Richard Melson

December 2005

Kapitza Population Dynamics

Sergey P. Kapitza

Sergey Petrovich Kapitza was born on 14 February 1928 in Cambridge, England.

As a contribution to electrodynamics Sergey Petrovich developed the theory of Cherenkov radiation in a scattering media. By and under the Kapitza’s guidance much work was done on applied electrodynamics — from the design of magnets, microwave measurements, electrodynamics of open resonators and, finally, the development of the oroton - a versatile tunable submillimeter generator, that has now evolved into a subject of its own.
Since 1956 Sergey Petrovich has taught on a part time basis at the Moscow Institute for Physics and Technology and in 1965 became full professor there. For 33 years he was in charge of the Chair of physics, responsible up to 1998 for teaching general physics for the first three years.
In 1973 Kapitza published «The life of Science» - a collection of more than a 100 forewords and introductions to major works of science, since Copernicus and Darwin up to the present. It provided the background for a serial TV «The obvious yet incredible» broadcast on the main channels in the Soviet Union since 1973. Running now for 26 years and discussing matters of science and society, these talks conceived and moderated by Sergey Petrovich, became a landmark in science broadcasting, were recognized by the State Prize in 1980, the Kalinga Prize of UNESCO in 1981, the Prize of the Russian Academy of Science for popularizing science in 1995 and a number of other awards. Matters of science and society led Kapitza to join the Pugwash conferences on science and world affairs and later he was invited to become a member of the Club of Rome. Sergey Petrovich was engaged in debates on global security, the menace of nuclear war, SDI and «Star wars». He testified at a US Senate hearing and, with Carl Sagan, spoke to the Ambassadors of the UN on nuclear war, gave the Oppenheimer memorial lecture at Los Alamos and twice gave a Friday discourse at the Royal Institution in London, on accelerators and on SDI. As former member of the national committee on UNESCO, Sergey Petrovich has a long standing association with that international organization, being a member of the World Commission on culture and development and collaborated in the «Agenda-21» report with ICSU. In 1999 he was an invited speaker at the World Conference on Science in Budapest, reporting on anti-science trends in the modern world. At present S.P. Kapitza is a member of the Council on Culture and Arts for the President of Russia.
For many years S. P. Kapitza was associated with the European physical society, finally becoming Vice-president in 1977 — 1982.
In 1982 he became the editor of the Russian version of «Scientific American», but in 1993 due to the collapse of science publishing, it ceased to be produced.

An internationally known scientist, Kapitza has been elected to the Academia Europaea, the World academy of arts and science, Manchester literary and philosophical society, International academy of humanism and other bodies. With the founding of the Russian academy of natural sciences he became its Honorary Vice-president and is now the President of the Euro-Asian Physical Society. Recognizing his early work on aerodynamics Sergey Petrovich was elected to the International Aeronautical Federation and in 1991 was invited to give a plenary lecture at the Annual meeting of the Federation.

Global problems were suggested and since then Prof. Kapitza became engaged in developing a model of world population growth, that is now his main subject of research and has led to major contributions to global problematique.

Sergey Petrovich married Tatiana Damir in 1949 and they have three children and four grandchildren.

Places of work at present:

Professor Sergey Kapitza now works at the Institute for Physical Problems founded by his father Peter L. Kapitza (the Nobel Prize Winner, 1978 - for discovering superfluidity and deveeloping modern technology for producing liquid oxygen, laying the foundations for a huge industry). Sergey Petrovich is also the moderator of the weekly TV-program «The obvious yet incredible» (Ochevidnoe-neveroyatnoe). Since 2002 the renewal of the publishing of scientific-and-informational Magazine "V Mire Nauki" has begun. S.P. Kapitza is the Editor-in-Chief of this edition and Vice-Rector (Science) of Russian New University (Non-State Higher Educational Institution).


Download archive (

Download .pdf file (ufn61c.pdf, 688Kb)

S.P. Kapitza

P.L. Kapitza Institute for Physical Problems,

Russian Academy of Sciences,
Vorobiovskoye shosse 2,
117334 Moscow, Russia
Tel. (7-095) 137-65-77
Fax (7-095) 938-20-30


Of all global problems world population growth is the most significant one.

Demographic data in a concise and quantitative way describes this process in its past and present. By analyzing this development it is possible by applying the concepts of systems analysis and synergetics to work out a mathematical model for a phenomenological description of the global demographic process and project its trends into the future. Assuming self-similarity as the dynamic principle of development, growth can be described practically over the whole of human history, assuming the growth rate to be proportional to the square of the number of people. The large parameter of the theory and the effective size of a coherent population group is of the order of 10^5 and the microscopic parameter of the phenomenology is the human lifespan.

The demographic transition --- a transition to a stabilized world population of some 14 billion in the foreseeable future is a systemic singularity and is determined by the inherent pattern of growth of an open system, rather than by the lack of resources. The development of a quantitative nonlinear theory of the world population is of interest for interdisciplinary research in anthropology and demography, history and sociology, for population genetics and epidemiology, studies in evolution of humankind and the origin of man. The model also provides insight into the stability of growth and the present predicament of humankind, and provides a setting for discussing the main global problems.

Kapitza World Population

December 5, 2005