Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitsa made his appearance in physics at the turn of the XX-th century.
The son of a general, a prominent military engineer who had built the Kronstadt fortress - was keenly interested in physics while still at a technical high school (he had been expelled from the Kronstadt classic school for poor academic progress). But he became a student of Petersburg's Peter the Great Polytechnical Institute - perhaps the best technical educational establishment in Russia at the time. In 1921, three of our most prominent scientists were sent abroad, to renew scientific contacts. These scientists were Ioffe, Academician Krylov and Kapitsa who was then only twenty-seven.
They worked at the world-famous Cavendish Laboratory headed by Ernest Rutherford, the founder of experimental nuclear physics. Kapitsa established an unusual, almost incredible record - he completed the laboratory course in two weeks instead of the usual two years. After that, Ernest Rutherford took personal interest in him and Kapitsa became his favourite pupil.
In 1934 Pyotr Kapitsa returned home and was appointed Director of the Institute of Physical Problems.
In the war years, Kapitsa devoted all his talent of a scientist and an engineer to the cause of the country's defence.
After the war, Kapitsa began to work in an entirely new field of science and technology - high-power electronics.
It is common knowledge nowadays that electronics means small currents. Electronic devices - radio-valves, for instance, - operate on electrons, particles having a very small mass and a very high mobility. It was believed that to transmit great amounts of power over great distances by means of electronics was impossible. This was not the only "axiomatic truth" which Kapitsa disproved. He proved the fact that the electrons are capable of transmitting millions of kilowatts over long distances.
Today Kapitsa's high-power electronics has already become firmly established.
It is not necessary to list all Pyotr Kapitsa's academic titles, because his name speaks for itself. In the history of physics there are few names that can be placed next to his.
E. Sinyavskaya, English for engineers, Moscow.