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Vitaly Ginzburg: an interview

Vitaly Ginzburg in Stockholm in 2003

By Matin Durrani

Vitaly Ginzburg, who turned 93 last month, is without doubt one of the leading Russian theorists of the 20th century, who shared the 2003 Nobel Prize for Physics with Alexei Abrikosov and Tony Leggett for their work on the theory of superconductors and superfluids.

He’s a long-standing admirer of Physics World magazine — having first written for us back in 1997 — and when the opportunity arose to interview him, I jumped at the chance.

Ginzburg gave answers to our questions in Russian, which were then translated into English by Vitaly Kisin, a former colleauge of mine here at Institute of Physics Publishing. I must also thank Maria Aksenteva, who is the managing editor of the journal Uspekhi Fizicheskikh Nauk, which Ginzburg has edited for the last 11 years. She is very much his “eyes and ears”.

In the interview, which you can read by following this link, Ginzburg talks about how his interest in physics developed, why he distrusts the Church’s growing role in Russian society, and how his role in developing a hydrogen bomb for the Soviet Union was what saved his life.:

The interview is in the opinion section of’s In-depth channel which currently contains a couple other great articles worth checking out.

In How to publish a scientific comment Rick Trebino relives the time he tried – and failed – to have a comment published in a scientific journal. You couldn’t make the story up.

Then as Imperial College London counts down to a debate on the pros and cons of human space flight on 12 November, the two panellists write exclusively for us, presenting their arguments for and against manned or robotic space missions in the article Human spaceflight: science or spectacle? Championing robotic missions is David Clements, a lecturer in astrophysics from Imperial. Making the case for human space flight is Ian Crawford, a reader in planetary science and astrobiology from Birkbeck College, London.

Finally, Robert P Crease probes arguments made by US energy secretary Steven Chu that the next generation of synchrotron sources are an essential tool for meeting the energy challenge — check out his article “The Lure of Synchrotrons” by following this link

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