Zubov, Vasily Pavlovich

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(b. Aleksandrov, Ivanovo province [now Ivanovskaya oblast], Russia, 1 August 1899;d. Moscow, U.S.S.R., 8 April 1963)

history of science.

The son of a professor of chemistry at the University of Moscow, Zubov graduated in 1922 from the Faculty of History and Philology at Moscow; he subsequently worked at the Academy of Artistic Sciences and, from 1935 to 1945, at the Academy of architecture. His main interest, the artistic, technical, and architectural ideas of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, was focused on Alberti, Barbaro, and Leonardo da Vinci, whose works he helped to publish in Russian. He received the doctorate of art in 1946 for his reaserach on Alberti’s theory of architecture.

Zubov’s interest had gradually turned to the scientific and philosophical literature of that time, and in 1945 he transferred to the Institute of the History of Sciences and Technology of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences. In December 1946 he presented a critique of Duhem’s concept of medieval science and proposed a program of further work in this area. In carrying it out, he conducted many investigations in the history of atomic theory and in the development of mathematics, physics, and mechanics. Related to these studies were his specialized work on the development of philosophical thought in Russia from the eleventh to the seventeenth in Russia from the eleventh to the seventeenth centuries and a number of general investigations of the physics of antiquitey, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. His extensive editorial activity included his work as editor of a three-volume history of the natural sciences in Russia (1957-1962).

Zubov was elected corresponding member of the International Academy of the History of Science in 1958 and became an active member two years later. In 1963 he was posthumously awarded the George Sarton Medal of the History of science society.


I. Original Works. Zubov’s more than 200 writings include Istoriografia estestvennykh nauk v Rossii (“Historiography of the Natural Science in Russia” Moscow, 1956); Ocherki razvitia osnovnkh fizicheskikh idey (“Sketches of the Development of Basic Physical Ideas” Moscow, 1959); Leonardo da Vinci (Leningrad, 1961), English trans. by D. H. Kraus (Cambridge, Mass., 1968); Ocherki razvitia osnovnykh ponyaty mekhaniki (“Sketches in the Development of Basic Concepts of Mechanics” Moscow, 1962), written with A. T. Grigorian; Aristotle (Moscow, 1963); and Razvitie atomisticheskikh predstavleny do nachala XIX veka (“Development of Atomic Ideas to the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century” Moscow, 1965), with a detailed bibliography of Zubov’s works, 360-370.

II. Secondary Literature. On Zubov and his work, see A. T. Grigorian, B. G. Kuznetsov, and A. P. Youschkevitch, “Vassili Pavlovitch Zoubov,” in Archives internationales d’historie des sciences,16 )1963), 305-306; C. Maccagni, “Vasilij Pavlovic’ Zubov, 1899-1963,” in Physics,5 (1963), 333-339; and A.P. Youschkevitch, “Vassili Zoubov, homme et savant,” in Actes del XleCongres international d’histoire des sciences,1 (Wrocław-Warsaw-Cracow, 1968), 34-40.

A. T. Grigorian

A. P. Youschkevitch