Kapitza, Peter kä´pētsə [key], 1894–1984, Russian physicist, educated at the polytechnic institute of Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) and at Cambridge. He developed equipment (for a laboratory at Cambridge) capable of producing very powerful magnetic fields for his experiments in low-temperature physics. In 1934, Kapitza returned to the USSR, and the equipment he designed was bought by the Soviet government. Kapitza was made director of the Institute for Physical Problems of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. In 1938 he discovered the superfluidity of liquid helium. He resigned as head of the Institute for Physical Problems in 1946, but returned as director in 1955 and also became editor of the Journal of Theoretical and Experimental Physics. He was an outspoken advocate of open scientific thought in the USSR. Kapitza shared the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics with Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Physics: Biographies