Alexander Alexandrovich Friedman

Alexander Alexandrovich Friedman

This article is about the Russian cosmologist. For the Russian astrophysicist, see Alexei Fridman.
Alexander Friedmann
Alexander Friedmann
Born (1888-06-29)June 29, 1888
Saint Petersburg
Died September 16, 1925(1925-09-16) (aged 37)
Nationality Russian
Fields Mathematics and Physics
Institutions Perm State University
Petrograd Polytechnical Institute
Main Geophysical Observatory
Doctoral advisor Vladimir Steklov
Doctoral students George Gamow
Nikolai Kochin
Pelageya Polubarinova-Kochina
Known for Friedmann equations
Friedmann–Lemaître–Robertson–Walker metric

Alexander Alexandrovich Friedmann (also spelled Friedman or Fridman, Russian: Алекса́ндр Алекса́ндрович Фри́дман) (June 29 (17 old style) by himself, June 16 (4 old style) by J. O'Conor in 1888, Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire – September 16, 1925, Leningrad, USSR) was a Russian and Soviet physicist and mathematician. He is best known for his pioneering theory that the universe was expanding, governed by a set of equations he developed now known as the Friedmann equations.

Early life

Alexander Friedmann was born to the composer and ballet dancer Alexander Friedmann (who was a son of a baptized Jewish cantonist) and the pianist Ludmila Ignatievna Voyachek.[1] He lived much of his life in Saint Petersburg.

Friedmann obtained his degree in St. Petersburg State University in 1910, and became a lecturer in Saint Petersburg Mining Institute.

From his school days, Friedmann found an inseparable companion in Jacob Tamarkin, who at the end of his career was one of Brown University's most distinguished mathematicians.[2]

World War I

Friedmann fought in World War I first on behalf of Imperial Russia as a bomber, and then for the Soviet Union, after the Russian Revolution of 1917.

During the war, he served in the Russian army as an aviator, an instructor and eventually, under the revolutionary regime, as the head of an airplane factory.[3]


Friedmann became a professor at Perm State University in 1918.

Friedmann in 1922 introduced the idea of an expanding universe that contained moving matter; Belgian astronomer Georges Lemaître would later independently reach the same conclusion in 1927.[4]

In June 1925 he was given the job of the director of Main Geophysical Observatory in Leningrad. In July 1925 he participated in a record-setting balloon flight, reaching the elevation of 7,400 m (24,300 ft).



Friedmann's 1924 papers, including "Über die Möglichkeit einer Welt mit konstanter negativer Krümmung des Raumes" ("On the possibility of a world with constant negative curvature of space") published by the German physics journal Zeitschrift für Physik (Vol. 21, pp. 326–332), demonstrated that he had command of all three Friedmann models describing positive, zero and negative curvature respectively, a decade before Robertson and Walker published their analysis.

This dynamic cosmological model of general relativity would come to form the standard for both the Big Bang and Steady State theories. Friedmann's work supports both theories equally, so it was not until the detection of the cosmic microwave background radiation that the Steady State theory was abandoned in favor of the current favorite Big Bang paradigm.

The classic solution of the Einstein field equations that describes a homogeneous and isotropic universe is called the Friedmann–Lemaître–Robertson–Walker metric, or FLRW, after Friedmann, Georges Lemaître, Howard Percy Robertson and Arthur Geoffrey Walker, who worked on the problem in 1920's and 30's independently of Friedmann.

Hydrodynamics and meteorology

In addition to general relativity, Friedmann's interests included hydrodynamics and meteorology.


Physicists George Gamow and Vladimir Fock were among his students.

Personal life

He married Natalia Malinina in the last years of his life. They had a religious wedding ceremony, though both were far from religious.[5]


Friedmann died on September 16, 1925, at the age of 37, from typhoid fever that he contracted during a vacation in Crimea.

Named after Friedman

The moon crater Fridman is named after him.

Selected publications

  • . English translation in: Ehrenfest archive, together with some letters and unpublished work.
  • . English translation in: edit



External links

  • - Biography written by Eduard A. Tropp, Viktor Ya. Frenkel and Artur D. Chernin
  • .
  • - Mary Lynn Germadnik