Schmidt, Otto Yulievich (1891–1956)
Schmidt, Otto Yulievich (1891–1956) – is a prominent Soviet scientist, astronomer, mathematician, geophysicist, Arctic explorer, state figure, Moscow State University Professor, Academician (1935), Vice President of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1939–1942), and Hero of the Soviet Union (1937). In 1913 he graduated from the physics and mathematics department of Kiev University and was the privatdozent of the University since 1916. In 1920–1923, he was a Professor of Moscow Forestry Engineering University; in 1923–1926, the Second Moscow University; and in 1926–1955, Moscow State University. After 1917 he was one of the developers of the tertiary education, sciences, and publishing. He was one of the founders and editor in chief of the first Big Soviet Encyclopedia (1924–1941) and a number of scientific journals. In 1930–1932 he served as the Director of the Arctic Institute and in 1932–1939, the Head of the Directorate of the Northern Sea Route (Glavsevmorput).
Expedition activity played a significant role in Schmidt’s life. In 1929–1930 he led the expedition on the steam ice breaker “G. Sedov,” which set up the first research station on the Franz Joseph Land. In 1930 he headed another expedition on “G. Sedov,” which made a second trip to the Franz Joseph Land, surveyed the northeastern part of the Kara Sea, and then explored the western shores of Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago, having discovered a number of islands. In 1932 Schmidt’s expedition on the icebreaker steamship “A. Sibiryakov” went from Arkhangelsk to the Pacific Ocean, in one navigation. In 1933–1934 he was the head of the expedition, which made another attempt to pass along the Northeastern Passage in one navigation, on the steamship “Chelyuskin,” and after the ship sank, Schmidt headed the ice camp of the “Chelyuskin” crew.
A network of Arctic stations was built on the Arctic seacoast under his leadership. That was Schmidt who suggested the idea of drifting Arctic research stations. In May 1937, he headed the air expedition on setting up the “Severnyy Polyus” (North Pole) station and then in 1938 г., the expedition on the rescue of the Papanin crew.
The Theoretical Geophysics Research Institute was established under his initiative. In the mid-1940s, Schmidt suggested the new theory of the formation of the Earth and the planets of the solar system, which he continued to develop in collaboration with other Soviet scientists until the end of his life.