N I Muskhelishvili, President of the Georgian Academy of Sciences

We give below an English translation of the Russian article: L Mgaloblishvili, Nikolai Ivanovich Muskhelishvili, in Three Presidents of the Georgian Academy of Sciences (Russian) (Moscow, Nauka, 2003), 23-52.


Nikolai Ivanovich Muskhelishvili

The first time I met with Nikolai Ivanovich was in early February 1964, when I was recruited to the staff of the Presidium of the Georgian Academy of Sciences. The first meeting, which lasted about 15 minutes, made an indelible impression on me. I was fortunate enough to communicate with Nikolai Ivanovich many times - a refined intellectual, an unusually simple, benevolent person with a great sense of humour.

An outstanding scientist, the first president of the Georgian Academy of Sciences, Academician Nikolai Ivanovich Muskhelishvili was born in Tbilisi. He was born on 16 February 1891 into a family of widely educated people. His mother, Daria Saginashvili, herself led the education of children, teaching them native and foreign languages. His father, Ivan Muskhelishvili, was a military engineer who knew mathematical sciences well. Nikolai Ivanovich himself rated highly the role of his father in his study of mathematics.

After completing his studies at the Tbilisi classical gymnasium (in 1909), N I Muskhelishvili entered the mathematical faculty of St Petersburg University, after which, in 1914, he remained at the Department of Mechanics to prepare for the title of professor. In 1915, his first scientific paper, 'On the Equilibrium of Elastic Circular Disks under the Influence of Stresses Applied at Their Retraction Points and Operating in Their Plane', was published, and in 1922 his first book, 'Applications of Integrals of Cauchy Type to some problems of mathematical physics', was published in French.

Returning home and occupying the Chair of Theoretical Mechanics at Tbilisi University, N I Muskhelishvili continued the scientific research work begun in Russia and, in parallel, together with well-known Georgian scientists and public figures, he was actively engaged in the problems of organizing higher education and science in Georgia.

In the course of his pedagogical activity, N I Muskhelishvili created original textbooks on analytical geometry and on theoretical mechanics. Here, in the first place, it is necessary to name his textbook "Analytical Geometry", about which the head of the department of the Steklov Institute of Mathematics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Academician Sergey Mikhailovich Nikolsky said:-

Nikolai Ivanovich was a wonderful teacher, a professor in his youth, and later, too, still in his youth, he taught a lot, and this is immediately evident, because he created a beautiful textbook "Analytical Geometry" for colleges and universities in our country. For many years this textbook served as the main textbook on analytical geometry in many of our colleges and universities in our country. This was used in teaching not only students of Georgia but also students of our university in Moscow. The textbook of Nikolai Ivanovich differed and is distinguished by its depth and simplicity. We well know that it is necessary to have great talent in order to combine these two qualities - both depth and simplicity - for the whole of the Soviet Union, including, for example, for the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics of Moscow University. (Tbilisi, 1981).
Nikolay Ivanovich gave a lot of vitality and energy to the education of qualified national personnel, being the dean of the faculty of the Tbilisi Polytechnic University (1926-1928), the pro-rector of the Polytechnic Institute (1928-1930), the dean of the Physics and Mathematics Faculty since the founding of the Pedagogical Institute, and then at Tbilisi University (1930-1936).

In the years 1931-1932, N I Muskhelishvili was specially invited to lecture to postgraduates at a number of scientific research institutes in Leningrad. The basis of the cycle of lectures he delivered was based on the results of his own mathematical research.

In January 1939, the USSR Academy of Sciences held elections. Candidate N I Muskhelishvili was nominated for election as a full member (academician) of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR by the Steklov Mathematical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, the Academic Council of Moscow State University, the Moscow Mathematical Society, the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of the Tbilisi State University and other scientific institutions. The candidacy of N I Muskhelishvili was supported and presented to the Academy of Sciences of the USSR with conclusions by Academicians S A Chaplygin, B G Galerkin, I M Vinogradov, S N Bernstein and others.

The General Assembly of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1939 elected N I Muskhelishvili as a full member. During the same elections, Georgian scientists I S Beritashvili and I A Javakhishvili became members, and corresponding members were G S Akhvlediani, A G Shanidze and G V Khachapuridze, who conducted scientific and teaching activities at the university and in the Georgian branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences.

Georgia owes much to N I Muskhelishvili becoming a higher physico-mathematical and technical educator. Under the leadership of Nikolai Ivanovich, the first generation of Georgian mathematicians was produced, which formed the core of the Institute of Mathematics and Mechanics, organized on his initiative at Tbilisi University in 1933. Two years later, after the creation of the Georgian branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, the Mathematical Institute was founded by Muskhelishvili on the basis of the areas of mathematics and mechanics.

Nikolai Ivanovich as a scientific consultant invited prominent Russian and foreign scientists to Georgia in order to stimulate the development of the latest scientific trends and deepen the results already obtained. Here, first of all, we mean to the Mathematical Institute, where outstanding experts in the field of mathematics came. At his request, prominent scientists came to Tbilisi, working in other fields of science. After all, Nikolai Ivanovich, being a man of broad scientific and public interests, contributed to the development of all branches of scientific knowledge.

The Mathematical Institute is the creation of N I Muskhelishvili. For decades, he selected capable young mathematicians, who under his leadership widely deployed research work on many topical areas of mathematical science and achieved very significant results. Despite all his attractiveness, simplicity and humanity, Nikolai Ivanovich was very demanding towards his students. It is these special features that determined the formation of true scientist-researchers. So within the walls of the same A M Razmadze Mathematical Institute which he founded, a strong team of mathematicians has formed around him, a well-known mathematical school has developed, whose representatives are still successfully conducting research in a number of areas of mathematics. Here is what the academician S M Nikolsky said:-

The Mathematical Institute of the Georgian Academy of Sciences named after A M Razmadze is another creation of Nikolai Ivanovich. For many decades, Nikolai Ivanovich has been steadily, patiently, persistently building and guarding his institution, collecting literally one talented, capable mathematician, after another into a large mathematical scientific centre that develops a mathematical theory at the level of modern international standards. Quantitatively, this is a very small research institute that includes the following. There are about a hundred scientific workers, but all the mathematical institutes of the world are small, I mean theoretical mathematical institutes. It is not necessary to think that it is easy to collect such a seemingly small collective of talented mathematicians under one roof. Mathematics has its own peculiarity, and this was perfectly understood by Nikolai Ivanovich. Note that the present building of the Razmadze Mathematical Institute was conceived and built during the lifetime of Nikolai Ivanovich, according to his plans and his instructions. I think that I will not be mistaken if I say that this is the best among all the buildings of the mathematical institutions of our entire Union. A beautiful monument to Nikolai Ivanovich, a beautiful monument to this very important man (Tbilisi, 1981).
Fundamental works by N I Muskhelishvili in the field of mathematics and mechanics entered the highest realms of the world of science.

On the basis of the classical theory of functions of a complex variable, Nikolai Ivanovich created new original methods for effective analytic solutions of plane problems in the theory of elasticity. These results are reflected in the fundamental monograph of N I Muskhelishvili, "Some basic problems of the mathematical theory of elasticity," published in 1933. It was published five times in the Russian and Georgian languages and translated into English, German, Romanian and Chinese. After the publication of the English translation, reviewers rated the monograph "as a turning point in the theory of elasticity." Nikolai Ivanovich's methods had a decisive influence on the creation of a complete mathematical theory of destruction and the development of numerical methods for solving very complex engineering problems. In 1941, the author of the second edition of the monograph was awarded the State Prize of the first degree.

Subsequently, the scientific interests of N I Muskhelishvili and, consequently, the problems of the school he led, which were mainly related to the theory of elasticity, gradually expanded and embraced such important fields of mathematics as singular integral equations, boundary problems in the theory of analytic functions, differential equations of elliptic type, etc. Deep investigation of these problems began after the organization in 1940 in the Mathematical Institute named after A M Razmadze of a special scientific seminar, thanks to which, under the influence of scientific ideas of Nikolai Ivanovich, there formed a strong group of mathematicians.

In 1946 another fundamental monograph by N I Muskhelishvili, "Singular integral equations," which included the results of the research of Nikolai Ivanovich and his students on the boundary problems of analytic functions and, closely related to this problem, the theory of singular integral equations. The book was published three times in Russian, and when its English translation came out, the reviewers considered it "an event of prime importance." For this monograph, in 1947, too, he was awarded the State Prize of the second degree.

Monographs of N I Muskhelishvili became a reference work for researchers dealing with the problems of physics, mathematics and engineering. They led to a large number of studies around the world.

The list of publications of N I Muskhelishvili contains up to 80 scientific studies. His works had a great influence on the development of mathematical physics and the theory of differential and integral equations.

Based on the scientific works of N I Muskhelishvili there has grown up more than one generation of scientists who later created their own directions and entire fields of mathematical science.

The leading Russian scientist S A Chaplygin, in his description of the scientific and social activity of N I Muskhelishvili, wrote:-

... Nikolai Ivanovich Muskhelishvili is one of the most outstanding researchers in the field of elasticity theory, whose influence on its development in our country and beyond is very significant ... In the person of N I Muskhelishvili we have an outstanding specialist in the theory of elasticity and related areas.
Active scientific and organizational activities to create an independent Georgian scientific centre were deployed by N I Muskhelishvili in the Georgian branch, which was founded in 1933, of the Transcaucasian branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences, and later in the Georgian branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences.

The first years of the functioning of the Academy of Sciences coincided with the outbreak of World War II. From the very beginning, intensive work on defence issues was launched in all institutes and scientific institutions, which called for the development of issues related to the provision of practical assistance to industry, agriculture, transport, communications, and other branches of the national economy that operate under special wartime conditions.

With a special resolution of the Presidium of the Georgian Academy of Sciences chaired by N I Muskhelishvili, an extraordinary commission was set up, which brought the subjects of the institutes in line with the needs of the front and rear and successfully carried out systematic guidance on the topic of defence significance.

Along with theoretical research, the plans of the research institutions of the Academy envisaged the development of problems related to the mobilization of the country's internal resources for defence needs, the exploration and study of natural resources, the increase in the yield of agricultural crops, the provision of practical assistance to the Red Army, its medical and sanitary services, etc. Many scientific institutions of the Academy also performed work on special assignments for military organizations.

During the war, Georgian scientists conducted a multifaceted and fruitful work aimed at solving a number of issues related to satisfying the needs of the front and rear. This is convincingly confirmed by the results of studies carried out by research institutes of the Academy of Sciences in the first year of the war, some of which are listed below from the report of N I Muskhelishvili on the work of the Academy for 1941.

In the report of the President of the Academy, special attention was paid to the results of the implementation of the decision of the State Defence Committee of the country, adopted in the first months of the war, for the immediate construction in Zestafoni, Western Georgia, of a special facility providing manganese of high purity, the necessary component for the smelting of special grades of steel. According to the method of obtaining electrolytic manganese by the group of Georgian chemists and metallurgists (the head of the work was associate professor R I Agladze who, since 1946, was an academician of the Academy of Sciences of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic), a pilot plant was assembled and launched at the Zestafon ferroalloy plant for two months. This is how the production of electrolytic manganese began in Georgia.

In the report, some results of research works of defensive significance, carried out by the institutions of the Academy of Sciences by the end of the first year of the war, are described, which show in what a short time the necessary restructuring was carried out by the Academy.

In the Institute of Chemistry in 1941, a new special alloy was created, replacing the expensive and scarce bronze and babbitt, widely used in the production of bearings. Scientific chemists developed a method for determining the degree of contamination by poisonous substances and created a special indicator, which in the right amount was manufactured and handed over to military organizations.

The energy sector developed and created a new type of moving hydro-impact supercharger (AIR-50), designed to supply water to various consumers in the field. Scientific energy engineers designed a turbine, which is a micro-hydroelectric power plant that could supply a mobile power station with electric power and unlike existing designs it had a lighter weight. The turbine was designed to work in the field. The results of this work have also found practical application.

During 1941, special works of defence significance were carried out by the Bureau of Anti-Seismic Construction, the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, the Institute of Physics and Geophysics, the Institute of Mathematics and other academic institutions of the Academy.

In the same relatively short period, active work was carried out by scientists in scientific institutions of the Division of Social Sciences.

Together with Georgian scientists, fruitful work was carried out by many scientists with various specialties, temporarily evacuated to Georgia. These were Russians, Ukrainians, and representatives of other nationalities, who carried out special orders for the front.

During the war, scientific institutions of the Academy of Sciences, in addition to the themes of defence significance, carried out a number of fundamental and applied research projects in various fields of science.

Evidence of the fruitful work of Georgian scientists during the war years is the wide recognition of a number of results of their research carried out at that time in various fields of knowledge. In 1941-1943, for outstanding work in mathematics, physiology, engineering, archaeology and history, N I Muskhelishvili, I S Beritashvili, R I Agladze, B A Kuftin and S N Janashia were each awarded the State Prize.

During the war years, the ranks of Georgian scientists were replenished with new highly qualified scientific personnel. This is evidenced by the extraordinary elections to the Academy of Sciences held in 1944, which resulted in the addition of 15 academicians and 13 corresponding members to its membership.

In 1942-1945, in the organisation of the Academy of Sciences, significant organizational and structural changes were made to create new scientific institutions and units, to strengthen their material and technical base, which contributed to the growth of scientific potential.

During the war years, science in Georgia was further developed, its position strengthened, and its effectiveness was improved. Immediately after the end of the war, on 11 June 1945, the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR awarded to N I Muskhelishvili the title of 'Hero of Socialist Labour'.

In the post-war years, the activity of the Georgian Academy of Sciences expanded and deepened, its material and technical base was strengthened, and the institutes were replenished with highly qualified scientific personnel. All this work was directed by N I Muskhelishvili, taking a direct part in the creation of new scientific units and research institutions. When the issue of the need for the broad development of computational mathematics was pointedly raised by one of the groups of employees of the Mathematical Institute named after A M Razmadze, at the initiative of Nikolai Ivanovich, the Computing Centre (now the Muskhelishvili Institute of Numerical Mathematics) was established in the Georgian Academy of Sciences. He was also the main initiator of the creation of the Institute of Physics at the University of Tbilisi, in every way contributed to the founding of the Abastumani Astrophysical Observatory and to a number of other scientific institutions.

Being the president of the Academy of Sciences of Georgia for more than 30 years since its founding, Nikolai Ivanovich Muskhelishvili with his high scientific authority and the personal qualities inherent in him, greatly contributed to the achievement of the significant successes that the Academy recognized as a universal recognition and advanced it to the forefront of the country's scientific centres.

Supervised by N I Muskhelishvili, the Academy of Sciences has achieved significant results in mathematics and mechanics, physics and astronomy, physiology and biology, chemistry and geology, linguistics and oriental studies, history and archaeology, philosophy and psychology and other fields of knowledge. On this and on the prospects for the development of science in Georgia, in May 1967 Nikolai Ivanovich reported to a meeting of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences that discussed the main directions of scientific research and the structure of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic. All the members of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of Georgia (the author of this book also attended this meeting) took part in the work of the meeting.

In his report, Nikolai Ivanovich briefly touched upon the structure of the Academy, and devoted most of his speech to the results of the research of Georgian scientists in various fields of science.

The speaker noted the works performed in the main areas of mathematics and physics, he dwelt on studies conducted in the recently created Computing Centre. He briefly described the results of scientific research in such fields of science as geophysics, geology, geography, and he noted that Cybernetics, Electronics, Automation, Telemechanics and other new directions are developing in the Georgian Academy of Sciences.

N I Muskhelishvili dwelled on the work carried out in the institutes of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Technology at the offices of the Biology Department, stressing that in recent years the Academy of Sciences has successfully developed research in the fields of biochemistry, biophysics, genetics, microbiology, and others.

The President of the Academy spoke about the important role played by the rich centuries-old spiritual and material culture of Georgia in the development in scientific institutions of the Department of Social Sciences of History, Archaeology, Ethnography, Linguistics, Oriental Studies, Philosophy, Psychology, Literature, Archaeography, History of Georgian Art, Economics, and Law etc.

N I Muskhelishvili told the audience about the great assistance rendered by Georgian scientists to various sectors of the national economy, the results of developing topical scientific problems in collaboration with the institutes of the USSR Academy of Sciences, republican academies and other departments, and the development of international scientific ties.

In conclusion, Nikolai Ivanovich dwelled on the most important tasks facing the Georgian Academy of Sciences.

The discussion on the report was opened by a speech by Academician N M Zhavoronkov. Then the following academicians took part in the debate: M A Sadovsky, N P Fedorenko, S Khachaturov, B L Astaurov, A M Samarin, A Yu Ishlinsky, B P Konstantinov and A P Alexandrov.

The President of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Academician Mstislav Vsevolodovich Keldysh, summing up the discussion, noted:-

The Academy of Sciences of Georgia has grown into a very large complex of scientific institutions, and it has developed a number of scientific schools of world significance that are well-known: the mathematical school and the school of elasticity theory, originating from N I Muskhelishvili, the school in physiology created by I S Beritashvili, the school of Oriental studies, headed by G V Tsereteli, etc. Important work is carried out on physics, chemistry, and much has been done in applied fields, for example, in metallurgy and automation.
M V Keldysh made a number of specific comments on improving economic research conducted at the Academy of Sciences of Georgia, the work of its computing centre, strengthening the contact of the Department of Mechanics and Control Processes of the Union Academy with the Georgian Institute of Cybernetics, the development of certain areas in physics and biology. Speaking about the humanities, he pointed to the importance of the initiative in setting and developing research on major problems.

In conclusion, M V Keldysh stressed that "the studies carried out by the Georgian Academy, as a rule, are characterized by a high scientific culture, a correct approach to the development of science, which is the main thing that ensures the success of the Georgian Academy of Sciences." M V Keldysh emphasized the great merits of N I Muskhelishvili in the development of Georgian science.

In the resolution that was adopted, the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences approved the activities and main scientific directions of the Georgian Academy of Sciences.

The advanced session of the Division of Mechanics and Control Processes of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, held in April 1969 in Tbilisi, was greatly facilitated by the further improvement of the approved scientific directions in the field of technical sciences headed by B N Petrov. The participants of the session acquainted themselves with the scientific institutions of the Mechanics and Control Processes Department of the Academy of Sciences of Georgia and with some branch institutes with a technical profile. The leading scientists of the Department of Mechanics and Control Processes of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in several institutes delivered reports on the prospects for the development of the current trends in technical sciences, and the results of the technical profile of the activities of scientific institutions of the Academy of Sciences of Georgia were examined. During the session, participants basically approved the work of technical institutes, recommending the expansion of theoretical and experimental research in some areas of automatic control, as well as on the dynamics of machines.

Members of the branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, headed by B N Petrov met with N I Muskhelishvili and shared their impressions.

In subsequent years, the directions in the fields of natural and human sciences were also clarified, but in the main, scientific research in the institutes of the Academy of Sciences of Georgia was carried out according to the scientific directions approved in 1967.

It should be emphasized that the Academy of Sciences of Georgia developed its scientific research in close cooperation with the USSR Academy of Sciences, which actively participated in the creation of research institutions, the preparation of national scientific personnel, in establishing contacts with foreign scientific institutions, organizing scientific libraries, etc. In the development of close relations with the Presidium and with branches and scientific institutions of the USSR Academy of Sciences, an outstanding role was played by N I Muskhelishvili. While solving scientific and scientific-organizational issues, Nikolai Ivanovich maintained close contacts with the former presidents of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Academicians A P Karpinsky, V L Komarov, S I Vavilov, A N Nesmeyanov and M V Keldysh. This tradition of cooperation continues with the current president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, academician Yu S Osipov.

As the organizer of science, N I Muskhelishvili played a prominent role on the international scene. From 1957 until the end of his life (1976) he was chairman of the National Committee of the Soviet Union for Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, took an active part in the organization of international scientific forums of mathematicians and experts in mechanics, and directed the organizational committees of international congresses and conferences.

In his speech in Tbilisi in 1981, the vice-president of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Academician V A Kotelnikov said:-

... I have had, I should even say was lucky, to meet with Nikolai Ivanovich many times during his visits to Moscow, and I must say that you rarely meet such a person.

Now, recalling Nikolai Ivanovich, I want to note that this is my feeling but it is not just personal, it was also shared by all scientists who knew him.

We have many schools and research groups in the field of mathematics and mechanics. The assessments by different scientists do not always coincide, but the assessment of Nikolai Ivanovich of how a person is a scientist is the same for all. All of them considered him an example in this area, where he worked, as a model of a man in our society. When the question arose about the choice of a chairman for the National Committee for Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, where the person was supposed to represent all of our science in this field abroad, the choice fell on Nikolai Ivanovich.

In 1969, for his fundamental works in the field of mathematics and mechanics, the Turin Academy (Italy) awarded N I Muskhelishvili the Prize and the Gold Medal "Modesto Panetti". A year later the Slovak Academy of Sciences awarded him a gold medal, and the Presidium of the People's Assembly of the Bulgarian People's Republic awarded him the Order of "Cyril and Methodius" of the first degree and the Order of the People's Republic of Bulgaria of the first degree. In 1972, the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences awarded Nikolai Ivanovich the highest award of the Academy, namely the gold medal of M V Lomonosov Moscow State University.

N I Muskhelishvili was a member of academies of sciences and scientific societies of a number of countries.

In 1942-1953, 1957-1972 he was a member of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences.

In September 1971, the whole of Georgia celebrated the eightieth anniversary of N I Muskhelishvili's birth. A ceremonial meeting dedicated to this glorious date was held in Tbilisi, in the Grand Concert Hall of the Philharmonic. The world-famous scientist, president of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Academician Mstislav Vsevolodovich Keldysh, who specially flew to the jubilee, described the hero of the day as follows:-

Nikolai Ivanovich Muskhelishvili is one of the major mechanics of our time and his works in the field of the plane problem of elasticity theory are known all over the world. He also made a great contribution to the development of many areas of modern mathematics. His closest students are in Georgia, where he created a large school in the field of mathematics and the modern theory of elasticity, and it is precisely the fact that Nikolai Ivanovich is a prominent scientist who contributed greatly to the development of science in Georgia, and not only in Georgia ...

I would like to say that this organizational work on the creation of the school was greatly facilitated by the personal qualities of Nikolai Ivanovich, who has great tact and is an attractive person, and I must say that we are all glad when he comes to visit us in Moscow. We are always pleased to meet with him and, I think, in all his activities such great qualities of a great person play a major role. It is the combination of these qualities with the qualities of a great scientist that determined the tremendous success that Nikolai Ivanovich has in both science and in the social life of our country ...

In his short speech, N I Muskhelishvili, thanking him for the high honour shown to him, said that if he was over-praised, there was no danger in this for he was already at such an age that he will not become conceited. Finishing his words, and as if hinting at the regularity of anniversaries in his honour, he said: "see you in 10 years." However, unfortunately, did not live to see his 90th birthday. N I Muskhelishvili passed away on 16 July 1976, at the age of 85.

Deep intellect, selfless devotion to work, inexhaustible work capacity, the highest culture, extremely cordial attitude to colleagues, employees and students, modesty and simplicity, form the harmony of those properties with which Nikolai Ivanovich was so generously endowed. These and other exceptional personal qualities of N I Muskhelishvili were known to everyone who ever communicated with this amazing person. It is characteristic to note that his personal qualities inherent in him, attracted, brought people close to him, but at the same time they did not give a sense of distance.

You can recall a lot of memorable moments related to the life and work of Nikolai Ivanovich, somehow complementing the image of an outstanding scientist and citizen.

Nikolai Ivanovich was a very modest man. On one occasion, when he once again flew to Moscow on a business trip, at the direction of the then so-called 'government room', a deputy of the USSR Supreme Council in Vnukovo organized a meeting at the plane's ramp with the delivery of an academic machine that usually served him while in Moscow. All the way from the airport to the hotel, because of the attention shown to him, Nikolai Ivanovich could not hide his great concern.

Nikolai Ivanovich had the highest sense of responsibility. Everyone knew about this, at least those who once had to have business contacts with him. Knowing this, everyone tried to fulfil his instructions in a timely and high-quality manner. However, despite this, when preparing material for a report or newspaper article, he not only often enquired about the progress of the assignment, but also worried until the end of the assignment.

One day a curious incident happened to him, which was connected with the most important person in the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia. The Academy of Sciences, as the winner in the socialist competition, was to hand over the passing banner. At that time the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Republic was V P Mzhavanadze. Nikolay Ivanovich, as always in such cases, was very nervous from the beginning of the process of preparing the report, and then before his speech to the General Assembly of the Georgian Academy of Sciences, where the presentation was to take place. And so, giving the floor to the first secretary of the Central Committee, Nikolai Ivanovich instead of Mzhavanadze called him by the name Nikoladze. Among those sitting in the presidium meeting, the mistake he made caused considerable confusion. On the second day of the meeting N I Muskhelishvili, regretting what happened, with his usual humour, remarked that, in fact, Nikoladze's surname was no worse than the name of Mzhavanadze.

Here it is also appropriate to recall another case when the secretary of the president was called up and asked to organise the reception of Mzhavanadze. Hearing this name and not paying attention to the rest, the secretary immediately went to N I Muskhelishvili and told him about it. On this day, Nikolai Ivanovich stopped the reception, cleaning began on his orders and this lasted several hours. And in the waiting room there was already a certain A Mzhavanadze, who worked, as it turned out later, for the head of the department in the water management system of Georgia, and waited for him to be invited to see the president. Until the end of the day, he did not appear at the reception, and then Nikolai Ivanovich invited the visitor. Hearing his name from him, he immediately burst into a hysterical laugh. The visitor was extremely surprised by this behaviour of the president, who, addressing him, said: "For God's sake, when next time you need to come to me, then you do not have to call and sign up - come straight, or even Gogol's auditor in our case will look like rather pale."

Nikolai Ivanovich was an avid smoker. In recent years, being already in his old age, he was banned from smoking a lot, setting a daily rate of 5 cigarettes. At noon, counting cigarettes in a box, it turned out that he had already smoked three. He packed the box with the remaining cigarettes in his pocket, and during the day he asked one of the smoking vice-presidents for a cigarette, explaining that at home, when his wife checked the number of cigarettes, the established rate would be matched with "mathematical" accuracy.

After one solemn meeting, the president and vice-presidents of the Georgian Academy of Sciences came together. One of them asked anxiously: "where are our wives, why did they not leave?" Nikolai Ivanovich reassured him, saying that "while we receive a high salary, our wives will not go away from us anywhere."

One day at a banquet arranged by the staff of the Institute of Mathematics, the toastmaster (the head of the table - LM) made a toast to N I Muskhelishvili's wife. The toast was delayed, and then Nikolay Ivanovich made this remark: "It is possibly, in short, for the leaders of our leaders."

During the general meeting, a break was announced and N I Muskhelishvili, of course, immediately lit a cigarette. Approached him, Academician A D Zurabashvili, who at that time was the director of the republican psychiatric hospital, told him that he smokes a lot, and this narrows the blood vessels, making blood circulation more difficult. To this, Nikolai Ivanovich said: "probably this is the reason that crazy people do not smoke."

It is almost impossible to recount the lively, sharp, benevolent humour of N I Muskhelishvili. In order to fully appreciate his wit, one had to be present at the moment when, with his subtle humour, Nikolai Ivanovich discharged a tense atmosphere or brought revival to an overworked audience.

At the exhibition of the achievements of the national economy of Georgia in the pavilion "Nauka" by the experts of the Academy of Sciences in the field of electronics, a small robot which was commanded by a human voice was introduced as an achievement. The high party leader who arrived in Georgia decided to show off the invention, after having checked it in action. Arriving at the exhibition, a high-ranking guest was handed a microphone and offered to give the command: "forward" or "back." However, after the command the robot did not move from its place. Leaders of the republic who were present, terribly worried about what had happened, gave puzzled looks at the president of the Academy of Sciences N I Muskhelishvili - they said: "what a position you have put us in." Nikolai Ivanovich apologized to the important guest and, turning to him, said: "our machine only works when it is commanded with a strong Georgian accent." This timely and appropriate joke defused the situation, and together with the guest all present laughed.

One day Nikolai Ivanovich, examining the documents received by the Academy, asked the following question: "what is the most significant discovery, without which no leader could work." A minute later, he himself answered: "the biggest discovery is a resolution, without which we could not do much."

N I Muskhelishvili was called by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia and given some assignment. In connection with this issue, he first called the vice-presidents, and then to some academicians-secretaries of the departments. On the spot was one of the vice-presidents, while others were at that time engaged in scientific work in their institutes. Nikolai Ivanovich, addressing him, said: "how well we would work, if science did not interfere."

With his whole being, N I Muskhelishvili radiated kindness and cordiality. Every time his kindness and philanthropy showed up even when he was reviewing the statements of his employees about the provision of material assistance they required from the presidential fund (such a fund existed and contained quite a considerable sum). Nikolai Ivanovich always tried to help everyone as much as possible, and this gave him great pleasure.

N I Muskhelishvili went through a long and vital life journey, having seen a lot in his lifetime. On this way there was grief, which had to be experienced by Nikolai Ivanovich because of attacks from some of his colleagues. There was a time, recall eyewitnesses, when even his future fate remained not absolutely clear. When the 10th anniversary of the Georgian Academy of Sciences was celebrated on 16 February 1951, and this date coincided with the birthday of N I Muskhelishvili, none of those present at the banquet (there were his colleagues and students) even made mention of the fact that on this day he turned 60. But soon everything fell into place, and Nikolai Ivanovich was again enthusiastically greeted by those who on that occasion did not even congratulate him on his sixtieth birthday.

Nikolai Ivanovich was a loyal person by nature. He belonged to that part of the pre-revolutionary intelligentsia, which even under the new government served science and the people wholeheartedly. Much of N I Muskhelishvili's life is associated with the Soviet period, which began for him with the establishment of Soviet power in Russia, and then in Georgia. He was not only an eyewitness, but also a participant in a number of events related to the main stages of building socialism in the former Soviet Union. He was a delegate to the VIII Extraordinary All-Union Congress of Soviets, a member of the editorial commission for drafting the final text of the first constitution of the USSR, and a delegate to a number of party congresses; as a member of the USSR Supreme Soviet (until 1972) he participated at all convocations in the decision-making on many important issues for that time at the sessions of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, took part in the work of many government commissions, and in a number of other union and republican events.

Nikolai Ivanovich enjoyed authority and great respect not only among the scientific community, but also among members of the government, both the republic and the country. It should be noted that, as it was customary to say, the party and the government highly valued the services of N I Muskhelishvili. He was awarded high ranks and the most prestigious government awards. You can say that he already had a monument erected during his lifetime.

In June 1991, Georgia solemnly celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nikolai Ivanovich Muskhelishvili. Opening the anniversary evening, the President of the Academy of Sciences of Georgia, Academician Albert Nikiforovich Tavkhelidze, in particular, said:-

Since 1920, when the outstanding Georgian historian I A Dzhavakhishvili invited Professor N I Muskhelishvili to take the post of the head of the department of theoretical mechanics, Nikolai Ivanovich devoted his remarkable life to the development of Russian science, taking his worthy place among those brilliant Georgian figures who wholeheartedly served their country, their people and glorified their native fatherland ... Nikolai Ivanovich headed the Academy of Sciences of Georgia for more than 30 years. During this time the Academy was formed in a highly authoritative focus of scientific thought, a focus that plays a huge role in the cultural and spiritual life of our people ...
Director of the A M Razmadze Institute of Mathematics and Academician of the Academy of Sciences of Georgia, Ivan T Kiguradze, in his report on the life and work of N I Muskhelishvili noted:-
... When Nikolai Ivanovich was elected president of the Georgian Academy of Sciences, he appears to have stated that "if the great Ivan Javakhishvili was alive, the president must certainly have elected him. Nikolai Ivanovich was well aware that after the death of I A Dzhavakhishvili he had to take on the mission of the leader of our intelligentsia, it was he who had to show concern for saving the intellectual potential of the nation.

... Nikolai Ivanovich Muskhelishvili began his scientific career in independent Georgia. There is no doubt that his scientific heritage in independent Georgia will continue to serve the development of science and culture. The people who begat N I Muskhelishvili, with good reason, with hope, can look to the future ...

At the jubilee evening, Academician of the Georgian Academy of Sciences Irakli Vissarionovich Abashidze told the audience about his sensational statement at the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the birth of N I Muskhelishvili. Then he began his speech with the words:-
I met Nikolai Ivanovich far from Georgia, very far away - in China, in its capital Beijing, when I was in the parliamentary delegation of the USSR to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Chinese revolution. It was 1957, the year when the Soviet Union launched the first an artificial satellite of the Earth. In the hotel I was waiting for a fresh issue of the newspaper "Pravda", in which an article by the President of the USSR Academy of Sciences Academician A N Nesmeyanov was published, and next to the names of the great scientists who made a great contribution to the development of science and technology, I read the surname Muskhelishvili, then I got to know the real Nikolai Ivanovich ... I was very happy about this and a great sense of pride took possession of me in China ...
In "Pravda" on 2 November 1957 (N306, p. 3), Alexander Nikolayevich Nesmeyanov wrote in an article entitled "40 years of Soviet science":-
... Our Academy throughout its history was one of the largest centres of advanced mathematical thought. The works of outstanding Russian mathematicians of the XIX century M V Ostrogradski and P L Chebyshev left a deep imprint on the world of science. Added to this, though belated, N I Lobachevsky's research was recognized, and the theory of numbers, probability theory, topology, the theory of differential equations, theory of functions and functional analysis, and other branches of mathematics were further developed in the works of Soviet scientists.

At present, technology has reached a level where none of its branches can do without the use of a sophisticated mathematical apparatus ...

The work of N E Zhukovsky was the theoretical basis of the aerodynamic design of the aircraft ...

The rapid development of rocket technology in our time is in many cases due to its founder, the great scientist, K E Tsiolkovsky ...

The solution of many problems of new technology is impossible without the creation of strong structures with the least weight. This requires the science of new productions and solutions of the issues of elasticity, strength, stability, bearing capacity, deformability of structures and the conditions for their destruction. It was necessary to take into account the plasticity, the interaction of deformable elements with gas and liquid flows, high velocities, temperature conditions, etc. Soviet scientists made a fundamental contribution to the development of these issues. We especially note the contribution to the theory of elasticity of the Georgian Academy of Sciences in the person of N I Muskhelishvili and his school ...

In the days of the 100th anniversary of N I Muskhelishvili, the President of the Academy of Sciences of Georgia, Academician A N Tavkhelidze, received a letter from the president of the Armenian Academy of Sciences, academician Viktor Amazapovich Ambartsumyan:-
I greet all participants of the Jubilee meeting dedicated to the centenary of the outstanding mathematician and mechanic of our century, the great organizer of science, the founder of the world famous Georgian mathematical scientific school, the honorary member of the Armenian Academy of Sciences, the great friend of our people, Academician Nikolai Ivanovich Muskhelishvili.

Academician N I Muskhelishvili ascended to the heights of world science as a bright star of the first magnitude with his fundamental research in the field of singular integral equations, boundary problems in the theory of analytic functions, and their applications to the problems of the mathematical theory of elasticity. The results, summarized in his monographs, have long been included in the world science fund, and have become the property of scientists of a number of generations.

A major scientific figure, N I Muskhelishvili now inspires deep respect.

N I Muskhelishvili, being a bright representative of the national intelligentsia and a great son of his people, always highly appreciated the friendship of the peoples, in particular, the friendship of the Georgian and Armenian peoples, in every possible way fostering this friendship.

During our numerous meetings, he repeatedly claimed that our peoples are bound by common destiny and, always, especially at sharp historical turns, should be together, together to resist difficulties. These statements, as never before, are true and relevant at the present time.

Weigh the contribution of N I Muskhelishvili in the treasury of world knowledge. Great is his contribution to the organization and development of higher education and science in Georgia. Much did Nikolai Ivanovich do for his country, for his people, taking an honourable place in the brilliant galaxy of eminent personalities.

Many years have passed, but memory preserves the bright image of Nikolai Ivanovich Muskhelishvili, an outstanding scientist of the twentieth century, a remarkable man. While his works are alive, and they will live, N I Muskhelishvili will always be with his people.


JOC/EFR September 2018

The URL of this page is:
http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Extras/Muskhelishvili_President.html