (December 14, 1983), "Limited nuclear war would have profound effects, experts say", Christian Science Monitor 
  6. ^ Hendrix, Kathleen (September 15, 1985), "Beyond War: Movement takes disarming approach to world tensions", Los Angeles Times 
  7. ^ "Advisory Council – Who we are". The Planetary Society. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c Prominent Russian scientist Sergey Kapitsa dies at 84
  9. ^ "TEDx Perm". TED Conferences LLC. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  10. ^ 5094 Seryozha at IAU Minor Planet Center
  11. ^ Sergei Kapitsa stamp at Publishing and Trading Centre Marka
  12. ^ Sergey Kapitsa postmark at Publishing and Trading Centre Marka
  13. ^ "Andrey Kapitsa dies in Moscow". Russian Geographical Society. 2011-08-03. Retrieved 2011-08-04. 
  14. ^ Scientific American, October 2012, p. 19.

External links[edit]