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Chapter 12 - Research Activities

Zworykin’s personal life from 1929 through 1954 underwent profound changes. He married the former Tiana Vasilieva in Moscow in 1917. Although separated by both World War I and their own decision for a few years, they decided to try again and she joined him in the United States in 1920. Inevitably, they drifted apart again, he to his scientific work and she to the care and upbringing of their two daughters, Nina and Elaine. When the girls were grown and married, Zworykin and his wife separated amicably, and a divorce was granted in 1951. Dr. Zworykin is now married to Dr. Katherine Polevitsky, a widow and a fellow Russian. The new Mrs. Zworykin, a medical doctor, shared his passion for medical electronics and became a moving force in directing his abundant energies into this field.

Since there were always physicians in the Zworykin family, he grew up in the ambience of the medical profession; indeed two of his sisters were medical doctors. It was, therefore, inevitable, considering his cohesive personality and his great interest in medicine, that he would someday bring this discipline and that of electronics together. The first manifestation of this interest was the perfection of the electron microscope, a task in which he was intimately involved. This development was a major technological breakthrough, and electronics had now become an indispensable aid to the medical profession.

Dr. Katherine Zworykin is convinced that her husband’s subsequent organizational and research activities in the field of medical electronics resulted from his revulsion at what he considered the gross perversion of science during World War II, and the murderous uses that many of its concepts served. No stranger to the carnage of revolution and war—she said he felt (p. 123) the creation of the atomic and hydrogen bombs should be matched by an even larger scientific effort directed to the saving of life rather than its destruction.

Convinced that engineers and medical scientists, together, should be in the vanguard of this movement, he very soon after the war founded and became the first president of the International Federation for Medical Electronics and Biological Engineering. This fledgling organization, founded in 1947, was centered in Paris. (p. 124)

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