Oleksandr Horbovyy

Oleksandr Horbovyy

Laboratory of the educational and scientific center of oral history of the «Pereyaslav-Khmelnytsky State Pedagogical University named after Gregory Skovoroda».

ORCID: 0000-0001-5608-8310

DOI: 10.17721/2522-4611.2019.39.8



Abstract. The article investigates the contribution of Anatoliy Petrovych Aleksandrov (1903-1994) to the study of the Dnipro rapids. Biographical and comparative methods were used during writing this article.

The rapids of river Dnipro occupy a prominent place in the history and culture of Ukraine. And because of this, they are constantly attract attention to themselves, even after their flooding.Researchers of the Dnipro try to fully reproduce the picture of a river as much as possible. But it seems that the experience of A.P. Aleksandrov have not been studied yet.

A.P. Aleksandrov lived a bright and extraordinary life. He became an outstanding physicist and renowned scientist in the field of atomic energy. His achievements were highly praised by his contemporaries, who elected a scientist as president of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1975-1986). In the study of his biographies, the main focus is on the scientific and technical aspects of it.Besides that, a fun and exciting scientist's hobby is beyond the detailed research – boat trips along the Dnipro river. Especially often he rested this way during living in Kiev (1903-1930 years).

In the 1920's A.P. Aleksandrov had very busy life: he taught physics and chemistry at the labor school №79 (1923-1930), studied at the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of the Kyiv People's University (1924-1930), conducted scientific research at the Kyiv X-ray Institute, falsified in the electro-technical bureau at a physical-chemical school club, etc. Still, he somehow managed to combine good with pleasure and had a chance to rest on the bank of Dnipro river on his lovely boat every summer. At first – near Kiev, and later – on the Dnipro rapids themselves.

According to Aleksandrovs memories and documents from the archive of the Institute of Manuscripts of the National Library of Ukraine named after V.I. Vernads'kyy, we managed to establish that the scientist visited the rapids of Dnipro every summer during four years before it was flooded. At first, probably in 1926, he went to rapids with only one friend. They wanted to see them and, if possible, go down through them. In 1927-1929 as a photographer, he participated in the expedition of A.S. Synyavs'kyy, who was to explore the rapids before flooding. In 1927 the expedition shot a film about the rapids and the Dnipro hydroelectric power station. The expedition was held in the summer of 1930, but without Anatoliy Petrovych. In August 1930 he participated in the First All-Union Congress of Physicists in Odessa and later he moved to Leningrad.

During the first trip to the rapids, A.P. Aleksandrov and his friend almost drowned at the Kodats'kyy rapids. Fortunately, friends quickly learned how to swim between granite rocks. At the same time, they not only went down the flow with a boat, but also rose against it.

In historical studies, the ability to swim bottom-up dipper rapids up until recently was considered a very controversial issue. Ya.R. Dashkevych writes that in the annotation to the map of Lithuania Makovs'kyy-Radzyvil (1613) it is said that Dmytro Vyshnevets'kyy (about 1517 - 1563/1564) managed to reach the Cherkasy through the rapids (that is, from the bottom up). French engineer Hiyom Levaser de Boplan in his memories of the second half of the seventeenth century also wrote about his personal trip through the rapids of the Dnipro against the flow.

O.S. Afanas'yev-Chuzhbyns'kyy in 1861 and Ya.P. Novyts'kyy in 1905, after personal visits to the rapids and communication with local pilots and fishermen, came to the conclusion that it was not possible to overcome the rapids against the flow. A.Kh. Lerberh in 1819 and Ya.R. Dashkevych in 2007 assumed that it was still possible. In 2000, the last pilot of the Dnipro rapids H.M. Omel'chenko (1911-2002) wrote very confidently that he and his father repeatedly swam across the rapids of the Dnipro from below upwards. Memoirs of A.P. Aleksandrov, published in 2002, greatly facilitate the above discussion. Unlike all his predecessors, he describes in detail the technique of swimming through the rapids from the bottom up and its rationale. The point is that the flow does not always flow down the rapids. By stones, it flows up with approximately the same force as it was before it was down. So to swim from the bottom up to the rapids, you need to swim through one of the stones (there flows flow from below upwards), gaining there some sort of a speed boost and cross the strip of ordinary flow to the next stone (up to 2 meters), and so on.

So, the memoirs of A.P. Aleksandrova allows a significant advance in the many-year historical debate about the possibility of swimming on the rapids of the Dnipro against the flow. However, they do not prove that all evidence of such a voyage is true. In the long run, the author plans to test the methodology of the scientist in practice and expand the base of historical sources on swimming the rapids. He will also try to find photos and movies that were created in 1927-1929 with the participation of A.P. Aleksandrova.

Keywords: A.P. Aleksandrov, Dnipro, rapids, Dniprohes, A.S. Synyavs'kyy, upstream (against the flow).

Received by the editorial board: 17.10.2018


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