Dmitrii Rozhdestvenskii

Rozhdestvenskii, Dmitrii Sergeevich


Born Mar. 26 (Apr. 7), 1876, in St. Petersburg; died June 25, 1940, in Leningrad. Soviet physicist; one of the organizers of the optics industry in the USSR. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1929; corresponding member, 1925).

Rozhdestvenskii graduated from the University of St. Petersburg in 1900 and continued his education in 1901 in Leipzig and Giessen. He began working at the University of St. Petersburg in 1903 and became a professor in 1916; in 1919 he organized a department of physics at the university and carried out radical reforms in the teaching of physics. The State Optics Institute was established in 1918 on Rozhdestvenskii’s initiative; he served as its head and scientific director until 1932.

At a meeting of the physics section of the Russian Physical-Chemical Society in 1909, Rozhdestvenskii delivered a paper (published in 1910) on the anomalous dispersion of sodium vapor. In his paper he explained a technique he had developed for quantitative determination of the magnitude of the anomalous dispersion; the technique came to be called the hook method. Rozhdestvenskii and his colleagues used the hook method in studies of anomalous dispersion in the vapor of a number of metals and thus acquired essential information on spectral line intensities and the structure of atoms. Rozhdestvenskii subsequently extended the hook method to studies of anomalous dispersion in the vapors of refractory metals by equipping his apparatus with a high-temperature vacuum oven capable of producing temperatures up to 3000°C.

Rozhdestvenskii also made an important contribution to the theory and systematization of atomic spectra. He was the first to present a hypothesis on the magnetic origin of spectral doublets and triplets. In 1939–40 he performed a series of experiments on the theory of the microscope and demonstrated the important role of interference in the formation of microscope images. He educated a large school of optical scientists.


Baumgart, K. K. “Dmitrii Sergeevich Rozhdestvenskii.” Uspekhi fizicheskikh nauk, 1941, vol. 25, fasc. 2. (References.)
Frish, S. E., and K. K. Baumgart. “Professor, akademik D. S. Rozhdestvenskii i leningradskaia shkola optikov.” Vestnik LGU, 1946, no. 2.
Frish, S. E. Dmitrii Sergeevich Rozhdestvenskii: Zhizn’ i deiatel’nost’. Leningrad, 1954.
Osinovskii, A. N., and A. F. Kononkov. D. S. Rozhdestvenskii. Moscow, 1974.