Moscow Spring

                                by David P. Stern


    1 April 1989

    Russia begins in New York, at the Pan Am terminal of JFK airport. As one reaches the waiting line, one begins╩hearing Russian. The man behind us is returning to Tbilisi and speaks no English, but the lady escorting him has been here ten years. "Russia will be different from what you expect" she says.

    Audrey and I pass a tightly guarded security gate and enter an enclosure separated from the rest of the terminal by a thick glass partition. We are among the early arrivals and the plane is late: one last phone call to the parents in New York City, then we settle down and watch the room gradually fill up. Most of the arrivals speak Russian and wear shades of gray and black: the women have boots and fur hats, and two men in dark hats seem like secret policemen to Audrey.

    A few Americans stand out by their bright shirts and by the lightness of their voices and manners. Unlike the returning visitors, they expect to be back here soon: young doctors returning an exchange visit, athletes going to attend a competition. One middle aged American sits apart: he introduces himslf as a businessman trading in mining machinery and railroad equipment. I ask him whether anyone has tried to sell to the Soviets refrigerator cars, to ease that terrible shortage of fresh vegetables about which one reads. He says Russia is well supplied with such cars: the bottleneck is not a shortage of equipment but a lack of organization. As for the equipment he is trying to sell: the Soviets have excellent research in those areas, but have not managed to translate it into practice. And concerning perestroika: he has been going to the Soviet Union for two years now and has not seen much change, "but there was probably great change before that." I ask about Russian hotels: was it true that they were terribly overheated? "Only if you cannot open the windows."

    After a delay of almost three hours the airplane is ready for boarding, a huge 747 capable of taking about 500 people, the seats are packed tighter than any I have ever seen. It is a joint Pan Am-Aeroflot flight; plane and aircrew are American, but some of the stewards are Russian and the announcements and films are in both languages. Most Russians sit in the rear, in the smoking section, while we are well in front, among US athletes on their way to a contest in acrobatics. They converse noisily, lean over seats and joke among themselves, and show us photos of some remarkable feats, such as a handstand performed on a colleague's uplifted palm.

    A while later the athlete-girl next to us exchanges her seat with an older but spry gentleman who introduces himself as Dr. Cooper, member of the president's commission on physical fitness. "Not the Dr. Cooper?" we ask, thinking about the original promoter of aerobic exercise. No, "but we are friends." He is on his way to an exchange of ideas with Soviet counterparts. He tells us the secret of dealing with leg cramps, a folk remedy which a listener of his radio program shared with him: grab your upper lip, the area where mustaches sprout, and pinch, hard. At first he thought it was absolutely crazy, but changed his mind after trying it on an athlete on the playing field. Why and how no one knows.

    Later a call comes over the public address system: "is there a doctor in the cabin?" He jumps up and goes forward in a hurry. After a while he is back and I ask him how serious it was. "Not serious. It is a woman who thinks she is having a heart attack, but as a general practicioner I would say she is not."

    The flight is long, nearly ten hours. Much of the way we fly above clouds, but the air clears as we approach the coast of Norway and we see bleak rocky islands and snowy mountains. After a while one makes out a few roads and cultivated fields, all appearing tiny from our great height, then forests that wear snowy fringes on their shady edges. By and large the landscape is clear of snow, giving hope that Moscow, too, will already be in its springtime.

    But the weather is fickle. After crossing the Gulf of Finland the ground becomes again obscured by clouds and half an hour later the airplane enters those clouds as it begins to descend towards Sheremetyevo airport, Moscow. It breaks through the overcast at about 1000 feet and everyone can see that the ground is white and that snow is falling.


    The beginnings of this trip go back about six years. In 1983 I decided to devote a major effort to "modeling" of the Earth's distant magnetic field, to devising mathematical representations for its average structure and its regular variations. That is the region shaped by the solar wind, the steady outflow of hot gas from the Sun's upper atmosphere, which confines the Earth's field into a long comet-like cavity, called the magnetosphere. All sorts of complex phenomena take place in the magnetosphere, giving rise to radiation belts, magnetic storms and polar auroras, but for a proper exploration of that strange region one needs good maps, which is what modeling tries to do, combining satellite observations and mathematical tricks.

    In part I was drawn to that area because existing models seemed crude and inaccurate, making one feel "I ought to be able to do better than that." In part is seemed a safe applied field for a physicist in his fifties, useful and predictable, with no surprising new twists (little did I know). Just when I started, however, a new model was published by N.A. Tsyganenko and A. Usmanov of Leningrad State University, a fairly sophisticated one. Rather than devise new representations of my own, I decided to begin by studying the new scheme. The process taught me a lot about techniques, coordinate systems and computer graphics, and the resulting package of computer codes was distributed to many potential users.

    Gradually Tsyganenko's name became more than just a label on an article. A manuscript describing an improved version of his model was sent to me for refereeing, and I not only slogged through the calculations but also smoothed out his ragged English. A Russian emigre told me that the man was an upright and diligent scientist, and gave me his first name: Nikolai. Still later a US scientist who had met him in Moscow described him as young-looking, bearded and very pleasant.

    In 1987 Tsyganenko submitted two abstracts to a session I chaired at the Vancouver assembly of the IAGA, the International Association for Geomagnetism and Aeronomy, but he was unable to attend. However, he was elected in absentia to be vice chairman of a committee which I headed, and my letter informing him of that election started a steady correspondence. He was scheduled to give the main talk in a symposium I organized for the next IAGA meeting, in England in the summer of 1989, and the IAGA organization had promised to finance his stay.

    After the US and the USSR signed in 1987 an agreement to collaborate on space research, I suggested to NASA a collaboration on magnetospheric models, including a visit to the US by Tsyganenko, whom I was by now anxious to meet. NASA was seeking tangible areas of collaboration and reacted positively, but in the end it was the Russians who invited me to Moscow, in July 1988. They suggested a November visit, a time of the year when Moscow was likely to be cold and dark, and I was glad when NASA postponed the visit until spring, to coincide with a meeting of the Joint Working Group on Solar Terrestrial Research. As part of that meeting I was to propose a collaboration agreement on modeling, with Tsyganenko on the Soviet side. Audrey was eager to go along and the Russians agreed to let her accompany me, though we had to pay her travel costs.

    A second link was Igor Alexeev of Moscow University whom I met in 1985 in Prague, at the IAGA assembly that preceded Vancouver's. I had used the cheapest available housing, a student dormitory of Prague's Technical University: it so happened that the place was not only located right next to the conference site, it also housed a most interesting collection of scientists from soft-currency countries.

    The entire Soviet delegation stayed there, including Igor Alexeev who had arrived after a 32-hour train ride from Moscow. I had just worked out a representation of magnetic field by parabolic harmonics and found that Igor had also done so, though that work was published in Russian. We became friendly and since cafeteria food was downright awful, experimented with joint meals in the dormitory: I bought bread and tomatos in a grocery while Alexeev furnished Brazilian instant coffee and an immersion heater ingeniously modified to cheat Czech outlets.

    That chance meeting led to another correspondence and I then invited Alexeev to the symposium on the quiet magnetosphere in Vancouver, as key speaker on "Where do Magnetic Field Lines go in the Quiet Magnetosphere?" The talk was to be later written up for journal publication and Alexeev asked me to become joint author. One month before the Vancouver meeting he however wrote that he was unable to come, and he promised to write up that talk and send it to Vancouver, to be presented by me.

    A total of 15 Soviet scientists had submitted abstracts to the symposium but only one showed up: Yuri Galperin of the Soviet Academy's Institute for Cosmic Research (IKI). Yuri was a senior scientist and had entered space research by placing an instrument aboard Sputnik 3 in 1958. He did bring me a write-up by Alexeev; taking no chances, I had already prepared a talk, but I incorporated parts of Alexeev's contribution and the journal article carried both of our names and affiliations. If anyone at NASA (which paid publication charges) found this strange, I never heard of it. The article appeared shortly before the Moscow trip and I mailed a xerox copy to my co-author, expressing the hope we would meet.

    Yuri Galperin, gray haired and somewhat diplomatic, proved to be an interesting person: Audrey and I spent a long evening in his company, taking in stories about the Soviet Union and the changes it was experiencing. We met again less than a year later, when Yuri visited Washington as member of the US-USSR Joint Working Group (JWG) of Solar-Terrestrial Physics, whose annual meetings alternated between Washington and Moscow. I called him at his hotel and asked if he would like to go out with Audrey and me, to see a Gaugin exhibit at the National Gallery and then dine together.

    He said he would be delighted, but could we first take him somewhere else? It turned out that in Vancouver he had bought a second hand Atari computer, via a classified newspaper ad, and now he needed an interface to connect it to his printer. Russian travelers on foreign trips tended to hoard their dollar allocations for worth-while purchases and personal computers were high on Yuri's list.

    Yuri's computer was nearly obsolete and it took some phoning to find a place that still sold the interface. Even "Toys are Us" no longer carried it, though a small store in Wheaton still did. After buying it, on our way to the museum, my car was rammed in the rear by a taxicab, at a traffic light. We both stopped, I walked out and exchanged addresses and insurance information with the driver, a woman from Annapolis. The damage seemed minimal. Meanwhile Yuri became excited: "What is happening?" Audrey explained, and Yuri said: "Would never happen in my country. There, both drivers would come out and would shout at each other, until a policeman arrived, and he would shout at both of them."

    "And then?"

    "And then the policeman would decide who is guilty. And the insurance might pay or might not pay." It was hard to tell in advance.

    Yuri and I met again that summer, at a conference on the physics of the aurora at St. John's College in Cambridge, England. Also attending with him was Yuri's boss at IKI, Academician Roald Sagdeev. There existed some special quality about Sagdeev--a clarity of thought, a quickness of mind; and he was already well known (even to readers of the Washington Post) as spokesman for the liberal wing of Soviet politics. I sought him out for a special reason: at the time I was chairman of the Committee on the History of Geophysics, organized by the American Geophysical Union, and was in the process of compiling a "capsule history" of magnetospheric physics. It was a rather one-sided history, for to western scientists the work of their Soviet counterparts was almost a complete blank. Could IKI do anything, I asked Sagdeev one evening, to collect the record of Soviet space research before too much was forgotten--the real record, not what remained after official filtering. He seemed quite sympathetic and we discussed various steps that might follow.

    But the follow-up never came, in part because I was soon replaced as chairman. Sagdeev, too, was replaced by his protege Alec Galeev, he already told me in Cambridge that he had planned to step down. He had been one of the 5000 or so delegates at the great congress which officially inaugurated "perestroika"', the restructuring of Soviet government. Previously party members had often held on to public posts to the day they died, and one resolution passed at that session limited all such appointments to 10 years. Sagdeev then proposed (so he told me) that those 10 years would be counted not from the time of the congress but from whenever the terms of such officials began. That of course would have meant the immediate dismissal of a great number of functionaries, and to no one's surprise the motion was overwhelmingly defeated, with only 200 votes in support. Sagdeev then decided that he would set an example and step down, since he had headed IKI for 15 years. That, anyway, was his story.

    Sagdeev at that meeting also presented me with a souvenir pin marking the launch of the Phobos spacecraft towards Mars, a mission which intended to set down a probe on the planet's small moon Phobos. I carefully kept it and meant to wear it in Moscow (the Phobos II landing was set within the time frame of the visit). However, both Phobos spacecraft lost contact with Earth before reaching Phobos and the pin stayed in Greenbelt.

    The letter inviting me was posted just a week after the Cambridge conference. It may not have been a coincidence.

    In preparing for the visit Audrey and I went to great lengths. We bought language study books and I brushed up my poor skills in Russian, the residue of several incomplete attempts to learn the language. Audrey, who had no prior exposure, studied Cyrillic letters and key phrases. We bought a map of Moscow and guidebooks, and read Shipler's "Russia" and Andrea Lee's "Russian Journal."

    We also picked up presents for our friends, making sure they were made in the US and represented US culture. We selected several books to give away, e.g. Richard Feynmann's autobiographical tales for Tsyganenko and Yuri. For the sons of Alexeev and Tsyganenko I bought "aerobies," those cleverly designed rings which had been hand-tossed to record distances. And also sweets, after Diane Rausch at NASA Headquarters advised me that if we were invited to anyone's home, we should bring chocolates or flowers to the lady of the house "who probably stood in line the whole afternoon for this." Audrey insisted on the best, three boxes of Godiva chocolates. For smaller gifts I bought Parker ball-pens and pressurized "space pen" refills, developed for astronauts and working well even upside down, and also Apollo pins, and pins with US flags. And finally, a large roll of gift-wrap: because customs might want to open packages, all wrapping had to be done at Moscow.

    We also took survival equipment recommended by veteran travelers to Russia--toilet paper, instant coffee, an immersion heater and quick-snack edibles such as chocolate.

    At the same time we collected contacts. Susan Kayser had two married cousins in Leningrad, and she gave us their addresses and also presents to bring. Martin Harwit, director of the National Air and Space Museum, provided a letter of introduction to historians of space science and some specific queries to follow: so did Spencer Weart, head of the NY Center for the History of Physics. More names came from Bob McCutcheon, a space scientist at Goddard who had spent 7 months in the USSR, researching the 1936-7 purge of Soviet astronomers. We also carried the address of a Leningrad teacher who had spent the last three months of 1988 teaching Russian in Greenbelt's high school, as part of an exchange agreement. All those preparations--language, books, presents, names--turned out to be valuable.


    And now we had landed in Moscow and were walking through the empty arrival hall, past the passport control and to the conveyer belt bringing up our luggage. Ours was the only airplane arriving (a rather big one, true, though not full), and it still took over an hour for our baggage to arrive. Suitcases came up in fits and spurts, and kept toppling off the ill-designed conveyer. When that happened, or when a luggage jam developed, Russian passengers would unload the bags at any convenient spot, sometimes on the far side of the belt, and people kept hopping onto the belt and across it to reach their belongings.

    Finally our suitcases emerged and were hauled to the line for the customs control. Guards watched us enter and asked for our currency declaration, marking it with a stamp. Another group of guards was huddled around a personal computer at the other end of the passage, making me wonder whether my personal KGB file was being flashed on the screen. Unobtrusively I moved towards them and peeked at the screen, then motioned to Audrey to look, and we both started to laugh. There was no file: the guards were playing a game resembling "pac-man."

    We then reach the waiting hall, to which a milling crowd of Russians had come to meet the travelers. Some held up signs with names, and after a while we spot ours: "D. STERN O. STERN." Holding them is a wispy woman, her hair tucked into a large cap knit of bulky wool--Nadia Nikolaeva, the scientist who had written for my computer codes. Rather shy and apologetic, she rarely cracks a smile, but seems happy to have found us. We are even happier--had no one shown up, we would not have known where to go. It turns out that we are booked at Hotel Rossiya, right across from the Kremlin walls.

    Nadia says she has brought a car and goes out to fetch the driver. She returns after 15 minutes: the car is parked right outside the door, but the driver is nowhere to be found. After 10 more minutes she is back again, still no luck, but then the driver appears spontaneously and soon we are on our way in an off-white "Volga," rather like a no-frills 1972 Dodge Dart.

    The roads are slushy but the driver pushes on rather recklessly, passing cars on his left and right. A little gadget is clipped to the visor and through Nadia I ask what it is. The driver explains (as we have guessed) that it is a radar detector. "And what if a policeman stops you?" "Nothing."

    Gradually we enter the city. By the time we pass the Bolshoi theatre the snow has almost stopped falling, and soon we are outside the Rossiya, a giant square building with an impressive entrance on each of its four sides, each with its own restaurant or two and its other facilities--a pool at one entrance, a movie theatre at another, and so on.

    To keep the cold out, each entrance is provided with two sets of doors, inner and outer. In each set just one door is unlocked and those doors are as far from each other as possible, forcing people to weave through the entranceway. Guards at the inner doors only let hotel guests to enter: we are given identification cards to brandish as we enter. Each floor also has "key ladies" sitting at desks, and any hotel guest going out must exchange the hotel key (tied to a heavy wooden plug, like a child's top) for an identification card, and on returning the key is again swapped for the card.

    The Rossiya is gigantic: when it was built, under Khrushchev, it was the world's largest hotel, and it might still be. Each floor has about 300 rooms and 12 desks with "key ladies," three to a side. On one occasion Audrey and I actually walked the whole way around, not by intent but because we had lost our bearings: it was a long walk. Indeed, the endless corridors remind one of the Pentagon. It is not an Intourist hotel intended for foreigners, many of the guests were Russians and only a few of the "key ladies" spoke English or German. The little Russian I had learned became extremely useful, and where it fell short one could always draw pictures--for instance, draw a shower curtain, to which the woman would vigorously nod "nyet, nyet" and motion with her hands to make clear none of the rooms had one and nothing could be done about it.

           P.S. The Rossiya closed 1.1.2006 and was torn down.

    Being forewarned about tap water--not even for brushing teeth, especially in Leningrad--we brought an immersion heater, and used it often. It later turned out that Leningrad hotels were aware of the problem and their "key ladies" would provide "kipyatok", hot water that had boiled. Maybe that was how the Russian samovar tradition began: water wasn't safe unless boiled, and as long as it was hot, one might as well make tea. We had however ignored the advice to bring a sink stopper and sure enough, none of the hotel rooms had any. When time came to wash underwear we improvised a stopper from a glass filled with water and used a plastic bag as a gasket.

    Nadia registered us and handed me my allowance, 20 rubles a day, and we were then led to room 96 on the 7th floor, a small room with two beds. It had mirrors but no pictures, a telephone, a small refrigerator, black-and-white television and a radio that refused to work, and it was hot though the window, thanks God, did open. It overlooked the inner yard of the hotel which was covered with snow.

    We unpacked and went down to find dinner.

    It was not easy. Each restaurant had its doorkeepers who examined would-be patrons and then either admitted them or turned them away. In the weeks that followed we were often turned away. Once we tried to get into the best eatery of the Rossiya, on top of its tower, and were told that reservations were needed, but we would be allowed in if we paid in dollars. Whatever restaurants we managed to get into had undistinguished food, typically costing 7 rubles per person.

    The only dish which was consistently good was borshch (borsht), a rich soup of beets and cabbage with a dollop of sour cream and pieces of what Audrey got to call "mystery meat." Only some of the dishes listed on the menu had their prices listed, and most of those were generally unavailable: one soon learned to ask "what do you have?"

    There existed little awareness of a healthy diet. Food was oversalted and rich in cholesterol, people consumed huge servings of butter and one (to Audrey's dismay) had for his breakfast a large amount of sour cream, eaten with a spoon. Smokers were everywhere, even next to signs "we don't smoke (here)."

    Luckily the Rossiya also had many small cafeterias, tucked into the corners of the building on even-numbered floors. They were rather plain but also cheaper and faster than the downstairs "restaurants." A typical meal cost 1.5 rubles and included tea or coffee, bread and butter and whatever happened to be available: cheese, hot dogs, fried eggs (very rare), jam, Cuban oranges (greenish and hard), different kinds of baked goods and also mineral water from Armenia or Georgia, often with a rather odd taste. The bread was dense like German pumpernickel and all the baked stuff seemed rather stale: it was best late at night, just before closing time, when new shipments generally arrived, not exactly fresh but less stale. Each such buffet (t not silent) was staffed by three women who rarely smiled and who only spoke Russian, but they generally understood what we wanted.

    Our favorite eatery was on the 8th floor in the corner facing the Kremlin. It had huge windows, two storeys tall, and through them one saw just a short distance away St Basil's cathedral and its fancy onion domes, the red-brick Kremlin walls and the Moscow river. At breakfast the sun would iluminate the scene and throw a long shadow of the Rossiya across the parking lot, where tourist buses disgorged tight groups which then proceeded to Red Square. It was on this parking lot that Matthias Rust landed his Cessna plane; he had originally planned to land on Red Square but too many visitors were standing there.

    Behind the lot rose the Kremlin wall with its towers, topped by large red star lit up at night, and each hour the clock on the Spassky tower would loudly strike. Beyond the walls one could see golden domes and various public buildings. We never grew tired of this picture-card view.

    On our first evening we were lucky. Perhaps because it was early in the evening, we managed to be seated in one of the large restaurants of the Rossiya, quite close to its Sunday night floor show. It was a rather good one. Four dancers (usually two at a time) presented a number of short performances, each with its elaborate costumes, and between their acts a chubby but vigorous blond woman belted out Russian songs with vivacity and verve.

    On her way out Audrey was loudly chastised in Russian by one of the female patrons, apparently for wearing pants. We then walked to Red Square, which was brightly lit. Snow plows were starting to clear away about 6 inches of fresh snow and few people were to be seen.

    Monday, April 3

    Nadia had told me she would arrive with an official car at 10:30, but in the morning she phoned to say she was unable to get any car; later I learned that drivers used their official vehicles to moonlight as cabbies for their own profit and no one stopped them. I said "How about the subway?" She answered: "Would you ride the subway?" The upshot was that she picked me up around 11 and we walked 5 minutes to the nearest station at "Ploshchad Nogina."

    On the Moscow subway, no matter what the time of day, it always seemed like rush hour. The station next to the Rossiya, in particular, always had a steady inflow and outflow of people, like two rivers flowing side by side in opposite directions. The fare is symbolic, just 5 kopeks, and mechanical machines (which always worked) changed coins of larger denominations. Passengers drop their coins into slots next to the entrance passages and walk through: once by mistake I dropped a 50-kopek piece and steel arms at once clanged shut in front (the coin came back). Escalators are incredibly long (subways run very deep), crowded and rather fast: going down one stands to the right to avoid the young people who run down past you. And at the bottom one learns to step off quickly before the next person arrives.

    The high speed of the escalators invites accidents and a woman often sits in a booth near the bottom, ready to stop everything should anyone stumble. There is however hardly a need to hurry, because trains follow each other about two minutes apart. Once I missed a train and timed the next one at 38 seconds later--probably ahead of its schedule, for later we had to wait a while in a tunnel. Each station has a militia man posted at the top and if anything interrupts the train service he quickly closes the station: a disaster could easily follow if people continued to pour down the escalator.

    The Institute for Space Research (known by its Russian acronym IKI, stress on second vowel) stands on the edge of the city and the subway to it runs all the way underground, probably to make it independent of weather. Our carriage was quite crowded: women as a rule wore boots and everyone had a heavy coat. Soldiers and policemen were sprinkled through the crowd, many of them apparently working in government offices, their uniforms neater and newer than the clothes of civilians: heavy gray coats, hats of imitation fur, big emblems on everything and stars on most epaulettes--little ones were common, but large stars apparently marked officers.

    After a ride of 20 minutes we left the train at Kaluzhskaya station, right next to IKI. The institute is housed in a long gray office building of about 13 or 14 floors--7 regular floors and 6 or so intermediate floors for machinery, some of which are now being converted for regular use. About six different institutes share the building, side by side: the first (judging by uniforms and vehicles) has some military connection, the second was our goal. "Institut Kosmicheskich Issledovanii" says the plaque and adds "Ordena Lenina"--the order of Lenin, an award that probably meant a great honor.

    As in the hotel the entrance has two sets of doors, and one zigs and zags through them to the lobby. Inside is a booth with guards and a turnstile which one must pass. On the outside wall of the booth hangs a huge panel of numbered buttons: Nadia pushes the buttons of her own combination code and in the booth a badge is dislodged and falls onto a small conveyor belt, which carries it to the guard. The guard then compares her face to the photograph on the badge and if they match releases the turnstile and lets her in. Today of course she was bringing in a visitor--who wore a US flag in his lapel just to make everything clear--and there was an extra delay while the guard checked his visitors' file for the right name.

    It is a dingy building, though still fairly new: stairways and hallways are poorly finished, dusty and dimly lit, the grimy linoleum floor is broken in patches. The bathrooms smell and have neither paper nor seats: standard seats (like those in the hotel) were made of thin plastic which tended to crack and then break. In IKI, the flushing levers were also usually broken: the tops of the cisterns were therefore removed and to flush one lifted manually the wire shaft attached to the outlet valve, then dropped the wire again after enough water had gone into the bowl.

    Later in the week I visited the second floor, the one with the director's offic and the large conference room. That was where foreign visitors were generally taken and where the NASA team worked the following week. On that floor all the toilets were clean and worked, they had custom-made plywood seats, heating radiators and even three blow-driers for drying the hands. But on that first day we rode the small elevator to the 6th floor, to the long narrow office of Konstantin Gringauz (himself on travel abroad) where our meetings were to be held.

    My instructions were to negotiate a collaboration on magnetospheric models. Rather few people work in that area: I may be the main practitioner in the US and Nikolai Tsyganenko may have this role in the USSR, but apart from us there is hardly anyone else. My goal as I understood it was to seek an open exchange of information on models, which could benefit both sides about equally: a major stumbling block was NASA's international office, which drew the line at exchanges of computer programs. In addition I wanted to encourage workshops where new people could learn about modeling tools, and exchange visits by scientists.

    Three people were waiting in the room. One was Tsyganenko, slim and with a large and serious face ringed by a beard, like a young Solzhenitsin. In his lapel he wore a small silvery pin with a cross, emblem of a Christian fellowship; it was given to him by Serge Sazhin, now an emigré in England. He always wore it.

    The other two were Yuri Galperin and Pyotr Israelevich, a skinny young man with stubbly cheeks who was to be my counterpart in the negotiations. Israelevich was formerly with Podgorny's lab, which used to conduct terrella experiments, model experiments in a vacuum tank that imitated on a laboratory scale the interaction of magnetized planets with the solar wind.

    As an experimentalist he had also worked on the Bulgarian satellite "Intercosmos 1300" and had studied auroral electrodynamics. When Podgorny's lab was disbanded and Podgorny was forced to retire (after a great deal of internal maneuvering and turmoil, as Yuri later told me), he joined the group of Pissarenko, concerned mainly with cosmic rays but allied with Yuri's group.

    The ranking soon became evident. Yuri was evidently in charge and Pyotr echoed him (and the following week, with Yuri out of town, Lev Zelyoni called the shots). Pyotr in turn oversaw the two women who did much of the work--Nadia, who hardly said anything, and Viktoria ("Vika") Prokharenka, who joined us later and who was responsible for computer graphics and orbit calculations. Pyotr referred to her as "Dr. Orbitova."

    Tsyganenko--he insisted that I call him "Kolya"--was among them an outsider: the University of Leningrad was in a different city and belonged to a different bureaucracy, to the ministry of education rather than to the Soviet Academy. He struck me from the start as absolutely straight and candid, and I resolved very early to try to negotiate with him alone. I distrusted the others: there seemed to be something slippery about both Yuri and Pyotr. Later I saw on the wall above Pyotr's desk a red flag and a picture of Lenin, confirming my suspicion that he was a party man, an "apparatchik." Yuri, after I told him of my interest in Soviet Space History, set up a meeting between me and Beloussov, though he must have known that the man had no interest in history. Maybe he did not fully realize that, or maybe it was a gesture to give a feeling of importance to someone of the old guard who still had some clout: one can never be sure.

    Anyway, even that first day I already wrote in my notes: "Yuri is very political. He... suggested that Interball and ISTP [planned magnetospheric missions of the USSR and US] adopt a uniform model--'maybe not the best, but if we do anything wrong, we do it the same way'"

    I resisted. A uniform model would invite arguments over whose model was to be chosen--and different models fit different conditions or regions. I would not have minded using Tsyganenko's 1987 model with some of my own modifications, but preferred to emphasize the improvement of those models, the addition of new people to this line of research and the organization of summer workshops in the US and USSR, where new methods could be taught and discussed.

    Yuri did not favor this approach, "it is hard to expand research in the USSR." Tsyganenko belonged to a different league than the IKI people, who according to Yuri were linked to the Moscow Technical Institute, a university "like your Caltech, one of the best." Galeev had a "cathedra" (university position) there and Zelyoni some professorship. Yuri felt that "maybe something could be arranged" with Nadia and students from the Technical Institute, but the academy could not support a university workshop in which Leningrad took a leading role.

    I am not sure whose view prevailed in the end. On Wednesday I closeted myself with Kolya and we came up with a 2-page agreement along the lines I proposed, and Kolya translated it into Russian the next day. But after I gave it to the NASA delegation to incorporate in the agreement I was never consulted again, and when I asked Mary Mellott to see it, she said it was "not yet ready for you." A month after returning from Moscow Mary sent me a copy of the draft signed in Moscow, which by then was already going through the NASA approval cycle. In the section on models, Yuri's "common model" was item #1.

    I then protested to Stan Shawhan, head of the delegation, but only succeeded in getting Stan to appoint Bob McPherron of UCLA to head the US "implementation team," rather than me. Tom Armstrong, in charge of the magnetospheric sector at NASA HQ, assured me that the exact wording meant very little. Maybe he was right, although in principle the Soviets could try to hold us to the words of the agreement: if that happens, other people would have to decide what to do. Nearly one year later NASA still has no people to match what Vika and Nadia have been doing for Interball.

    Yuri was also cool to my suggestion about lectures at IKI: "maybe one" (I did not realize that he never received my letter). And making as for copying the lecture notes I had brought, that was out of the question, IKI only had a few xerox machines and their dry ink was purchased with precious foreign exchange. Visitors who wanted to distribute copies were always advised to bring them along.

    He was however quite willing to tell me about the structure of IKI and provided enough details for a rough organizational chart. IKI consisted of about 6 divisions, but only one held interest for me, the one concerned with plasma physics. It was headed by Lev Zelyoni who had recently replaced Alec Galeev, a dark small man who was promoted to director of IKI. Sagdeev, who used to hold that post, then moved down to head the "Center for Analytic Research," nominally co-equal with Zelyoni's domain.

    Zelyoni supervised 7 labs, each (it seemed) the fiefdom of some principal scientist who pretty much decided what the lab did. Yuri's lab dealt with "magnetospheric processes", Pissarenko's with solar cosmic rays and X-rays, Oleg Vaisberg's with the solar wind interaction with the magnetosphere and so on: even 70-year old Gringauz in whose office we met had a lab, devoted to plasma and cosmic rays. Podgorny used to head a lab but was squeezed out 3-4 years earlier. Yuri said that 7 years back when he helped set up Podgorny's lab "people said I would be sorry and in a year I agreed they were right." I asked about the story that Podgorny at age 16, in south-eastern Ukraina, had collaborated with the Nazis. Yuri gave an evasive answer--it did not happen that way, was not so.

    About my history interest, he was not sure whether I could see Sagdeev or Kardashev: "will see." But he suggested going to the Soviet Geophysical Committee which was "intelligent on history"; its president was Beloussov, its vice president Valeria Troitskaya. I asked if Beloussov had now finally accepted the theory of plate tectonics (he was the last holdout after Sir Harold Jeffreys had passed away the preceding month.) Apparently not. And he also suggested that I contact the Institute for the History of Technology.

    IKI had a large cafeteria on the ground floor--a rather dark place, but with fairly good food. That first day, however, Yuri took me for lunch in the executive dining room next door, nicely furnished in wine-red with big solid chairs and with about 20 tables. He argued with the counter lady until she brought us lunch there, but we were the only ones in the room, Pyotr and the others went elsewhere.

    In the afternoon Tsyganenko described his most recent work. He let me see a carbon copy of a long review on models which he had submitted to Space Science Reviews, after a quick scan I wrote "dense like Russian bread." But I could get no copy, because he had no access to a xerox. He also described a new model for the geomagnetic tail which he had just published, based on disks instead of straight elements. Unlike his previous models, he said, the plane of symmetry in this one could be warped in response to tilting of the Earth's magnetic axis--and I suddenly realized that the warping method which I had found and implemented, the one I had thought Tsyganenko had discovered first, was in fact different. I had some reservations about the disk model, it was not intuitive and was only marginally better than the old one. He also described a somewhat strange model of Birkeland current fields, published in Russian.

    He hoped that by June he would have analyzed the data of the ISEE spacecraft which he had received from Greenbelt, after which he would send the results back to NASA as promised. Leningrad lacked a good computer, but Kolya had a friend, M.V. Malkov, in charge of the computers of the Polar Geophysical Institute at Apatity in the Kola peninsula, near the arctic circle. Malkov was working under Sergeev towards a doctorate in magnetospheric physics and had agreed to analyze ISEE data whenever his computer was free, first copying the NASA tapes from a density of 1600 bits per inch to 800, to fit Soviet computers. The two would get together for a few days at a time and scan the data, locating boundary crossings and unusable segments. Now, at last, the job was close to completion.

        [Alas, it wasn't. Kolya later wrote that throughout the analysis he had used "average Sun" positions instead of "true" ones; the job had to be redone, though the repetition was much easier than the original scan.]

    I asked why his models never used Soviet data of the Prognoz satellites, only data of US and European spacecraft (I had planned to propose the addition of Soviet data as part of the collaboration). He gave valid reasons: the Prognoz 7 magnetometer saturated everywhere except in the boundary layer, Prognoz 8 and 10 only recorded two field components, Prognoz 9 went into the deep tail and only completed 1-2 orbits, and so on. I was however promised by IKI that one year after the Interball launch the data would be made available.

    Afterwards I spoke for a while about Euler potentials and about models of Birkeland currents, but soon it was 5:30 and we called it a day. We agreed that next day I would come to IKI on my own, by subway.

    Back in the hotel I met Audrey who had gone to the Kremlin and had met some interesting people (but that is her story). In the evening we called Alina Yeremyeyeva, a historian of astronomy recommended by Bob McCutcheon. She seemed to perk up when I mentioned McCutcheon, but since she spoke neither English nor German, I had to converse in broken Russian. She then suggested that I talk to her cousin Natasha who spoke English well, and gave me the number.

    I waited a while and then dialed Natasha, who spoke excellent English and sounded quite matter-of-fact, even though (it later turned out) she was still a high school student. After introducing myself I gave her McCutcheon's message: had Alina received from Chandrasekhar the pictures of Gerasimov? I also told her I was seeking contacts with Soviet historians interested in space science. A while later she rang back: Alina was sending her greetings to Bob and his family, she had received no pictures, and to me she recommended that I contact Dr. Aleksander Gurshtein, a former IKI astronomer turned historian, at such-and-such a phone number.

    I also called Igor Alexeev. He was rather excited--he did receive my letter and the copy of our joint article, and said he would like to invite Audrey and me to dinner. We agreed that he would pick us up the following evening in front of the Rossiya, at the east entrance.

Tuesday, April 4

    Got up at 7, breakfast in the buffet with the view of the Kremlin walls. We bought coffee at 40 kopeks a cup (tea only cost 5); the kitchen used a motley assortment of cups, some big and others small, and what one got was up to chance. I ordered some kolbassa, greasy bland sausage, and bread. Then Audrey went to tour the Kremlin cathedrals and later befriended an Indian lady, in an Intourist hotel where coffee cost $1 a cup and rubles were not accepted.

    And I rode the subway to IKI. On a hunch I had gift-wrapped the book intended for Sagdeev, "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes, and carried it along. Our group met again in Gringauz'es office and Israelevich asked me to explain my stretch transformation, which I did. I had to draw my figures and formulas on sheets of paper, since the room's blackboard was overdue for repainting and the chalk skipped on it and squealed, hardly leaving a mark.

    Nadia had brought me a present, a book "50 Russian Artists" wrapped in computer paper. Then Yuri arrived, said he had inquired for me about people interested in history. Kardashev was in Tashkent and "may be returning today" but he did arrange for me to meet Thursday at 1 pm with Beloussov.

    At lunch Yuri told me a bit about Nadia. She was about 45, divorced and remarried, conscientious, a good worker but "too passive." She used to belong to Podgorny's group but had moved to Pissarenko, with whom she had worked on a driftmeter experiment aboard the "Bulgaria 1300" satellite. She had visited Bulgaria in connection with that project.

    Also with us that morning was Vika (Viktoria) Prokharenka, a woman of about 50 whose specialities were computer graphics and celestial mechanics: she talked about "orbital tori" and gave me some reprints. Unlike Nadia, Vika was cheerful and extroverted, eager to make contact, to learn and to instruct: her husband was a professor of theoretical mechanics. Still another participant that day was Lisa Antonova, a professor of plasma physics at Moscow University whom I had already met in Prague in 1985. Her main concern was with turbulence and equilibria, as in Prague she seemed quite knowledgable but talked endlessly about technical details. She mentioned the Vasyliunas theorem but had a different name for it (Tverskoy; I since found it was originally proved by Harold Grad).

    Lunch was in the large common room of the dark cafeteria, . As we were arriving there I spotted Sagdeev and his entourage leaving, Sagdeev vigorously striding in front. I stopped him with a hello and asked, did he get my letter? Sagdeev mumbled something noncommital (he probably had not). I said I would like to meet him and he said "come to my office later." I then said "please wait a moment," put my tray down, walked to the briefcase by the wall, pulled out the gift-wrapped book and handed it to him.

    After lunch Yuri and I went to Sagdeev's office on the 2nd floor. That was the place for visitors, kept up much better than the rest of IKI, with spotless toilets. One entered through a long passage with large windows along its left side and through them one could look into a greenhouse with a replica of the VEGA spacecraft which explored Venus and Comet Halley (VEnus GAlley, the G replacing H in the Russian). The passage led to twin large meeting rooms, separated by a removable wooden partition. The left room had an incredibly long conference table and was the place where the "working group" met the following week. The right one had soft chairs and a grand piano, and served as passageway and lobby; on its wall was a brass outline of Tsiolkovski's head and a quotation in Russian.

    The director's office was to the rear of these and was still retained by Sagdeev, although he no longer headed IKI. After we entered the outer office, the secretary who sat there went in to announce us. Shortly afterwards she ushered us in and then left to prepare tea, the usual courtesy ritual.

    Sagdeev sat at his desk, in an office filled with mementos, each probably with its own story. Behind him stood a bookcase with many books in English, mostly about space or physics, but I recall one on "problems of the Soviet economy." On top of the bookcase stood a small model of VEGA and elsewhere in the room were a soccer ball with a hat on it, signed space shuttle photos, skis by the corner and of course the obligatory profile of Lenin. "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" was on the desk, out of its wrappings.

    Sagdeev thanked me and I told him that I regarded the book as an example of science history at its best. The author had spent six years on his project, covered all technical aspects and except for some slow philosophical section, the book was highly readable. I wished there existed something like it on space research.

    Then I briefly explained what had brought me to Moscow and stressed the importance of modeling, of preparing "road maps to the magnetosphere." I added that Tsyganenko had greatly advanced that field, but that one man was not enough, that I hoped additional people would enter this area. "I suppose you read my letter" I said and again he said something ambiguous.

    I then switched to history. I apologized for . Galeev then walked in and Sagdeev scanned the letter and recommended Dr. Gurshtein. I said, yes--Alexander Gurshtein, I had his number and meant to call him.

    The conversation then turned to small talk about space history. Yuri recalled a 1956 rocket with a Geiger tube detector which rose 500 km above Siberia but missed the radiation belt; had it been launched from the US (which is closer to the magnetic pole) it would have made the discovery. I said I had prepared a talk about that discovery, with slides, and would like to give it at IKI. Sagdeev said he liked that idea--maybe a way could be found, some evening. We then parted.

    Up in the office Tsyganenko had arrived. He had visited the ministry of education to arrange his proposed trip to England in July, and he sounded discouraged. "The ministry is a black hole." We talked a bit and then walked down to the computer room, where Vika had prepared a demonstration of her computer graphics.

    The room held a great variety of microcomputers and terminals of many different makes. On a monitor built at IKI Vika displayed magnetic field line tracings of the Tsyganenko model, and also the trajectories of both the Interball "tail probe" distant orbiter and its near-earth "auroral probe" with the motion of both satellites along their orbits shown. A different program tracked the early orbits of the tail probe through the plasma sheet for different choices of the orbital inclination, identifying the choice which gave the greatest early coverage of that region. It was not particularly sophisticated but quite good enough for its purpose, and gave a clear indication that IKI was earnestly using models ito plan its mission.

    Later we went down to the ground floor to what used to be Podgorny's lab and now served as home base for Nadia and Pyotr. On the door was a numerical keypad and when the right sequence of numbers was pushed an electromagnet noisily withdrew the bolt. Much of the space inside was devoted to storage cabinets and large vacuum tanks built for Podgorny's experiments gathered dust on one side. Wedged between the stored equipment and cabinets were the desks of the workers. One day later that week I heard funny noises emanating from one corner, peeked inside and found a scientist busy at a computer game.

    In the rear left corner stood Pyotr's desk with its red flag and Lenin's picture. Pyotr was an interesting character. Once he cracked a joke about Jews "asking for another globe" because all the places to which they emigrated--Israel, South Africa and America--had become too dangerous (America was frequently viewed as unsafe--crime, drugs, unemployment). I asked about his Jewishness: he "sometimes" fasted on Yom Kippur, but did not celebrate Passover. I then said something about Passover being a symbol of freedom and of resistance to slavery. He asked: had I served in the Israeli army? I said yes, but not in battle. Why did I leave Israel? I started to reply, then the phone rang and by the time Pyotr was free again another conversation had started with Tsyganenko.

    In the other rear corner stood a round table with a plate of cookies, and that was the social focus. Our group gathered there and instant coffee was served as we sat around and chatted. I tried one of the cookies: rock hard; no one else took any, and later I quietly slipped it into my pocket. On the wall hung a large photo of Martinson, a Latvian scientist who used to head the lab and who died unexpectedly about a year earlier. A handsome man with a trim beard, the way Nadia spoke about him suggested that she was still missing him.

    Then Yuri walked in, brandishing a letter--my letter, it only arrived the day before. "You should know in Russia you never rely on mail," only on telex. Tsyganenko then admitted that he, too, had never got my letter. All letters would probably have arrived in time, but NASA Headquarters held them up for two weeks, until it was sure that my invitation was firm.

    Before we left Israelevich took me aside and counted out the balance of the rubles I was allocated, 20 per day, and also gave me train tickets to Leningrad. And Tsyganenko told me he had booked a hotel room in Leningrad, and wanted to know if Audrey and I would like to attend the ballet. Would Giselle be all right? I said, yes.

    Back at the hotel, at 7 pm, Igor Alexeev met us in the parking lot. He looked well and seemed to have put on a few pounds since 1985--trim gray beard, big smile. He drove a 2-year old red Zhiguli and took us north to his apartment on Prospekt Mira (Peace Avenue) where he parked in the inner yard. It was an old building and his apartment used to belong to his parents: he could have received a newer and better one on the outskirts of Moscow, closer to the university, but chose to stay for sentimental reasons, because that was where he had grown up. He prided himself for being one of the few people in Moscow who had lived in the same place all their lives, but soon he would be forced to move, because the building was so old that it was scheduled for a remont, a complete renovation.

    We entered by a dingy back door, climbed a few stairs and entered. The inside of the apartment door was padded: padded doors framed by upholstery tacks seem to be a touch of luxury. The door was opened by Igor's wife, Lucia Alexeeva, a large beaming woman who gave us a hearty welcome, a civil engineer who teamed up with architects on construction jobs. The Alexeevs had three small bedrooms and a larger living-dining room, and these were shared by Igor, Lucia and their son Dennis, at the time a computer specialist in the Soviet armed forces but scheduled to be released 2 months later. Dennis had already completed two years at the university towards a degree in aeronautical engineering and planned to continue.

    Another guest was already waiting--Professor Kropotkin of Moscow University, a close associate of Igor ever since the two published a joint paper on neutral sheet motion around 1970. He welcomed us and presents were then exchanged--Alexeev gave us a large Russian book on art, Audrey gave Lucia a box of chocolates and I gave Igor an "aerobie" throwing ring for Dennis, hoping the latter would be intrigued by the ring's clever aerodynamic design. Alexeev and Kropotkin also presented us with a record by the late Velior Shabansky, Igor's mentor (joint 1972 paper in Planetary and Space Science) who had passed away about four years earlier. In addition to his work in physics Shabansky had composed music and the record held some of his songs.

    The apartment looked old and the plumbing in the bathroom, in particular, was in bad shape. The walls had been overpainted many time and therefore were somewhat uneven, but this was offset by the neatness of the rooms and their many decorations. One room was covered by pictures painted by Lucia, a talented artist. The room that belonged to Dennis also had large poster-like paintings, while Igor's study was dominated by cases and cases of books, many of them left by Igor's parents. One bookcase held a collection of over 200 volumes of "the best in world literature," a serial publication to which the parents had subscribed, and looking at random titles I noticed titles by Prosper MerimÄ, Mark Twain and Fenimore Cooper.

    Dinner was elaborate: fish, chicken salad, sliced celery, baked goods and of course vodka and wine which we toasted. We ate and talked all through the evening, although Lucia, unfortunately, knew rather little English and Igor had to translate. We discussed the recent elections: many candidates failed to get a majority and runoff elections were to be held on the coming Sunday. Moscow University was one district where this happened, Kropotkin explained. All felt that the new elections, with several candidates vying for each position, was a good development.

    And we told about our life in Greenbelt and answered questions about America. Lucia used to be friendly with a Jewish woman who had emigrated and produced pictures her friend had sent from Philadelphia. Lucia said she was earning "$50,000 a year" from manicure work while her husband had a small car upholstery business: with glasnost they might even visit Moscow, she said.

    Another product of glasnost has been a cooperative cafe which was opened downstairs in their house, on the street side. One night the residents noted smoke pouring from the cafe and found that a gasoline bomb had been tossed into it by an extortionist who was running a protection racket. The bomb thrower was later caught but most residents had no sympathy for the business, because of the noise it produced and because they did not care for its clientele.

    Late that night Igor drove us back. Before we parted he told me that he would not be able to come to the July meeting in England, although he had submitted abstracts to the session which I chaired. Only one man of the university would come, Prof. Igor Veselevsky, and he would bring along Igor's papers as display posters.

    Wednesday, April 5

    Earlier in the week I insisted that the initial draft of the joint resolution would be worked out just between Kolya and myself. I had felt that he was the only one technically familiar with the subject: Pyotr was an organization man and Nadia and Vika just bystanders. It seemed that "one on one" would allow a more direct discussion, and that was to be the day for it.

    I arrived at IKI a bit after 10. Israelevich had brought a present, a record of Yiddish songs "Let's be Happy." He asked if Nadia could listen: I said no.

    Up in the office we began discussing what the resolution should contain. Kolya said there should be a preamble and resolutions, and everything should be short, not over two pages. He listed his suggestions and I wrote them down as he talked. I then proposed additions--mention ISTP (he was unaware of what it meant) and suggest a free exchange of expertise. He agreed. I described ISTP to him--the International Solar Terrestrial Program, a large multi-spacecraft mission--and then he explained to me about Interball--two pairs of "mother-daughter" satellites to be launched around 1991, one ranging to 20 RE (30 degree inclination, Vika had said), the other an auroral probe rising to 20,000 km.

    After that we began discussing the physics. I explained the shielding of the Earth's field by a paraboloid, and he said the work of Alexeev and Shabansky in that direction contained a bad mistake, a sheet of electric current which extended just a finite distance, starting and ending in mid-space with no closed circuit. I said I had not read their paper that far, I stopped at the point where they gave up on parabolic coordinates. I then explained how in my model the ring current was intercepted by the paraboloid, thus producing (in effect) a partial ring current. Was that legitimate? He agreed that it probably was. I then explained I had tried to do the same for the Earth's magnetotail, using an expansion up to order 21.

    Later I raised the possibility of bringing additional people into modeling by convening a "summer school." Could such a course be held at the University of Leningrad? Kolya was doubtful. During the summer break the university dormitories were mostly empty, as the students had summer jobs, but good food was hard to get on campus. To reach the university from downtown Leningrad took and hour and a half, including a 50 minute train ride.

    Then how about a tourist center like Suzdal, 150 km from Moscow, where the Soviets had held two meetings on magnetospheric physics? Kolya said a tourist center existed at Olgino, towards the Finnish border. It had a good motel and an all-union conference on the magnetosphere had been held there. But the University of Moscow would not collaborate, it looked down on the University of Leningrad, which already had serious problems with its relatively old staff and an out-of-town site not attractive to students. Furthermore, there existed no tradition of summer schools in the USSR.

    He then wondered why the ISEE summary tape format was so long. All he needed were the (x,y,z) coordinates, the magnetic field components (Bx,By,Bz) and the tilt angle, but apart from these the tape also contained the time, the Olson-Pfitzer model field, the internal magnetic field of the Earth and so on, about 100 "words." He had found a 5nT discrepancy between the internal field at 3 RE and the values he calculated from IGRF 1975 (data were from 1977-84), and also a discrepancy of 0.3 degrees in the tilt, which peaked at 35.130 instead of 34.750. He had written about this to Rick Elphic but received no reply. For the Sun's location he used Chris Russell's computer program SUN, supposed to be 0.0060 accurate, he tested it and found it was.

    In his meetings with Malkov to clean up the data they displayed on the screen 6 traces at a time, each covering 4 hours, and could then easily locate by eye magnetopause crossings and other boundaries. While doing so he also noted the times of such crossings, which allowed him later to remove the unused data taken outside the magnetosphere. He also added to his averages the interplanetary magnetic field, solar wind density and velocity and the Kp and AE indices and so far he had covered 3.5 years from 1977-80, giving 14,000 new points. He planned to continue with 1981-5, but that period was less interesting because the spacecraft then spent more time in interplanetary space and larger data gaps existed. I told him about my own database system: he said he couldlocate data points fitting any given criteria in only 3 minutes.

    For lunch I had an appointment with Kardashev, an associate director of IKI noted by both McCutcheon and Sagdeev for his interest in history. A pleasant man with straight gray hair, Kardashev spoke good English and had the easy manners of someone accustomed to leadership. He was a veteran of space research and had designed a flare aboard the 4th cosmic rocket, but later became a radio astronomer. He had just returned from the new Tashkent radio observatory, located at an altitude of 2.5 km between Tashkent and Bokhara.

    He invited me to the executive dining room where (again) we sat alone: the tab was 3 rubles and lunch included some very good ice cream. I told him of the history committee and showed him Harwit's letter, and he promised to give me names of relevant people and also to call up Gurshtein. He had in his bookcase a copy of "Serendipitous Discoveries in Radio Astronomy", the proceedings of an informal conference where old-timers told their stories, and I told him also had the book and thought it represented an excellent way of collecting history.

    He then gave me a recent book about Shklovsky, he himself was one of its editors. Shklovsky had been Kardashev's teacher and a photograph of him was displayed in the office. The book was primarily a collection of articles about Shklovsky's scientific work but opened with a long biographical chapter. Reproduced inside the covers was a new year's card drawn by Jesse Greenstein, showing Shklovsky sitting inside a black hole, a reference to his inability to leave Russia and attend meetings.

    He gave me names of old-timers at IKI and elsewhere, including Boris Rauschenbach who had played an important role in the building of Sputnik. One older scientist, Kurt, came and talked to me. And he also called Gurshtein, who promised to meet me the next day after my meeting with Beloussov, and possibly take Audrey and me on a tour of Moscow streets.

    After I returned to the office of Gringauz, Kolya and I drafted the agreement on a NASA-IKI modeling collaboration. For a while I composed a longhand draft while Kolya read my "Methods of Magnetospheric Modeling." We then discussed the draft and arrived at an agreeable version.

    Lisa Antonova arrived and gave me two small paperback texts on plasma physics which she had published for Moscow University Students (in Russian, of course, but the formulas and illustrations looked familiar). They seemed to be concise but quite thorough. She also brought reprints, one of them in English dealing with plasmas satisfying a pVγ gas law and their stability when γ=2/3.

    Earlier that week I had told her I was looking for a place to buy Soviet flags as souvenirs for the boys back in Greenbelt. She now said she "could not find a big flag" and had therefore had brought little flag pins of the USSR and of its various republics, and also a pin of Moscow University. In return I gave her a pin with the US flag and a ballpoint "space pen."

    After Kolya and I finished drafting the agreement I asked him if it could be typed on a computer. Nadia went down to check and came back to say the lab had an IBM clone with a hard disk, made in the USA. We found the machine had a fairly straightforward word processor, though printing was slow because the printer worked only in the graphics mode.

    One of the lab workers was watching us and after I finished he told me through Nadia that he wanted to show me something else the computer could do. He then pushed some buttons and a naked girl appeared on the screen. I said to Nadia, tell him that my son has one that is all dressed, part of a computerized poker game where every time the player won a hand the girl would shed part of her clothing. When the man heard me say "poker" he quickly said something in Russian, and Nadia then told me "he says he has it too, and he knows how to undress her all at once."

    While walking down the stairs to the lab Kolya asked me, had I heard about the elections? In Leningrad... I said, yes, back home the story was on the front page, of how the party boss in Leningrad ran unopposed and lost, because a majority of the voters had crossed out his name. Later, when we had gone upstairs to fetch some stuff, I said to him: "Twenty one years ago Alexander Dubcek in Czechoslovakia initiated a new liberal policy, "socialism with a human face." People rallied to the government and this "Prague Spring" lasted until Russian troops and tanks put an end to it. Did Kolya think we would now see a 'Moscow Spring'?"

    He said--no. "Winter has been too long." Maybe in 1-2 generations would change come, or in 30-40 years, but not much sooner. The Czechs were different--they stood halfway between east and west. He also blamed the church: had it taken a firmer stand, many bad things would not have happened in Russia. I said, but no church can ever fight a government. He felt it was a matter of the church exerting its moral influence--matters never got as bad in Poland, because the church was strong there.

    Did he receive the Journal of Geophysical Research, I asked. Yes, Pudovkin was an AGU member and was receiving it, he had issues going back to 1978. I then asked whether I could sponsor him for membership. He felt embarrassed at being unable to pay the dues ($20) but said it would be an honor for him. He wanted to know, would that help him towards a trip to the USA? Probably not, I said, but it was useful to be listed in the AGU directory, JGR was a good place to publish and its page charges could probably be waived.

    As I walked into the subway station next to IKI I noticed mimeographed election posters taped to the tiled wall, concerned with Sunday's run-off election. People pressed around them but when I started asking, no one spoke English. As far as I could make out, it was mostly negative publicity, against candidates rather than in support. Such-and-such, this is what he says now, that is what he said in 1987 .. and in 1967... don't vote for him. Next morning all posters were gone.

    Dinner in the hotel was wretched. The menu was not much help, item after item was "not available" and in the end I asked the waiteress, who spoke passable English, what did they have? And she asked me--what are you, a tourist? No, I said, and explained about IKI. Audrey then said, I am a tourist; later in the room she noted that was the only time in Russia anyone had asked us what we did. She explained about our children left back home and the waitress told us that she was a grandmother.

    Came the bill and I opened my purse to tip her a ruble. She saw the dollar bills inside and said--exchange some dollars? No, I said. If I were a tourist, maybe, but I represented my government and could not do anything that might get it in trouble.

    Thursday, April 6

    The rest of the delegation has arrived and was scattered in rooms around the Rossiya. In the morning I met its members in the lobby, waiting for the bus, and showed Tom Armstrong my draft proposal. Tom was responsible for magnetospheric physics and presumably I was expected to report to him: it looked OK to him, except for the exchange of computer programs, to which the international relations people at NASA HQ would object. He suggested "computer tools," which meant, he said, computer implementations of models in the public domain. Later at IKI Kolya had trouble translating the phrase. I suggested "computer techniques" and he said "in Russian that means PCs" [personal computers], and the same for 'computer tools'." We finally settled on "computer algorithms."

    The bus was late, so I took the subway and arrived just ahead of the others. Israelevich escorted me to the director's suite and everyone was seated at the long table. Stan Shawhan headed the delegation--bearded, jovial, bear-like--and was helped by Mary Mellott, with Tom Armstrong for the magnetosphere, Bill Feldmann for the solar wind, Vernon Jones for cosmic rays, Ingrid de Silvestre representing international affairs and some others. The chief Russian spokesman was Alec Galeev while Sagdeev never appeared at all. Lev Zelyoni was there, young, with tousled curly hair and a healthy suntan, acquired at the Bermuda conference on collision-free shocks from which he had just returned. And Oleg Vaisberg (solar wind), young, blond and handsome, the ladies were said to go for him in a big way and one could see why. Many other Russians were there as well, and both Lev and Oleg said they wanted to talk to me.

    The morning's meeting was meant to be conducted between Galeev and Shawhan, but somehow the entire delegation had come. After a while I asked Ingrid whether it would be all right for Kolya and me to leave and she said, I should get Galeev's permission. I rose to do so and she then said, no, let him ask, otherwise it would seem as if I was putting pressure on him. Pressure? We were just biding our time. But I said to Ingrid--if you want a Russian to ask, let Israelevich do so, he is co-head of the modeling team. In the end Pyotr asked Galeev and we were excused.

    Later Israelevich took me to the lab, where I updated the agreement draft on the computer and Nadia printed it out. Israelevich and I agreed that the next day I would give him transparency sheets (brought from Greenbelt) to make transparencies of the draft on the IKI xerox (which I never saw). He then offered me tea and a meat pastry (very good) and said we would eat lunch later. We then left in a chauffered IKI car for my meeting with Beloussov.

    The offices of the USSR Geophysical Committee were at 3 Molodiozhnaya Street, but soon it became evident that the driver only had a general idea where that was, for he stopped, backtracked and asked a pedestrian for directions. Why didn't he use a map, I asked Israelevich. He told me that in the East no good city maps existed, just general city maps which did not show every street and were deliberately distorted to reduce their military usefulness. Only in the west, he said, could one buy a good map of Moscow. It was just hearsay: the following week, at the National Exhibition (VDNKh) I bought for 90 kopeks an excellent map of the city, with a detailed street index.

    In any case, after some searching the driver reached the place, in a large development of chunky apartment blocks not far from Moscow University. The committee's offices were on the ground floor--above it were apartments--and they were rather dimly lit. One entered a cluttered corridor which also served for storage and at the other end stood the secretary's desk, next to the door to Beloussov's study.

    We entered: Beloussov turned out to be a heavy man, rather old-looking, an image of the old bureaucracy of Brezhnev and Chernenko. Sitting next to him was another old man with small deep-set eyes (Artiom Povzner), and later a secretary appeared, a younger man, thin and lively, together with a fourth man who sported a big roll of gray hair and a yankee-style beard (Vitali Nechitailenko).

    Beloussov did all the talking and his words reinforced the bureaucratic image. He explained that his committee was an umbrella organization for international activities with a few hundred members and many sections. A department on the history of geological sciences existed in the geology institute, Prof. Alexander Khargian of Moscow State U. was interested in the history of meteorology, and so on. He suggested that as chairman of the AGU history committee I should write to Professor Melchior of IUGG to let me set up an IUGG committee on history and "after that you have status and may communicate." It set me thinking about the uses of such "status," since I was already communicating quite well without it. But I did not voice any of this, just politely described US efforts.

    From there we were driven across the river to the Kropotkinskaya Metro station, to meet Alexander Gurshtein, astronomer turned historian. He turned out to be a vigorous man around 45 (though his face looked older), with grizzled beard and lively eyes, active, friendly and energetic. He was disappointed that Audrey was not with us (I had tried phoning her but she was out). Israelevich later volunteered to go to the hotel and bring her, meeting us again at the Smolenskaya station.

    Gurshtein explained that he wanted to lead us on a walking tour of his cherished Arbat quarter, where he lived. He had planned to conduct a similar tour some time later in front of the cameras of Moscow Television, following the scenes of Bulgakov's The Master and Margareta, a Faustian fantasy of the 1920s set in the Arbat. Bulgakov took liberties with the locale, he said, for instance placing Margareta's home at a certain place but using as its model quite a different house. I asked whether he thought that the viewers would understand all that. "Oh, every child in Moscow knows The Master and Margareta." He said the TV station would have liked to stage the tour as soon as possible, but he preferred to wait until the trees came out in leaf.

    He started telling us about the city right from the station, from which stretched a gradually curving garden strip, flanked by streets. That strip, he said, marked the old city wall, and inside was the "White City" that burned down in 1812, after falling to Napoleon. On the other side of the station, next to the Moscow River, we could see steam rising from a large heated open-air swimming pool, on the site that used to belong to the enormous Church of Christ the Savior, dynamited in the 1930s on Stalin's orders.

    We then ate at Gurshtein's favorite restaurant, U Margarete (Margareta's place) on Ryleyeva Street, quite close by. U Margarete is a cooperative, a private-enterprise restaurant. Its prices were rather high by Russian standards, but the food and service were considerably better, too. It was housed in a small old residential building, immaculately clean, even the rest rooms. Diners sat in two or three connected rooms with fanciful landscape murals on their walls, and as one entered one faced a pretty fountain in the middle of the room, decorated with little dragons.

    The food was good too--mushroom soup, chicken salad and a colorful main dish--brown meat (quite tender), yellow potatos, green peas, pink cabbage and so forth. The meal ended with a dish of delicious ice cream and the tab came to 12 rubles.

    After that we walked up Kropotkin Street, stopping at the "Scientists' House," a clubhouse and lecture hall surrounded by a well-tended garden. At the entrance we checked our coats--almost any Soviet public place features a coat-check room--and walked up to the lecture hall, completely empty. On the walls of its large lobby hung an exhibition of rather good paintings. Gurshtein said they all were produced by scientists and pointed out two scenes of the Arbat where, he said, we would soon pass. We easily recognized them when we did, in the maze of old streets where many foreign embassies were now located, generally guarded by Soviet policemen in sentry boxes. This area's development dated from the rebuilding of Moscow after the fire of 1812 and some of the historic buildings dating back to those days were now in poor repair. Others were kept up because of their historical significance: the house of Alexander Herzen ("Gerzen") and of his father, Tolstoy's house next to U Margarete, the house where Pushkin stayed before his wedding and the one where he lived for a while with his bride, and so forth. All these were marked by plaques.

    Some of the old houses had been replaced by incongrous brick apartments. Gurshtein pointed out two of those and said they were reserved for writers and artists. He himself was among the Arbat activists fighting to maintain the quarter's historic character and opposing any new construction, with limited success. He later pointed out the beginnings of another brick apartment building, promised by Pravda to be "the last reconstruction" in the old Arbat quarter. He said that on his TV show he would compare some scenic views of what the Arbat used to be, painted by Mogilevski, with the same scenes as they appeared now.

    At the Smolenskaya Metro Station (backed by the huge Stalinisque building of some ministry) we waited for Israelevich and Audrey. A little old men stopped to ask for directions, one of many visiting out-of-towners. Gurshtein told him the way, but he stayed and asked where I was from (he might have seen the US flag in my lapel).

    From the USA, I said, and before that from Israel.

    Israel! He was going there soon, to visit his sister for a month. Did I speak Yiddish? (sort of--knowing German I could fake it). He had just come from Vilnius. I should visit Vilnius, it was a great city with many Jews. Did I know what the Jews called it?

    I said in Hebrew, "Jerusalem of Lithuania" (on account of its distinguished scholars) and the man beamed, then bade farewell. Later Gurshtein told us that his father was Jewish, and in fact had compiled a biography of a Yiddish poet killed by Stalin. But in WW II he went to the front and died fighting the Nazis.

    After Audrey and Israelevich joined us Gurshtein lead the way to Arbat Street, now closed to cars and filled instead with tourists. Arbat Street is where artists sell their wares, poets declaim and street singers sing, accompanied by guitars and often voicing political views. It was a busy place and right in its middle, in a small enclosure, a street photographer displayed his props--a fancy sports car, a motorcycle and outsized stuffed dolls (bear, dog, Mickey Mouse etc.), all available as backgrounds.

    We stopped at Georgia House, an ornate building promoting Soviet Georgia. Inside one can turn right to an exhibit of Georgia's products, also offered for sale, or left to a counter that sold the waters of a famous Georgia spring. Gurshtein treated each of us to a glass and it all tasted delicious, mostly because each glass was fortified by several flavored syrups. Georgia house also had public restrooms, one of which I used; when Gurshtein asked me where I was going, I quoted Tom Lehrer's song Lobatchevsky: "Ya idu kuda tsar idyot pyeshkom" (I go where the Czar goes on foot).

    From Arbat Street we again entered side streets and passed more historic houses. One was the house of General Khrushchev, "not the Khrushchev you know about" but the one who fought Napoleon and had 15 children. Another was a wooden house from around 1830, with pretty lion-head friezes which Audrey made me photograph. "Such kindly-looking lions" she said. Then the house of the dramaturgist Wachtangov and an apartment building from the 1920s decorated with elaborate statues. According to what Gurshtein was told, those statues were originally intended as decorations for the Pushkin Gallery building. The architect however felt that they were not good enough, ordered new ones and let the original statues be placed as decorations on an ordinary apartment block.

    After a brief visit to a Beriozka dollar-store which also sold books (including hard-to-find Russian editions) we reached Gurshtein's house, an old-style apartment building with a large entranceway. His young wife Olga, a lawyer, met us at the door and took us to Gurshtein's study, filled with books from floor to ceiling.

    It was a lovely old apartment and its monthly rent was only 12 dollars, the price of lunch at U Margarete. Of course, one suspects such deals were not found on the free market but only as perks attached to jobs like Gurshtein's. He and Olga had two young children aged 7 and 3 (one daughter was named Xenia) but since both had professional jobs the kids spent much of their time at a day care center.

    Books were central to Gurshtein's life, he not only wrote and edited but was also responsible for translations. Our gift, which Audrey had brought along, was thus particularly appropriate: it was Dick Rutan's and Jeanna Yaeger's account of their nonstop flight around the world in the "Voyager" aircraft. In return Gurshtein gave us a children's pop-up book on astronomy, his greatest hit so far, translated into a large number of foreign languages.

    I gave him copies of the letters of Harwit and Weart and also a preprint of my own "Brief History of Magnetospheric Physics before the Spacecraft Era." He seemed quite interested and in return gave me an annual hardbound collection of articles on the history of astronomy which he edited. He said that every two weeks he conducted in his institute a seminar on the history of astronomy and space research, and afterwards he would try to get the better speakers to write up their talks as articles for the annual volume. We agreed that he would translate my article for the next annual collection and that in addition he would arrange for me to speak at the scheduled seminar on Friday of the following week, on the early history of radiation belt research. I would also write to Harwit about our meeting, suggesting an exchange of books, visits, bibliographies and so forth, and that would start regular contacts between Gurshtein and the National Air and Space Museum.

    I then gave Gurshtein samples of "Permalife" paper I had brought and a clipping from "Newsweek", of an article on how historians were frustrated by modern "acid" paper which turned brittle and useless in less than a century, often much sooner. Russian paper, I told him, had a particular reputation for high acidity, while alkaline "Permalife" was expected to last at least 400 years.

    But Gurshtein was not interested, though he promised to forward the samples to the director of the "Mir" publishing house. He said it was hard enough to get sufficient paper allocated for his publications, the quality of that paper had become a secondary issue. There existed an enormous competition between publishers for a limited supply of paper: "we could use five times as much paper, if we had it." He prided himself that he had gradually managed to boost the tirage (press run) of his annual collection from 800 to 4000, though to do so he had to expand its scope to include educational papers. He also admitted that he would have liked to expand his historical activities beyond the forthnightly seminar, but he lacked the people and the support.

    Olga brought cakes and coffee and overall it was a pleasant afternoon. Then Pyotr led us on foot back to the Kremlin, passing the Lenin Library and then the long underpass that branched off to the subway. On the way he told about his life--his wife was a scientist working on geomagnetism and they had one child, but it was difficult to get good housing in Moscow and hence they lived in Troitsk to the south, a fairly long commute from work.

    We came out at the Alexandrovskii gardens west of the Kremlin walls, site of the tomb of the unknown soldier (unguarded) and of memorials to the "hero cities" of WW II--originally Leningrad, Volgograd (used to be Stalingrad), Sevastopol and Odessa, later more were added. Then we crossed Red Square in the face of a cold wind and returned to the Rossiya.

    Friday, April 7

    Friday was a slack day, reserved in case anything came up that needed extra time. Nothing did. Kolya brought his typed translation and Armstrong informed me that the presentation on modeling was scheduled the following Tuesday, leaving little to do but wait for the train to Leningrad. Our ticket were for the overnight train leaving at midnight, a 400-mile journey; the tickets for a "soft" (first class) sleeper compartment were provided by the University of Leningrad and cost 22.50 rubles each, plus 1 ruble for bed linen. The plan was that we stay in Leningrad three days--tour the city on Saturday, visit Kolya on Sunday and the university on Monday, then return by the night train.

    In the morning I discussed physics with Kolya and Vika. Vika wanted to know what parameters characterized the magnetosphere and I launched into a long tutorial exposition on the geomagnetic indices Dst, AE and Kp. I enjoy teaching (and showing off what I knew), and the Russians liked it too, they later said I was an excellent teacher.

    Yet such an exposition also benefits its presenter, it brings its subject into sharper focus and better logical order. During the presentation it gradually dawned on me that each of the four current systems I was trying to model could be calibrated separately--the ring current by Dst, the scale of the boundary current by the subsolar distance which might be deduced from the solar wind's momentum flux, Birkeland currents by the auroral electrojet index AE and the tail system by the area inside the auroral oval. In principle the "ideal" model depended primarily on these four and on the tilt angle of the Earth's magnetic axis, and once these were given and the system was properly calibrated we should have the makings of a pretty realistic model.

    Then Kolya explained his new disk model. It overcame two limitations of the old model, whose tail field allowed no By and whose ring current was forced to be axially symmetric. It also made Bz weakest in the middle of the tail, as observed by Fairfield, and allowed tail warping. But its overall r.m.s fit (in the tail only?) was s=6.5 nT, only marginally better than the 6.7 nT of the old T87 model, and it did sometimes create field reversals in the near tail.

    His plans for the near future were to go to Apatity, finish the averaging and cleaning-up of the ISEE-1 data, add them to his database and rederive the model.

    He had no idea what role he was meant to play in modeling the field for Interball, as part of the agreement we were discussing (neither did I know where I stood concerning ISTP, which even refused to pay for my Moscow trip). At his university Sergeev was in charge of Interball ground data support, and Kolya's connection with the mission was mainly through him. He said that there existed 4 working groups in support of Interball:

  1. Physics and Theory--models, boundaries, features, schedules for data collection, analysis of two-point measurements and so on. Zelyoni was in charge and others included Israelevich, Dubinin, Tsyganenko, Nadia and Lisa Antonova.
  2. Data analysis.
  3. Ballistics and trajectory
  4. Ground data support, under Sergeev.

    He had no idea what role he was meant to play in modeling the field for Interball, as part of the organization.

    Answering a question he said that Leningrad university owned only few computers but bought computer time elsewhere. However, it was about to receive a large Soviet EC-1036, similar to an IBM mainframe. The Physics Institute owned a Japanese XT-clone personal computer, bought for 60,000 rubles from a wood-products company; considering the price ($100,000 official, $10,000 realistic) this may have included hard disk and printer, but even with those, the price was still steep. He explained that the company had sold in the West wood by-products and earned hard currency, and to enhance its profits it used that currency to buy PCs in the West, which were then resold in the USSR.

    He had no idea what role he was meant to play in modeling the field for Interball, as part of the In the afternoon I drafted my Tuesday presentation, checking with Kolya. Some of the notes:

  • --A choice of models available to both sides, with expert advice also available.
  • --Clear understanding of the limitations of models
    (list of goals)
  • --Use parameters AE, Dst, subsolar distance, polar cap (this was the fallout from the discussion with Vika).
    ("How to achieve")
  • --More contact between active researchers
  • --Exchange algorithms
  • --Exchange visits
  • --Joint use of data
  • --Joint participation in workshops.
  • --Widening of research on models
  • --Workshops to train users and researchers.

    Around 5 Kolya and I returned to the hotel by the subway, which was quite crowded. He was carrying all his belongings in a small suitcase. I wanted to go out for dinner, perhaps back to U Margarete, but Kolya would have none of it, he felt responsible for all we did and seemed terrified about even a remote chance that we might miss our train. Because it was Friday night, he said, restaurants everywhere had long lines and we were far better off eating at the hotel.

    Rossiya had street-level restaurants on each of its four sides and we circled the hotel trying in vain to get into one of them. One was locked, one hosted an Intourist party and another a wedding. We then tried one of the less-fancy restaurants on the 2nd floor. We were turned away, though the place seemed empty, and after insisting we were given two small tables separated by a pillar. Audrey then blew up at the hostess and we went instead to our favorite 8th floor buffet with the Kremlin panorama. Sunlight was streaming into the windows and washed out the view, but we got a fairly good dinner for 5.99 rb.--tea, Fanta soft drinks, six hot dogs, four chunks of cheese, six pieces of baked goods (too many) and bread.

    We sat and talked until 8:30 and then went for a stroll to Red Square. But again Kolya would not let us stray far, and soon we came back, checked out of the room (Audrey had packed that afternoon) and sat waiting in the lobby.

    At 10:46 a blue Latvia van of IKI (similar to our former neighbor's 1964 Ford Econoline) arrived to pick us up. The man at the wheel drove like possessed to the Leningrad train station, the trip took only 9 minutes and left us with another hour to while away.

    The night trains stood side by side in the open station, waiting. Loudspeakers atop poles barked announcements and when the Finland express started out, they accompanied its departure with raucous march music. Our train was the Beriozka, the "Birch tree", and each compartment window, we later saw, had curtains decorated with birch trees. Each wagon also had its uniformed woman caretaker, the railroad's equivalent to the "key ladies" of hotels: our wagon was no. 13 and was painted red to denote its "soft" status, while Kolya's no.16 was painted a military green and "hard."

    The interior of the compartment was rather fancy, paneled in formica with many hooks, shelves and conveniences. Alas, it was also overheated, and its window could not be opened. We left exactly on schedule, gathering speed exceedingly slowly while loudspeakers outside blared the Soviet anthem. A while later the caretaker lady brought two glasses of hot Russian tea, served in zarfs, metal holders with handles. Her tea-making machine stood at the end of the wagon passage and was a miracle to behold, with its many pipes, taps and spigots it looked like an industrial still. The ride was fast and smooth, but little could be seen in the darkness outside.

    At 12:30 the overhead light dimmed and we turned to sleep. The bunks were comfortable, the blankets thick, the pillows lumpy but OK, the only thing that hindered sleep was the stifling heat. The track seemed pretty straight but I never found out whether, as legend had it, it only had one curve, where the pencil marking the map skipped around the Czar's finger holding down the ruler.

    Saturday, April 8

    Daylight found us speeding through a flat countryside, with clumps of trees and occasional bogs, a village here and there and hardly any signs of cultivation. The wooden houses were small and their design seemed standard. Gradually the sun rose, revealing a clear day with blue skies. Then the settlements became denser, high-rise apartments appeared in the distance and we rolled into Leningrad on schedule at 8:30.

    Kolya, ever the worrier, was at our carriage's door by the time we got there, slowed down by our heavy suitcases. At the end of the platform we were met by two members of the Leningrad faculty, Natasha Smirnova and Irina ("Ira") Golovchanskaya. Natasha seemed the older one; we later found that her 23-year old daughter was married to a naval officer and her son was a cadet in the merchant marine academy (a "high marine"). Ira had a round smooth face, small twinkly eyes and the smile of a happy child, and both seemed happy to see us. They guided us to a car they had arranged (probably from a moonlighting government driver); soon we were on our way to Hotel Leningrad.

    Leningrad is built on the delta of the river Neva, from which the "Nevka" (little Neva) splits off, each branch splitting further into the "big" and "small" Neva or Nevka, plus a few more and many canals. Hotel Leningrad is built near the first split between the Neva and Nevka, and our room no. 855 looked out to a wonderful view of the city and of its skyline, the Czar's famous winter palace on the bank of the Neva and behind it the dome of St. Isaac's cathedral. Right across from our room was the three-funnel cruiser Aurora, anchored on the opposite bank of the Nevka. The turn-of-the-century Aurora was a museum, since the shots fired by its mutinous crew marked the start of the October revolution--that was October by the old Julian calendar, 7 November 1917 by our reckoning. The sky was beautifully clear (a rarity in Leningrad, which only lasted a few hours) and small ice floes were slowly drifting down the river.

    Not only did the view rival the one from the Rossiya, but the lobby and rooms seemed much more modern and the self-service breakfast in the morning was excellent. Here too one found buffets on alternate floors, smaller than those we used in Moscow and with views which only included vacant lots and apartments: but they seemed cozy and their service was cheerful. We had been warned about Leningrad water, but the key lady, who seemed to watch TV every free moment she had, brought us a china teapot with "kipyatok," hot boiled water.

    After we were settled Kolya took us by cab into town, driving along the Neva embankment and stopping to take pictures and view the scene. The tall distinctive spike-tower atop the church of the fortress of Peter and Paul, across the river, glistened in the sun, and a band of people in swimming shorts were getting to dip in the icy water just outside the battlements. "Morzhi" said Natasha--"walruses," the name given to swimmers that braved the cold. Maybe that was a special club, like the New York "Polar Bears."

    We continued to St Isaac's cathedral--not to visit the sanctuary but to see the panorama unfolding from the rotunda of its dome, one of the high spots in Leningrad. A custodian let us into a dark staircase which turned around and around and ever upwards, a long climb to daylight. Then we crossed a walkway and climbed some more stairs, to arrive at the rotunda which was already quite crowded with visitors. Below us we could see the backs of the brass angels that decorated the roof of the cathedral, from the street they looked rather small and only now did we appreciate their size.

    Kolya pointed out the landmarks--there was the Kirov theatre, and there the synagogue and shipyard, and that blocky house with its many antennas belonged to the KGB. The opposite bank of the Neva was lined with handsome old buildings, from the time when the city was the undisputed capital of Russia--the Academy of Arts, the palace of Prince Menshikov, the old campus of the University of Leningrad and the Academy of Sciences. The university buildings, colored red with a stylish white trim, were built by Peter the Great for the different departments of his government, a dozen adjoining buildings for a dozen departments.

    Unfortunately, the university had outgrown its campus. The humanities are still taught in the old buildings, but the faculties of science and math were moved to Stary Petergof around 1976. Natasha later pointed out to us the building where the department of geophysics used to be, and told about a military college not too far from the old campus which perhaps might be persuaded to move out, allowing the university to be reunited once more. It seemed like a far-fetched hope.

    Then we went to the Winter Palace--the "Hermitage" museum, its name taken from a certain addition to the palace which served as the czar's retreat. The palace is dazzling, with huge columns (in one room they are all of malachite) and elaborate gilt ornaments everywhere. It holds a great assortment of exhibits and casual visitors like us can only sample a small part.

    We passed an opulent throne room and a grand ballroom which now displays dished of silver and gold, to see the famous collection of work by impressionist painters. It is fairly large--works by Manet, Degas and others, and many by Picasso. They seemed good, but were not the best I have seen, and Kolya explained that the best paintings of the Hermitage were at National Gallery in Washington. He said he read in the papers about it--the best treasures of the Hermitage, 600 tons of silver and gold, were taken to America. I later looked it up: no information about gold and silver, but the best paintings are indeed in Washington. They were sold to Andrew Mellon in the 1930s, because the Soviets badly needed the millions of dollars which he paid; the sale formed 1/3 of their income in foreign exchange that year. He paid high prices, but the paintings he got were the cream of the collection.

    Much more interesting were the exhibits of Russian art and culture. For instance, one exhibit honored Mikhail Lomonosov, Russia's most famous native scientist of the 1700, also honored as one of Russia's national poets. We learned that in addition to such achievements, he also produced excellent portraits using mosaics of colored glass, whose brilliant colors which have not faded: several are displayed in the Hermitage, including a self-portrait. Later we were taken into the old building of the Academy of Sciences (once the headquarters, now used by the local branch) and at the top of the stairs hung another such mosaic, a huge one, about 20' wide and 12' high. It showed Peter the Great riding against the Swedes at the Battle of Poltava, and the caretaker told us this one too was by Lomonosov, was tossed by Katherine the Great into a cellar of the Peter-Paul Fortress and was only retrieved in the 1920s. (One guidebook however said that it was designed by Lomonosov but was actually made in this century.)

    Peter founded the city and gave it its name "Petersburg" which it carried for 200 years. His imprint is still strong. The Hermitage displayed a wax sculpture of him, sitting on his throne and dressed in Peter's original clothing. He stood 2 meters (6'7") tall. Elsewhere the museum shows a large steel bar (about 6' long) with its end section hammered flat by Peter, as well as the czar's wood lathe and a machine for copying wood patterns (woodworking was a hobby of his), even his medical kit with tongs he used for pulling teeth. At the end of the same hall hung a display of antique icons. I told Kolya how impressed I was by them and he said "but they should not be here, they belong in church."

    We then went out to the street and found Irina waiting with a car: all day long our escorts changed and cars came and went, on a timetable that seemed to have been worked out in advance. We were taken across the river for lunch at the Fregate restaurant, located near the old university campus, a place where faculty members liked to eat. Fregate is a rather dark "cafe" (less fancy than a "restaurant") decorated with nautical motifs and specializing in original Russian dishes; although small, it had a cloakroom. I have forgotten what we ate but certainly recall the kvas we drank in large decorated earthenware mugs. Kvas is made by dissolving bread in water and letting the mash ferment: it is slightly alcoholic and on hot days is sold from vending carts in the streets. We tried it as part of our Russian experience but one drink was quite enough, it was sour and had a strong musty smell.

    On the way out Kolya pointed out the apartment where his parents still lived. From 1946 to 1961 his parents, Kolya and his brother Alyosha lived there in one room; then the family was given a second one.

    We next walked to the Neva embankment, where we met the head of the group, Professor Mikhail Pudovkin, his wife Valentina Ivanovna, his sister Barbara and his grand-daughter Katerina, 5 years old: all were joining us for a visit to the Menshikov palace. Professor Pudovkin, a small man with an easy fatherly style, wore in his lapel a pin with the "flag of Peter the Great" (as he put it), horizontal stripes of red, white and black. He spoke good English, unlike his wife, who was a professor of French and stayed in the background. Now and then Katerina would try on us the only English words she knew, "good bye," then she would dart back and hide behind her granny. A tall young man came with them, Arkady Usmanov, a collaborator of Kolya--just to say hello, he was not joining us.

    Prince Menshikov was the first governor of St. Petersburg and a close friend of Peter the Great (the mosaic in the academy showed him riding third behind Peter). From humble beginnings he rose to great wealth and power, and the palace was his official residence, where he worked and lived. When Peter died Menshikov's power also ended: Peter II took away all his property and exiled him to Siberia, where he died. The building until 1974 belonged to a military academy and was badly neglected, but was then restored and is now part of the Hermitage museum complex. We were told that tourists rarely came this way, they preferred the Hermitage across the river, but to natives it was a source of pride and a touchstone to history.

    Again we visited a cloakroom, and then everyone was given large felt slippers that fit over other footwear, to protect the inlaid floors from scuffing. We then left with our guide Lyuba, a young woman with a clear voice, wearing a long black-and-white dress in turn-of-the-century fashion.

    It was an interesting place. Twelve rooms were covered with old blue-and-white Dutch tiles, each with its hand-drawn design, those on the ceiling held up by nails with gilt rosettes. In one room we again saw a wood-turning lathe, for wood-working was Menshikov's hobby too; it was powered by a sailor turning a big crank. Peter used to visit and watch, sitting on a large bouncy cushion with springs inside it, also on display. We visited a large ballroom which had an organ and an elaborate clock, an office with the governor's desk, and so forth, enough to get saturated.

    The palace stands on Vasilevsky Island, and from it we proceeded to the end of the island, marked by two "rostral columns," red memorial columns adorned by the prows of ships and by statues that honor Russia's rivers. A cab stopped nearby and a bridal couple stepped out, to place flowers at the tip of the island and be photographed in the historical setting. The car was decorated with ribbons and hooked onto its roof was a crossbar which held up two intersecting rings, symbol of marriage.

    It was now late afternoon. We said good-bye to Irina and Natasha and returned with Kolya to the hotel. Back in Greenbelt Susan Kayser had given us the addresses of her two cousins in Leningrad, both married women with grown children, and we now called up one of them, Alla Pollack. Her husband Seva (Vsevolod) answered: yes, we should come, it was Alla's birthday and that evening both families would be celebrating together.

    Their apartment was in one of three enormous apartment blocks rising on the bank of the Neva, roughly across from the Smolny seminary, Lenin's base in the October revolution. With Kolya we rode a cab to the appropriate address and he then took his leave, to visit his parents and then to catch a train back to Petergof.

    The front of the building was lined with stores, but nowhere could we find an entrance. Finally I saw a group of women standing together and figured that at least one of them was likely to know. Wrong: they were all tourists from Kazakhstan, visiting the city together. Gradually we worked our way around the building and then we saw the rear where all the entrances and stairways were. That was the seamy side: the yard was muddy and littered, and the entrances were rather plain. Each door had an electric keypad where a code number was to be punched, as in the IKI lab. We waited outside and soon enough a woman appeared and punched the combination: we entered and rode with her in the cramped elevator. The staircase was dark and unventilated but we soon found the right door, rang the bell and were welcomed.

    Seva, balding, spoke very good English and introduced us to Alla and to their teen-age son Borya (Boris); Susan had given us a present for Borya, a nylon jacket with "NASA-Goddard" stitched on it, which was greatly appreciated. We were also introduced to the other cousin, Dusya (or Ida), her husband Yura and one of their two daughters Larissa and Lena, I forgot which. Soon we all sat down to a long table loaded down with a great variety--meats, salads, chopped liver and the inevitable vodka, as well as "cognac" and apple juice. Only much later did I realize that all men were seated at one end, all women at the other, while Audrey and I straddled the dividing line.

    A toast was said and soon I faced a barrage of questions, most of them from Seva. Could I tell him about the problems of America? Was it safe there? What about Blacks? Drugs? I was careful to stick to what I have seen myself, to first-hand experience rather than hearsay. What about the "Star Wars" defense initiative? I cited the report of the American Physical Society (of which I am a member) which concluded that it was not likely to work. What about the space shuttle? And its Russian copy, the Buran? I said I did not particularly favor the shuttle, it seemed unnecessary to risk human lives just to launch unmanned missions, and that Academician Sagdeev had objected to Buran on similar grounds. How good was life in Israel? Why did I leave? (For personal reasons.) And from Yura: Can one get a Russian bible in America? Seva again: How good were Russian scientists? Like American ones, I said, some very good, some not.

    Seva then asked Borya, a student of engineering at the Leningrad Polytech Institute, to bring me some of his texts. The boy blushed but brought out texts in calculus and electricity. Seva handed them to me: "Look! Isn't that all old, 19th century?" They seemed rather standard, with many problems and examples, and I said no, they seem to cover the same ground as US texts.

    Boris studied engineering, but was finding the subject difficult and was seriously considering switching to an easier subject. In his class of 22, ten students were Jewish like him: "there used to be discrimination," but not under perestroika. Seva then asked, did there exist antisemitism in America? How much did it cost to get into a good university? And: where was Greenbelt? He brought a large-scale Soviet atlas, but our town was too small to show up and all I could tell him was that it was near the letter "p" in "Silver Spring."

    And then: why did the US allow scientists with technical knowledge to travel abroad, "say, Edward Teller or you"? In the USSR no officer of the armed services would be allowed to travel, because of military secrets. "Cannot terrorists kidnap you and extract secrets from you?" I answered that such things actually never happened. The damage done to a state where such kidnaping was tolerated would outweigh the values of any secrets gained.

    I then asked Seva a question. All those present were Jewish, and newspapers in the US often wrote about Soviet Jews who strove to emigrate. But, I said, not everyone could or wanted to do so--and Seva concurred here, he could never leave. Did there exist any Jews who, rather than leave, would like to renew Russia's Jewish culture, rebuild its Jewish community?

    In way of answer Seva went out and brought back three publications in Yiddish, all printed in the USSR in Hebrew letters. One was a literary magazine--volume 3, about 200 pages--and Seva opened it to an article he had written, a search for the archives of the Jewish ethnographer Harkabi (Garkabi in Russian) who disappeared in the purges of the 1930s. Another was a newspaper, printed in blue lettering in Estonia. And the third also seemed to be a literary collection, about 50 pages. He said there now existed many more Jewish publications.

    An argument then arose whether Jewish culture could exist without Jewish religion. Seva, the Jewish Communist, strenuously argued it could not, and I suddenly realized that the conversation was exclusively confined to my end of the table, among the men. The women just listened and never participated, even Audrey was never asked any questions. I excused myself and went out to look at some book, and by the time I returned the focus had shifted to Audrey, who was telling Seva and the rest about the Jewish Day School in Rockville which our boys used to attend.

    We left around 9, carrying an inscribed box of chocolates as a present to Susan. The huge colored neon displays on top of the embankment buildings were lit, displaying commercial messages, not political ones. There was still some twilight left and Yura and Ida who escorted us to the bus (their daughter was married and lived elsewhere) told us that soon will come the famous "white nights" of Leningrad's summer. They provided tickets and we rode the bus to the Finland station, and from there were escorted to the hotel. Ida set a time to meet Audrey on Monday, when I would be lecturing at the university.

    Sunday April 9

    This was the day when we were to meet Kolya's family. It was also the day of the runoff elections; one was held in Kolya's district in Stary Petergof and he promised to try to take us to the polls.

    He met us early at the Leningrad and together we walked to the Finland station where we boarded the subway to the "Baltic" railroad station. The Leningrad Metro resembles Moscow's in many ways but runs even deeper underground: from the top of the escalator in the Finland station the bottom could not be seen. On the way down I counted 30 lampposts, which translated to a depth of about 45 meters or 150 feet. "It is dug under the Neva," Kolya explained.

    The Baltic station was small and unsheltered, and our local elektrichka train was already waiting, painted a dark green with a star emblem on the prow of the engine car. Carriages were austere, benches of lacquered wood, but the ride was pleasant.

    At first we passed suburbs--wide avenues, great blocks of high-rise tenements, fields of boxy garages where Russians stored private cars. Then the scenery gradually shifted to muddy fields. Nature looks at its worst at this time of the year, the snow is gone but the greenery has yet to emerge. Very few fields seemed to be under cultivation, though Kolya said it was not so in nearby Estonia.

    The plan was to visit first Peter the Great's summer palace at Novy Petergof and to eat a late lunch at Kolya's home. Outside the large covered station of Novy Petergof we boarded a rather beat-up bus to the Petrodvoretz palace. Petrodvoretz means "Peter's Palace" and is also the name of the town of 65,000 which encompasses Novy Petergof, Stary Petergof and the University campus.

    We still had a good walk to the palace grounds. We passed a fancy church which was closed, though Kolya said it might be opening soon; meanwhile he was taking his family to church in Oranienbaum, the next town down the railroad. I asked how many of the Russians were "believers" like him: about 16%, and the number of baptized babies was "increasing exponentially." As recently as 10 years ago baptism was hardly practiced and having one's child baptized could cause trouble at work, but that had changed under perestroika.

    We also passed the high school which Kolya's daughter Zoya was finishing this year. Today the building held a polling station, red flags were flying over the entrance and people were walking to it and from it.

    Then we passed low buildings where palace workers and "ladies in waiting" used to be housed, now they contained park offices. In one was an exhibit of an old-style pharmacy, open to visitors, nicely finished in wood with old-style jars and even a mummified baby crocodile. Then we entered the grounds, passed what seemed like a house reduced to a pile of stones (in WW II this was the frontline) and arrived at the palace, a long ornate building in yellow and white, stretching on a bluff parallel to the shoreline. Like the rest of Petrodvoretz, this was a restoration: the retreating Germans left behind only ruins and burned-out shells.

    North of the palace the ground sloped down to formal gardens which stretched to the sea, dimly visible. A straight boat canal from the sea led to the foot of the rise on which the palace stood, ending near an ornate fountain where a gilt statue of Samson ripped apart a lion's jaws. A fair number of tourists were around, but the time of the year was altogether too early for a visit: the palace was still closed, thick slabs of ice lined the canal, the elaborate cascade descending to the Samson fountain was dry (as was the fountain) and its many statues were still encased in large green boxes of wood, their wintertime protection.

    We walked down to the canal, passing by a few small stone sphinxes with the faces of outsized puppy-dogs. Kolya pointed out large trees covering the slope below the palace, flanking the cascade. Khrushchev once visited here and casually commented to an aide: "fir trees would look nice here." Soon someone ordered such trees to be planted and now, 30 years later, they are tall enough to obscure the view of the gardens from the palace.

    We walked to the end of the canal which jutted out to the sea, flanked by breakwaters. In the summer thousands of tourists arrive here by hydrofoil, only 30 minutes from Leningrad, much faster than the train. The sky was gray and overcast and the cold water matched the sky's color. Kolya told of a great environmental battle over this piece of water. In past years, now and then, a steady strong westerly wind would sometimes pile up the waters of the Gulf of Finland and flood Leningrad. To guard against such floods the local authorities had started to build a dam, a causeway across the gulf through the island of Kronshtadt. Unfortunately, the dam also trapped pollution which flowed from Leningrad and the water around the city became quite dirty, causing a great wave of protest. The project was now stopped and its future was uncertain.

    We then returned to the bus line and rode to Stary ("old") Petergof where Kolya lived, past a large factory for watches, then a WW II cannon and a memorial associated with the frontline which passed here. Finally we crossed the railroad near the small station of Stary Petergof and got off at the development where Kolya lived, a relatively new one consisting mainly of high-rise brick buildings, 10-15 stories tall.

    The area between the building was muddy and raw, and construction was still in progress with tall cranes poised above incomplete buildings. We walked down the central road to Public School 411, a 3-story brick building, site of Kolya's polling station. Two candidates were running for the office of local delegate and Kolya wasn't enthusiastic about either of them. One was an army officer, and he distrusted military people; the other was a truck driver who had only limited education. He told us that he would take us in with him, but asked not to speak English or take pictures--"it might frighten people."

    Just inside the entrance a woman stood by a table selling sweets and baked goods. Later Audrey asked Kolya what the woman was doing there. "Was it a bake sale?" Kolya did not understand and she explained that "in our country" public organizations such as the PTA raised funds by selling baked goods on election day. It took a long time to get the point across, and in the end Kolya said no, nothing like that at all. It was an old tradition in Russia to make available at polling stations goods that are normally hard to obtain in stores, to induce citizens to come and vote.

    We continued through what looked like the school's cafeteria to the polling station. It did not look much different from elections back home, except that the color red was very much in evidence. Tables covered with red cloth were joined to form three sides of a square and behind them sat people with the election rolls, each workers covering a different range of the alphabet, denoted by letters which were not always familiar. A pair of overseers stood in a corner, carefully watching, The exit led through three voting booths, cubicles with frames of slats, covered by red velvet curtains which descended to waist level. A small plaster bust of Lenin watched over us from a shelf on the wall, flanked by potted red geraniums.

    Kolya registered and was given a ballot, covered with extensive printed instructions. The only thing that counted on it, however, were two printed names: he could cross out one of them or if he wished, both. We accompanied him into the booth where a small writing surface was provided, sloping down: he crossed out one name and later told us he had voted "for the local candidate." He then dropped the ballot into the ballot box standing on the other side and we walked out. I was very much moved by it all, to tears at one point: history seemed to be in the making, the first true election. Only later did I realize that it meant far less to the Russians, who knew the candidates better than I did.

    From the polling place we walked to Tsyganenko's apartment house, a brick high-rise on the western side of the development. Beyond it stood weedy fields and some distance away rose the big concrete-gray blocks of the University of Leningrad. That was where Kolya walked to work, he explained, a 20-25 minute hike across the fields. He told about a trick students pulled one night, bringing a sheep into one of those buildings, taking it by elevator to the 11th floor and leaving it there to roam.

    The area around the building seemed little improved, just a few benches and a climbing tower for small children. The ground was muddy: maybe later in the year grass would cover it and make it look more pleasant. The entrance again was protected by an electronic keypad and the elevator was just as small as the one we rode the previous day. Apartments 27 and 28 shared a stuffy foreroom with no outside ventilation.

    The apartment itself, by contrast, looked spacious and airy. We were met by the entire family: Lida, Kolya's wife, a short woman with a sunny disposition; Zoya, 17 years old, an intense and earnest girl who spoke good English; and Andrei, 14, with straight long hair. He smiled a lot with what seemed a mischievious twinkle, but said little because of his limited English. And not to forget Vassily, a big gray tom with tigerish dapplings. Vassily was quiet and unobtrusive and Kolya later told us he was once badly injured by a fall off the porch, he was lucky to survive and took a long time to recover.

    The apartment centered on a large entrance hall from which doors lead to three rooms, to a kitchen, bathroom and toilet. The toilet had a hand-made wooden seat (one starts noticing these things in Russia); on a table near its door stood a home-made radio, built by Andrei. There was no phone: we were told the waiting time for new phones was 10 years, though recently a new exchange had been opened and the family expected its phone within a year. And there was a tiny television receiver, its screen perhaps 6" square: Kolya did not care for TV.

    After the introductions we all moved to the long living room where an elaborate meal was already set on the table: a giant heap of piroshki, borsht, chicken, potatos, peas, scallions, salad, cucumbers, a berry drink prepared by Lida and also bottles of fruit juices--grape, apricot and apple. As the food was being divided, I kept protesting "not so much" but this only reduced portions by token amounts.

    The living room belonged to the entire family and each member, it seemed, had a share. Kolya's physics books stood in the bookcase, also "Solar Wind" conference proceedings and NASA compilations of solar wind data. Kolya was also the one who played on the small electric organ, built in one of the Baltic republics and selling for 700 rubles (Kolya's monthly pay is 300 rb.): the pedals were a later addition and were built by a friend. Kolya played "Come back sweet Jesu" by Bach, quite well. The stylized copy of Leonardo's "Last Supper", hanging on the wall, was probably also put there by him.

    Andrei's contribution included a display of human bones (all but one plastic replicas), hanging on another wall: his school had discarded them. And Zoya had her picture gallery: some entries were photos, of Khrushchev and of her class in school, others she drew herself. There was a cute dragon wearing a tie and a sketch of (she explained) Kolya hitting Andrei after a parent-teacher conference, probably for good reasons.

    Audrey and Lida seemed to understand each other fairly well in spite of the language gap. Kolya then decided to show us some slides with his projector, which had no magazine but was fed the pictures one by one. First came pictures of his dacha, his summer house, located 100 km SE of Leningrad, a long train ride away. There were actually two cottages: a large one built with paid help and a smaller one, still unfinished, which Kolya was building by himself: after it was completed he planned to give the larger one to the children. This was followed by pictures of various trips Kolya undertook as part of his scientific work. From Kamchatka he showed pictures of volcanos and a close-up of small mud-cones that appeareed like mountains. From Askhabad, slides of a stylish monument mixing crosses, colorful ceramic tiles and a statue of Lenin. It was built by the artist Neizvestnii ("Unknown") who also designed Khrushchev's tomb. And pictures from a trip to East Germany and from a visit of Lake Baikal, with shots from a hike along disused railroad tracks, built in 1946 with American rails from "Lend Lease".

    Also a picture of Kolya's friend Serge Sazhin, sitting by a fireplace. Serge, another physicist, was instrumental in Kolya becoming a "believer" and lived now in England. Kolya told his story: Serge had been associated with dissidents and had a long-standing conflict with the KGB. He was called to testify against a dissident and refused, or else gave testimony other than what the KGB had wanted to hear, and as a result, when some time later he applied for admission to a seminary, wires were pulled and his application was denied. He then applied for emigration and lost his job; when I met him in Cambridge, the preceding summer, he gave me a copy of a scientific article on which he listed his home address as his institution. After 4-5 years he was allowed to leave and since he had belonged to Pudovkin's group, the authorities blamed Pudovkin and found ways to express their displeasure.

    We had brought Lida a box of chocolates and an aerobie for Andrei. Later Audrey asked Zoya for names of Soviet rock bands, explaining that our sons back home had asked for Russian rock records. She went to her room and brought a record by "Assa", top Soviet band, as a present to our boys. Audrey was surprised but Kolya said "take it."

    We said our good-byes while Kolya kept looking at his watch, to make sure we did not miss the train. We had a tight schedule ahead, for Natasha had secured for us seats at the Kirov ballet's Giselle, with two Australian guest dancers in the top roles. We returned to the hotel for dinner and Kolya ordered a cab for 6:30.

    The time came and passed, no cab, and Kolya then stopped a cab in front of the hotel. Its Georgian driver had hoped we would pay in dollars, but when he found out it wasn't so he became angry: "What do you think I am, a taxi?" In the end he took us, but argued loudly with Kolya all the way.

    A big crowd was milling in front of the Kirov, a few scalpers selling tickets and a rather larger number of hopefuls looking for someone willing to sell excess tickets at a reasonable price. According to the printing on the tickets they cost only 2.5 rubles; however it seemed that most of them were not sold openly but were made available selectively to those with pull. Somewhere in all this humanity we located Natasha, and after a while also found Professor Pudovkin and his wife. Natasha had a ticket for a seat in the middle balcony, in the rear, but because of us she obtained seats in the director's box--the best seats in the house, right underneath what used to be the imperial box.

    Since these were not regularly ticketed seats, we went to an entrance on the side and after Natasha talked to the keeper of the door, were admitted to a small lobby. Natasha exchanged her street shoes for more classy ones which she brought in a bag--she dressed stylishly and kept a trim waistline. We then went to the box and watched the hall fill up noisily. The seats were so close to the stage that from the last seat, where I sat after the break, one could bend over and touch it. Of course, the entire audience would have seen.

    Giselle is the classical ballet and it was beautifully done, with elaborate precision. In act 1, a prince falls in love with a simple peasant girl, then abandons her for his aristocratic fiancee and causes her to die of a broken heart. In the second half the girl has become a ghost, one of the "Willies," spirits of jilted girls, and almost exacts her revenge on the prince--except that (for the sake of a happy ending, no doubt) in the last moment he is forgiven. We watched everything at close range: the Australians danced well, but there was no mistaking the prima ballerina of the Kirov company. With haughty eyes and regal carriage she played the queen of the Willies, and her leaps were just a tad higher than those of the other ballerinas.

    It was all very much in the spirit of the 19th century. Just like Lyuba's dress and the round caps worn by sailors on the street, with the name of their ship or fleet imprinted on them and twin dark ribbons trailing from the rear.

    During the break we went to see the Pudovkins and Natasha obtained for us programs with English translations. She also facetiously offered to let us watch the rest of the ballet from her old seat high up in the rear, to get a taste of what the rest of the audience was experiencing. She herself had seen "Giselle" many times, even in Moscow, and thought the performance at the Kirov was the best one.

    ╩ After the show we emerged into drizzling rain. Natasha's husband (who chose not to attend--"he prefers football") promised to fetch us with a car, but the ballet ended at 10, an hour earlier than usual, and he was nowhere to be found. In the end the Pudovkins escorted us on bus 4a to within a short walk of the hotel.

    The following month's issue of the National Geographic (May 1989) had on its front a large color picture of "Giselle" at the Kirov. It looked very familiar.

    Monday April 10

    As on the preceding morning we again ate breakfast at the "Express Bar" downstairs, a fixed-price cafeteria which was faster and better than anything we saw at the Rossiya. The clientele seemed heavily weighted with Finns and Swedes. On the elevator Audrey met a group of Poles who spoke excellent English. They had driven from Gdansk to attend a trade fair and complained that the roads ranged from bad to non-existent. One Pole told her: "I have been to your country. Wonderful roads." He had driven from Texas to New Orleans. "There is only one problem with your country."

    -- What?
    -- Too many goddamn niggers.
Audrey was so taken back she stood speechless.

    Alla and Seva had called to tell Audrey they would pick her up for a shopping trip in town, and that Ida would join them an hour later. It turned out to be a pleasant outing with much conversation. The previous year Ida had visited her her relatives in New York for 35 days, and she told Audrey she could still remember every one of those days. "And I wish I could forget all the years I lived here."

    On the street a young and handsome sailor heard their English and attached himself to them, to improve his own English, he said. His name was Sazhan Alexander and he told them he was a "high marine," a cadet of the merchant marine academy like Natasha's son. Sazhan was a charmer: he told Audrey and Ida he was getting married the following week, steered them to his recommended restaurant and warned Audrey not to exchange rubles on the street. Apart from being illegal, he told her, many of the exchangers were flim-flam artists and the wads of money they gave in exchange were padded with plain paper.

    Meanwhile I was picked up by Ira and again rode the subway to the Baltic station. This time the train ride was rather crowded because repair work on the line had cancelled the two preceding trains. We shared the compartment with several members of the Leningrad space research group--Pudovkin, Natasha and also Svetlana Zaitseva, a motherly-looking lady with straight fair hair and an interest in the ring current.

    The time passed in conversation. Sample question: why is it that American books have such elaborate settings with so much attention to detail, yet relations between people are so simple? I answered, "Americans like books that are easy to read." Svetlana then turned the conversation to ecology and it turned out everyone was unhappy about the Kronstadt dam. We passed the large station at Novy Petergof, then the small one at Stary Petergof, and stopped at a still smaller one, which served the university. Because of the earlier cancellation a large crowd left the train with us and we all trudged along a wide path to the university, about 10 minutes away. There was no bus, and when I mentioned it later to Kolya, he replied "fresh air is good for you."

    The path took us between the buildings of geophysics and physics, big gray buildings with tall window bays; further away stood the partially completed building of the faculty for mathematics. Some of the gray stucco was already chipped, revealing bricks underneath. This campus, established in 1976, was the legacy of an ambitious rector who "wanted this to be the Oxford of Russia." The faculty regarded it as a blunder, far too distant from town.

    About 5 cars were parked in a space under the building--with so few of them, no parking lot was needed. We climbed up, followed a wide passage to the adjoining building and continued to the end occupied by the space research group. On a bulletin board hung a large hand-drawn cartoon, featuring snakes of all colors and sizes, over a dozen snakes on and around a big apple tree. The artistry was very good and most snakes had balloon captions in Russian: one said "Good Year (hiss)," one was swallowing a rabbit, one pushed a pram, one held a shoe, one dripped venom while another looked innocent, and so on. Pudovkin explained that one of the students drew it to mark the "year of the snake" on the Chinese calendar and that the captions were all jokes on topical matters, though none involved politics.

    In Pudovkin's conference room, next to his office, a table was set and the faculty sat down around it. Lunch included a mound of piroshki which may well have been left over from Lida's feast the day before. Alla Lyatskaya, an ionospheric scientist with long dark hair, had baked delicious sweet tubes of dough (like Italian canolli), filled with cream cheese: she was the divorced wife of Lyatsky, who with Maltsev modeled Birkeland currents in 1974. Also on the table were kolbassa sausage sandwiches, cookies in various shapes and berry preserves ("something like cranberries, smaller") which tasted tart and good. And of course tea.

    I was introduced to the faculty. Arkady Usmanov was there, as was Dmitry (Dima) Ponyavin with whom Arkady now worked on the interplanetary current sheet and the extrapolation of solar magnetic fields into space. Balding Vladimir Semyonov worked on reconnection. Victor Sergeev, a thin energetic man with a large drooping mustache, coordinated a ground network to support the Interball mission and was interested in reconstructing equatorial magnetic field from particle observations at low altitudes. I later argued with him on this point, expressing doubt the idea would work since the particles observed at low altitude represented just a small part of those crossing the equator: but the language barrier was too much. Also present were Ludmilla (Luda) Wagina and Igor Kubyshkin, and of course those who rode the train and Kolya. Natasha was there, her interests included magnetospheric boundary flows and reconnection, auroral breakup and (like Arkady and Dima) the tracing of the interplanetary magnetic field to its origins on the Sun. Ira's interests, I found, were sunward and discrete arcs of the aurora.

    Two bookcases in the room held journals and various publications, including copies of the Journal of Geophysical Research and Reviews of Geophysics since 1978. Pudovkin was among the 10 Soviet scientists who, by special agreement with the American Geophysical Union, was allowed to subscribe to AGU journals and pay in rubles; I had heard that the AGU had a large hoard of rubles in a Moscow bank and did not know how to spend it, but I never got around to asking AGU for some of it. But he lacked the earlier issues and I promised to try to get those, from some retiring scientist giving away his old collection.

    We had arrived just before noon and my seminar was set for 12:40; it was titled "Methods of Magnetospheric Modeling" and about 15 people attended. Halfway through the talk I reached the subject of Euler potentials, a mathematical representation of magnetic field lines. They were first glimpsed by Leonard Euler, an incredibly talented mathematician born 1707 in Switzerland and hired by Catherine the Great to be the star of her academy of sciences. "It gives me great pleasure," I began, "to talk here about Euler, because he lived and worked in Leningrad."

    Pudovkin looked at me. "Petersburg!"

    The questions at the end took nearly as long as the lecture itself and continued after we returned to Pudovkin's office. Dima asked about applying the methods to the Sun, Pudovkin about relating the current density to the stretch function, and Natasha wanted to know "what was the story about Triad" to which I referred briefly. Triad was a Navy satellite whose magnetometer first mapped the pattern of the extensive electric currents associated with the polar aurora, and I explained that the experiment was conducted by Al Zmuda and Jim Armstrong, both of whom had tragically died by the time their discovery appeared in print, in 1974. I added that I had noted Zmuda's name on the spine of a book in Pudovkin's bookcase: Pudovkin then pulled it out, it was a 1975 memorial volume.

    Pudovkin later posed an interesting question: "How is it that I never saw you before at international meetings?" I said that I had become active on that scene rather late. But I did see him at the Edinburgh IAGA Assembly in 1981, only I believed at the time that he was Tsyganenko, because he read there a paper by Kolya.

    I rode the train back with Kolya. Previously I had offered to nominate him for membership in AGU and to pay his dues, and now he gave me a neatly typed letter, with a photo clipped to it, asking AGU to admit him to membership. He also told me that there still remained bureaucratic obstacles to his attendance at July's IAGA Assembly in Exeter. Therefore, could I please write the organizers and ask that they transfer to him the registration of his friend Oleg Troshichev, of the Arctic Institute in Leningrad? Oleg had agreed to such a transfer, because he had sufficient funds to register later again.

    (I agreed, and only later, back in the US, I began wondering whether the Exeter organizers would honor such a request, just on my say-so. In the end I paid Kolya's registration myself and when we met again in Exeter, one of the first things Kolya did was to repay me.)
We discussed the collaboration agreement on the train. I said: "I am not really important at NASA. I don't know if I can make the administrators do things." And Kolya: "I am the same." We arrived at the Baltic station in time for the rush hour (it was now a weekday): the steady flow of humanity into the subway station had become a torrent and it took some effort just to squeeze through the entrance door. Inside the train we both stood, tightly packed against other passengers, and Kolya signaled to me to start moving towards the exit one station ahead of our destination. His comment on the crush: "Not too bad."

    We dined in the lower level restaurant of the Leningrad (the one on top, with a better view, only opened late). Audrey urged me "don't speak Russian," service would be better if we spoke English. It riled her to see how Russians were treated in their own country, but Kolya enjoyed the way our waiter groped with his English. He was a young fellow with large hands and a wide smile, but his service was awkward and it seemed strange that an able-bodied man like him was not employed in a more fitting way. The steak was good but the only fresh vegetables available were as usual sliced green cucumbers (oh for an American salad bar!). Kolya sampled of few slices and let the rest stand.

    Afterwards we sat in the lobby and waited. Our train was again scheduled to leave around midnight, and once again Kolya was responsible for our getting on it. He had ordered a taxi for 10:50 and assured us that this company was reliable. He gave us its phone number and we then urged him to leave, telling him we could handle everything by ourselves, even call the cab company to confirm. After some protests he left reluctantly, saying he still wanted to visit his parents, especially his mother, 81 years old and ill with cancer. Awkward good-byes, then as he left I snapped one last photo.

    We had hoped to meet Ludmilla Matveyeva that evening, a schoolteacher who half a year earlier had taught Russian in Greenbelt. But she was unable to come, she had to supervise a student party in place of a sick principal. She sounded rather regretful on the phone. The taxi arrived on time, the ride was short and we again reached the train with plenty of time to spare. Our wagon-mates included an artist who guarded in his compartment a load of framed paintings, and two loud Scotsmen wearing kilts who later turned up at the Rossiya. The trip was even less comfortable than the first one, the cabin was significantly hotter and still no way of beating the heat. In the morning we watched the Russian countryside roll by--again, very little cultivation--and rolled into the Moscow station at 8:30. Nadia was already waiting.

    Tuesday April 11

    We returned to the hotel, were assigned a new room and unpacked there, to discover that my "good" shoes were missing. They were probably under the bed and Audrey must have missed them when she packed. We searched the old room but found nothing: no use to try any further, such shoes are here worth two months' salary.

    Then on to IKI: that was to be the day of my presentation on models, but the schedule had slipped and models have been re-scheduled for Friday. All that was left to do was to sit at the long conference table and listen to Stan Shawhan open the sessions of the working group by reviewing past meetings. After him Lev Zelyoni and Tom Armstrong listed experiments and tentative investigators on "Regatta," a proposed US-USSR equatorial spacecraft to be launched in 1993. No mention of physics: the margins of my notebook say "Amway."

    In the lobby I met Zelyoni, Israelovich'es boss, and he proposed various changes in the agreement, to shorten the preamble and pin down what exactly would be done--e.g. dependence of the model on parameters such as AE, Dst and lobe field. I felt uneasy, because I did not like to change anything that Kolya and I had agreed about without Kolya's consent, and in the end I suggested that he talk it over with Armstrong. I also asked Zelyoni about support for Kolya--lending him an AT-class (personal) computer, support for a student and providing him with $250 he needed to attend Exeter. I was told that any of these would be very difficult to do. Zelyoni also discussed with me drift-free particle motions and chaotic motion, on which he is working, and I promised reprints of my articles in that area.

    I later raised the same points with Oleg Vaisberg, the handsome head of the interplanetary lab, concerned with the solar wind, Venus and Mars. I urged him to help Kolya's work: "In Leningrad I felt like a rich man visiting a poor but talented colleague, like Salieri visiting Mozart. They [Pudovkin's group] do a lot with very little." Oleg promised to look into the loan of an AT. But to provide money for Exeter was again "very hard."

    Later Zelyoni sounded more conciliatory. He thought well of Kolya but less so of Pudovkin. I said Pudovkin seemed like a father to his group (many members were in fact former students of his). "Yes, but he should let his children go. They have grown."

    I also talked to Tom, who said he had come to appreciate the importance of modeling, and he agreed that the US effort should be expanded. He said that the following October he would release a call for proposals to produce models, related to the ISTP-Interball effort. He wished to shorten the agreement with the Soviets, to make sure the Washington bureaucracy approved it, and I warned him--cut too much and all that would remain would be an expression of goodwill.

    Postscript: Few things in politics are what they seem. There was no solicitation in October, nor later that year. Nor did Kolya receive any AT on loan--in December Pudovkin told me, while visiting Goddard, that his only computer was still that expensive XT clone. "Regatta" seemed uncertain, since NASA had not allocated any specific funds to it. And--as already noted--the agreement on collaboration in modeling was drastically changed, promising more than my original draft.
After the sessions everyone was invited to attend the Moscow circus; Audrey, too, was brought to IKI. All Americans and a fair number of Russians with them took seats in the bus and waited, as did the driver. Five minutes passed before the realization penetrated that no one was really in charge and there was nothing to wait for, and the driver was then told to proceed.

    The circus is housed in a stylish round arena built of concrete, completely enclosed, across the road from Moscow University. Everyone was given a ticket, but nobody mentioned dinner: it was a regular performance and we saw not one empty seat in the entire house. The show began with an acrobat riding a circling model airplane suspended from the top, first standing on it, then hanging by a hand or by an ankle as she whirled above the front rows. There followed a long succession of acts, most of them very good: high-wire artists, clowns, Azerbaijani horsemen, two-humped camels and a monkey hitching rides on them, magic tricks and so forth, but contrary to what one might expect in Russia, no bears. The high-wire acts were particularly elaborate and in the finale acrobats stood on shoulders of acrobats who stood on shoulders, and others balanced each other on opposite ends of a beam centered on the wire. The clowns were funny and agile and their acts included quick artistic sketches of subjects in the audience.

    Like other Soviet establishments the circus too had a coatcheck, a huge one stretching part of the way around the circular lobby. In the break I went down and suggested to the lady in charge, who was passing her time by reading, that perhaps I should retrieve our coats now, to avoid a long wait in the end. She assured me there would hardly be any waiting, and she was right. I have never seen such a fast and efficient retrieval of coats as the one that followed the performance. Zip, zip, zip, the coats almost flew. And hardly any waiting.

    Brandt of the Ioffe Institute in Leningrad, a lively older man with a good sense of humor, guided us to the subway. He also told us where to get off, near the Lenin Library, and guided us through underground walkways to the Kremlin, then to Red Square and the Rossiya. The girls in the 8th floor buffet were already closing shop, but we managed to buy three pieces of cake, which had to serve as dinner.

    Back in our new room, I spotted a little cockroach scurrying across the bathroom floor, then another one. I tried to ignore them until a half-grown roach appeared on our bed and waved his antennas in the air. Audrey yelled and I tried to squash it with a book, harder than one might think. I then walked out to our key lady and in my best Russian told her: Pozhalusta, zhuki v komnate (beg your pardon, cockroaches in the room). She gave a little yelp: "Zhuki?!" I confirmed and she promised that the next day they would be taken care of.

    Wednesday April 12

    Yesterday was a warm day, today is downright hot. The number of heavy coats on the subway has dropped markedly, though not to zero. Our room remained overheated and Audrey complained of having to drink too much.

    She was also afraid the room might be fumigated, with all our belongings in it. I went again to the key lady to explain that the zhuki we saw were quite small. Da, Dyeti (yes, children), she said. In the end a porter came around 5 p.m. and with a wheeled contraption transferred all our luggage to another room.

    In the morning Audrey placed a routine call to the US embassy, to inform it of our new whereabouts. She was told that our son Allon had called the State Department, to notify her that her brother Sanford in Miami was in critical condition with lung cancer and might not live through the week. Just before we had left for Russia Sandy had started coughing blood and was taken to the hospital: it was a bad sign (he had smoked heavily) but there was no diagnosis and Audrey remained hopeful.

    She immediately went to the hotel desk and tried to place a long distance call to the US, but the clerk was unable to place the call. A man saw her and with a heavy Russian accent told her not to go through the hotel desk. "I will give you a number to call," he said and gave her the number of the long-distance operator in Moscow. He explained that the hotel operator would not do anything more than call that number, too, "but the difference is, you keep calling until the line is not busy." He said he used the number in all of his own calls. "Where do you live?" she asked. "Long Island."

    Using that number she managed to get through to her friend Marge Bergemann in Greenbelt, who had been in touch with Allon. Sandy had weathered the emergency, though he was still in poor shape; because we were anyway scheduled to return that Saturday, Audrey decided against an early return. As it turned out, Sandy regained enough strength to return home again and lived another three months.

    All those things I only learned in the evening, for this was my day to visit Moscow State University (MGU). At 9 in the morning Alexeev came with his red Zhiguli to pick me up: the car was only two years old but already seemed worn. We drove along the river, then on a wide highway across a double bridge, and immediately past the Moscow Circus the car turned right into the university campus. Igor parked outside a group of bright-yellow buildings (again, very few other cars) and we walked over to the entrance of the Institute for Nuclear Physics, where we checked our coats. Yellow is a popular color: as we climbed the stairs I could see that the building was being repainted by two people on a scaffold, using long-handled paint rollers.

    We immediately went over to an old classroom, where 20-25 people were already waiting. Professor Igor Veselovsky introduced me: Lisa Antonova was in the audience, but apart from her I recognized no one. In honor of the audience I wore the pin she had given me, showing the tall university tower and the letters MGU, the university's acronym.

    The lecture went well, but the audience was less lively than the one in Leningrad. Something was missing, perhaps the people's command of English was not as good. Of the question period I only recall a rather disorganized rambling by Kuznetsev, an older faculty member, on asymmetries associated with interplanetary Bz and By. Later we met again at IKI where he bent my ear on the effects of the Earth's rotation on the magnetic field near the cusp lines. He said this would lead to very fast motions, about 150 km/sec: I replied that I did not quite get his argument but that my intuition seemed to say such fast flow was not likely.

    The group also seemed to lack a focal person similar to Pudovkin in Leningrad. No one in it received the Journal of Geophysical Research, and in order to consult back number (if I understood correctly) they had to use library microfiches. On the other hand, Moscow enjoyed far better computer support. I was shown the department's computer room, large and well stocked, with a mainframe said to be a copy of an IBM 3033, 2.4 gigabytes of memory and some 100 users. In the offices were quite a few microcomputers and an Epson 800 printer. The blue color of the mainframe computer imitated the style of IBM machines, as did the little plaques that said BM, the Russian acronym (EVM) for a computer. I photographed Alla Antonova next to one of those, with her copper-red hair and wide smile.

    Alla was one of the faculty members introduced to me when we returned from the lecture to Alexeev's office. She was that "other Antonova" on the faculty, the one who had spent almost a year as exchange visitor in France. She enjoyed conversation and laughed a lot. Others present were Kropotkin (already met a week earlier), Veselovsky and two associates of Alexeev: Elena Belenkaya, a small quiet woman with dark hair, and Volodia (Vladimir) Kalegaev, a graduate student working with Alexeev on models. My notes say "agreement with Lev Zeloni that when Interball is launched, there will be two models--Tsyganenko's and that of Alexeev." But I don't recall what that meant.

    Alexeev showed me some recent modeling work and it looked good, a model with dipole, paraboloid and a resistive boundary layer and with its distant tail disconnected, in agreement with ISEE-3 observations. The article had appeared (or was to appear soon) in the Russian Geomagnetism and Aeronomy. He said he did not submit papers to any western journal because he could not afford the page charges, and I told him that such charges could now be waived and promised to send him the new rules. He also gave me a book of abstracts from a magnetospheric conference in memory of Velior Shabansky, held the previous year at Suzdahl, a "tourist center" not too far from Moscow.

    For lunch Alexeev took me, Alla, Veselovsky and Kropotkin to the main building of the university, the 32-story tower (rather tall stories!) erected by prisoners during the Stalin era. In the style of public edifices favored by Stalin, it was square, ornate and rose in tiers like those of a wedding cake to a sharp pinnacle. I repeated to Veselovsky an old joke, that from the top one had the best view of Moscow, for that was the only place in the city from which the building was not visible. "But it is a very nice building" he said, adding that the Russians often referred to it as Khram Na'uka, the cathedral of science.

    As one drew near one noticed the lower outbuildings, each still quite big. They contained student dormitories. At the door a policeman checked our papers and Alexeev apologized, saying he knew it was unseemly for a university to have such guards, but they were only posted in the last year because too many non-students were entering the dorms to steal. In the entrance hall past the guard were the inevitable coat-check and also four bulletin boards arranged around a square and titled "University Hyde Park" (actually "Gyde" because Russian transliterates the sound "H" as "G"). Alexeev explained that here any student could express opinions about anything, within limits, just as speakers in London's Hyde Park were allowed to preach publicly on whatever they wished. Quite a few students stood around reading.

    The basement held a large student cafeteria, but because of my presence Alexeev suggested we should eat at the faculty club. Unfortunately some large meeting had just ended and a long line snaked out of the door of the club. Alexeev entered, talked to whoever was in charge and soon came to take me past the line into the dining hall. Quite a few well-dressed white-haired faculty members were standing there and waiting, and they seemed rather annoyed to be passed by a latecomer wearing an American flag in his lapel. Furthermore, when we arrived at the table, I realized that only Alexeev was with me. I apologized and said, I'd rather not eat here but in the cafeteria, and we left again. We managed to catch up with Alla and Igor, but Kropotkin was already gone.

    The student cafeteria occupied a large noisy hall downstairs and its tables were scattered between stout square pillars that held up the building. One ordered food by the usual Russian system: go to the front to see what is being offered, find the price, then stand in line at the cashier's booth in the lobby, pay, go back to stand in line for the food and finally trade your receipt for the dishes. After that, as in any cafeteria, one carries the dishes on a tray to whatever free table one finds. The meal cost about one ruble (the hosts paid) and compared well with those of the hotel: carrot salad with a dollop of sour cream, a hearty vegetable soup with a chunk of meat, goulash with mashed potatoes and some bland mashed vegetable (could have been pumpkin), and for desert the usual watery "compote" with a few berries at the bottom.

    I had told Alexeev that my children would love to have T-shirts of Moscow University, but he did not think any existed. Yet going through the halls I spotted a young man wearing such a shirt. I stopped and asked: where did he get it? "I don't know where." A little later, a girl with another MGU shirt, different style, waiting in line for the cashier: she didn't know, either. How can it be? Shrug. In the end we discovered near one of the exits from the tower a stand selling T shirts (and other goods). But it had no MGU shirts and in the end I bought three shirts with "football" and names other sports written in Cyrillic characters across them. They cost 8.70 rubles apiece.

    We then sought a way to reach the top of the tower. The elevator only reached the 28th floor, a museum of geology with small windows, streaked on the outside and not giving a good view. A smaller elevator went from the landing to the top, but it was not open to the public and Alexeev admitted that he had never been any higher. Just then a foreign visitor appeared, a biologist from Massachusetts being shown around the university, and her escort had a key to the special elevator. We joined them and rode up to the 31st floor, in several shifts because the elevator was quite small.

    At the top was another exhibit, most of it in memory of an ecologist who had recently passed away. One panel was devoted to a word the man had coined, "noology," the study of what people visualize in their minds. But even this was not the top of the building, the windows were still useless and above us we could see an internal balcony one floor higher. Alexeev found a metal door opening to a spiral staircase that lead up, and we followed it through partitions which resembled bulkheads of a ship. But it ended in a locked metal door and we had to retrace all our steps.

    Finally the elevator took us up one more floor to the inner balcony, close to the vaulted ceiling in whose middle a large red star was set. Around the balcony were alcoves leading to windows, each turned into a small office, one can wonder who worked there. And yes! One alcove had a door leading outside, to an exterior balcony which circled the tower. A woman who worked there said no one was actually supposed to go out, because stones could fall from the top--but it would be OK if we watched out.

    Indeed the balcony looked weatherbeaten, and on closer look so did the fancy pinnacles of the lower "wedding cake" tier. Lightning must strike here often, and the winters have not been kind to the stonework which was darkened and streaked. All around the balcony stood searchlights which at night played on the pinnacle.

    The view may indeed be the best in Moscow. Unfortunately the day was hazy and of the Kremlin we could only see dim reflections of golden domes. On one side the Moscow river curved lazily around a large sports arena, on another the Moscow Circus could be seen, and at our feet all around were university buildings. Alexeev identified some of them--the Physics Institute, the Shternberg Observatory and in the middle of a large garden he pointed out the statue of the university's patron saint, Lomonosov. I said, I know about him, in Leningrad I saw art works by Michael Lomonosov, and at this Alla began laughing out loud--I had said "Michael" as in English, it should be "Mikhail."

    Then a quick elevator ride down and a leisurly walk back to the car. Someone pointed out large olive-drab metal boxes, like shipping containers, scattered throughout the campus and even next to the Circus. They contain cosmic ray detectors, part of a large air-shower experiment of the university.

    Alexeev then drove me and Alla back; Alla lived halfway to IKI and before we parted she volunteered to guide Audrey around Moscow. Then we drove to IKI and I bid farewell to Alexeev. At IKI I learned that an official reception was scheduled that night at the "Praga" restaurant, near the beginning of Arbat street. I then returned to the Rossiya, where Audrey was waiting to tell about her telephone calls.

    On the street a pair of young Russians helped us find the "Praga" which filled an entire building, had several entrances and many banquet halls. It occupied an ornate building with marble stairs and fancy decorations, quite possibly some sort of palace before the revolution. The head waiter informed us that the Akademia Nauk (Academy of Sciences) had reserved the "hall of mirrors" upstairs, and as we searched for the place we could hear music emanating from some of the other halls where parties were in progress. Finally we found it, empty except for some waiters: the reception was scheduled to start at 7:30 and we had arrived half an hour early. The table was set with luscious appetizers including quantities of smoked salmon and there was no lack of strong drinks (the waiters offered us some); only much later we discovered that what we saw was all we would get, there was (again!) no dinner.

    Gradually the guests appeared--Kuznetsov came early, then Vika Prokharenka whom I introduced to Audrey, then many others. The red and white Georgian wines were passed around and toasts were made, each preceded by a long speech, sometimes with jokes so raunchy that the translator refused to repeat them in English, and sometimes one drinker added to the toast speech of another. Why are stars like the astronomers' lovers? "They both arrive in the evening and leave in the morning."

    Dan Shawhan had also come. He had spent 5 days as exchange visitor in a Russian school whose students had previously visited his own school in Maryland. Unfortunately most classes were held in Russian and he was unable to follow them. He told of a history class which was currently studying events of 1950 and the Stalin cult, with hot arguments about the subject. When we told about attending the Leningrad elections, he topped our story by telling how his escort let him mark her own ballot and cast it himself.

    We talked to Oleg Vaisberg, who felt that the changes in his country were a great improvement. I asked him, did he belong to the Communist party? Yes, he apologized, "I joined when I was young," his father was a member too and that might have been the reason. But now he was an enthusiastic liberal, actively supporting Sakharov and Sagdeev and fighting to change the academy's vote in the elections for the new assembly, originally railroaded by conservatives but later revoked. Still, he sounded cautious about the future. Later Vika heard dance music downstairs and excused herself--she liked to dance and wanted to go and join the fun. Soon people started drifting out and so did we. Footsore we took the familiar walk through Red Square to the Rossiya, where the 6th floor buffet still had soft drinks and creampuffs.

    Thursday April 13


    Breakfast as usual was in the small cafeteria overlooking the Kremlin walls. Today the tables were crowded and we ended up sharing one with a bearded gentleman who introduced himself as John McCarthy, professor of computer science from Stanford University. He was accompanied by his translator Natasha, who told us she was Jewish, studied Hebrew but did not intend to leave the USSR. Her husband was a mathematician and she gave us her address in case we ever returned to Moscow.

    McCarthy had been visiting Russia since 1965 and this time he met Sagdeev, among others (later he showed me a copy of Sagdeev's political platform). The changes were enormous, he admitted, and the department of Marxism in one university (Moscow?) was now renamed the department of "studies of the problems of socialism." He informed us of the latest scandal, involving a company trading wood-products to the West, buying there computers for dollars and reselling them in the USSR. The practice had just been declared illegal, though McCarthy felt it represented a commendable example of free enterprise. I told him I had known about such deals, those traders had taken the Leningrad scientists to the cleaners and it was a good thing the practice was outlawed. McCarthy: "You must be a socialist."

    He also told about a woman he knew who 20 years earlier had got into trouble with the authorities and was given the choice, emigrate to Israel or go to prison. She protested that she was not even Jewish. "Does not matter," she was told, "just find some sort of relative in Israel who would invite you." She found one and from Israel she moved to America.

    Last year she was allowed back, to visit her family in a town near the Ural mountains. The region had been traditionally closed to foreigners and a local KGB man told her "you are the first American ever to come here." Her parents were living in the same house as they did 20 years earlier. At that time the house was brand-new, and they were moved in even though it was still unfinished and lacked electricity and sewage. Twenty years later the daughter found that the house still lacked a sewage hook-up, forcing residents to use outhouses. After the woman had told the story to McCarthy she wondered whether foreigners were barred from the area to keep them from seeing things like that, not for military reasons at all. She asked him: "How would you like strangers looking around your backyard?"

    McCarthy was well aware of Russia's computer lag. Stalin at one time suppressed cybernetics, though by 1951 the Russians did have a working computer. He however felt that the role of Staros in this field [Physics Today, Sept. '85] was greatly overrated. In 1964, he said, the Soviets made a fundamental decision to copy IBM, and they still did so.

    This was the day we had planned to go sight-seeing and in particular, I wanted to see the Kremlin. I called Nadia at 9:30 (as Pyotr had asked me to do) and she informed us that she would gladly go with us, but the Kremlin was closed to visitors on Thursdays. This was rather unexpected. I said I would call back, but did not, because Audrey felt that Nadia would bring a car, which we did not want. Next day I found that Nadia was quite willing to walk.

    Our first stop was the central synagogue, marked on our tourist map. It stood on a side street a short walk from the Rossiya and looked run-down. A long line stood in front of the door, probably recipients of charity. And old woman with few teeth sat by the door and as we entered she mechanically asked for "cigarettes, souvenir." In the lobby hung a neat handwritten notice "if you want to learn contemporary Hebrew, call--" and then gave the number. The sanctuary was large and gloomy, no one was inside, but by the door stood a red-headed youth who spoke excellent Hebrew. I asked about sabbath services and he pointed to the side room where regular services were held; he himself did not participate. And about the "Jewish Cultural Center," recently opened with great publicity? "I don't go there. Only 20% of the Jews have anything to do with them."

    We go over to the prayer room. It is a small "shul" and some older Jews stand there in prayer, rocking their bodies. No one speaks Hebrew, only Yiddish and Russian.

    Then by subway to the "Jewish Cultural Center" on Taganska Square, formerly the Yiddish Theatre. A Jewish artist from Washington had briefly performed there and told us she was not sure whether it was a real Jewish center or just sham. Could we find out? We promised to try. We easily found the place, an undistinguished low building, on its door hung a large poster announcing a program of Jewish songs and above it a plaque marking the building as the "Jewish Chamber Musical Theater."

    The door was open and we walked in. By the entrance was an office with a bored doorkeeper, but we did not ask anything, just kept walking. The interior was dark and empty, the upstairs lobby held an old exhibit on the holocaust (English captions) and doors opened from there to some offices, stripped of furniture. From the lobby one entered a small theatre, seating about 200: on the stage were a piano and a drum combo, and behind them a curtain decorated with large outlines of Hebrew letters. In the rear stood a control panel for lights and sound equipment.

    In the theatre the guard caught up with us and told us (in Russian, but the message was clear) that we should not be there. Where was the office of the theatre? I could not make out the reply, but thought I recognized in the stream of words the name "Biro Bidzhan," the "Jewish homeland" created by Stalin on the Siberia-China border, essentially a sham for propaganda purposes.

    Back by subway to Dyetsky Mir (children's world), Russia's largest store for children's needs, next to the KGB headquarters and the Lyubyanika jail. Our sons collect flags of countries we visit, but so far we had found no place which sold Soviet flags. The children's store was a long shot, on someone's recommendation, and it was jammed with shoppers. It was quite large and had two levels, with wide marble stairs and columns, probably constructed before the revolution and now looking rather worn. We circulated a bit with the crowd but saw no information counter and no clear pattern. The merchandise varied: colorful but flimsy plastic toys, children's clothes, school needs, but also housewares, even meat grinders. And the purchase system was the same as in the cafeteria--find your purchase, price it, go to the booth to pay, then trade your receipt for the purchase. In one side gallery video games for children were set up and all seemed quite busy.

    Audrey got tired and sat down on a ledge outside, while I tried my luck again. I found a record counter and bought a few rock records for the boys, and then discovered small flags at the counter for school supplies, little red banners on yellow sticks such as schoolchildren might wave before a visiting dignitary, ten for one ruble.

    Lunchtime arrived and I proposed taking Audrey to "U Margarete" where Gurshtein had taken me. It is close to the Kropotkinskaya Metro station but we have no address, nor is there any directory to consult. From the station several streets radiated out and at random we chose the one furthest to the left. A young couple promised to show us the way to the "cooperative restaurant" but they brought us to a different one, a dark loud place which only accepted hard currency or credit cards. They knew of no other cooperative, "we are the oldest one here." we were told, rather arrogantly.

    We then turned right and after some search found the place. But the menu was in Russian and no one spoke English, making selection somewhat haphazard. The soup was pureed chicken, gribnoi we discovered to be mushrooms, well prepared, and the main dish was meatballs with mushrooms, again colorfully presented. With ice cream for desert the bill came to 28 rubles--40 dollars on the official exchange, 5 days' pay for many Russians, one of the better meals we had in Russia, though portions were rather skimpy.

    We took the Metro to the National Exhibition on the north side of the city. The exit from the station led directly to the huge Sputnik monument, a rocket rising into the sky at the tip of a long plume of smoke, all in metal and rather stylish. Across the highway stood the large Kosmos hotel, and to the south rose Moscow's high TV tower, with a basket-like bulge halfway up which contained a high-class restaurant. But the air was even more hazy than the day before, the tower only appeared dimly and tourists in that restaurant probably got none of the view they had expected.

    From the station it's a long walk to the tall gateway building and along the way were booths that sell food, records, maps and souvenir pins. At the gate we bought entrance tickets: relatively few people were seen and most of those seemed to be on their way out, for the time was getting to be mid-afternoon. Also, it was rather early in the spring and many pavilions were still closed for the winter.

    The National Exhibition, known by its initials as VDNKh, is a collection of pavilions and exhibits set in a large park. For a low fee we boarded an open tour-train pulled by a tractor, providing a quick overview of the entire exhibition. In the center stood a large white building of the same wedding-cake architecture as the university tower, also topped by a spike; the pavilions around the route, in contrast, displayed a great variety of styles, but many appeared rather weather beaten.

    We got off across from a Vostok space rocket, held aloft by a crane: very impressive. The aviation museum across the road was still closed, but the "Kosmos" pavilion was open and we walked in, to a striking collection of spacecraft (or replicas). I recognized the twin Apollo-Soyuz spacecraft, docked together, the only manned spacecraft on display (the Smithsonian has a similar pair). The replica of the first Sputnik was also recognizable, hanging over the entrance beside a quotation from chairman Lenin. But most of the other spacecraft filling this great hall, with arched ceilings and skylights like a railroad station, were unfamiliar: Proton 5, Prognoz 3, Aureole and so on, including an array of Venus or Mars landers and a Venus-Halley spacecraft similar to the one on display at IKI.

    The far wall was dominated by a large photo of Yuri Gagarin, first man to orbit the Earth, smiling and holding a dove. Beneath it, out of the way in a space fenced off from public access, stood yet another spacecraft. No indication was given what it was but I wondered whether it was a replica of the ill-fated Phobos spacecraft, waiting to be taken away.

    Back at the hotel we started packing. We made two packages of what was left of our emergency supplies: for Nadia, a large chocolate bar, instant coffee, soap, shampoo and kleenex, and for Pyotr, another bar of chocolate, pens for his little daughter and an Apollo pin. We gift-wrapped both and attached notes of thanks.

    Friday April 14

    Up early, breakfast by the Kremlin view--very foggy outside. This was the final day of the meeting, when the presentation on models was scheduled and also the day I was scheduled to lecture on history at the Institute for the History of Science and Technology, at 3:30 in the afternoon.

    I arrived at IKI ahead of the delegation and Nadia took me to the lab, where Pyotr was playing a computer game. He did not have a draft of the agreement, but said it was with Mary Mellott. I gave both their presents and we discussed the presentation.

    At 10:20 the delegation arrived. I asked Mary about the "protocol" and she snapped back that I could not see it, it was not yet ready. What then should be used in my presentation? I told Pyotr that "we too have our bureaucrats" and proposed to use the old protocol, the original draft, and to say that was all I had. Just before the presentation I slipped into the office where Dolores Holland was busily typing up a draft of the protocol on a portable computer; a former secretary, Dolores now handled education and various coordination jobs for NASA headquarters and seemed efficient and personable. I borrowed her shears and cut the transparencies of the old protocol into strips, so that the English and Russian could be displayed side by side.

    Pyotr began, using my schematics and some of his own--graphics of field line traces, dependence on AE and other indices, the T87 model and so forth, a general exposition. He was followed by Vika's graphics, projected from a ceiling TV. Orbital points of Interball's twin probes were traced at 20 minute intervals with "Attention" flashed whenever their magnetic footprints on Earth were 50 or less apart.

    Then I spoke about what modeling did and the five systems of electric currents which must be represented by models, it was all well received. At the end I displayed the protocol, section by section, in both languages. After me Tom spoke in general terms of goodwill and after him Lev Zelyoni. Lev's first slide listed collaboration points:

  1. - Exchange data and personnel.
  2. - NASA would release an "Announcement of Research Opportunity" inviting participation in Interball.
  3. - The Soviets would participate in analyzing data from Dynamics Explorer (DE) and would join in work on data from GGS (ISTP).
  4. - The Satellite Situation Center at Goddard would expand to handle Interball and GGS together.
As far as I know, none of these was started in 1989.

    Lev Zelyoni afterwards took me to meet two of his graduate students or "aspirants", Dmitry (Dima) Zorin and Boris Savenkov, working on chaotic particle motion in the Earth's magnetotail, along the lines of what Chen and Palmadesso had done. That was their thesis work and they were close to finishing; they showed me their computer graphics, nicely done. Boris did most of the talking, maybe because his English was better. Next to their office desk hung a large US election poster from the US, "Mike Dukakis for President."

    [Later I sent them and Lev Zelyoni bumper stickers from the campaign of Maryland State Senator Leo Green, from our district--"Leo Green for Senator." Leo Green translated into Russian is Lev Zelyoni].
Eugene Zykov, a smooth character who spoke excellent English, was in charge of special arrangements (Audrey called him "our spy" because he told her that he had spent two years in Washington, on an assignment he would not specify). After the presentation I asked him about my seminar at the Institute for History. "Nina will go with you" he said, "she is our best translator." She had voice problems today, he said, but was very good.

    Lunch was in the downstairs cafeteria, with Vika and Vaisberg, 68 kopeks for meat and fries, red beets, salad, fruite compote and pancakes with a dollop of sour cream. It tasted good but the room was even darker than usual because outside the day had turned rainy. Vika said she planned to return to Warsaw the next day, 18 hours by train.

    Vaisberg then took me upstairs to meet his group, working on the solar wind and on shocks in space: Giorgi Zastyenker, older and sharp, Natasha Baratkova, Yuri Yemelayev who measured solar wind ions (He3, He4, O and Fe), Lena Kaleznikova (fine structure of the Earth's bow shock) and young Andre Fyodorov, building instruments to untangle the plasma distribution function. These areas of research were far from mine, but I told them about Ogilvie's branch at Goddard, which performed similar research, and explained how Goddard labs were organized. On the way down Vaisberg told me, in answer to a question, "I don't smoke. I don't see a need to ruin my health, although this is not popular."

    No sign of Nina in the office downstairs. Zykov was told she went to shop for something and would show up at the seminar, but not to worry, a car was already waiting for us outside. At 2:40 Nadia escorted me to the exit: a steady light rain was falling, but no waiting car anywhere in sight. She went out into the rain and searched, but soon was back--"sorry, there is no car, but we can still make it if we use the Metro." Unfortunately she did not know exactly where we were going, all she had was a slip of paper stating that the office was on Staropanskaya Lane, off Kyubishev Street. We rode to within one station of the Rossiya, then changed trains, rode one more stop to Revolution Square and emerged into the drizzle.

    A short distance further Nadia stopped in an entranceway. "It must be very close, wait for me here" she said and dashed out. Soon she returned to say it was just around the block: an old building, probably pre-revolution, with the familiar tiny elevator. The institute was upstairs and Gurshtein met us at the entrance.

    The time was already after 3:30, but Gurshtein first took me to see the director of the institute, the son of Dmitry Ustinov, Secretary of Defense under Brezhnev--a heavy old bureaucrat, another Breznev-era image. The doors of his outer office and inner sanctum were both padded in reddish leather ringed with brass tacks, and a brass tablet announced Direktzia. Laid out on the desk were 4-5 different packs of cigarettes for visitors.

    Two additional people were in the room--old craggy Viktor Sokolsky who headed the department of aviation and space, and younger Valerii Poltavetz, scientific secretary for foreign relations. Valerii spoke English well but Ustinov was less fluent and Gurshtein translated my replies to him. With Sokolsky I communicated in German.

    Ustinov has read the letter brought by me from Martin Harwit, director of the National Air and Space Museum. He proposed a formal agreement with the museum and described in great detail what he wanted. I said that the ultimate goal was more study of history. Scientific achievements were described in journals but the stories behind them were easily lost, they should be recorded before that happened. Before the conversation got any further, however, Gurshtein reminded everyone of the seminar and it was agreed we meet again afterwards.

    The seminar room was small and drab and about 15 people were seated in it, including Nadia. God knows how long they have been waiting, the time was already 4 p.m.; Nina never appeared and in her place Gurshtein himself conducted a running translation, quite well. I launched into the story of the discovery of the radiation belt--the International Geophysical Year (1957), the Vanguard rocket, Van Allen, Explorer's 1 and 3, the discovery itself (1958), project Argus, the identification of inner and outer belts and so on to about 1963.

    Halfway through the presentation I stopped and asked: "Is this familiar to you?" I was told "yes, but in a general way." Minutes later I started on the story of Nick Christofilos and stopped again: "Who of you had heard about Christofilos?" No one had.

    The talk as originally prepared (and as presented at MIT one year earlier) had two parts, the second telling the story of substorms from Birkeland to Akasofu and Hones. But the running translation slowed everything down and the first part took the entire time. I ended by distinguishing two kinds of discovery in space research, the discovery of new problems and that of new solutions. The pace seemed fast during those early years but most discoveries were of the first kind and were almost inevitable once it became possible to send instruments into space. Discovering the meaning of those observations was a much slower process and the real scientific challenge. I then urged the audience to make the history of Soviet space exploration better known. My story was one-sided, I said, because I only knew one side: the other side had yet to be told, at least in my country.

    Just a few questions were asked. "Who invented the term solar wind?" I did not know, but mentioned the concept of a "solar breeze" which figured in a controversy around 1960. An old, heavy man introduced himself as Bronstein and tediously recounted how around 1955 some Soviet scientist had predicted the solar wind from the shape of solar streamers seen during eclipses.

    Then back to Ustinov and the other two. They presented me with souvenirs, pins commemorating space anniversaries and a 1-ruble commemorative coin with Tsiolkovski's picture. Ustinov then once again raised the question of exchanges with the National Air and Space Museum, to which he keeps referring as "your organization." I promised to carry his message and then asked: "Who here is studying the history of Soviet space research?" It turned out that no one did. "Maybe Gurshtein." I then said to them: "What do you want the Americans to do for you? It is your country, your history, you yourselves should be working on that history!" It was a long meeting and next day on the airplane I distilled it and other encounters into a 7-page letter to Harwit.

    Afterwards I parted from Nadia and went out to the street. The rain has stopped and the tower of the Rossiya was visible at the far end, only a short walk away. The pre-revolution buildings all around seemed to hold government offices and the street was filled with bureau workers rushing to the subway. In the hotel Audrey had almost finished packing.

    Tonight, we were told, a farewell banquet would be given by the US delegation at the Baku restaurant. At 6:30 we rushed to the subway but were overtaken by the bus taking the delegation to the Baku, Pyotr called out to us and we jump aboard. Then a ticklish situation developed: everybody had chipped in 20 rubles to pay for the banquet, but no one had told us. In fact we had just unloaded almost all of our Russian cash on gifts, including some inferior matrioshka dolls. Shawhan said he would forgo, but foolishly I say, would anyone sell me rubles? I did not expect anything close to the official rate, but David Bohlin said he would sell them for $50 put me on the spot. Later I hear more about David and I should not have been surprised.

    The Baku is a large sumptuous restaurant with many rooms and Azerbaijani decor and food. The party contained about equal numbers of Americans and Russians, but interestingly not one Russian woman, except for the interpreter. Many women scientists worked at IKI, but apparently none in a leading position. I sat between Pyotr and Audrey, across from a personable, fairly young man who introduced himself as Igor Yastremski, chief computer scientist at IKI.

    The tables were sumptuously laid out--with bottles of vodka and wine, to which gradually more and more appetizers were added--smoked sturgeon, vegetable and eggplant loaf (good), beans and grape-leaf wrapped balls. Much later shishkebab was served (no pilaf) and at the end ice cream, but the meal was rather leisurly, with much conversation. Audrey sat next to Eugene the spy who told her about his life and showed her color pictures of two daughters. He also had films of a third one, still a baby, but was keeping them in his refrigerator until he found a friend traveling abroad who could have them developed there. He would not entrust them to Russian processing.

    Shawhan toasted international collaboration, pointing out that on that very day two years earlier the group met for the first time, and he was followed by Galeev and others. Of all the toasts that followed I only recall the one by Bill Feldman. It was probably preceded by a few drinks, because Bill toasted the absent Bob Farquhar, who (he said) always knew his way around better than anyone else. In fact someone later told me that Shawhan was annoyed because Sagdeev had taken time to meet Farquhar but not him. "If I have another life to live" Bill concluded his toast, "I would like to live it as Bob Farquhar."

    The conversation with Pyotr and Igor drifted into the new Soviet politics, where "left" meant a supporter of private enterprise while "conservative" was an establishment Communist. I asked them: why did your people remember so fondly Napoleon's defeat in Russia? Thanks to that defeat the czars ruled Russia for another century; had Napoleon won, the czar would have been toppled and the ideas of the French revolution would have spread to Russia just as they spread to other countries conquered by the French.

    "You know why Napoleon lost?" said Pyotr. "Because he did not free the serfs. Had he freed them they would have supported him." And Igor added that Hitler, too, might have been supported by Russian peasants had he given them back their land. Instead, in parts of Russia captured by the Nazis the kolchozy continued working under new management.

    After the main courses were finished music began and people started dancing in the room next door. Audrey talked to Dolores Holland, who was planning to take the midnight train to Leningrad together with Ingrid and Diane. Around 9:30 Diane examined her ticket and discovered that their train was scheduled for 11:10, but they still took their time saying farewell. As we finally left David Bohlin began collecting untouched bottles of the "Siberian" vodka. Audrey quickly grabbed one near to us: "He won't get this one."

    Saturday April 15

    Last day in Moscow. We rose early, arrived at the buffet even before it opened and watched the Kremlin through a drizzle. I still planned to attend Sabbath services at the Moscow Synagogue and recite kaddish for my late uncle Albert on his annual anniversary.

    I arrived just as the "barchu" call to prayer was sounded and in the prayer room was just a bare quorum, 11 male adults. The prayers differed in subtle ways from the familiar ones, for instance the ending of the standing prayer ("Lord, guard my soul from evil") was longer and seemed more expressive. I joined the cantor in the kaddish at the end of the standing prayer--irregular, but I did not think I could stay until the mourners were summoned, at the end.

    The room was brightly lit and the Hebrew inscriptions on the wall included thanks to the government for maintaining this place of worship. The scroll was brought out: it was "Sabbath the Great" which preceded Passover, but the portion being read was rather undistinguished, on the rite of thanksgiving prescribed for those cured of leprosy. The reader cast around for a Cohen and a Levi to come forward for the first two readings, and as a visitor I was offered the third one. In fact the reader asked me if I could read the haftarah--I would have loved to do so, but the bus was to leave fairly soon and I could not stay.

    The delegation met in the lobby, everyone loaded down. On the bus ride to the airport we were given one last glimpse of the city: Dyetsky Mir, Gorky Street, Moscow city limits and a monument of tank barriers which perhaps marked the WW II frontline. In the airport we learned that our flight would be delayed at least one hour.

    Though the international air traffic through Moscow was rather small, lines were long. Our wait however was nothing compared to that of a large group of people camped out in a corner of the terminal. Families with babies and old people, living like Gypsies among boxes and suitcases and crates. Where from? "Kirghizia" they say. How long have you been here? Three days. How much longer? "Nedelya", which may mean Sunday or another week. Petya said they were emigrants--possibly ethnic Germans, Armenians or Jews. I told him "this is terrible" and he replied "it used to be worse."

    Finally we got to the customs and as our luggage slid through the X-ray machine, something in our bag excited the official. He called another one, energetically pointed at the screen and then made me unpack everything. After a long search, puzzling to Audrey and me, we reached the offending article: a small collection of US coins packed away in a plastic bag early in the visit, to avoid mixing them with Russian coins. Sorry guys, it's copper and nickel, not gold.

    Then we passed check-in and passport control, and still the plane was delayed. A bar is open but it serves no coffee, only alcoholic drinks and lemonade. We order a Russian "Fiesta" lemonade, the glasses that come with it have a whitish film on them and we end up drinking from the bottles.

    Finally Pan Am flight 30 is ready for boarding and an hour later we are comfortably cruising at 31,500 feet. I spend much of the flight composing a long report to Martin Harwit, not guessing that because of missed connections and bad weather, the trip from New York to Greenbelt would take nearly as long as from Moscow to New York, and that although our tickets were for Baltimore, we would end up on a flight to Washington's National Airport which would be diverted to Dulles in Virginia. Farquhar's daughter, out to pick up her father, drove to all three places: we called our friend Marge in Greenbelt who--thank God for friends--came out, 45 miles, and picked us up.

    On the plane I tried to sum up what we had experienced. It was not easy:

    "It is hard to fit all we saw in the USSR into an orderly pattern. There is a tremendous change: some sectors run ahead, some lag, some go off at a tangent. Vaisberg is a liberal Communist, Kolya a "believer," Ustinov still lives in the Brezhnev era... Society is headed away from the Communist state, but where it is headed is not clear."

    "It is like the stretching of a wire. Moderate stretching is elastic and reversible, but past a certain point the "plastic" stage begins where a relatively small force produces appreciable and permanent deformation. One gets the feeling Russia is in the plastic stage. Rules are strict but their enforcement is spotty and often no one seems to be in charge."

    And some further thoughts:

    Because it was a science-oriented meeting, most of those we met were intellectuals, whom we got to like and appreciate. One finds a natural empathy with Russians now that we had little reason to fear them, either as adversaries or as competitors. Thirty years ago a genuine fear might have existed that although democracy was "nicer," Communism was tougher, that their tightly controlled and indoctrinated society would outstrip our easy-going one. The visit made clear that it was not so, freedom was resilient while rigid controls retarded society. We did not guess at the time how dramatically that point would be confirmed by events in Eastern Europe only a few months later, when both the Berlin wall and the Czech Communist rule came down.

    And at the same time, life in the Soviet Union seemed uncannily familiar. It reminded me of life in Israel 40 years ago--an austere society, shared tenements, standing in line, uncertain rumored information, sharing of kindness and friendship by people who at the same time were trying to carve out their own niche of privilege and "protektzia." Also a bureaucracy which touched all aspects of life, an official ideology and lofty ideals, sometimes ignored by those who did best. Much of this, perhaps, was unwittingly brought to Israel by its founders, almost all of whom grew up in Russia. Just as "Jewish food" in the US was actually lower-class Russian cuisine, so many Israeli customs, dishes, figures of speech and attitudes seemed derived from Russian sources. I had been a visitor in the country, it seemed, but some of it had already been familiar.

  Linked Index

1 April    Arrival in Moscow.

Monday 3 April    First visit to IKI

Tuesday 4 April    Visit to Sagdeev

Wednesday 5 April    In Gringauz office, Kardashev

Thursday 6 April    Belousov; Gurshtain shows us the Arbat

Friday 7 April    Kolya describes his plans; night train

Saturday 8 April    Leningrad, city tour & hotel. Seva & Alla.

Sunday 9 April    Kolya's family; Mariinsky ballet

Monday 10 April    My lecture. Audrey & Alla tour city.

Tuesday 11 April    Back to IKI: my presentation. Circus.

Wednesday 12 April    Sandy's cancer; Talk at Moscow U, climb to top of tower.

Thursday 13 April    John McCarthy, buying a flag, space museum

Friday 14 April    Plan for mapping, my history talk, banquet

Saturday 15 April    Flying back, sorting impressions.


Back to the beginning of "Moscow Spring"

Author and Curator:   Dr. David P. Stern
     Mail to Dr.Stern:   david("at" symbol) .

Transcribed to HTML 8 December 2012