Andreev, Nikolai Nikolaevich

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(b. Kurmani, Russia, 28 July 1880; d. Moscow, U.S.S.R., 31 December 1970)


Andreev’s father, Nikolai Fedorovich Andreev, was a minor official; his mother, Alexandra Nikitichna Konvisarova, was a housewife. When Andreev was live, his parents died in a fire at the family home, and the boy was then brought up by relatives. A special role in his upbringing was played by his paternal aunt, an actress at the Malyi Theater in Moscow. From 1890 to 1892 Andreev studied at the classical gymnasium in Moscow, and then enrolled in a military school. There he received a strong physical-mathematical education, studied European languages, and developed his musical talent (he played piano, flute, and oboe). In 1898 he was admitted to the Higher Technical Institute in Moscow, but the next year was expelled for his participation in the student movement. Then he studied at Moscow University as an extern. His mathematical abilities attracted the attention of Nikolai Vasilievich Bugaev. In 1901 he married Nadezhda Nikolaevna Nikolskaia, the mother of his best friend. They had one daughter. In 1903 Andreev moved to Göttingen to enter the university there. Three years later he transferred to Basel, Switzerland, where he worked under the guidance of August Hagenbach. By the time Andreev defended his doctoral dissertation in 1908, he was an original scholar. His interests focused on optics, both experimental and theoretical He worked out the method for determining the number of optically active components in solutions of substances of high molecular weight by their rotation of the plane of polarization, and he developed Paul Drude’s theory of the dispersion of light. The latter work was the basis of his dissertation, for which he was awarded the doctorate cum laude.

After defending his dissertation, Andreev returned to Moscow. The same year he was elected a member of the Russian Physical-Chemical Soeiety. In Moscow he soon came in contact with the best physical school of prerevolutionary Russia, that of Petr Nikolaevich Lebedev, and worked in Lebedev’s laboratory from 1910 to 1912. His interests at that time included X-ray physics, acoustics, and radio engineering. He taught at a number of institutions of higher learning, among them Moscow University (1912–1917). There in 1913 he defended his M.Sc. thesis, which opened the way to a professorship. The following year Andreev married Maria Gerasimovna Larionova; they had a son and three daughters. During World War I, Andreev was involved in defense work, developing an acoustical method for locating artillery batteries. The same problem was investigated by Max Born and others for the Germans.

From 1918 to 1920 Andreev was professor of physics at the Agricultural Institute in Omsk; and in 1920 he returned to Moscow. By that time his interests were concentrated on acoustics and the theory of vibrations. Andreev was a founder of nonlinear acoustics and of the acoustics of musical instruments, which he continued to develop after moving to Leningrad in the mid 1920’s, at the invitation of Abram Fedorovich loffe. There, at the Physical-Technical Institute, Andreev established an acoustical laboratory and in 1932 he founded the world’s first institute of musical acoustics. He also set up departments of acoustics at a number of institutions of higher education. His investigations on piezoelectricity stimulated works by Igor Vasilievich Kurchatov and Pavel Pavlovich Kobeko on ferroelectricity.

In 1940, at the invitation of Sergei Ivanovich Vavilov, Andreev moved to Moscow, where he began io work at the P. N. Lebedev Physics Institute. There he founded the acoustical laboratory that in 1953 became the Acoustical Institute of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. Andreev worked at this institute for the rest of his life; and in 1978 the institute was named for him.

In acoustics Andreev developed the method of calibrating the amplitudes of oscillating membranes and the design of telephones and microphones, as well as the theory of oscillations of piezocrystals (which had applications in radio engineering). He investigated architectural acoustics, hydroacoustics, and the theory of propagation of sound waves, and was much interested in problems of biological acoustics (human voices, noises of animals or insects).

Andreev also considered philosophical problems: when he was still quite young, he translated and published at his own expense Science and Hypothesis by Henrí Poincaré. After the revolution he published popular books on Einstein’s theory of relativity and on quantum mechanics, as well as a number of textbooks on mechanics, acoustics, and the theory of vibrations. He was a founder (in 1923) and the first editor of the popular scientific magazine Iskra (“Spark”), the editor in chief of Zhurnal eksperimentalnoi i teoreticheskoi fiziki (1950–1955), and of Akusticheskii zhurnal (1954–1970). But above all, Andreev was the founder and recognized leader of the Soviet acoustical school, which has included academicians L. M. Brekhovskikh, B. P. Konstantinov, and A. A. Khurkevich, and professors A. I. Below, G. A. Ostroumov, and A. V. Rimskii-Korsakov.

Andreev’s scientific and organizational accomplishments were highly appreciated by the scientific community and the Soviet government. In 1933 he was elected corresponding member, and in 1953 full member, of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. In 1945 and 1953, he received the Lenin Prize, and in 1970 he was awarded the title Hero of Socialist Labor.

Throughout his life, music was important to Andreev. He was an excellent pianist.


I. Original Works. Andreev’s works are listed in Uspekhi fizicheskikh nauk, 44 , no. 3 (1951), 472, 71 , no. 3 (1960), 525, and 101, no. 4 (1970), 773; A bibliography is also in Glekin (see below). The oretische und experimentelle Untersuchungen über den Einfluss der Temperatur auf die Dispersion des Lichtes (Ph.D. diss., Basel, 1909); “K dispersii zatukhaiushchikh voln” (On the dispersion of attenuated waves), in Zhurnal Russkogo fiziko-khimicheskogo obshchestva, 41 no. 1 (1910). 46–56; Elektricheskie kolebaniia i ikh spektri (Electrical oscillations and their spectra; M.S. thesis, Moscow, 1917); “Ostrota slukha” (Sharpness of hearing), in Zhurnal prikladnoi fiziki, 1 , no. 1–2 (1924), 252–263; “Tekhnicheskii amplitudometr” (Technical amplitude meter), ibid., 2 , no. 3–4 (1925), 205–212); “O privendennom uravneii struny” (On the reduced siring equation), ibid., 4 , no. 1 (1927), 21–26; “O kolebaniiakh kvartservoi plastinki po tolshchine” (On the distribution of a quartz plate’s vibrations by its thickness), in Zhurnal tekhnicheskoi fiziki, 2 , no. 1 (1932), 119–124; Akustika dvizhushcheisia sredy (Moving-medium acoustics: Moscow and Leningrad. 1934), written with I. G. Rusakov; “O dereve dlia muzykalnykh instrumentov” (On the wood for musical instrument), in Trudy N11 muzykalnoi promyshlennosti, 1 (Moscow and Leningrad, 1938). 13–28; “O golose moria” (On the voice of the sea), in Doklady Akademii nauk SSSR, 23 no. 7 (1939), 625–628; “Piezoelektricheskie kristally i ikh primenenie” (Piezoelectric crystals and their use), in Elek trichestvo (1947), no. 2, 5–13; “Ob organakh slukha u nasekomykh” (On the hearing organs of insects), in Prob lemy fiziologicheskoi akustiki, III (Moscow and Leningrad, (1955), 89–94; “Einige Fragen der nichtlinearen Akustik,” in Proceedings of the Third International Congress on Acoustics, Stuttgart, I (Amsterdam and London, 1961), 304–306.

II. Secondary Literature. G. V. Glekin, Nikolai Nikolaevich Andreev (Moscow, 1980), and Materialy k biobiblografii sovetskikh uchennykh (Materials for the biobibliographies of Soviet scientist; Moscow, 1963).

V. J. Frenkel

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Andreev, Nikolai Nikolaevich

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