Applied Mechanics: an age old science perpetually in rebirth
Grigory I. Barenblatt
[img_assist|nid=211|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=71|height=100]Mr. Chairman, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I want to express my gratitude to the Executive Committee of the Applied Mechanics Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for nominating me for the Timoshenko Medal, and to the Board of Governors for awarding me the Medal on behalf of ASME.
The personality and name of Stepan Prokofievich Timoshenko (Stephen P. Timoshenko as he is called in this country) is very special for me. When I was a beginning student at Moscow High Technical School, where I studied before entering the Mathematics Department at Moscow State University. I purchased his book “The theory of elasticity”: in fact, this was the first technical book in my personal library. The clarity and depth of the presentation of this difficult subject wits then and remains now for me an unsurpassed standard. Something in this book astonished me, and I addressed a question to my maternal grandfather, an eminent Professor of Differential Geometry at Moscow State University. (I was raised by his family after my mother, one of the first virologists, perished preparing a vaccine against encephalitis.) The question wits: the author is definitely a Russian (at that time in our circles nobody noticed the difference between Russians, Byelorussians, and Ukrainians). Why did his book appear in translation from English? Grandfather explained - Timoshenko emigrated after the Revolution (such people were unpopular in the Soviet Union in the late forties) - however, with a kind smile he took from his library and presented me with Timoshenko’s course on elasticity in two volumes, published in Russian in 1914 and 1916 by the Sanct Petersburg Institute of Railways Transportation, and presented to him by the author. SP got the chair at this Institute after some period of unemployment: before that he was Dean at Kiev Polytechnic Institute and was fired by the Minister of Education for substantial exceeding the number of admitted Jewish students allowed by explicitly formulated (this was important) norms. Visiting my family in Moscow last summer after learning about the award, I wanted to bring these volumes to this country, but I was warned that strict rules concerning old books would not allow it. When I already was a young scientist, I was introduced to SP during his visit to Moscow. Also, I was proud when I had seen that SP and James P. Goodier mentioned my work concerning fracture in their book.