Boris Golitsyn

Golitsyn, Boris Borisovich


Born Feb. 18 (Mar. 2). 1862, in St. Petersburg; died there May 4 (17), 1917. Russian physicist and geophysicist; one of the founders of seismology. Academician of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1908).

Golitsyn graduated from the Naval Academy in St. Petersburg in 1886 and the University of Strasbourg in 1890. He taught at Moscow University (1891–93), the Naval Academy (1894–1914), the St. Petersburg Women’s Medical Institute (1897–1908), and the Bestuzhev Advanced Courses for Women (1909–16). His principal works dealt with the theory of heat radiation, the theory of the critical state of matter, seismology, optics, and X-radiation. His most important contribution to the theory of heat radiation was the introduction of the concept of the temperature of radiation of a blackbody (1893). Golitsyn’s dissertation containing these ideas was rejected by a number of scientists; subsequently, however, these ideas were universally accepted. In seismology Golitsyn developed the theory and design of elec-trodynamic seismographs and introduced these seismographs in practice. He also solved a number of problems in theoretical seismology. In particular, using the data from one seismic station, he found a solution in 1902 to the problem of determining an earthquake’s focus. Golitsyn founded the systematic study of seismicity and the application of seismic research to the study of the earth’s internal structure. In the theory of the critical state of matter he conducted theoretical research on density fluctuations near the critical point and developed experimental methods for determining critical temperature. In 1911, Golitsyn was elected president of the International Association of Seismology and in 1913. director of the Central Physics Observatory. Extensive studies in geophysics were conducted under his directorship. He was also a member of the Royal Society of London (1916).


Izbr. trudy, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1960.


Savarenskii, E. F. “B. B. Golitsyn i nekotorye zadachi sovremennoi seismologii.” Izv. AN SSSR, ser. geofizicheskaia, 1963, no. I, p. 3.
Ziukov. P. I., and A. Kh. Khrgian. “B. B. Golitsyn kak fizik.” In the collection Istoriia i metodologiia estestvennykh nauk, issue 3. Moscow. 1965. Page 242.