Oral-History:Vladimir Fridkin

About Vladimir Fridkin

Professor Vladimir Mikhailovich Fridkin was born on November 23, 1929, in Moscow. In 1952 he graduated with distinction from the Faculty of Physics of Moscow State University. In 1955, A.V. Shubnikov and A.S. Zheludev invited Fridkin to study as a postgraduate student at the Institute of Crystallography of the USSR Academy of Sciences. His entire life, since September 1955, has been connected with the Institute of Crystallography. In 1958 Fridkin defended his Candidate dissertation on electrophotography, and in 1964 he defended his Doctoral dissertation on the physics of photoelectrets; both studies were done at the Institute of Crystallography. Fridkin has published more than 300 papers and directed 70 Candidate of Science students and five Doctoral students. His main scientific interests include the electric and optical properties of nonlinear crystals and nonlinear and photorefractive optics. However, Fridkin believes that one of his greatest achievements was the first design of a dry photocopy machine in the world in 1953. He called it an electrophotographic apparatus, but it is known today as Xerox. He received the Kozar Medal of the American Photographic Society and the Berg International Prize for this accomplishment. He was a visiting professor at the University of Trento (Italy) and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He has published seven scientific monographs and ten literary books.

This interview describes Fridkin's early life and education. He discusses his difficulties in obtaining employment as a Jew in Stalinist Russia and how, in a small factory, he discovered the principles of electrophotography and built the world's first Xerox. He considers that his four greatest contributions to science were in the fields of photoferroelectric phenomena, phase transitions (tricritical point), the bulk photoelectric effect, and ferroelectricity at the nanoscale. He talks about the difficulties of travel during the Cold War. He concludes with a description of his literary works and one of his published stories.

About the Interview

Vladimir Fridkin: An interview conducted by Sidney Lang, IEEE History Center. Conducted in Moscow, Russia, 1 October 2015.

Interview #763 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.

Copyright Statement

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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:

Vladimir Fridkin, an oral history conducted in 2015 by Sidney Lang, IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.

Interview

INTERVIEWEE: Vladimir Fridkin
INTERVIEWER: Sidney Lang
DATE: 1 October 2015
PLACE: Moscow, Russia

Early Life and Education

Lang:

This is an interview for the IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control Society and we are interviewing Professor Vladimir Fridkin. This is in his apartment in Moscow and today is the first of October, 2015. I guess we can begin so: Good afternoon, Vladimir.

Fridkin:

Thank you.

Lang:

So, you were born in Moscow and what was the date?

Fridkin:

Yes. I was born in Moscow November 23, 1929. This November I will be 86. Yesterday, when we walked together we have seen a just a little bit, the street where I was born. Earlier it was called Vorovski Street, now it is Povarskaya. The name like the…It was so called before the revolution; Povarskaya.

Lang:

Tell me a little bit about it and your childhood.

Fridkin:

O.K. I was from a Jewish family, of course, and my mother, after the revolution, was able to finish Moscow University, to be graduated from Moscow University, and became doctor…a hematologist…and supported the whole family, because my father origins from the very poor working family and was a student at this time, in the Polygraphic Institute. We lived in a small room. There was not supplied a flat for one family at this time. Moscow was overcrowded by the people from Poland, because a lot of Jewish people, for example, lived in so-called ghetto in the Ukraine and White Russia, in Belorussia, and my parents also. And only after the revolution they got the possibility to come to Moscow or St. Petersburg, of course, Leningrad, like my parents. It was big flat. There lived six families and one restroom for all six families. Yes, and one telephone on the wall. I remember this very well. And our room was 17 square meter for all of us. So, my father prepared his diploma on the table where we dined, had the dinner. And I prepared my lessons for the school.

Lang:

You went to school in the neighborhood?

Fridkin:

Yes. It was in the neighborhood, my school. And the first four years I spent in this school. And then it was war in ’41. I was at this time, at the beginning of the World War, 13 years. No, no, no, twelve, not exactly, but I was 11, and in November I was 12. The father has fallen during the war, and my mother lived in, emigrated from Moscow because it was dangerous. We immigrated to the east and we lived in the city which was called this time Chkalov and now Orenburg, south of the Urals. That was a very difficult time.

I was hungry, but it was not really hunger. Black bread and potato, it was enough. And the mother worked in hospital. I visited school. And then we returned to Moscow, in ’43. The father succeeded to return to us, but has fallen very soon after our arrival, in the war.

The second school was the best time of my life. From the last four years, I was in the School Number 110, in the very famous Moscow school. It was not the school for the special children, but nevertheless, all members of the government at this time, of the Stalin government, went to this school. For example, Timoshenko, and so on, and so on…many. But nevertheless many distinguished people were in this school. I give you an example, Academician Sakharov. He finished the school earlier than me. The writer, Eidelman was my friend--very well-known now in Russia. He died very early, 59 years. Many, many remarkable people. We meet together every year by the end of November, but now my friends (I have only five friends) who are still alive from my class. Only five!

So it was a very bright time, I would say, a very bright time.

Then I decided to choose the specialty after I left the school. In our custom, the school is 10 years and after school we must go to the high school…to University. I was graduated from Moscow University, Physics Department. For example, Eidelman has chosen history, the History Department. I have chosen Physics.

So from 1947 till 1952, I was a student at the Physics Department. At this time was a most terrible time in my life. The [previous] school was the brightest time, the best time, I would say. This time was terrible. It was the last years of Stalin and the policy of anti-Semitism, which he provoked and performed still during the war.

Looking for Work

Fridkin:

I could not find a job after the University in spite of my best notes, a so-called red diploma. I have published a few papers during my student semesters in academic journals, but nevertheless I could not find. When I came to the Institute I wanted to make research. They wanted to see my passport. At this time the passport was indicated by nationality. It was written Jew. Then they gave me back my passport and told me, unfortunately they have no free places. But the friends of my father helped me very much, because my mother also was… (It was the time of the so-called ‘process of Jewish doctors’. Many Jewish doctors were thrown out from the hospitals, many distinguished scientists). And my mother also, because she worked together with a very famous professor, Cogan, a therapist. And he had no money. And we had no money.

Creating Xerox

Fridkin:

Friends helped us. But there were friends of my father who worked in Polygraphic Institute (it was industry, not science) who helped me and the director, a friend of my father took me. I got this time I remember 110 rubles. It was enough to buy some food. So I did not lose time. I discovered for myself the so-called xerography, Xerox. Interesting that Xerox was in reality proposed by Chester Carlson in America in ’37, but he did not make it. He just got, how to say, he was inventor of the idea, but I did not know about it. It was not published, it was just a patent. Do you understand?

Lang:

Yes!

Fridkin:

O.K. I did not know about it. And I rediscovered. In this institute, it was just the industry, and they prepared for me, I would say, how to say, my laboratory equipment for getting Xerox images from originals. I can show you my first xerography. It is the first xerography in the world. It is my photo of this here. Yes, here I look much younger. And this place which you have seen yesterday, when you went to subway…

Lang:

Oh, yes.

Fridkin:

But it changed very much. Now is not trolley here. It changed very much. Now you don’t see Kremlin. Kremlin is here.

Lang:

But the photograph of the person is the…

Fridkin:

No, no, I have slide.

Lang:

Ah ha.

Fridkin:

And slide projected like in xerography. I used the films not so sensitive like the films which you use today. I published this work and it was…yes. I published this work and it was like an explosion. The people had never seen it, of course. And my director was so influenced by this discovery that he invited a minister. A minister came to the institute. That was very bad small institute. The minister came with many people and was puzzled by the results. So any documents could be immediately reproduced. And immediately was created, how to say, the manufacture in Chisinau in Moldavia. And there was created also an institute in Vilnius, Institute of Electrophotography, because I called my Xerox apparat, not Xerox…I did not know this Greek word. I called it Electrophotograph. So, no results, because in five, six years very good technology was developed in America, in England. Because at this time when I discovered these things, the people in America, it was Cold War, I have no connections [with] people in America. They are working on the same topic and they created the Xerox with very good technology, and in the 60’s we have bought many Xerox for very important offices in government, in KGB, in central building of Academy of Sciences.

Let me tell you a story connected with this Xerox once more. Let me tell you a story. In ’55, in 1955, Academician Aleksey Vasilyevich Shubnikov. I show his photo, let me show you. Shubnikov, my teacher, well world-known crystallographer, and he was in my photo this time when I was in his study. It’s me.

Lang:

Ah ha.

Fridkin:

And it’s Shubnikov.

Lang:

Very nice.

Fridkin:

He invited me as a graduate student, to the Institute of Crystallography, where I’m working up to now.

Lang:

What year was that?

Fridkin:

Sorry?

Lang:

What year was that? When he invited you, when?

Fridkin:

Shubnikov, ‘55, 1955. I am working in this institute now 60 years. I am oldest member of the Institute.

Lang:

Remarkable!

Fridkin:

Yeah, I am oldest. So I started new life, academic life. I just started my fundamental research. But I took my Xerox with me to the Institute, my Electrophotography to the Institute. And for people in Institute it was very great achievement. Imagine, you got new journals, the internet did not exist; you could not get new publications from internet. So they have exhibition every week--new journals: Physical Review, Physical Review Letters, Journal of the Optical Society, Crystallography. Of course, many, many journals! People come to the exhibition and read the new papers. In some cases, in case of very interesting publications, they would like to have copy to work at home. But, how to do? With usual photo apparatus, then liquid development, it is very slow. Now the people can come to me, to my room (it’s not convenient for me, but convenient for them) and take a copy immediately. O.K.

In the Institute, as in every institute, there was a special room, which was responsible for secret investigations. It was in reality not in my Institute, but nevertheless, there was such a room and such a person who was appointed for this business. It was the special room for investigation and work control. I never did some kind of secret or special investigations. All my papers were immediately published and completely open. So came one very nice woman, who told me. I was this time not professor. She called me just Valodya. You call me Vladimir, but it is not usual for us. Even now the people in the Institute call me Vladimir Michaelovich. Michael is the name of my father. The Russian custom, Vladimir Michaelovich. Nobody can say to me Valodya or Vladimir. It’s impossible to imagine. At this time, I was young then, so called graduate student, or Russian aspirant. But I was a graduate student of Shubnikov, of the director. It’s a special position. She told me, “Valodya, you must give up your Xerox.” “Why? Do you know it is the first Xerox in the world?” “Yes, I know,” she told me. “But you know some people can come, while you are absent in your room, make copies of the forbidden documents and forbidden literature.” Because manuscripts of Solzhenitsyn had circulated at this time.

“And some people, who were called dissidents, and so on, could use your apparat for the multiplication of the copies.”

At first, my thought was to go to Shubnikov and ask him to defend this apparat. And then I thought that, no, no. Shubnikov is too busy. And my first Xerox in the world was destroyed and thrown out. Interesting, that the women from our Institute found the film from which the image is created. It was like a mirror; it was mainly selenium with some sulfur. And they used it as the mirror in the women’s restroom.

Lang:

[Laughter]

Fridkin:

Toilet paper and soap, they never had in their restroom. But now they got a mirror. So the fate of the first Xerox in the world was that it finished its existence in the restroom, in the women’s restroom.

Lang:

That’s amazing.

Fridkin:

Just a small story. So, step by step, very soon, I defended my first thesis. In the Russian custom, we have two theses. To become professor, you have to defend the second thesis, the doctoral thesis, to become Doctor of Science. I did it very rapidly, in 3-4 years. I became the youngest Doctor of Science in my Institute. Shubnikov died in ’70, in 1970. He was 83 years old. So I continued to work in my Institute, and now I still have a job in my Institute. So I think that I answered your question about my first steps.

Ferroelectricity

Lang:

That is fascinating. Well, how did you get into ferroelectrics?

Fridkin:

Oh, yeah. In a natural way… Because Shubnikov, you see… The main interest of Shubnikov was started with ferroelectrics just after my work in the Institute. The main interest of Shubnikov was physics of crystals: piezoelectricity and ferroelectricity, and symmetrical aspects, symmetrical group of symmetry. You know that ferroelectrics can belong only to 10 group of point group of symmetry and piezoelectric to 20 groups. So the main interest of Shubnikov was consideration of the physical properties from point of view of symmetry. And I started ferroelectrics in the laboratory, my laboratory in the Institute. My first interest… No, for me, maybe it’s bad, maybe it’s good. I don’t know. I don’t like when I am looking for a subject, for a topic for myself, I am looking for new things. I am trying to find new things. How to find, I don’t know. I cannot teach even my graduate students how to find interesting new topics. I don’t know. But you know, you must try to find it. It is not interesting to repeat the old things, just to find the old constants and get more exactly the value of the constants.

I remember that once I visited my graduate student in the University, in Moscow University. She got many curves, many curves. And I asked her, why should she get so many curves. What is the purpose of your work? What you can do? What is the idea? She could not answer. No, she answered, but I understood that she is doing what she is doing without any idea. And I told her. (She was a very beautiful girl.) Why do you spend your beauty, your very fine figure, sitting so many hours in the chair, measuring these curves? Why? What for? If you don’t understand, what does it mean?

Lang:

Very important. Please go on.

Fridkin:

So, my first investigation there, connected with contribution of the electronic subsystem to the free energy of the ferroelectric and the crystal without center of symmetry. The Landau-Ginzburg book, The Expansion of Free Energy, includes spontaneous polarization, as you know, is the first theory of the phase transition, first, second order in the ferroelectricity.

And I decided to take into account the free energy of electronic subsystem in this approach. And I got immediately interesting results, it seems to me. For example, if you illuminate ferroelectrics, which have photoconductivity, you increase the concentration of nonequilibrium carriers and shift the Curie point.

You can change, a little bit, sometimes, sometimes essentially, the free energy, and you can shift Curie point. You illuminate, imagine you illuminate, barium titanate doped with some ions in the extrinsic optical region, and at the same time you can see that the Curie point is shifted.

You switch off illumination and Curie point returns to the previous place, previous position. Interesting! So it was a beginning. It was a beginning, and next my publications were connected with change of domain structure, a change of free energy, for example, many parameters of the ferroelectrics. And then, I did maybe my most remarkable investigation. And now let me tell you a story.

I was professor at this time. I had my own students. Suddenly, we observed absolutely unusual phenomenon. Imagine you have a ferroelectric. It was SbSI crystals, orthorhombic crystals.

The energy gap you get from SbSI is 2 electron volts. Instead of 2 volts I obtained a few hundred volts. It’s impossible. It contradicts the physics of semi-conductors. It contradicts the Shockley conceptions. Absolutely. I could not explain it. No. We published and I explained it, but wrong.

Now this effect, which I experimentally discovered in 1979 is called the “Bulk Photovoltaic Effect (BPE)”, and widely cited in the U.S.A. and Europe. The explanation of BPE was given by distinguished Russian theorists Belinicher and Sturman. BPE is based on an absolutely new phenomenon: a violation of the Boltzmann principle of detailed balancing in crystals without a center of symmetry. A. Rappe in Penn State University investigated it from the first principles. In 1992, I published together with Prof.Sturman the book The Photovoltaic and Photorefractive Effects in Noncentrosymmetric Materials.

Recently, in my Institute I performed this experiment. If you take very thin films of barium titanate in the nanoscale, you can obtain very high efficiency, five orders of value more than in bulk crystals.

I am very proud of this work. In my opinion, that is my best achievement, maybe the best contribution.

Research and Career Reflections

Lang:

Vladimir, what do you consider to be your most important research?

Fridkin:

Well, only a few of them are really essential in my opinion. Einstein told, that scientist can be satisfied getting for the whole life 1-2 fruitful ideas. Of course, nobody can compare himself with Einstein. Therefore, everybody must take into account the scale. I think that I can mention 4 results.

The first is so called photoferroelectric phenomena. I got them, introducing in Landau-Ginzburg mean field theory the free energy of electronic subsystem. It leads to the influence of the nonequilibrium carriers on the Curie point, dielectric constant, deformation, domain structure and other properties of ferroelectric. If you switch out the illumination and decrease nonequilibrium carriers concentration, the Curie point returned to the equilibrium value. Later these phenomena were explained by Jahn-Teller effect and electron-phonon interaction. I delivered this talk on the Ginzburg seminar. These results are included in my book Ferroelectrics-Semiconductors[1970].

The second result, which I and my student Gerzanich obtained in 1968, belongs to the phase transition problem, to so-called critical point (or tricritical point). The existence of this point on the phase diagram was predicted by Landau in thirties, but never was confirmed experimentally. In 1968, we obtained this point in ferroelectric SbSI. Our results were repeated and confirmed by many authors, for example, by Stishov, Samara and others. Now the tricritical point is found in many crystals and international conferences devote the special session to this topic.

Third, perhaps be the most important result (in my opinion), was obtained in 1970. We discovered experimentally the Bulk Photovoltaic Effect (BPE) in the crystals without symmetry center. I told you about it before. The illumination of the ferro- or piezocrystals (which belong to 20 point group of symmetry) in the intrinsic optical region (or in doping region) leads to steady state photovoltaic current, which generate the voltage, which is a few orders of value more than energy gap. Recently, my investigation of BPE at the nanoscale in barium titanate has shown huge increase of power conversion efficiency. Now we continue this research in Drexel University, Philadelphia, with Prof. Spanier.

Let me make in connection with discovery of BPE one interesting comment. There is a close relationship between BPE and parity nonconservation. In 1955, on seminar of Landau, Prof. Shapiro suggested idea of parity nonconservation at weak interaction, caused by absence of symmetry center in our space. Landau told that this idea has no contradiction, but he personally does not want to live in such a crooked world. Prof. Shapiro did not decide to publish his work after this Landau comment. In the next year Li and Yang undertaken the same approach and got Nobel prize for it. I was this time a student of A.V.Shubnikov, but I remember very well this story. Fifteen years later we discovered BPE caused by parity nonconservation in ferro- and piezocrystals.

And fourth, in 1994, my lab together with lab of Prof. Palto in Institute of Crystallography for the first time developed Langmuir-Blodgett method of preparation of polymeric ferroelectric vinylidene fluoride films. It opens the way for obtaining the most thin ferroelectric films at the nanoscale. In 1998. we together with Prof. Ducharme from Lincoln, Nebraska University, got by this method two-dimensional ferroelectric (only one monolayer). We have shown that so-called critical size in ferroelectrics could not exist, in spite of existence of critical size in perovskites (which is less than 2 nm). The period 2000-2014 I devoted to investigation of ferroelectricity at nanoscale. I have published together with Prof. Ducharme the book Ferroelectricity at the Nanoscale. We devoted this book to the memory on Prof. Vitaly Ginzburg, whom I consider as my second teacher.

Well, remembering my scientific carrier, I often think about my first step, electrophotography, what we now call "Xerox". Perhaps I did not realize the idea of my diploma work in Moscow University, if the situation in communist country was not so bad and I got my place by Shubnikov just after graduation. Who knows?

Lang:

Your work has been very significant.

Travel Experiences

Fridkin:

So, if you have further questions, please.

Lang:

Sure! Well, you did a great deal of traveling during your life. Tell me a little about it, the places that you visited, your experiences.

Fridkin:

Ah, my travel. Yes. My granddaughter cannot imagine the situation which was in Soviet times. I got up to 10 invitations from America, from Europe, from Japan. I could not travel. I could not travel. It was impossible. For a business trip abroad, I got permission only after Gorbachov. Before, I did them as a scientific tourist in a big group. So I did a few trips abroad. I first met with you in Scotland.

Lang:

That’s right.

Fridkin:

Sidney, in Scotland in ’73.

Lang:

That is correct.

Fridkin:

But at this time it was not a trip abroad. I was in a big group of tourists, so-called scientific tourists. I paid in Moscow in rubles and a lot of money. And I had no right to walk alone, and so on. And, I remember there was a big delegation from Israel.

Lang:

Yes, there was.

Fridkin:

You asked me many questions. And I was afraid to answer them. I was always afraid very much. Afraid! Ah, but after Gorbachev, after this revolution, after this communist system in new Russia, my daughter, my grandchildren, I myself, can travel freely, if I get invitation and if my hosts pay for my travel. No, everybody has a passport, foreign passport for foreign travels--everybody who wants. But the responsibility is his responsibility. If he has money, if he has an invitation with payment for travel, for local expenses, it is possible to visit. Now it is a completely new life. It is possible for distinguished people, even to work, even to get a permanent job abroad. Because now the science my country was distinguished. We had great people. My second teacher, Academician Ginzburg, (I consider myself as his pupil--Nobel Prize winner) could not travel abroad earlier. One of his last trips we made together. Maybe you remember the conference on Ferroelectricity in Spain, in Madrid?

Lang:

Yes.

Fridkin:

We traveled together with his wife, first to Zurich, from Zurich to Madrid, together and back. We have had scientists like Landau, like Kurchatov.

And I am sure that Russian science, Soviet science gave important contributions, very important contributions. The Russian school for mathematics, [is] one of the best in the world, one of the best. The Russian book of Landau and Lifshitz is the bible of the physics of the whole world. Bible! It’s impossible to imagine. You see these books in America, in Japan, everywhere. But now the science is in a very difficult situation. I cannot explain this situation and I don’t want to explain it. But it’s a fact. The science developed like an Insel (sic) [island]. There are local places where science is quite good, but as a whole, the science is, the situation for science is bad. Nevertheless, we are very rich people. We have gas, we have oil, and some people think this is enough. It is enough for the future of this country. I don’t think so. Without science, the great country like Russia has no future. It is my opinion. Not only mine. Many people think the same way.

What else?

Literary Work

Lang:

Well, you’ve done a great deal of work with various people famous in literature. in Russia. Tell me a little about what you’ve done.

Fridkin:

How about?

Lang:

Literature. You’ve written a book.

Fridkin:

Oh yes. Literature is my second life. You know, I was highly influenced by my friend Natan Eidelman. He was a writer, historian. I think that the gift, the talent to write, I have this talent, I would say, but I did not recognize it. I was so involved in physics, spent so much time… Interesting to tell, Eidelman was such a person who awoke in me such a life, a wish to learn to write. But he was absolutely…..he could not go abroad, but he liked to work in the archive and he knew about the archive everything. There were in Paris some documents which belonged to Pushkin and his friends, in America in Harvard University there in the Houghton Library was a lot of new documents. But he could not himself visit these places. And it was the first stop of my writer activity. I used every travel abroad connected with physics to visit these archives and to find new documents and to write about them. I published my first paper, in my story, better to say stories, in Novi Mir, New World, a Moscow literary journal. Then in Znamia, and then step-by-step. It is interesting. I have transitioned to another side of my travels. I wrote about the people, about the fate of some people. So I wrote a few books with my stories about the people, mainly abroad, out of Russia. About their fate, their life, characters. But it may be interesting that I stopped my literary activity, 8-10 years ago. I am so deeply involved now in my research, in spite of my age.

Lang:

You are remarkable.

Fridkin:

Yes. But I published maybe 10 books, literary type books. I have published altogether, 7 books in physics, and 10 books, literary books.

Lang:

Amazing.

Fridkin:

Writer. [Laughter] It is my life. It is my life.

Lang:

What other things would you like to tell us about? You have some other stories?

Fridkin:

In conclusion, maybe. Yes, in conclusion. I thought about it. It’s my last literary book, my last. I will not write. I have an idea to write a book about Natan Eidelman. ‘Eidelman and his Time’, the title. I am not sure that I shall write it, that I will be able to write this book. But I am dreaming about it. It is my last book, “Flowers from Nice”. They are stories, different stories. There is a story about a woman, one Russian woman, who married a Frenchman and in new time couldn’t adapt herself to a different style of life. Then there are also school stories, from my school…interesting. And from this Kormushka, about this Kormushka, the special restaurant for the Academy of Sciences, which I told you about, yesterday.

Lang:

Yes.

Fridkin:

Let me tell you only one short story. It was Professor Tarsuev, linguist, very distinguished linguist. He was like Professor Higgins from Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion. He was a specialist on English dialects. And he spoke English, like an Englishman, of course. But he was an expert in dialects. He was able to distinguish between Cockney and Wales dialect, for example, or South Wales and North Wales dialect in England. Usually we had dinner together, at the same table. But Prof. Tarsuev was a very peculiar person, very aristocratic. For example, the custom of his smoking. He lived in the same house with the restaurant, in a small flat, along with a lot of books and a piano. He played when he relaxed. He kept a cigarette in his long narrow fingers of a pianist, a very interesting custom of the smoking. He smoked at work. Something like that. Very intelligent person, very remarkable. Once, somebody from us asked him, where did he learn the English dialects. How long did he live in England? “I’ve never been there,” answered Prof. Tarsuev. We opened our mouths. How it could be? “You have never been there? Why?” “Oh, it doesn’t matter.” “Please, tell us.” And Professor Tarsuev told the story.

“Once, I got an invitation, to Oxford, they paid everything for one semester to tell about the English dialects. Now, you know the custom. It was in Soviet times, of course, Soviet times. I spoke about the old time. I collected such a file of documents from the party, characteristics, and a lot, and between them also the medical document about my health (It was very important that you are healthy) from our special Clinic of Academy of Sciences. And I sent them to the Foreign Department of Academy of Sciences. Passed one month, no answer. I am calling there. Somebody answered. ‘Ah, Professor Tarsuev.’ I explained to him that the time is very short, the time is very short. I must go. ‘You see,’ answered this man from the foreign department, ‘please send us one more medical analysis, a new medical analysis’. So I brought to the clinic everything for analysis, got the results, and sent it. One month passed. No answer. I called again and the same man answered me, ‘You see, Professor Tarsuev, how to explain you. We need more medical analysis from you.’ And from Oxford they asked me why I don’t come. They asked about my preparation of my lectures. What I can do? I went to the Clinic with my urine and made a new analysis, got results, and sent them to the Foreign Department.” “And what is the result,” asked we. And then Professor Tarsuev, smoking in such a way [exhales] suggested to us to be attentive and in a low voice told, “You know, how many excrements I gave up, but in vain.”

Lang:

[Laughter] Very good!

Fridkin:

That is a published story. I have read it to Tarsuev himself. He has passed away. He was an old man. He laughed very much. [Laughter] It is in my book. Unfortunately, you know, none of my books, Russian books, were translated in English. All my books on physics are translated, and not once, but two, three times. I can show you. For example, now my first book, Ferroelectric Semiconductors…

Lang:

Yes.

Fridkin:

Was published by Consultants Bureau in New York. I am very proud of this book. The Photovoltaic Effect was published by Gordon and Breach in ’92.

Lang:

Yes.

Fridkin:

Recently, I published with Stephen Ducharme some results of my long work in America, Ferroelectricity at the Nanoscale. It was published by a German publisher, Springer.

Lang:

Aha.

Fridkin:

And so on, and so on. All my 7-8 books on physics are published and many books published twice. But none of my Russian books were translated. I have no translation.

Lang:

That is a shame.

Fridkin:

Because, why? Because, I have no connections with people from literary circles in America or England. I never think about it.

Now let me finish.

Lang:

All right.

Fridkin:

Thank you very much, my dear friend.

Lang:

Vladimir, it’s been wonderful!