Yakov Perelman

Yakov I. Perelman
Yakov Perelman around 1910.
Yakov Perelman around 1910.
Born(1882-12-04)December 4, 1882
Białystok, Congress Poland
DiedMarch 16, 1942(1942-03-16) (aged 59)
Leningrad, Soviet Union

Yakov Isidorovich Perelman (Russian: Яков Исидорович Перельман; December 4, 1882 – March 16, 1942) was a Russian and Soviet science writer and author of many popular science books, including Physics Can Be Fun and Mathematics Can Be Fun (both translated from Russian into English).

Perelman was born in 1882 in the town of Białystok, Congress Poland. He obtained the Diploma in Forestry from the Imperial Forestry Institute (Now Saint Petersburg State Forest Technical University) in Saint Petersburg, in 1909. He was influenced by Ernst Mach and probably the Russian Machist Alexander Bogdanov in his pedagogical approach to popularising science.[1] After the success of "Physics for Entertainment", Perelman set out to produce other books, in which he showed himself to be an imaginative populariser of science. Especially popular were "Arithmetic for entertainment", "Mechanics for entertainment", "Geometry for Entertainment", "Astronomy for entertainment", "Lively Mathematics", " Physics Everywhere", and "Tricks and Amusements".

His famous books on physics and astronomy were translated into various languages by the erstwhile Soviet Union.

The scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky thought highly of Perelman's talents and creative genius, writing of him in the preface of Interplanetary Journeys: "The author has long been known by his popular, witty and quite scientific works on physics, astronomy and mathematics, which are, moreover written in a marvelous language and are very readable."

Perelman has also authored a number of textbooks and articles in Soviet popular science magazines.

In addition to his educational and scientific writings, he also worked as an editor of science magazines, including Nature and People and In the Workshop of Nature.

Perelman died from starvation in 1942, during the German Siege of Leningrad. The siege started at 9 September 1941 and lasted 872 days, until 27 January 1944. The Siege of Leningrad was one of the longest, most destructive sieges of a major city in modern history and one of the costliest in terms of casualties (1,117,000).[2]

His older brother Yosif was a writer who published under the pseudonym Osip Dymov. He is not related to the Russian mathematician Grigori Perelman, who was born in 1966 to a different Yakov Perelman. However, Grigori Perelman told The New Yorker that his father gave him Physics for Entertainment, and it inspired his interest in mathematics.[3]


  • Mathematics can be Fun
  • Astronomia Recreativa
  • Physics for Entertainment (1913)
  • Figures for Fun
  • Algebra can be Fun
  • Fun with Maths & Physics
  • Arithmetic for entertainment
  • Mechanics for entertainment
  • Geometry for Entertainment
  • Astronomy for entertainment
  • Lively Mathematics
  • Physics Everywhere
  • Tricks and Amusements

He has also written several books on interplanetary travel (Interplanetary Journeys, On a Rocket to Stars, and World Expanses)