Dr. Faydor L. Litvin: 100 Years a Genius

Charles D. Schultz

President at Beyta Gear Service
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

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The Gear Technology gang wishes to congratulate Dr. Faydor L. Litvin of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) on celebrating his 100th birthday in January. We had hoped to interview this distinguished engineer, inventor and author for a more in-depth review of his contributions to our industry, but have just learned he no longer entertains such requests.

Dr. Litvin began his UIC tenure in 1979 at the age most men retire, following a noteworthy life in his native Russia. Besides teaching and supervising over 75 graduate students, he continued to develop his gear theories and to publish books and papers that are widely used today. In Development of Gear Technology and Theory of Gearing (1997, NASA RP-1406), Dr. Litvin offered the following testimony to the hundreds of people who contributed to our trade without recognition. We at the Gear Technology blog share this excerpt from that preface in honor of Dr. Litvin’s centennial:

The history of developments in any area, including gear technology and theory, is the history of creativity, which has often gone unrecognized during one’s lifetime. The aspiration to create is a passion that enriches the life but requires unconditional devotion. Usually, creativity is associated with the arts (music, literature, painting), possibly because they have the greatest influence on our emotions. However, we do not realize the extent to which this passion conquers the daily activities of many in all levels of society. The desire of gifted persons to create is the driving force in their lives, bringing them joy and suffering and often no fame. For Fame, a capricious goddess, does not award in the proper time and may not award at all. My sympathy is for those who failed to achieve recognition for their accomplishments, and I share Dostoyevsky’s philosophy that suffering is necessary for spiritual achievement, but the price to be paid is sometimes too high. However, an individual who gives his heart to create should not look for fame. This was expressed with great emotion by Pasternak (1960) in his famous verse, “To Be That Famous Is Hardly Handsome”:

Creation’s aim—yourself to give,
Not loud success, appreciation.
To mean round nothing—shames to live,
On all men’s lips an empty sermon.

I sympathize with the heroes of Pasternak’s verse.

We at Gear Technology are thankful that Professor Litvin has been recognized for his achievements within his lifetime and encourage readers to become familiar with his writings.

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