Skobeltsyn, Dmitrii Vladimirovich

Skobel’tsyn, Dmitrii Vladimirovich


Born Nov. 12 (24), 1892, in St. Petersburg. Soviet physicist. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1946; corresponding member, 1939). Hero of Socialist Labor(1969).

After graduating from the University of Petrograd in 1915, Skobel’tsyn was affiliated with the Polytechnic Institute from 1916 to 1937 and the Physicotechnical Institute from 1925 to 1939 (both in Leningrad). In 1937 he joined the staff of the Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR; he served as director of the institute from 1951 to 1972. Between 1929 and 1931, Skobel’tsyn was on official assignment to France, where he worked in the laboratory of M. Skłodow-ska-Curie. He became a professor at Moscow State University in 1940 and later was made director of the Scientific Research Institute of Nuclear Physics of Moscow State University; he remained director until 1960.

Skobel’tsyn’s principal works deal with nuclear physics and the physics of cosmic rays. In 1923 he began his research on the interaction of gamma rays with matter; he was the first to use a Wilson cloud chamber in a magnetic field for this purpose. His study of the tracks of recoil electrons knocked out of the gas in the Wilson cloud chamber by gamma quanta confirmed the hypothesis of the quantum nature of the Compton effect. Between 1927 and 1929, Skobel’tsyn discovered charged particles in cosmic rays and observed the occurrence of the particles in genetically related groups, or showers; he thus laid the foundation for high-energy particle physics. In 1945 he began an investigation of extensive air showers of cosmic rays. Together with his students, he discovered the formation of electron-nucleon showers and the nucleon cascade process. The State Prize of the USSR was awarded for this achievement in 1951. He founded a school of specialists in nuclear and cosmic-ray physics.

Skobel’tsyn was a deputy to the fourth through eighth convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. From 1950 to 1974 he was chairman of the Committee for International Lenin Prizes for Strengthening Peace Among Nations. Skobel’tsyn has been awarded six Orders of Lenin, two other orders, and various medals.


Kosmicheskie luchi. Leningrad-Moscow, 1936.
Paradoks bliznetsov ν teorii otnositel’nosti. Moscow, 1966.

N. A. DOBROTIN [23–1528–]