Nineteenth century physics was a major achievement of the human mind and one of its prominent figures was Ivan Pul'uj, (1845-1918), our fellow- country, who excelled as a talented pedagogue and a translator, a publicist and a great scientist, an electrical engineer, and as a cultural and public figure.
He was born on February 2nd, 1845 in the town of Grymailiv to a farmer's family. His father, a burgomaster and an educated man, wanted his son to be a priest and to get a sound education.
In 1864, having graduated from Ternopil Gymnasium, Ivan entered the Theological Department of Vienna University. Simultaneously, he attended lectures on mathematics, physics, and astronomy. Feeling no vocation for the clergy, the young man refused to be a priest, and after graduating from the University, against his parent's will, he became a student of the Department of Philosophy. Having finished his studying in 1872, Pul'uj worked at Vienna University for some time, and then at the Naval Academy in Croatia.
In a short period, his experiments made him famous among scientists; he gained authority and became influential in scientific circles.
In 1877, Pul'uj defended his thesis with honor and received a Doctor of Philosophy degree.
It was characteristic of him that his attention was always focused on problems of paramount scientific importance: molecular physics, cathode rays, electrical engineering, x-ray properties and nature, vacuum technique, etc. He successfully combined the talents of an experimenter with brilliant engineering abilities. He was the first who investigated "cold light" (now known as neon light). He improved the construction of telephone stations, subscription apparatuses, and the application of the distributing transformer in particular. The latter was patented by some industrially-developed European countries.
The greatest of his successes Pul'uj achieved in practical electrical engineering application. As a director of the lamp factory in Vienna, he constructed a lamp of his own, which was considered to be much better than Edison's. A number of DC electrical power stations in Austria-Hungary and, the first in Europe, AC electric power station in Prague were put into action with his active participation.
Ivan Pul'uj also exercised a profound influence on the establishment of roentgenology. He is rightfully considered to be Roentgen's predecessor in the x-ray's invention, who is the founder of "roentgenology". It was Pul'uj who had discovered the place of x-ray origin and it's space distribution much earlier than Roentgen did. It was Pul'uj who succeeded in the attempt at x-ray's nature and mechanism elucidation. It was he who made the first x-ray photograph of the whole human skeleton. It was he who had constructed the so-called "Roentgen's tube" 14 years earlier than Roentgen himself. But he did not hurry to publish his discoveries, trying to perfect and complete them.
A brilliant teacher, lecturer, a two-time winner of the Paris International Exhibition of Inventions, first in Europe of an Electrical Engineering Department, the author of more than 50 scientific papers, he may be compared to Edison in universality. All his life, Pul'uj tried to serve his native people. He popularized Ukrainian history and literature, translated the Bible and scientific manuals into Ukrainian.
For almost 60 years, Pul'uj was actively involved in the latest discoveries and ideas, and when he died in 1918 in Prague, the world of physics knew that it had lost one of its greatest figures.
Words and word combinations:
public figure: громадський діяч
to gain authority: здобувати визнання
electrical engineering: електротехніка
to discover: відкривати