• Yurii Ivanovich Shimansky

    by  • 04.05.2012 • Eminent personalities

    Shimansky Yurii Ivanovich
    (10.06.1928 – 02.03.1998)


    Yurii Ivanovich Shimansky was born on 10 July 1928, in Kiev, into a family of intellectuals. His father was an instructor in higher mathematics in the Kiev Institute of Hydromelioration; his mother was a teacher of the French language. In 1936 he entered the first form of secondary school No. 30 and by the time war began in 1941 he had completed the fifth form. His father was mobilised, and Yurii Shimansky remained with his mother in occupied Kiev. In the course of time he entered the specialised river sailing school (which was later on re-organised into the river sailing college). The period of his study in this school was not long, yet it left a noticeable trace in his life; he had many friends in the river shipping company, met them every year, and was especially proud of his photograph where he is depicted as a river sailor.
    In 1945, when Yurii Shimansky was 17 years old, his father returned from the front and the new post-war life began. Yurii Shimansky passed the external secondary school leaving examination. It was rather difficult to do because of the impact of hard years of war and the lack of regular school attendance. However, Yurii Ivanovich longed to study, so he worked day and night and nothing could deflect his purpose. In 1946 he entered the physical faculty of the Kiev State University (now Kiev Taras Shevchenko University). Why did he select the physical faculty in particular? Certainly, his abilities in natural sciences and the intellectual atmosphere in his family played an important role. However, the external factors, such as popular respect for the profession of physicist, which was dominant in society, and the halo of romanticism around it, also had an impact on his choice. The war had finished and there began the process of the reconstruction of the national economy. The world was ripe for a new technical revolution. Almighty physics was demonstrating its power, especially in the fields of nuclear engineering, quantum mechanics and optics, and there was the birth of cybernetics and the physics of semiconductors. The latter was considered to be the most prestigious trend of science. It was the time of origin for modern electronics, which started its development in the Kiev State University and in the Institute of Physics of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Therefore, no wonder that Yurii Shimansky decided to make a special study of the physics of semiconductors. Many of those students who studied simultaneously with Yurii Shimansky later on became famous specialists. These include: Oleg Snitko, academician of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences and Director of the Institute of Semiconductors of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences; academicians of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences Boris Movchan, Mikhail Lisitsa, Ivan Gorban, and Isaak Cidil’kovskii; corresponding members of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences Yurii Ptushinskii and Moisej Sheinkman; doctors of physics and mathematics Yurii Tkhoryk, Vladimir Agronovich, and Petro Baranskii, and so on, and so forth. It may be said without exaggeration that it was the time of growth and self-assertion of a generation of those physicists who ensured world standards for our science in the fields of solid state physics, physics of semiconductors, and physics of condensed matter.
    Yurii Shimansky graduated from the university in 1951. He was granted recommendation for postgraduate study in the speciality of physics of semiconductors. However, at that time, the Chair of Molecular Physics was created in the Kiev State University and Alexander Golik, the head of this chair, persuaded Yurii Shimansky to complete his postgraduate study in this speciality. Yurii Shimansky said yes, and this predetermined his scientific destiny. After three years he defended his candidate’s thesis and in March 1954 was granted the degree of candidate of physical and mathematical sciences. His candidate’s thesis was devoted to investigations dealing with two-component alcohol solutions.
    In August of 1953 Yurii Shimansky married Elena Laponogova, his fellow-student from the physical faculty, who became his devoted wife and good friend for a long time and who shared his scientific interests. In 1955 their daughter Galina was born. Now she is Galina Rudko, candidate of physical and mathematical sciences. She works in the research institute of physics of semiconductors and teaches physics in the National University “Kiev-Mohyla Academy”. On completion of the postgraduate course of study Yurii Shimansky was appointed as the assistant professor of the Chair of Molecular Physics. Together with his wife he started investigations into liquid–vapour phase transitions and critical phenomena in pure substances and solutions. He mastered the new optical techniques (including Toepler’s method) and carried out extremely precise experiments complying with world standards. The results of this research were summarised in 1962 in the candidate’s thesis of Elena T Shimanskaya and further on in the doctoral thesis of Yurii Shimansky, which he defended in 1969.
    Soon Yurii Shimansky was granted the title of professor of the Chair of Molecular Physics and from 1978 to 1989 he was the head of this chair. In 1993 he was elected a member of the Higher School Academy of Ukraine.
    Yurii Shimansky paid a lot of his time and attention to scientific publishing. Together with A Z Golik, he edited the well-known journal Physics of Simple Liquids that was issued in Moscow by the Mir Publishing House from 1973. This edition was and remains the desk-top aid for many specialists dealing with the problem of the liquid state. For many years Yurii Shimansky was the Editor-in-Chief of Physics of Liquid State, participated in publishing Physics of Aerodispersed Systems, and was an editorial board member of more than one physical journal.
    At the same time, Yurii Shimansky was a classical professor, teacher, and educator of a whole pleiad of Ukrainian physicists. The list of his students and disciples includes such names as L A Bulavin, correspondent member of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and dean of the physical faculty of the Kiev Taras Shevchenko University; professors A V Chalyi, I I Adamenko, and V M Sysoev; doctors of physical and mathematical sciences Yu B Mel’nychenko (now working in the USA), A D Alekhin, and N I Lebovka; candidates of physical and mathematical sciences V M Nuzhnyi, I V Zavalin, M M Mikhajlenko, M P Krupskii, G K Ivanickii, I G Grekova, and A M Shelomensev.
    Yurii Shimansky was the author of about 200 papers. Most of them were devoted to the problems of phase transitions of the first and second kinds, physics of the liquid state, and physics of condensed matter. These works may be divided into some groups or cycles.
    The first cycle includes the works devoted to the problem of liquid–vapour and liquid–liquid critical phenomena. In the early 1960s Yurii Shimansky advanced for the first time the idea that it was necessary to study the laws governing the behaviour of more than one physical characteristic of a substance using one and the same experimental installation in order to check the scaling theory conclusions in the vicinity of a critical point. Yurii Shimansky worked in this direction together with Elena T Shimanskaya, L M Artyukhovskaya, B I Basok, A V Oleinikova (now working in France), L A Vorona, and I V Bezruchko. They suggested and implemented the following new methods: density measurement in coexisting liquid and gas phases, fluid compressibility determination, determination of the shape of the critical isotherm by the use of optical measurement techniques under highly precise temperature control with allowance for the effect of gravitation. Afterwards, in the early 1980s, these results were referred to as definitive by scientists all over the world. Here, the neutron scattering investigations of critical phenomena performed in collaboration with L A Bulavin are of great interest. Recently, a number of very important studies describing the coexistence curve within the temperature range from triple point to critical point were carried out in this field.
    The second cycle of works deals with the critical state of solutions. The investigations of the behaviour of individual substances and binary solutions in the vicinity of a critical liquid–vapour point were carried out in association with Elena T Shimanskaya, I V Zavalin, and A D Alekhin. Among the investigations of this cycle, extremely important are the works co-authored with A D Alekhin, N P Krupskii, and A V Chalyi, which put forth for the first time the concept of critical behaviour isomorphism of one-component substances and binary solutions in the vicinity of the liquid–vapour critical point under the gravitational field effect. Also, very interesting is the work devoted to the behaviour of the diffusion coefficient in the vicinity of a critical point with allowance for the gravitational effect, which was carried out together with I G Ryabchenko. These results allowed the explanation of the important features of equilibrium attainment processes in solutions.
    The third cycle deals with the kinetic study of evaporation and condensing drop growth. The group of scientists, members of the Problem Laboratory of Aerodispersed Systems (V M Nuzhnyi, G A Kirichevskii, V V Byeloded, T A Cheusova, M M Mikhajlenko, Yu N Ivanickii, etc) were working in this line of research under the guidance of Yurii Shimansky. The precedent for this research was initiated by the practical needs of meteorology. This cycle covers the study of kinetics of liquid–vapour phase transitions in a wide range of pressures. Limits of applicability of theoretical predictions then existing were established and very interesting results on the influence of the specific near-interface properties of liquids, thermal effects, etc, on the above-mentioned kinetic processes were obtained. Investigations of the rate of evaporation and condensing drop growth for water and aqueous salt solutions, heat and mass transfer investigations for the processes of water or aqueous salt solution drop evaporation in the presence of a colloid surfactant, and studies of the influence of the vapour–gas phase composition on the rate of evaporation were carried out. All these works were not only of general scientific value, but have also found substantial practical application.
    No doubt the lines of research listed above do not cover the whole range of scientific interests of Yurii Shimansky, which was very wide. Here, we should also mention his works in the field of superconducting ceramic composites and recrystallisation of dispersed systems, as well as many other works. Recently he became very interested in the problem of accounting for the fractal structure of new phase nucleation centres in dispersed systems. He discussed with colleagues the details of this theory and was dreaming about its application to biological systems. Unfortunately, his life has failed.
    From 1995 to 1997 Yurii Shimansky performed the functions of head of the Chair of Physics and Mathematics in the National University “Kiev-Mohyla Academy”. Though formally he was not the first head of this chair, it was he who became its actual organiser and who formulated the main trends of its educational and scientific work. In a short time he has formed the staff of the chair out of the active scientists working in the research institutes or other educational institutions and having a bent for teaching. Certainly, there was a bit of risk in such a method of solving the personnel problem. However, Yurii Shimansky paid a lot of attention to the organisation of the education process and to the introduction of new courses. He dissected the programmes of the courses very attentively and demanded the combination of scientific urgency with clarity of presentation.
    Yurii Shimansky was an extremely original, bright, and talented educator. His lectures were always scientifically precise, informative, and artistically delivered. He always found time for an interesting problem or historical digression or a timely joke. The peculiar succession of scientific schools and trends and respect for hardened traditions is implicit in physical science. Yurii Shimansky felt that he himself was part of this historical process of knowledge accumulation. He knew very well the works of his forerunners, especially of Mikhail P Avenarius (1835-1895), professor of the Kiev university (now Kiev Taras Shevchenko University), the patriarch of investigations of critical phenomena. Yurii Shimansky expressed a profound respect for the works of physicists belonging to the Kiev school of molecular physics and critical phenomena established by Mikhail P Avenarius.
    The tactics always used by Yurii Shimansky in his lectures induced the students to be attentive and did not allow them to relax. After every lecture there was an exciting feeling of knowing something new and interesting, and there arose many questions that stimulated the scientific search. In our times, when society and the authorities demonstrate their disrespect for the natural sciences, and, in particular, for physics, he always found those wise words that were a support to young people in their hard labours and helped them to become established in their chosen field.
    More than one generation of Ukrainian physicists has been brought up on the lectures of Yurii Shimansky.
    Owing to his long-term pedagogical and scientific work, a powerful school of molecular physics has grown in Ukraine. Recently we were glad to discover that he had been writing a textbook on molecular physics, and we were waiting for this book with impatience. We hope that this book will be finished by his faithful wife and co-author Elena Shimanskaya and by his disciples.