Воспоминания о встречах с Михаилом Молоденским

Vial Jean-Cladue is Directeur de Recherche émérite of C.N.R.S. at the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale on the campus of Université Paris-Sud, ORSAY, FRANCE He has been involved in various space solar missions: from the NASA OSO8 satellite to the data analysis of SOHO, STEREO and Hinode.

His main fields of interest are: solar prominences, chromosphere and corona.

I am both unhappy and happy to send this short testimony concerning Mihail Molodensky. Unhappy, because I have the feeling of having lost precious documents, memories and even photographs of our relationship which started in the early nineties. And this is very frustrating.

Happy, because it is always pleasant to talk about such a scientist, especially when he was such a pleasant person.

We started working together when I managed to get funding for a middle-term (between 3 and 6 months) visit in my Institute, still then located in Verrie`res-le-Buisson, that is in the woods in the South of Paris. There were various inherent difficulties : travelling to the laboratory, lodgings, everything complicated by the fact that Mihail did not speak French. But Mihail took it with a very quiet philosophy, even when he was charged an exorbitant amount of money by RATP controllers on the ground that he travelled in a first class carriage when he had a second class ticket. This was his first week-end in Paris (welcome, visitors !!) and he was not expecting such a "class" distinction in public transportation. (By the way, there is now a unique class ..).

About the lodging, I could find him a room in the "Chateau" of Gif-sur-Yvette (a real ninenteenth century castle belonging to CNRS) and when we visited it, he told me that he was feeling as a king in it (the ceiling was more than 3 meters high and the bed was really "king size", adequate for his tallness).

He brought with him a huge optical device that he invited us to test in order to see a set of stereo pictures ranging from drawings of a nice lady (only her head) to coronal representations of the heliosheet. He left it to me but it unfortunately disappeared when I moved from Verrie`res to Orsay.

During his stay, Mihail proposed a wide range of activities, from the search of null points in the chromosphere, to conditions of destabilization of filaments and coronal structuring. A set of papers were published as a result, except for the work on null points, twice rather inelegantly rejected. For instance, the referee objected the use of the term "singular" points which made Mihail laugh and comment that the referee probably ignored about differential equations ...

Anyway, during Mihail's visit, my colleagues and myself could appreciate his wide scientific culture, his non-conventional views, his vast literary culture and his wit. About his literary culture, when he visited my house he offered my wife (then an English teacher) a splendid edition of Longfellow's poetry, a very delicate gesture from an erudite.

Our collaboration continued after his departure, on the basis of various observations (including Keller's eclipse observations up to 10 solar radii) and calculations. With the wealth of new data from SOHO, TRACE, STEREO, especially the spectacular coronagraphs data extending up to a few tens solar radii, many colleagues are now reconstructing the coronal morphology with modern computing stereo and tomographic tools. (Mihail would be happy with that.) But they should not forget the results obtained by Mihail on the basis of simple "principles" such as rays being simply the contact of magnetic surfaces with the line-of-sight.

Mihail would also be very happy with the STEREO results on filaments, especially the determination of their altitudes which, combined with the destabilization models proposed a long time ago by Mihail and his Team at Izmiran, should now allow to understand eruptive prominences/filaments.

The last time I met Mihail was in Tatranska Lomnica in 1994 for the Coronal meeting there. He and his colleagues had had a very long travel from Moscow but he was very happy, discussing science with colleagues from all countries, well above material contingencies.

In summary, I remember a tall person with a patrician head, a gentleman in science and daily life.

Jean-Claude Vial