What led you into science and your chosen area of research?
In my school years I first dreamed of training in geology and enrolled in the mineralogy hobby group at the Communist Youth Palace in Sverdlovsk. Our organizer and teacher was an outstanding woman, Raisa Borisovna Rubel. During her lessons we held in our hands wonderful crystals of natural minerals. She was explaining to us what was hidden behind crystal facets: the atomic crystal structure; she made me feel that the world of things surrounding us is very complicated and that there lies so much beyond their geometric forms. Thus was born the attraction to natural sciences. I did not become a geologist but already in the 8th form began to read physics-popularizing literature. Also at that time I had my first acquaintance, off-school, with the basics of integral and differential calculus in Privalov's "Calculus of infinitesimals". After this it became clear that my future will be in theoretical physics.
Can you describe the results in your paper and their importance for your field?
I got interested in the interrelation of the two phenomena, superconductivity and magnetism, quite some time ago, having read a paper by V.L. Ginzburg, but the idea of writing a review paper about this came to me rather accidentally. About ten years ago I was an external examiner at the public DSc vivos of two Kazan theoreticians Yu.N. Proshin and M.G. Khusainov. Their theses dealt with the theory of multilayer structures consisting of alternating superconducting and ferromagnetic layers. Together with Proshin and Khusainov, I concentrated on this problem which already had a rich experimental basis. We produced several joint papers on the subject and concluded with writing a review. This joint work grew into a long-term friendship.
What research projects are you working on at the moment?
In the last two decays I worked in the theory of strongly correlated electron systems. By the way, in this interval I published six large review papers in the Uspekhi on fundamental models of strongly correlated substances and on currently important classes of systems, such as HTSC cuprates, manganites, heavy fermions. The latest review, by myself and E.Z. Kurmaev, appeared in the UFN in January 2008: "Materials with strong electron correlations".
What do you think will be the next big breakthrough in your field?
This breakthrough has already taken place in the theory: the creation of the method of dynamic mean field (DMFT) which makes it possible to calculate the electron structure of strongly correlated materials (this was the subject of our last review with E.Z. Kurmaev). In the realm of experimenters breakthroughs keep occurring under our eyes as new materials are being synthesized. One example is the discovery of a new class of high temperature superconductors of the type of LaOFeAs, with the transition temperature above 50K.
What book are you reading right now?
It was Russian classics for me this last winter. I enjoyed reading [Lermontov's] "Hero of our times", [Leo Tolstoy's]"Anna Karenina", [Alexey Tolstoy's] "Road to Calvary", [Mamin-Sibiryak's] "The Ugryum River". At the moment I am reading a huge volume by D. Bykov "Pasternak".
If you could have dinner with any 3 people, past or present, who would they be and why?
The choice as you formulated it depends on the mood of the moment and the general state of my soul. I love beauty in any of its manifestations. My today's preference would be a dinner with Paul Dirac, Van Gogh and Puccini. Their creations embody beauty itself.
What has been the most exciting moment in your career so far?
My six-months internship at Oxford in 1965. It might be a conventional biographical fact nowadays but for me at that moment in time it was the discovery of the world. I was working in Rudolph Peierls' department of theoretical physics, and saw a string of outstanding physicists passing through the it, e.g. Gell-Mann, Weisskopf, Kadanoff… It is so important for a young man to be in such an environment! By the way, I felt extremely comfortably in England - I preceived myself a representative of a great country, and in many circles I was treated precisely as a representative. I was then very proud of belonging to my country. Even now, in these changed times, I can hardly shed this perception. A year after returning from Oxford I submitted and defended my DSc thesis.
What would you like to say in connection with the 90th anniversary of "Uspekhi Fizicheskikh Nauk" journal?
I wish success and good health to every member of the Uspekhi team - a team invariably kind and willing to do the right job.