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Dear readers,

At the moment we don't have enough information about Ilya Gerlovin's biography.

We offer you to read the memories written by Iosif Benenson (living in the US) about Ilya Lvovich GERLOVIN (translated from Russian), dated November 2012. The authors of this website have been in contact with Mr. Benenson, and are very grateful to him for his work.

Ilya Gerlovin: Twenty Years Later


After two decades of almost complete oblivion, the name of Ilya Gerlovin came up again on the screens of Internet search engines. There were people in Russia, who have decided to revive his memory, and to talk about his work, and therefore, it is time for me to tell als my part of the story related to that person. 


I was personally acquainted with Ilya Lvovich Gerlovin, and have been trying to promote his theory in the United States, and then - there wasn't probably anyone else in the world who was reviewing so much and so many times Gerlovin's book, at least over the past years.


Actually, I told most of the stories already in 1996, in an article published in the Los Angeles - based weekly "Panorama" (dated June 19), that was beginning as following :

This article remained largely unknown to Russian readers, and so I will just retell it here, with some reductions.


1.     The Heretic


Today, this city is called as it was at the turn of last century - (Saint) Petersburg. But I, like many of you, know and love it under his soviet name (Leningrad), and it was still called Leningrad at the time the person whom I want to tell you about was living his last days. However, living out - is not a true expression : he actually lived an unusually ebullient life, he was in a hurry because he wasn't young already, and already in poor health. 


I met him a few times, our conversations were rather short, and although I learned gradually some facts about his unusual biography, I did not dare to write or record in his presence. So, the following is just something that has been preserved in my memory.


I am an engineer. When in the early nineties, the Design Institute, where I was working, began, like so many others, to fall apart before our eyes, several employees including myself created an independent small business (an engineering firm). We rented premises, computers, but the product that we were going to sell required more improvements, and later, it turned out that it could not be sold : no one already had any money to afford it…

It was necessary to survive, we had to survive. And so we began to take on different jobs, which was harder and harder to find. 


In one of these days, after a desperate running around the city, I looked into a shop of technical books, on Petrovka street, and there ...


I well remember the excitement of that moment. The fact is that during the spring (or later) of 1991, a number of articles had been published,  almost simultaneously, in various newspapers and magazines, about Ilya Lvovich Gerlovin. The first of them caught my eye, called "The New Einstein ?"…. 

Most people do not remember the names of great physicists, but Einstein's name, and his portraits remained popular, so great was his contribution to science. 


Here, the authors reported about a person living in Russia, who worked for fifty years, almost alone, and who created nothing less than a theory of "super-unification" !...


To put it short: in physics four types of interactions are known. The strong one (inside the nucleus of atom). The weak one (for instance,  during the decay of radioactive substances). The electromagnetic force and the gravity (which we feel in everyday life). And all of them are well understood, but ... separately, so they remain "different". 

This suggested that there must be some "common theory" that unifies all these different types of interactions. In 1979, physicists managed to create a theory that combines two types of interactions - weak, and electromagnetic - and their authors had been awarded the Nobel Prize. 

If one adds the strong interaction, then we would have a so-called Grand Unification, and many attempts were made, as you can see from this (non exhaustive) list found on the web:


But none of these theories has been demonstrated experimentally yet.


"Super-unification" is be a (to-be-found) theory that would unite all four types of interactions, including gravity. And here comes a man from Russia,  living in Leningrad, claiming: " I did it, here is my book, read it, use it ! "…


Would this be right, people would realize that such an achievement will entail major changes in their life.


Reporters tried to glory him, Gerlovin was shown couple of times on national TV channels, and then ... silence. Complete silence. Worrying and unpleasant, of course. Was he a charlatan? Or lonely loser ? ..


The scientific world remained silent, as if nothing had happened. And then, a few months later, at this store on Petrovka street, my eyes fall on a small black cover with white lettering : "I.L. Gerlovin - Basics of the unified theory of all interactions in matter".


My first impulse was to run to the counter, pay and take the book. Which I did. I started to read it in the subway on my way home, and then read it further almost until the next morning, unable to break away.


What could I understand from this theory ? Yes, of course, nothing. As I discovered later, professionally educated physicists with whom I have met, too, did not understand anything. But ...


In his book, Gerlovin summarized the essence and history of the problem, as well as the conditions in which it was necessary to work. Then he set out (without formulas) the basic principles of his approach ; then, the impressive results of his investigations, commenting on them in simple, straightforward language, giving philosophical evaluation, suggesting ways of practical application. And it was understandable and exciting.


And what results ! Here are two examples. How do people know the speed of light ? With finest experiments. But ask someone: is there any formula to define the speed of light ?... And you will look like a madman. Gerlovin declared that with the help of his theory, he found a formula to determine, not only the speed of light, but also most, if not all, the world's most famous constants (gravitational constant, Planck's constant and others). 

He also obtained a formula for calculating, for instance, the exact melting temperature of various solids. 


This has not happened before, and it was not clear how to approach these results : "it seems that the guy really digged to the roots "…!


In the afterword, the author pointed out that it was the first time he was allowed to publish his work to such an extent, and without any "scientific censorship." On page 2 he wrote that the book was published at the expense of the author. This could, in principle, be a cause for concern. Since the beginning of the Perestroika, I repeatedly came across of scientific booklets on the shelves, issued "at the expense of authors" : but those tend to contain a lot of criticism, sometimes swearing, ambitions, ans only "milligrams" of positive results. 


Here everything looked differently. Gerlovin knew well his predecessors and contemporaries, both theorists and experimentalists. He did not criticize them, and just tried to understand why they failed somewhere... He was not looking for recognition, degrees and titles, because he had a more important task. During our first conversation, he said:  "You know, I was a child - prodigy" ... And I thought that not all "children - prodigy" managed to dispose of their godsend like Gerlovin did.


At my request, my friends in Leningrad learned Gerlovin's phone number. So I called him and he answered my with his quiet, somewhat wary voice:

- "Who are you? How did you learn about me ?" 

I explained that I was a director of a small business, that I read his book, that I was not a physicist, but suggested that I maybe could be useful.

- He: What can you offer ? 

I said that I have good programmers in my staff. 

- OK, come, let's talk. 


Two days later, I walk out of the metro in Leningrad, on Moskovsky Prospekt, crossed the square diagonally and reverently entered the entrance of a post-war house.


Ilya Lvovich lived in a small two-room apartment with his wife and son. The room, where I was invited, was his working cabinet and probably, at the same time, a bedroom. The walls were completely covered with bookshelves and cupboards. A sofa, a desk, a small table with a typewriter. Above the sofa, two of Einstein's famous photographs. Gerlovin himself was a short man, seventy y.o., with long hair and a mustache, like Einstein. He was ill, took pills, sometimes opened the window, and sometimes left the room.  His wife, younger, a quite and very nice woman, was taking care of him. His son also made an appearance : it happened that he was working in the other room , on a computer, helping his father. 

We couldn't manage to have a continuous talk : the phone was ringing endlessly, people came in, brought in or carried out packages, Ilya Lvovich giving orders or instructing people. Sometimes gently and respectfully, somtetimes in a strong commanding manner. 

This was his headquarters, and only. 

Gerlovin asked me : " So, you read my book. Did you saw errors ?" 

- "Yes", I said, "more than a hundred"…. Indeed, there were continuous errors, including in formulas... !


Although, of course, a decent man would immediately understand that there are mostly typos, and not mistakes in the theory.


Things were so, and the book, thanks God, had been at least published, though with a low quality of printing, and in Russian. 


In order to quickly bring it to the attention of the scientific world, it was necessary to publish it in English and without errors. 


He handed me a floppy disk with a electronic version in English. But here again, there were a great number lot of typos, and Gerlon didn't want to continue working with the people who did this translation. Later, I realized that he just couldn't afford it, because of the cost, and he was looking for a more affordable, and probably more accurate, author (translator). 


It must be said that this time, he did not pay the costs himself : the company "Ecolen" (an abbreviation of "Ecology of Leningrad"), where he served as a kind of scientific advisor, paid for it. 

Following the publication and the release of his first book, Gerlovin actually  "emerged from the underground", and gained new friends and admirers, in Leningrad and in Moscow, who were ready to work with him virtually for free. I was among them, with my staff. We found a computer specialist for the book's typing, who carefully checked Gerlovin's work ; we went to Leningrad, hosted translators who made further corrections on the instructions of the author, met them at the railway station, etc.,  all this in an unusually high speed.


Finally, during one of my visits, Ilya Lvovich showed me a new book, where I recognized virtually each page: 

He noted a number of shortcomings, but the task was done, basically, and Gerlovin asked us to do a promotional video for a presentation of the book abroad. There were several problems : no script for such video, Ilya Lvovich had no time, and he didn't even know how to do it. 

Should we hire a professional, it would be long to explain to him, and it would turn out very expensive. 

Another problem was that, at that time, a professional computer graphics costed a lot. 


In short, Gerlovin gently said "try it", and proposed a very modest sum and a very short time to do it....


I replied that I should think, and the next three days looked back and forth into the book, trying to understand the essence of the theory. Something dawned on me and I told my employees that I was able to do the script, asking them whether they would agree themselves to develop the program. They declined, because they were in need of money themselves, and it was true. 

My deputy, a programmer, suggested that I was am under the influence of Gerlovin (and this was also true), and that I was not in a position to properly negotiate with him. He was determined to take my place in this case, in order to achieve the best conditions, or just to refuse to work. I agreed. A few days later he came back and said thoughtfully, that he signed the agreement in its original form. 

We have done this work. It was certainly not what we usually see on the TV, and even not what could have been now done using Power Point, but it looked lively, colorful, with a background music of Bach, and most importantly - the video explained in a reasonably good English the development and the results of Gerlovin's theory.


The books on Gerlovin's shelves were systematized in a certain way, and one of the labels read : "Heretics". 

"Here I grouped the works of different authors that do not fit into the system of formal or conventional wisdom", - said Ilya Lvovich, and he continued : "I, too, took a lifetime to heretics". 

Indeed, he continuously was refused publication during Soviet times, and was usually given a standard reply, like : "completely outside of science". In general, it was true, what Gerlovin did was really outside of science in the framework of established ideas. 


Fortunately, over the years there were scientists with a certain reputation and position, who were able to understand the importance of Gerlovin's work and tried to get around the vigilance of scientific censorship by including Gerlovin as a co-author of their publications… Then, of course, the anger was falling on their heads....


What is the main reason of this heresy? The mathematical basis is the theory of fiber spaces. Already this name tells us that there is something unusual behind it, and in the article "The Heretic" I talked further about all the interesting conclusions drawn by Ilya Gerlovin. 


But for now, let me tell you what happened next.

2. What happened next


Gerlovin wanted to arrange a presentation of his book in the US, and someone was going to sponsor the event. As far as I know, the trip didn't take place in autumn 1993, because Ilya Gerlovin died…


Less than a year after, I found myself in the United States, taking with him a copy of the Russian and English Gerlovin books. After the first few months of intense settlement and job search, I increasingly began to return to the thoughts to this extraordinary man. 


He was born in 1919 in Nizhny Novgorod, in a working-class family. In 1929, the family moved to Leningrad. Being in the 7th grade, he learned the whole mid and high-school program of mathematics and physics, began to study analysis, and then mathematics, physics and astrophysics at the Universty, where he was mentored by prof. M.V. Machinsky. 


All this time he earned his living independantly, and in 1939, wanting to formalize his actual education, he entered the Physics and Mathematics Faculty. A month later, he made a report at the Department of Physics of the Kurchatov Institute. Everything went well, but in the same year, Gerlovin was drafted into the army, became an artillery officer and went through WW II, commanding a battery "Katyusha", and then a division.


A war correspondent who met him at the front, wrote later that this officer always carried a bag on the field, with a notebook densely packed with formulas: he continued to work on the implementation of his academic dreams. At the front, Ilya Lvovich met a nurse who became his faithful life companion, who eventually share dwith him all the hardships of an "heretical" life, and who gave him the opportunity to continue working.


I called for my well-known number. Ilya Gerlovin's wige, Galina, remembered me well. His son Sasha, too. He married, life was going on… 


I asked whether there was any extension or feedback of the work of Ilya Lvovich? No. 


The book had been sent around, they received gratitude in response, but no more. 


"You know", - said Alexander, " it is necessary that someone really reads it".


Yes, it is necessary that someone reads it. In general, not easy. For that, a reader needs to have skills, desire, time, and ... self-interest. 


Usually, scientist publish regularly from their young age, they give new results gradually, in small portions, they discuss, criticize or accept without too much effort and energy. And here… a big lump at once ! 

For venerable scholars, who could quickly grasp the essence of the matter, such a lump may even damage it. And then, people are usually working to earn their bread

A friend of mine, an elderly Moscow physicist, PhD, did not want to even open the book which I offered to him. Everyone digs into its own hole… 


In addition to the unusual mathematical constructions, this theory is not easy to study because the author sometimes gives an idea and then results right away, omitting most of the calculations. On 430 small-format pages, it was impossible to present in detail everything : this would have required several volumes ! 


The author writes that he could not hold the publication of such important results, even if the book doesn't give all the details because of his format : the results, in his opinion, would help in the near future people solving the problems of energy, of environmental protection and others. 


Have you noticed the "prophetic" title he gave to the English translation of the book ? "To live without disasters".


Because the thought of Gerlovin could not leave me, I realized that I needed to do something. To begin with, I wrote the article "The Heretic", but it was more for myself, in order to bring my thoughts in order. 


Then I registered a nonprofit scientific organization called "Gerlovin Foundation", reported it to his son Sasha, and asked him to send me a certain number of books in English. I sent him money for the costs. Soon after, I got the books.

Then I made a standard letter of appeal on behalf of the Fund, which briefly talked about the personality and scientific achievements of Gerlovin, offered a book to read and assess, set out a program for the Fund, and requested donations for organizational work. Here's how the letters' head looked like:

I sent such letter only to people who had worked on similar problems before. For this, I have studied the teaching staff of several faculties, universities, followed their publications, collected excerpts from newspapers and scientific journals, publications on the Internet, etc… 


Letters have been sent to many, but only three recipients desired to see the book. I granted their request, but I received no response from any of them. 


However, I received an answer immediately to the article "The heretic" : it was not an American, but a Russian physicist named Vladimir Kharitonov, who lived in his later years in Los Angeles ; I will revert to this later.


At the same time, I decided to publish some intriguing article for a scientific or a popular magazine. And I wrote it, it was called "Where does the Lord God live ?". Where I was able to reconcile this seemingly religious problem with the fiber spaces of Gerlovin... It turned out interesting, but the American magazines refused to publish it : one on grounds of incompatibility of science and religion, while others saw lack of respect for "Lord God". 

I also sent this article to the magazine "Knowledge is power", which I once subscribed to, but there refused without explanation.


At the end, I wrote a letter to the federal Department of Energy (DoE), telling them about Gerlovin's ideas. They politely responded that such matters should be discussed first with the scientific community… 


The circle was closed, all my efforts ended up with nothing. 


3. What now?


Many years have passed, and still, though more rarely, I open the book and read some "romantic" pages of Gerlovin, again and again. 


Has my attitude changed ? To his personality, his memory - no. 


For his book - yes, it has changed. I still do not understand it, but managed to look at it  in a more relaxed way. The review by Kharitonov, whom I mentioned above, helped me for this. This review was absolutely negative, and only Gerlovin could have answered to these critics. But in some way, I agreed with Kharitonov: too many things in the book appear without any proof, as if it was taken from nowhere. 

Gerlovin himself agreed with this, justifying himself by the limited amount of pages of his book. 


And so the only chance that I see here is the emergence of a young person, interested in this work, who would have access to the archives of Gerlovin and who would "fill the blanks", correct errors and also take into account recent achievements of physics.


Does this mean that after this Gerlovin theory shines in full splendor ? Impossible to assert this, as said above. There are many interesting theories out there, whose authors are waiting with hope (and fears) for the results of new experiments at the Large Hadron Collider, among others…. 


Someone will ascend to the top of glory, and the majority of them will remain in the shadows... But there is no tragedy here, this is the way it always went, during all ages, for the men and women battling at the forefront of science…



Joseph Benenson

November 30, 2012

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