◀ ▲ ▶History / 19th-century / Person: Friedmann, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich
Person: Friedmann, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich
Alexander Friedmann was a Russian physicist and mathematician best-known for his work on the theory of relativity and in particular for introducing the possibility of an expanding universe.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- However the parents divorced when Alexander was nine years old.
- Alexander entered the Second St Petersburg Gymnasium in August 1897 and his record shows a quite ordinary school performance at first.
- Soon however Friedmann became one of the top two pupils in his class.
- In 1905 Friedmann and Tamarkin wrote a paper on Bernoulli numbers and submitted the paper to Hilbert for publication in Mathematische Annalen.
- Friedmann and Tamarkin were student leaders of strikes at the school in protest at the government's repressive measures against schools.
- Friedmann graduated from school in 1906 and entered the University of St Petersburg in August of that year.
- Friedmann was also influenced by Ehrenfest who moved to St Petersburg in 1906.
- By 1907 Ehrenfest had set up a modern physics seminar which was attended by a number of young physicists and by the two young mathematicians Friedmann and Tamarkin.
- After he completed his studies in 1910 his scientific advisor, Steklov, wrote a reference for Friedmann to continue his studies.
- In January of this year, Mr Friedmann submitted to me an extensive study of about 130 pages, in which he gave a quite satisfactory solution of the problem.
- Friedmann began to study for his Master's Degree and, in 1911, became involved with a circle formed to study mathematical analysis and mechanics.
- In addition to Friedmann, other members of the circle included Tamarkin, Smirnov, Petelin, Shokhat and, a little later, Besicovitch joined the circle.
- Friedmann lectured on Clebsch's work on elasticity and other topics including Goursat's books.
- While studying for his Master's Degree Friedmann lectured at the Mining Institute, cooperating there with Nikolai Krylov, and he also taught at the Railway Engineering Institute.
- Through this work Friedmann became interested in aeronautics and in 1911 he published an article surveying the area describing, in particular, the contributions of Zhukovsky and Chaplygin.
- By 1913 Friedmann had completed the necessary examinations for the Master's Degree having been examined by Markov, Steklov and others.
- In 1914 Friedmann went to Leipzig to study with Vilhelm Bjerknes, the leading theoretical meteorologist of the time.
- Friedmann left Leipzig in the summer of 1914 and took part in several flights in airships to make observations.
- At this time the Russians were blockading the town of Przemysl, which was defended by Austrian troops, and Friedmann flew bombing missions over the town.
- Friedmann was awarded the George Cross for bravery with his flights over Przemysl.
- Friedmann was sent to Kiev and there he gave lectures on aeronautics for pilots.
- In April 1917 the Central Aeronautical Station moved to Moscow, and Friedmann moved there.
- The Revolution of October 1917 became inevitable when Alexander Kerensky, the prime minister, sent troops to close down two Bolshevik newspapers.
- After this, the work of the Central Aeronautical Station was stopped and Friedmann began to look for another post, but he was unsure of the direction he should take, particularly since his health had suffered as a result of the war.
- On 13 April 1918 Friedmann was elected an extraordinary professor in the Department of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Perm.
- At Perm Friedmann set up an Institute of Mechanics and became a member of the editorial board of the Journal of the newly founded Physico-Mathematical Society of Perm University.
- As the Red Army had approached Friedmann and all the staff, except Besicovitch, had left the University.
- In the spring of 1920, with the Civil war still raging, Friedmann returned to St Petersburg (now named Petrograd) to take up a post at the Main Geophysical Observatory.
- Friedmann was never one to take life easy and he took up an impressive number of appointments in 1920 in Petrograd.
- In 1922, nine years after completing the examinations for this Master's Degree, Friedmann submitted his Master's dissertation.
- Friedmann had taken up a new interest soon after returning to Petrograd.
- Friedmann sent the article On the curvature of Space to Zeitschrift für Physik and it was received by the journal on 29 June 1922.
- In the paper Friedmann showed that the radius of curvature of the universe can be either an increasing or a periodic function of time.
- Einstein quickly responded to Friedmann's article.
- He did not return to Berlin until March but he still did not seem to have read Friedmann's letter.
- Only Krutkov, when a colleague of Friedmann's from Petrograd, met Einstein at Ehrenfest's house in Leiden in May 1923 and told him of the details contained in Friedmann's letter did Einstein admit his error.
- In July 1923 Friedmann left Petrograd to visit Germany and Norway.
- The following year, 1924, Friedmann was travelling again, this time to the First International Congress for Applied Mathematics held at Delft.
- In July 1925 Friedmann made a record-breaking ascent in a balloon to 7400 metres to make meteorological and medical observations.
- Near the end of August 1925 Friedmann began to feel unwell.
- Friedmann is seen as a profound, independent-minded, and daring thinker who destroys scientific prejudices, myths and dogmas; his intellect sees what others do not see, and will not see what others believe to be obvious but for which there are no grounds in reality.
- As Copernicus made the Earth go round the Sun, so Friedmann made the Universe expand.
Born 16 June 1888, St Petersburg, Russia. Died 16 September 1925, Leningrad, USSR (now St Petersburg, Russia again).
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Origin Russia, Physics
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive