Semenov (on the right) and Kapitsa (on the left), portrait by Boris Kustodiev, 1921

Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitsa (Russian Пётр Леонидович Капица) (July 9, 1894 – April 8, 1984) was a Soviet/Russian physicist who discovered superfluidity with some contribution from John F. Allen and Don Misener in 1937.

He was born in the city of Kronstadt. He worked in Cambridge for over 10 years and then went on a professional visit to the Soviet Union and was not allowed to return to Cambridge.

Ernest Rutherford, with whom Kapitsa had worked at Cambridge, sold the Soviets Kapitsa's laboratory equipment. The Soviets then made Kapitsa form the Institute for Physical Problems with his equipment.

Kapitsa won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1978 for his work in low-temperature physics. He shared the prize with Arno Allan Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson (who won for unrelated work).

Kapitsa was eventually removed from his role as head of the institute he created, over his refusal to take part in the Soviet Hydrogen Bomb project. In a letter to Stalin, Kapitsa described the project's leader, Lavrenty Beria, as "like the conductor of an orchestra with the baton in hand but without a score".


Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitsa: Official Nobel page

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