His political development is amusing. A triple hero of socialist labor (a communist award for work) from 1953, 1955, 1962, the winner of the 1953 Stalin prize (the most valuable Stalin prize in 1953 was, however, that Stalin died), and the 1956 Lenin prize became a leading Soviet dissident which is why he received the 1975 peace Nobel prize.
Because the Soviet communists behaved much like the climate alarmism apparatchiks who shamelessly censor the ICSC and other skeptics in Bali these days, Sakharov was not allowed to travel. His wife at that time, who was another dissident, was however able to pick the award and give the speech. These were somewhat hard times when totalitarian regimes were crippling a third of the world but on the other hand, the rest of the world, including the Norwegian Nobel Committee, was rewarding true heroes who risked their well-being for truly respectable goals. These days, the Norwegian Nobel Committee rewards hypocritical jerks who fight for despicable ideas and who have already earned hundreds of millions of dollars for these ideas, by brainwashing loads of dopes in the world.
Sakharov's conversion from a hero of communist labor to a heroic warrior for freedom started because of fears of a nuclear war but his political focus became much more comprehensive during the years.
The Soviet megaton-range hydrogen bomb used a designed referred to as "Sakharov's Third Idea" and it was surely no coincidence. Moreover, with Igor Tamm, Sakharov co-fathered the tokamak, the most standard torus-shaped device to confine plasma for thermonuclear fusion.
By far the most famous theoretical physics paper by Sakharov is a 1967 paper on baryogenesis. Sakharov formulated the three necessary albeit somewhat counterintuitive conditions for baryons to be created out of nothing during the very early cosmological eras, namely
- Baryon number B violation
- C- and CP-symmetry violation
- Interactions out of thermal equilibrium.
What may also be interesting for fans of theoretical physics is that Sakharov was a father of the concept of superconductivity-like model of emergent gravity, the so-called induced gravity, also in 1967. The exact scenario he had in mind has been safely falsified: it violates the Weinberg-Witten theorem, and even if you forget about the wrong spins and masses of the excitations, it leads to a huge and calculable cosmological constant.
The real reason why I write about it today is to show that these and similar ideas have been around at least for four decades even though some people try to sell them as "hot" today. The Wikipedia article on "induced gravity" correctly hints that the closest realistic sibling of Sakharov's idea occurs in the AdS/CFT correspondence but there are many more things beyond gravity that are emerging as well, for example a whole non-compact dimension of spacetime.