Relatives and friends called Vasily a genius from his childhood. The relatives told that when he was 3 to 4 years old, he considered up to a million or more. Of course, all this did not happen literally. Sometimes sisters (Vasily has three sisters) left him in the room, offering to count up to a "big number" to take the child by something. And when they had returned, they heard: "nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and eighty-three..." And so on. So the child depicted that he "counts". All were satisfied.
At five Vasily confidently played chess with classmates of his elder sister Helen and her husband Vladimir, who were students of Novosibirsk State University. Vasily was seriously fond of chess, participated and won at different tournaments. By the age of 13 he was the youngest the first-rank chess player of the Altai Region. At the age of 14, he abandoned the game and started doing physics. Participated in the city Olympiad in physics, but he did not want to go the second stage. But his friend Oleg Antzutkin went there and as a result was invited to the Novosibirsk physics and mathematics school.
On winter vacation Oleg came home and visited Vasily. He talked with inspiration about a busy life in the Novosibirsk Academgorodok, at a "very smart school", where talented children gathered. Vasily, after listening to a friend, caught fire and decided at all costs to enter the physics and mathematics school.
Vasily was preparing for the Olympics for two months. He confidently won at all local stages and got to the regional Altai Olympiad. He told me that before the trip to it, he could not imagine a task that he could not solve.
Nevertheless the "unplanned task" was. Before the meeting, Vasily read a physics textbook, but decided to dwell on the topic that was held in the class. He did not study further, deciding that it would be "dishonest". But, as it turned out later, in other schools, peers managed to learn a couple topics more.
At the Olympiad the task came from a new section, unknown to Vasily: in an infinite, charged plane there is a hole and a charge is brought to it. How will the force acting on him change? The problem is simple, but to solve it you need to know the field of an infinite plane.
Vasily spent for this task the longest time. Only after he guessed that the field of an infinite plane is the same everywhere, quickly decided it. Having received maximum points, Vasily became the absolute winner in the Altai Territory. He was invited to the physics and mathematics school. Although the first place was not obligatory: they also recruited "not prize-winners" in the physics and mathematics school.
The chain of victories Vasily continued in the Summer physics and mathematics school of the Novosibirsk Academgorodok. This school preceded the main study. He again took the first place. The teacher who interviewed him wrote in a personal file that Vasily was "a godsend for the physics and mathematics school". This was told by other schoolchildren who "accidentally" looked through these personal files. At the physics and mathematics school Vasily studied for one year – in the final year. I entered two years later and, so it turned out, in the same class 10-9. There were 14 tenths of classes at the physics and mathematics school. In a half of them there were those who studied two years (starting from the ninth), in the other half there were those who studied one year (like Vasily and me).
Curiously: just three years after winning the Olympiads, at the end of the second year of the university, Vasily opened his first, the most important, formula.
When Oleg told Vasily about his studies, he, nevertheless, kindly envied a friend. At the physics and mathematics school is a very intense rhythm, it is necessary to solve a large number of tasks of increased complexity. Vasily has the other life. He could think about any task without haste, more and more delving into the topic (which students of the physics and mathematics school could not afford because of the frantic pace of study). Vasily had his own laboratory in one of the rooms of a three-room apartment and carried out unique research. He personally made instruments and put physical and chemical experiments.
For example, to determine the composition of an unknown substance, special reagents are needed, including silver and gold salts. But how to get them? The silver nitrate Vasily could get it, exchanging it for a silver coin. He it was a problem to get gold. After studying the tables of chemical reactions, he realized that gold salts in some cases can be replaced by lead salts, for example, by the compound with acetic acid. But lead practically does not interact with vinegar. Vasily himself developed a multi-stage reaction and carried it out, resulting in lead acetate, which is a light gray, almost white, elastic lump.
Once it was required to inflate the balloon with hydrogen to lift up a small load. It would seem that everything is simple, this reaction is studied at school: the interaction of zinc and hydrochloric acid releases the lightest gas. But it is so small that it is impossible to inflate the balloon.
And if to heat up the acid? It is still not enough. Vasily tried different metals, even he found magnesium. This is a very active element, the reaction was very active. The balloon puffed up, but not so much to take off. It would seem that the impasse. And it was impossible to get metals more active than magnesium, such as lithium or potassium in large quantities.
After some time, Vasily put another chemical experience at home. When it was necessary to mix two liquid substances in a test tube, he used the first thing that fell on his hand (although this cannot be done, of course), it was an aluminum wire. Taking it out, he was surprised to find gas bubbles on it. In vitro there were such substances that only hydrogen can be a gas. Where did he come from? Aluminum is coated with a protective film and does not interact with the acid. Vasily for a long time tried to understand what kind of reaction was in a test tube, and he came to the conclusion: aluminum interacts with acid due to some kind of catalyst. In the end, he realized what kind of catalyst (a very simple, well-known substance, but I will not call it, because I think that it is not necessary to conduct such experiments at home).
Vasily took a flask with hydrochloric acid, put a piece of thick aluminum wire: no reaction, of course, was. He added a few grains of catalyst and slightly shook the flask. When the catalyst touched the aluminum, the reaction went so quickly that the balloon puffed and burst. Vasily did not even have time to remove it from the flask. The reaction of obtaining hydrogen in large quantities at home was found!
With the beginning of studies at the physics and mathematics school a new stage began in Vasily's life.
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