630090, Novosibirsk, RUSSIA Tel:(383)3303921 Fax:(383)3307268 HTTP:
Russian version
First announcement
Second announcement
Instruction for

Organizing committee
Partner conferences


Khristianovich Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics SB RAS, Novosibirsk, Russia

Sergey Alekseevich Khristianovich is one of the famous Russian mechanical engineers of the 20th century together with N.E. Zhukovsky, S.. Chaplygin, N.. Kochin, and others. He made an immense contribution to some aspects of mechanics, such as aerogasdynamics, rock mechanics, theory of plasticity, filtration theory, and environmental power engineering. All this was preceded by a long, hard, and fruitful life full of outstanding events.

A boy called Seryozha was born on November 9, 1908 in Petersburg in a family of aristocrats and Orlovskaya Province landlords. The mother was Alexandra Nikolaevna Khristianovich. The father Alexey Nikolaevich was a lawyer like Sergey's grandfather Nikolay Filippovich Khristianovich, who was also a good pianist. In summer time, the family stayed in their country house not far from Orel, close to the station Naryshkino. Sergey spent his childhood there till 1918. The parents moved to Orel after the October revolution and lived there till Denikin's White Army arrived. At that time Sergey took lessons of mathematics and Russian, French, and German languages. By the age of ten, he could speak French fluently. When the White Army started retreating to the south after the battles near Orel, however, the parents, being worried about the children, also decided to move to the south. Unfortunately, the entire family fell ill with typhus, and only Sergey survived. Thus, a boy brought up in a loving family, educated by nannies and bonnes, suddenly became a street boy in an alien city, without friends, acquaintances, and means of support.

From Khristianovich's memoirs: "...once, while I was selling cigarettes in one of Rostov streets, two customers came up to me. They were two elegant men, and one of them addressed the other in French: "What a cute boy! He does not look like a gutter-child at all." The boy answered in French too. He said he understood them. They started talking and found out that one of the men was a professor and belonged to the same Petersburg's circles as the boy's parents. The man remembered the boy's parents and could not leave the boy in the streets. Professor Ilovaisky sent Seryozha to a maritime college, where the students were provided with a hostel, meals, and a uniform. The new-made student went on his first holidays to Petrograd to his aunt Maria Nikolayevna Bek and stayed there to study a systematic school program.

Sergey finished the school in 1925 and entered the anthropological wing of the geographical department of the Leningrad State University. Later he changed for the physical department and graduated from the university in 1930 after being a student of the mathematical department.

S.. Khristianovich got a fundamental education in the chosen profession owing to such teachers as V.I. Smirnov, N.. Gunter, and N.. Kochin. His scientific ideology was formed under the influence of his communication with prominent "class-mates," future members of the Academy of Sciences: L.V. Kantorovich, S.L. Sobolev, V.A. Ambartsumyan, S.G. Mikhlin, and others. After graduating from the Leningrad State University, Sergey Alekseevich started his science career as a junior researcher at the State Hydrological Institute. The outcome of his five-years' activities at this institute was the method for calculating unsteady flows in channels and rivers, which was published in 1938 in the monograph "Some issues of mechanics of continuous media" prepared with co-authors S.G. Mikhlin and B.B. Davison and edited by N.. Kochin. In 1935, S.. Khristianovich moved to Moscow and entered the doctoral courses at the Steklov Institute of Mathematics. One year later he prepared an article of stress distribution in a plastic zone around a hole bounded by an arbitrary closed contour. This work attracted attention of specialists, including foreign specialists, and soon became rather popular.

In 1938, Sergey Alekseevich finished the doctoral studies and defended two doctor's dissertations at once: in physics and mathematics and in technical sciences.

In January 1939, at the age of 30, Khristianovich was elected a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in the department of technical sciences. With a group of mechanical engineers from the Institute of Mathematics, he moved to the Institute of Mechanics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, where he worked on theoretical problems of filtration and also slow penetration of the fluid through a porous medium in 1939-1940. According to specialists' opinion, Sergey Alekseevich's paper "Underground water motion not following Darcy's law" was well ahead of time. Twenty five years later, the results of that research formed the basis for the development of methods for calculating the motion of viscoplastic oil. Another Khristianovich's paper "On gassy fluid motion in porous rocks" was also very important for practical applications in the oil industry.

At the Institute of Mechanics, S.A. Khristianovich was a deputy director. Foreseeing a forthcoming world war, however, many prominent scientists started working at that time in the defense industry. Since 1937, Sergey Alekseevich began working part-time at the Zhukovsky Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) in the team with outstanding scientists F.I. Frankl, S.A. Chaplygin, M.V. Keldysh, N.E. Kochin, L.S. Leibenzon, A.I. Nekrasov, and others. Here, at seminars supervised by S.A. Chaplygin, new results and formulation of new problems were discussed. S.A. Khristianovich was recognized owing to his new ideas and nonstandard solutions of the problems posed.

Since 1940, Sergey Alekseevich started full-time work at TsAGI; in January 1941, he became the head of the laboratory of high-velocity aerodynamics and then the head of laboratory No. 2, which became the main aerodynamic department of the institute. At that time, he was nominated the first deputy director of TsAGI. His works on high-velocity aviation (before and during the war) were dedicated to aerodynamic problems: theoretical and experimental research of increasing the aircraft flight velocity, which was mainly associated with drag reduction. It was at TsAGI that Sergey Alekseevich Khristianovich got a short nickname SAKh by analogy with Sergey Alekseevich Chaplygin called SACh.

In 1940, Sergey Alekseevich proposed an effective mathematical tool for the theory of an infinite-span wing in a compressible flow in his work "Gas flow around bodies at high subsonic velocities." This allowed studying the flow around airfoils at high subsonic flight velocities, calculating the pressure distribution on the airfoil, and finding the lift force generated by the wing. S.A. Khristianovich published his paper "On supersonic motion of the gas" in TsAGI transactions (Trudy TsAGI), which included a classification of supersonic flows and their research from the viewpoint of the possibility of existence of potential motion. A pioneering problem of the transition of a steady flow through the velocity of sound was posed in this paper. The paper "Laval nozzle calculation" was published in 1943 in co-authorship with V. Astrov, L. Levin, and E. Pavlov, which described a novel result that the critical jet is finished by a direct transition line, the latter simultaneously being a characteristic of gas-dynamic equations. The papers "On wave drag" (with Ya.M. Serebriysky as a co-author), "Effect of compressibility on inductive velocities of the wing and propeller" (in co-authorship with L.A. Simonov), "On ejector calculation," and some others were published during the Second World War.

One of the war-period achievements of Sergey Alekseevich and his colleagues was a little-known work on improving grouping of shots of the famous "Katyushas." It is well known that, despite their stunning effect on German troops, "Katyushas" had excessive fire dispersion. That meant that a large amount of fighting machines had to be concentrated to break down the enemy resistance over a restricted segment of the front line, because a significant fraction of shells was spent in vain owing to high fire dispersion.

S.A. Khristianovich at the session of the Scientific Council of TsAGI in 1942.

From I.I. Slezinger's memoirs:
"...that problem was so urgent that a special meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was held, where the researchers were asked to find a method for reducing lateral dispersion of missiles -13 and -31 without changing their producing technology." "Many years later Sergey Alekseevich told that his question 'Should we sprinkle them with Holy Water?' was answered with "Something like that."

To solve this problem, SAKh invited the theoreticians L.M. Levin and F.R. Gantmakher, as well as an experienced designer I.I. Slezinger, who rapidly found a fairly simple solution. This group guided by S.A. Khristianovich proposed and theoretically justified the expediency of drilling tangential holes in the powder chamber close to the center of mass. The tangential holes allowed releasing a small fraction of the gas, which imparted swirling motion to the shells. This idea was tested by proof shooting of more than 900 full-sized shells at the Sofrinsky artillery training range. The state tests showed that the dispersion area was reduced by a factor of 4 for standard -13 missiles and by a factor of 6.5 for -31 missiles. We can realize the importance of that event, based on the words of former artillery commander Degtyarev and his deputy Ionov: "The final results of the state tests mentioned exceeded all expectations:" Owing to the dramatic improvement of grouping of shots, it sufficed to make only one divisional salvo instead of a brigadier salvo, and the density of fire was 20-30 missiles per hectare. Putting such missiles into service was estimated to be approximately equivalent to tripling the number of guard mortar units.

Many years later, the visitors of the exhibition devoted to the Victory Parade on June 9, 1945, which was held at the Historical Museum in Moscow, could see a reference note (instead of the author's certificate) in one of the central panels, next to the Germany surrender document. This reference note was signed by V.L. Vannikov, a People's Commissar of Ammunition of the USSR, and read: "The present note is issued by the People's Commissariat of Ammunition on October 30, 1944 to S.A. Khristianovich, Ya.B. Shor, F.R. Gantmakher, L.M. Levin, L.Ya. Penn, A.I. Semenov, and I.I. Slezinger to admit your authors' rights not allowed for publication."

In 1943, being 34 years old, Sergey Alekseevich was elected a full member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, which proved his successful research activities at TsAGI. Those years became the best time of his creativity. He managed to unite a team of talented theoreticians, experimenters, and multidiscipline engineers, such as A.A. Dorodnitsyn, M.D. Millionshchikov, G.P. Svishchov, V.V. Struminsky, L.G. Loi- tsyansky, A.A. Nikolsky, and others.

Research of high-velocity aerodynamics, aimed to be implemented to the industry as soon as possible, required creating absolutely new experimental facilities. This was the reason for commissioning a T-106 high-velocity wind tunnel in 1943. This wind tunnel was used to model high-Reynolds-number flows. A number of experiments performed in 1944-1945 made it possible to develop the first transonic wind tunnel T-112 with perforated walls of the test section and to demonstrate a principal possibility of the transition through the velocity of sound. Wings and fuselages of high-velocity aircraft could be tested in that wind tunnel already in 1947.

S.A. Khristianovich enjoyed foremost scientific authority, which was proved by the certificate of the State Security People's Commissariat of the USSR on the scientific and social activity of the full member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, prepared in July 1945 and published in the journal "History archives" (1996, No. 2). "Sergey Alekseevich Khristianovich, born in 1908, Russian, not a party member, full member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR since 1943, laureate of the Stalin Prize, scientific leader of the department of mechanics of the Institute of Mathematics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, professor of the Moscow Aviation Institute, deputy Director of TsAGI, laureate of the Zhukovsky Prize. Decoration holder. Mechanical engineer and aerodynamicist. Known owing to his excellent works of fluvial hydraulics, high-velocity aerodynamics, theory of plasticity, and oil mechanics. One of the most outstanding students and successors of the Russian aerodynamicists N.E. Zhukovsky and S.A. Chaplygin. Aerodynamicist and hydrodynamicist recognized all over the Soviet Union. Personally performs important research defence projects at TsAGI. Khristianovich is in the prime of his creativity and is a very talented organizer. Enjoys the authority with his colleagues: scientists and mechanical engineers. Sociable and very modest in his everyday life at home and at work. Works hard himself and demands the same from his subordinates. Extremely respected among the staff of TsAGI."

Being elected as an academician-secretary of the department of technical sciences, S.A. Khristianovich worked at the Academy of Sciences of the USSR since 1953 till 1956. At the same time, he studied gasdynamic problems of explosion with a group of his young students at the Institute of Chemical Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. They created a comprehensive asymptotic theory of short waves, which was used for preparing practical recommendations on calculating explosion parameters. Moreover, S.A. Khristianovich and his students at the Oil Institute formulated the theory of hydraulic fracturing of the oil bed and started investigating the mechanism of sudden outbursts of coal and gas in coal beds.

S.A. Khristianovich was one of the initiators and founders of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He took an extremely active part in that new project from the very beginning. Back in 1956, at the time when the mass media started discussing the project of the USSR national economy development for 1956-1960, S.A. Khristianovich, M.A. Lavrentyev, and S.A. Lebedev published an article "Urgent problems of organizing scientific activities," where they proposed to revise the network of institutes and universities, aimed at more rational location of the latter. In 1957, Academicians M.A. Lavrentyev, S.A. Khristianovich, and S.L. Sobolev put forward and justified the project of creation of new scientific centers in the east of the country. On May 18, 1957, the government made a decision to create the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences with the center in Novosibirsk. Teams headed by full members of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, world-famous scientists in the fields of mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, history, and economics went to permanent work to the academic town called Academgorodok. S.A. Khristianovich became the first deputy of the Chairman of the Presidium of the Siberian Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR M.A. Lavrentyev. Khristianovich's responsibility was to supervise the design and construction of the Novosibirsk scientific center and its departments in Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude, and Vladivostok. Sergey Alekseevich generously applied his huge experience of scientific and organizational activities to create a first-class scientific center of global impact in Siberia.

S.A. Khristianovich, S.L. Sobolev, M.A. Lavrentyev, and A.A. Trofimuk

S.A. Khristianovich founded the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (ITAM) in Novosibirsk and headed it since 1957 till 1965. He could unite a harmonious and friendly team. He made them interested and attracted by the novelty and importance of his ideas. In his report "On the main directions of ITAM activities" at the general meeting of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR on May 17, 1958, Sergey Alekseevich told: "Now we are facing a completely new task: gas dynamics of superhigh velocities, corresponding to the gas-motion velocity of several kilometers per second and more. The body moving with such velocities experiences extremely high surface temperatures, and the main phenomenon in this case is the heat and mass transfer. Material vaporization from the surface, which occurs in all cases, starts playing the leading role in dynamics. This is a new set of challenges for researchers.

As an example of practical applications, we can mention the launch of the Earth's satellite (sputnik) to the orbit and its returning to the Earth. Such problems are numerous. The research in this field has just been started. Experimental methods and facilities are only at the beginning of their development. An important problem of superhigh velocities is the problem of shock waves.

These are the problems that we have started to solve. For this purpose, a special department in a separate building with experimental equipment is supposed to be created at ITAM. This department is designed for 200 employees, leaving aside designers and workshop staff. It is assumed to have approximately 50 scientists, and the area of their workplace will be about 1500 m2. The rest of the building will be occupied by experimental facilities whose operation will require a compressed air station to provide air stored in gas holders with a mean pressure of 20 atm and a total volume of gas holders equal to 4000 m3."

Thereby, the basis for developing powerful experimental facilities for aerodynamic research was founded on Khristianovich's initiative and under his supervision. A compressed air station and a T-313 supersonic wind tunnel with a 600 600 mm test section were constructed.

The full member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR S.A. Khristianovich and the corresponding member M.F. Zhukov wrote in a special issue of the "Bulletin of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR" (1964, No. 6) dedicated to the Novosibirsk scientific center: "ITAM activities are developed in the following fields: high-velocity aerodynamics, shock waves, magnetic hydrodynamics, rock mechanics, and power plants."

Khristianovich's research activity was always related to solving difficult problems, many of them being of tremendous practical importance. He was very enthusiastic in guiding the team work on the project of an environmentally friendly powerful combined-cycle plant. Research was performed to develop combined-cycle power plants with turbines operating on a gas-vapor mixture for powerful thermoelectric power stations. In accordance with the state plan of the most important activities in terms of novel equipment, the project of a block on gas-vapor turbines with a power of 200,000 kW was developed for a state district power plant in Bairam-Ali.

ITAM M.A. Amelina, S.A. Khristianovich, and Yu.I. Vyshenkov.

Research activities associated with the development of this power plant, including theoretical and experimental investigations, were performed at ITAM and at some other institutes in Moscow and elsewhere. Sergey Alekseevich together with his colleagues wrote a monograph "High-power combined-cycle power plants" (manuscript).

Already in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the fundamentals of the theory of pulsed-type MHD generators were elaborated at ITAM. Moreover, Sergey Alekseevich required basic research with the use of the most advanced diagnostic methods rather than mere engineering design of individual circuits of MHD generators. As a result, V.S. Sokolov in collaboration with specialists from the Institute of Applied Mathematics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR discovered the effect of the T-layer.

S.A. Kristianovich initiated the research of low-temperature electric-arc plasma at ITAM back in the late 1950s. Based on theoretical and experimental investigations of arc interaction with a turbulent gas flow and channel surface, near-electrode processes, effect of pressure and chamber geometry, a system of similarity criteria was found, and a method for calculating low-temperature plasma generators was developed. A number of highly effective industrial plasmatorches were further developed. In their joint paper entitled "Low-temperature plasma generators," S.A. Khristianovich and M.F. Zhukov wrote that "development of plasmatorches offers wide possibilities of their application not only in various branches of industry, but also in studying chemical reactions in gases at high temperatures. Little is known about these reactions. Available data, however, indicate that it is possible to implement a set of conceptually new processes, which could lead to fundamental changes in some technological processes."

Activities aimed at taking into account the radiant energy transfer in heated gas flows and physicomathematical modelling of turbulent transfer in aerodynamic problems were started at ITAM on Khristianovich's initiative. These activities were supervised by the head of the laboratory, professor A.T. Onufriev.

In his report on scientific achievements in 1961, Academician Khristianovich wrote: "We elaborated the theory of an ejector with continuous feeding of high-pressure air along the mixing chamber, which allows us to increase the ejector efficiency more than twice under high pressures." In 1962, S.A. Khristianovich supervised theoretical research of asymptotic methods in gas dynamics, as applied to problems of nonlinear reflection of weak shock waves and hypersonic flow around various bodies, as well as the theory of turbulent combustion and high-pressure ejectors. Now these activities are successfully developed atin ITAM and at other research institutes in Russia.

Living in Novosibirsk, Sergey Alexeevich and his students continued the research in the field of the plasticity theory, mechanics of deformable bodies, and propagation of disturbances in various media. Academicians S.A. Khristianovich and E.I. Shemyakin published the paper "On dynamic compressibility of hard rocks and metals" in 1964; in 1963--1964, they delivered presentations at the conference on high pressures at the Institute of Chemical Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and at the All-Union Congress of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics. During the same period, they obtained new results in the theory of fluid fracturing of an oil bed, in discovering the mechanism of a sudden outburst of coal, in some dynamic problems in solid media, and in the theory of short waves.

Working in Siberia offered to Sergey Alekseevich an additional possibility of realizing new ideas and projects . The Siberian Branch became his brainchild because he put so much effort, energy, and enthusiasm into its development. Here he founded a research institute and adjusted it to his scientific interests.

Owing to certain circumstances, in 1965 Sergey Alekseevich returned back to Moscow , where he continued his research and organizing activities as a scientific leader of the Institute of Physicotechnical and Radiotechnical Measurements of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and as a member of the State Committee on Science and Engineering. Since 1972 he headed the laboratory of nonlinear media mechanics at the Institute for Problems in Mechanics .

Sergey Alekseevich successfully combined intense research activities with teaching: first, at the Moscow State University, then at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and the Novosibirsk State University. Concerning two latter institutions, he personally participated in their organization. Back in 1938, S.A. Khristianovich, P.L. Kapitsa, and other outstanding scientists published an article in the newspaper "Pravda," where they suggested that a new type of a higher-education establishment in Moscow should be organized. This suggestion was finally realized only after the war, in 1947, when the Council of Ministers of the USSR issued a decree on founding a physicotechnical department at the Moscow State University. Academician S.A. Khristianovich was appointed a prorector of the University, and he was directly responsible for organizing this department. The Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in Dolgoprudny was later founded on the basis of that department. The experience accumulated thereby was later applied to create the Novosibirsk State University in Akademgorodok.

Session of the Scientific Council of ITAM, 2006

Sergey Alekseevich dedicated all his life to science. He was a really great mechanical engineer of the 20th century, mathematician, physicist, engineer-researcher with a very wide range of scientific interests. All his works always reflected up-to-date problems of scientific and technological progress and had an undoubted impact on development of science and engineering. Khristianovich's achievements in various fields of fluid dynamics and mechanics of solids were highly appreciated in Russia and abroad. He was given the highest awards including the Order of the Socialist Labor and six Lenin Orders. He was a laureate of three State Prizes and the Zhukovsky Prize.

From G.A. Amir'yants's memoirs:
"S.A. Khristianovich was a very modest person and never put on his decorations. Only once, when he was officially invited to the meeting of Lenin-Order bearers, he decided he could not come without the orders. It was the first and last time when he put on six Lenin Orders (note that TsAGI specialists were awarded by the Lenin Order only 10 times during the Second World War). Academician S.A. Khristianovich was a triple laureate of the Stalin Prize (in 1942, 1946, and 1953)."

Sergey Alekseevitch was a true citizen of his country. He was simple, wise, and captivating with people. We will surely remember him with gratitude not only because of his academic works but also as a founder of several research teams and one of the founders of the Institute of Physics and Technology, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and ITAM.

By decree No. 182 dated June 28, 2005 of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences was named after S.A. Khristianovich, the greatest mechanic of the 20th century.

The Institutes employees, especially those who worked under his guidance, his students working in different institutions in Russia and abroad accepted this decision with enthusiasm and pride.

Grigory Isaakovich Barenblatt, one of S.A. Khristianovich's students, now an outstanding scientist, Professor of Berkley University in California, characterized this event as follows (from the letter of G.I. Barenblatt to Academician V.M. Fomin, Director of ITAM):
"Justice exists! Finally, Sergey Alekseevich Khristianovich was really recognized, and I am so happy I have lived till such a day! I knew him quite well, and it was an enormous happiness to observe and absorb his creativity, which was like sunshine, and to feel the influence of his bright personality. Sergey Alekseevich will now eternally belong to the assembly of the Great Russian Mechanics together with N.E. Zhukovsky, S.A. Chaplygin, and N.E. Kochin. I also knew him as a Great Engineer, so for me he is both Great Mechanician and Engineer.
Long live his memory!"