Porter about Voevodsky Vladislav Vladislavovich

I first met Vladislav Voevodsky in 1958 in Oxford at Symposium on Combustion, and then at the Discussion on Stabilization of Free Radicals in Sheffield. As all other attendants of these conferences, I was immediately fascinated by his boundless enthusiasm and the broadness of his research interests. In line with the traditions of the Russian school, his interests were mostly focused on the kinetics of branched chain reactions of combustion and on the studies of free radicals by electron spin resonance. It was the latter field that he became especially attracted to. He was the leader of a large scientific school in Novosibirsk, whose works significantly advanced this field.

It is most characteristic that immediately after these two conferences V.V. Voevodsky became well known to literally all of their participants. Although, as far as I know, he had never been to Great Britain before, he not only gave several brilliant lectures, but also gave an after-dinner speech in English on behalf of the guests, doing it better than a native Englishmen would do. Not only the duty officer, but all who know this history will also long remember his initiative, when early in the morning he found himself behind the locked door of his room in one of the dormitories in Sheffield.

Later I met Vladislav in the USA, in the USSR and several more times in Great Britain. I visited him in Novosibirsk in February. I arrived from Moscow early in the morning and felt rather tired. He greeted me with a suggestion to take a ski ride. "Just a little ski walk," said he, “not too fast”. (Now I realize that his health issues made him be cautious). That time our “cautious” walk turned into a four or five hour trip on deep snow to get acquainted with the neighborhood! His daughter Marianna , having waited for us for quite some time (and having had her lunch), took our coming late with forgiveness: as a physicist she understood the loyalty of her farther to the uncertainty principle. Later days in his laboratory passed with the same vigor – his enthusiasm and joie de vivre were most unusual.

Although he had many other, purely administrative, duties related to the University, his ability to grasp details and obviously close contact with his entire research group were most impressive. Approximately at that time he discovered the phenomenon of photoinduced decomposition of aliphatic solvents by aromatic solutes, and we had many discussions on the possibility of double-quantum processes, that were later shown to occur rather frequently. He developed excellent variants of the ESR technique that were most ingeniously applied to solve various problems.

V.V. Voevodsky was a true internationalist, and was loved by colleagues all over the world. The science has lost its ardent disciple, we all have lost our dear friend.

March 1, 1968 J. Porter

J. Porter about V.V. Voevodsky // Free radical states in chemistry: International tribute to Academician V.V. Voevodsky / Eds. L.A. Blumenfeld, Yu.N. Molin. - Novosibirsk: Nauka, 1972, p.10-11.