Il´ja M. Frank


Il'ja Mikhailovich Frank

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Il´ja Mikhailovich Frank
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1958

Born: 23 October 1908, Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia

Died: 22 June 1990, Moscow, USSR (now Russia)

Affiliation at the time of the award: Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, USSR (now Russia); P.N. Lebedev Physical Institute, Moscow, USSR (now Russia)

Prize motivation: “for the discovery and the interpretation of the Cherenkov effect”

Prize share: 1/3


Robert Mundell was born in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. After studying at various universities around North America, he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received his Ph.D. in economics in 1956. In 1974 he joined Columbia University in New York, where he became University Professor in 2001. Mundell served as an advisor to several governments, including the US during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, and worked for international organizations such as the World Bank.


In certain media the speed of light is lower than in a vacuum and particles can travel faster than light. One result of this was discovered in 1934 by Pavel Cherenkov, when he saw a bluish light around a radioactive preparation placed in water. Ilya Frank and Igor Tamm explained the phenomenon in 1937. On their way through a medium, charged particles disturb electrons in the medium. When these resume their position, they emit light. Normally this does not produce any light that can be observed, but if the particle moves faster than light, a kind of backwash of light appears.

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