Legend of the Science. 95th Anniversary of Academic Kazimieras Ragulskis

95th Anniversary of Academic Kazimieras Ragulskis

On 15 October, Engineer Mechanic, Habilitated Doctor of Science in Technical Sciences, Academic of the Lithuanian Academic of Sciences, KTU Professor Emeritus Kazimieras Ragulskis turns 95. On this occasion, KTU Museum prepared a virtual exhibition revealing the difficult path of the academic’s life and scientific work. In 2021, the academic wrote in the publication “Precizinė vibromechanika ir vibrotechnika” (“Precise Vibromechanics and Vibrotechnics”): “Everything vibrates and waves in nature, science, technology and life of people. It provides unlimited opportunities for creative endeavours.”

From the Student of the Gymnasium to the Doctor of Science in Technical Sciences

Kazimieras Ragulskis was born on 15 October 1926 in Klovainiai (Pakruojis District) in the family of Mykolas Ragulskis and Liucija Kazlauskaitė-Ragulskienė. K. Ragulskis was a pupil at Klovainiai and Pakruojis Primary Schools, in 1940–1946, he studied at Linkuva Gymnasium. In 1945, Ragulskiai family was shaken by a tragedy – NKVD officers shot their son partisan Petras Ragulskis. It happened in Lygumos Parish and nobody learned about it in Linkuva; therefore, Kazimieras was allowed to graduate from the gymnasium. To avoid enlisting in the Soviet Army, K. Ragulskis falsified his certificate of birth (to make him 2 years younger) with the help of his teacher. After graduation from KPI Mechanical Faculty in 1951, he was a postgraduate student of the SSRS Institute of Machinery Science (1952–1954). In 1954, K. Ragulskis defended the dissertation of the doctoral candidate in technical sciences “Mašinų automatų kumštelinių mechanizmų dinaminio projektavimo metodai” (“Dynamic Design Methods for Cam Mechanisms in Automatic Machines”). In 1954–1963, he worked at the Physics-Technical Institute of the Lithuanian SSR Academy of Sciences in Kaunas, later renamed the Electrotechnics and Energy Institute. Kazimieras Ragulskis began as a junior researcher and later became the head of the laboratory. In 1962, the president of the Lithuanian SSR Academy of Sciences, at the proposal of the management of the institute, severely reprimanded K. Ragulskis for the lack of political vigilance. K. Ragulskis conducted research in the area of the stabilisation of nonlinear vibratory dynamical systems; however, the management did not consider his research promising, interfered with his research and the doctoral dissertation defence. Then, K. Ragulskis transferred to Kaunas Laboratory of the Vilnius Branch of the Experimental Research Institute for Metal Cutting Machines (ENIMS VF), established specifically for the group of the researchers of K. Ragulskis. On 13 October 1963, K. Ragulskis defended the dissertation of the doctor in technical sciences “Mechanizmai ant virpančio pagrindo. Dinamika ir pastovumas” (“Mechanisms on a Vibrating Base. Dynamics and Stability”. On 28 December 1963, a Departmental Vibrotechnics and Noise Control Laboratory was established at Kaunas Polytechnical Institute. Soon, K. Ragulskis was employed at this laboratory as a part-time senior researcher and in 1967, he became the head of the laboratory and began working as a full-time employee.

Creator of the Science School

For almost 30 years, prof. K. Ragulskis was the scientific leader of the laboratory that gradually reformed into the research centre “Vibrotechnika”. The research conducted at the “Vibrotechnika” was self-sustainable, i.e., the research centre sustained itself by conducting the research outsourced by the most famous SSRS research institutes, experimental design offices and other institutions. K. Ragulskis was searching for these orders and was the generator of ideas at the “Vibrotechnika”. He created a new science area – so-called precise vibromechanics and vibrotechnics which is based on the recognised and new effects and properties developed in dynamic vibrating and waving systems and the principal methods for designing new systems based on them which were developed by the professor and his students up to the applied research results for practical engineering. They are used in science, technologies and everyday life. The obtained results are relevant to contemporary and future science and technologies. A harmonious team was gathered at the research centre “Vibrotechnika”; they worked in a nice creative environment where gifted and diligent researchers had great opportunities to reveal their talents. K. Ragulskis became unrivalled in Lithuania in terms of the number of prepared scientists (holding scientific degrees) and was a record holder in the SSRS. The dissertations prepared by his students (approximately 300 dissertations of doctors and habilitated doctors) were particularly valued. According to prof. habil. dr. Vytautas Ostaševičius, “Vibrotechnika” was a precise equivalent of the USA “Silicon Valley” in the Soviet Union of that time. A talented and diligent K. Ragulskis worked very hard to establish an authority in science through his scientific, technical achievements and inventions. It was not easy since the scientist was not a member of the Communist Party. 1972, when K. Ragulskis became a candidate to the academics of the Lithuanian SSR Academy of Sciences, KGB was informed that the date of birth of K. Ragulskis was falsified and his brother was shot after the war. It caused a huge uproar and deliberations began; however; his achievements were too high and he was allowed to continue working. K. Ragulskis has never received any SSRS national medal or order but he was awarded the marks and medals, titles of the laureates of the prizes of the departmental organisations of the SSRS and other countries for significant achievements in science and technology. In 1987, K. Ragulskis became a corresponding member of the SSRS Academy of Sciences. It was an exception since only the heads of the academies of sciences of the union republics were elected to the SSRS Academy of Sciences. K. Ragulskis became the academic of the Lithuanian SSR Academy of Sciences in the same year. He was granted the title of the honoured inventor of the SSRS (there were 16 such inventors in the SSRS in total).

Scientific Duo in the Family

In 1955, a young scientist Kazimieras Ragulskis married an engineer mechanic Vyda Kęsgailaitė and created a harmonious family, living together for 45 years until the death of V. Ragulskienė. His wife worked with him at the “Vibrotechnika” and conducted research in the area of nonlinear dynamic, mostly vibrocompression, systems. She admired the strong character of her husband and wrote that he was “a strong wall you can lean on”. At the celebration of her 70th anniversary, prof. V. Ragulskienė write: “We never discussed who – he or I – has the priority. We tried to help each other. We had no time for arguments. We quietly sit at our individual writing desks”. According to her, Kazimieras prioritised physical health and intellect while she considered the beauty of the spirit to be more important. Ragulskiai were very enthusiastic about the revival of Lithuania. Academic Kazimieras Ragulskis participated in the Congress of the Reform Movement of Lithuania, the Baltic Way, donated significant amounts of money for the Monument of Freedom restored in Kaunas and the monument to S. Darius and S. Girėnas. Ragulskiai created a harmonious family based on respect and values, raised their sons Liutauras and Minvydas who also became researchers.

In Independent Lithuania

When Lithuania regained its independence, the Soviet Union collapsed. KPI research centre “Vibrotechnika” lost its funding since the orders from the SSRS research institutes and institutions were terminated. It was the beginning of the collapse of the research centre. The scientists transferred to work at the departments of KTU and Vilnius Gediminas Technical University and private enterprises. On 31 December 1993, academic K. Ragulskis was dismissed from KTU. It was a big blow to the gifted scientist who lost an opportunity to be involved in his favourite research activities, but K. Ragulskis did not give up. He wrote scientific papers published by international scientific journals, journal articles on the issues of Lithuanian science, industry and society, participated in international conferences, seminars, gave presentations there. The contribution of academic K. Ragulskis to science was not forgotten – in 2001, he was granted the title of professor emeritus by KTU, in 2002, he became the honorary doctor of Vilnius Gediminas Technical University. In 2011, he became a member of the International scientific public union “IAIT” associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. K. Ragulskis is the author and co-author of 28 monographs, more than 700 scientific papers, more than 1750 inventions and patents, editor of more than 160 publications. The scientist still conducts research in the area of vibrations and waves. In the opinion of academic K. Ragulskis, the future belongs to intellectual work; therefore, authorities have to try “to direct the gifted people towards intellectual, creative activities from their childhood so that Lithuania would become the country of famous scientists, inventors and creators of innovations”.