Sunday, January 01, 2017

The first Russian nuclear reactor, December 25, 1946

December 25, 2016 was the commemorative date for Russian nuclear industry - the first national nuclear reactor called F-1 was activated 70 years ago.  

All paperworks created on the territory of the present Kurchatov Institute were marked confidential.
Sign on the Kurchatov Institute - Nuclear Reactor F-1

The best minds of the country worked on this project. Nowadays, the memorial tablet dedicated to the first nuclear reactor shines on the wall of the building, but 70 years ago this top secret installation was known as the assembly plant or Laboratory No.2.  Only few people knew what hid behind these walls.

The best architect of that time, Alexey Shchusev, the author of the mausoleum in Red Square, was engaged in the construction of the first Soviet reactor. But the building appeared to be unusual; as one can notice - there are no doors in it. The answer is simple – the entrance is the other way round, behind the door. For safety reasons the reactor, which in those times was named an atomic boiler, is located at a depth of 10 meters, directly under Shchusev‘s building in Moscow.

The first Soviet reactor was erected layer by layer. The reaction was activated when the height of the reactor reached 62 layers. The staff of Laboratory No.2 literally shouldered all these 400 tons of graphite and 50 tons of uranium.
Kurchatov Institute building

70 years ago, on December 25, 1946 the experiment was carried out in the manual way. To activate the reaction it was necessary to extract the cadmium rods out of the uranium-graphite pile. It was performed manually with the lever hoist, millimeter by millimeter. The extreme caution was required because the reactor could explode. Kurchatov himself sat at the control desk, the rest of people were asked to leave the basement. If the rods, which had been placed into the absorber reactor, were just simply extracted, it could be critical. And nobody knew the height up to which the rods might have been raised, so the experiment began. At first, they were raised and checked in steps of 10-20 centimeters.

The only way to track the location of the rods was a periscope. The same one which was used in the submarines of that time.

Why Kurchatov placed an axe by him?

The rods are the only parts which can stop the chain reaction. Just imagine that you have a rod
Nuclear sign - do not operate - men are working!
hanging down on the rope, you hack the rope and it falls down. Later on, the numerous methods of deactivating of the reactors had been invented. But at that time there were no other options at all.

It appeared that there was no necessity in that axe. The experiment was turned out to be a success.

It was the first time when the Soviet scientists managed to perform the controlled chain reaction. As a memento the clock in the room had been stopped. Up to now, it reads 6 o’clock – the time of the beginning of the new era. It was the demonstration of the success of the Soviet science, which could - in the extreme conditions of the wartime, in these absolutely wild conditions – make a dash, so mighty and real,
Clock showing the time of the first nuclear experiment
which defined the shape of the civilization for several subsequent decades. And of course, judging this event from the modern viewpoint I can say that we all preserved ourselves as a sovereign state only by the reason that our predecessors were able to create the nuclear weapon.
F-1 Nuclear Reactor

The parity was restored. 

From the very beginning, the purpose of creation of the nuclear reactor was the development of the nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union could not sleep easily after the Americans had dropped the nuclear bomb on Japan in 1945.

But for the creation of the deterrent weapon the plutonium was needed, which didn’t exist naturally. It could be produced only as a result of the nuclear reaction of the uranium. That’s why in as little as three years after the reactor F-1 was activated; the Soviet Union had performed the first test of the nuclear bomb, too. The parity was restored. 
Switch board of the F-1 reactor

The first Soviet atomic boiler was in service for a long time. In spite of its age it was used for the nuclear research. Today, there is a modern museum here for everybody to visit. It’s not only the rare opportunity to see the nuclear reactor – it has been deactivated and completely secured – but, literally, the opportunity to touch the history.

This article was posted with the help of Russian Translation Pros - Professional Russian Translation Services. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Russia in 2011

The year of 2011 is going to be a history for us in just 4 days...

I have gathered some of the important events happened in the Russian Federation in 2011.


The beginning of the 2011 year started with a very sad event - 37 people were killed when a bomb exploded at Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow.

- Selling of incandescent lamps with more that 100 Watts is forbidden;

- Foreign citizens cannot buy property on the border area in the Russian Federation.

- The first criminal case was opened against the violation of copyright in Russia (how sad, right?)

- Russian Duma (Russian parliament) adopted the law of Police. Note: Russian police was called Militia.

- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev cancelled the winter time shift on the territory of the Russian Federation.

- International driver license is now accepted in Russia.


- Russian team won XXXI World Championship in Gymnastics which took place in Montpellier, France.

- Vladimir Putin was appointed for his third presidential elections in 2012.

- Mass protests started in December against the vote rigging in elections to the State Duma of the Russian Federation.

- Russia has been accepted to the WTO.

Hopefully there is going to be more happy and prosperous news for Russia in 2012.

Happy New 2012 Year!

С Новым 2012 Годом!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Cruiser Aurora - Rumors and Secrets

There is such an impression that the glory of the cruiser "Aurora" is changing. In the past it was called a legendary battleship for its heroic military and revolutionary past, now many media resources call it a "legendarily scandalous" ship. Indeed, none of the ships that are in the Russian Navy have been surrounded by so many scandalous rumors as "Aurora."

Last scandalous rumor launched by a variety of publications in Moscow and St. Petersburg is that officials and businessmen offer to buy tickets for a New Year's party on the cruiser Aurora. Ministry of Defense which still owns the ship fiercely deny this.

Previous scandal in 2009 was that during the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, there was a party on the cruiser organized by a businessman named Mikhail Prokhorov. Guests were entertained with fun anti-crisis chastooshkas and caviar, vodka and waitresses in striped vests! There also were foreign guests attending the party: from London, Australia, USA, etc. Of course, they had Russian interpreter and all conversations were translated into English from Russian.

As already reported by Pravda.Ru as of 1st of December 2010, naval military crew of the legendary cruiser Aurora is disbanded from the War Department, the ship goes into a department of culture and will become a branch of the Naval Museum. Thus, the military biography of the cruiser is completed. On the ship there will be only small civilian staff.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Pushkin House in London

Pushkin house in London. Why Pushkin? I guess Pushkin is the most famous Russian writer known in foreign countries... Or maybe Maria Kullmann - the founder of Pushkin house trust - was a big fan of Alexander's poetry?
Anyways, the actual house has quite of a history of its own. On the 5 Bloomsbury Square lived a doctor of Queen Anne and King William 3. The house was designed in a Georgian style. When you are inside the house, you can feel the history breath upon you. Pushkin house was established in 1954 as a cultural center that would stay like Switzerland in diplomatic and political relationship between Russia and England.
After the collapse of USSR, tons of Russian speaking immigrants flew to UK. And Pushkin House was the place where all the people would get cultural experience that used to have back in their country. They also could get some help in many other aspects of life in a new country - such as Russian translation in London. As of now you can get information about Russia, Russian language and education in Pushkin's House. You can also study Russian language since they have regular Russian language courses there.
Basically, it's a London's bridge to Russia.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Trolleybus History of Saint Petersburg


St. Petersburg is the birthplace of Russian trolleybus history. First trolley bus was built in March 31 of 1902. It was built by Petersburg's engineer P. A. Fresa. The first trolleybus way was from Red Square (now it's Alexander Nevsky Square) and Annunciation Square (now Square of Labor), its length was 5.8 km which is about 3.6 miles. This route was opened on October 21st, 1936. There were 4 cars in first trolleybuses. An interval in between trolleybuses was 15-16 minutes. An overall load was over 8 thousand passengers a day. The first trolley was made at a factory of Vagonoremontny (Varz-1). Later Leningrad was getting these machines from Yaroslavl plant (YATB-1-2-4), they had a wooden body and these trolleys were used until 1959. To support the TV was adapted depot number 3 tram park named Smirnov. By 1940 trolleybuses had transported over 41 million passengers. By 1941 in Leningrad there were 5 trolley routes the length of which was 49.1 kilometers and there were 130 machines.

Trolley-buses were stopped running when Leningrad was in a blockade in December 8, 1941 due to the cessation of the supply of electricity. In February of 1944 a transportation began to work again. In 1944 the line had only 16 machines, but in 1947 the route network had reached its pre-war level, while the volume of annual traffic got to 80 million. In 1946 were built 4 new-generation trolley-buses. They had metal body and a large capacity of 65 people. At the end of 1982 a first trolleybus came out of the plant which could carry up to 250 passengers. By 1990 the length of a single route was about 700 km. St. Petersburg had about 1.3 thousand units. In 1990 it carried about 550 million passengers a year.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Borodino Battle - Insiders Pictures

As I promised in one of my previous posts, I'm uploading pictures of the Borodino Battle Celebration. My friend whose name is Vladimir (I call him Vova - it's a diminutive Russian man's name) kindly let me use his own pictures that were taken during this fabulous celebration of the Battle of Borodino. He participates in the event starting from 1996. An interesting part of this is that you have to be a member of the Borodino club. They gather every two weeks in their own towns to show what they prepared for the anniversary, to ride the horses and much more which sounds like a lot of fun.


Here you can see a General and officers of the Russian army.
This is the actual battle.
A battle again.
Girls also participate in the battle.
Everything looks like it was back to Napoleon's age.


This picture was taken from some Russian phone.
As you can see there are a lot of visitors watching the battle. They come here every year and it's a big attraction for tourists.
My friend with a Russian flag.



These were made by hands when visiting one of those Borodino club meetings.
An injured Russian soldier and a horse.
They shed their tears over the dead friends and they are drinking, of course.
And another hard day on the battle field.
Picture of a Russian Triumph!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

How to watch Russian TV - paid and free

I had a lot of requests about Russian TV. Well, there are two ways you can watch Russian TV:

1) Order it from DirectTV which has a pretty decent selection. They say that they carry RTR Planeta, Vremya: Retro Channel, Muzika Pervogo, Dom Kino, C1RW ... 7 in total. Cost = $45 plus taxes.

You can also get Russian Channels from DishNetwork. There are several option you can choose from, the most expensive is $32 plus taxes and you are getting 5 channels, but in my opinion they are better than those from DirectTV: EuroNews in Russian language, Inter+, NTV America (which I like very much), RTVI, and TVC (popular channel in Russia).

2) You can watch Russian TV for free online using your high speed internet, I found this page with Russian channels - http://www.russian-translation-pros.com/free-russian-online-tv.html.
These channels are all for free, the quality is not that great, but hey it's free!

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