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Mikhail Lomonosov.Mikhail Lomonosov

ussia's first world-famed specialist in natural science, a poet who laid down the foundations of Russian literary language and an advocate of education,
Mikhail Vasilievich Lomonosov (1711-1765) will forever remain in the history of Russian science as "the first and the greatest."

Aspiring to get an education, Lomonosov left his native village of Kholmogory in Northern Russia in 1730 and travelled all the way to Moscow on foot.

The son of a poor fisherman, he had to conceal his origin in order to be admitted to the Slavonic-Greek-Latin Academy of Moscow, where he started his education at the age of 19. Recognized by his instructors as an excellent student, he completed his education in St. Petersburg and in Germany.

Lomonosov movie poster.He became the first Russian professor of chemistry at St. Petersburg Academy of Science in 1745. His major scientific accomplishment was in the field of physical chemistry, with other notable discoveries in astronomy, geophysics, geology, metallurgy and mineralogy.

ikhail Lomonosov was the one who created a system of higher education in Russia. The foundation of a university in Moscow became possible only due to the efforts of M. Lomonosov, the outstanding Russian scholar and scientist, a person of encyclopedic knowledge. In 1940 on the occasion of its 185th Anniversary, Moscow State University was named after him.

Interested in furthering Russian education, Lomonosov wrote a grammar that reformed the Russian literary language by combining Old Church Slavonic with the vulgar tongue. He published the first history of Russia in 1760 and invented a new system of meter in his poetry, which consisted mostly of eloquent odes.

He also revived the art of Russian mosaic and built a mosaic and colored-glass factory.

Lomonosov University in Moscow, statue of Lomonosov in foreground.
Lomonosov University in Moscow, statue of Lomonosov in foreground.

Famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin was quite right when he wrote about the giant of 18th century world science: "Combining the great will-power and the remarkable strength of perception, Lomonosov embraced all the branches of learning. A thirst for a deeper appreciation of things proved an overwhelming passion with that impassioned spirit. A historian, mechanic, chemist, physicist, astronomer, mining specialist, mineralogist, geographer, historian, philologist, artist and poet, he had experienced it all and perceived it all ...".

Even so, the vast scope of Lomonosov's interests and the profundity of his knowledge appear amazing for that age. He carried out researches and the scientific and technical projects that were not simply enormous - they were immeasurable.

Lomonosov invented the first gas barometer, developed the methods of exact weighting, brought up the kinetic theory of warmth, developed the method of processing the colour glasses, which he used for his great mosaics. Lomonosov proved the organic origin of oils, stone coal and amber.

Lomonosov was the first Russian natural scientist of world importance. He had encyclopedic knowledge, interests and abilities, and he also is known as a poet, artist, astronomer and Russian historian, who made important contributions to both literature and science.

Most of his accomplishments, however, were unknown outside Russia until long after his death in St. Petersburg on April 15, 1765.

Sofia Kovalevskaya

Sofia Kovalevskaya.Sofia Kovalevskaya (1850-1891) was destined to become a woman of great strengths, and the contributions she made to mathematics promise to be enduring ones. Sofia was attracted to mathematics at a very young age.

When Sonya was 11, the walls of her nursery were papered with pages of lecture notes on differential and integral analysis. Studying the wallpaper was her introduction to calculus.

Sofia wrote in her autobiography:
"The meaning of these concepts I naturally could not yet grasp, but they acted on my imagination, instilling in me a reverence for mathematics as an exalted and mysterious science which opens up to its initiates a new world of wonders, inaccessible to ordinary mortals."

Sofia Kovalevskaya.Sofia was forced to marry so that she could go abroad to study. Her father would not allow her to leave home to study at a university, and women in Russia could not live apart from their families without the written permission of their father or husband. At the age of eighteen, she entered a nominal marriage with Vladimir Kovalevski, a young palaeontologist.

In 1869 Sofia travelled to Heidelberg to study mathematics and the natural sciences, only to discover that women could not matriculate at the university. Eventually she persuaded the university authorities to allow her to attend lectures unofficially, provided that she obtain the permission of each of her lecturers. Professors considered her a gifted student and spoke about her as an extraordinary phenomenon .

By the spring of 1874, Kovalevskaya had completed three papers, each of these worthy of a doctorate. The three papers were on Partial differential equations, Abelian integrals and Saturn's Rings.

In 1882 she began work on the refraction of light. She began to lecture there in early 1884, was appointed to a five year extraordinary professorship in June of that year, and in June 1889 became the first woman since the physicist Laura Bassi and Maria Gaetana Agnesi to hold a chair at a European university.

Although the Tsarist government had repeatedly refused her a university position in her own country, the rules at the Imperial Academy were changed to allow the election of a woman.

Sonya Kovalevsky has been described as the brightest star among all female mathematicians analysis is a permanent monument to her greatness. The Cauchy-Kovalevsky Theorem is at the foundation of most graduate courses in partial differential equations.

Her novel The Sisters Rajevski (based upon her own childhood) is a superb account of life among the intellectuals at a crucial period in Russian history.

In early 1891, at the height of her mathematical powers and reputation, Kovalevskaya died of influenza complicated by pneumonia.

Nikolai Basov.Nikolai Basov

Nikolai Basov (1922 - 2001) is a Russian physicist whose pioneering work led to the invention of the laser.

Basov shared the 1964 Nobel Prize for Physics with Alexander Prokhorov and Charles Townes for fundamental research into quantum electronics, which forms the foundation on which modern laser technology stands.

After four years of military service during the Second World War, Basov studied physics at the Moscow Institute of Physical Engineers.

In 1948 he moved to the Lebedev Physical Institute, also in Moscow, where he worked under the supervision of Prokhorov. While the pair were searching for a technique to amplify microwave signals in spectroscopic experiments, they hit upon the idea of using a gas-filled cavity with reflectors at either end, in which the microwave beam would be intensified. Their discovery that this method produced microwaves with an extremely narrow range of frequencies led to the construction of a 'maser' - microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation - and, after further refinements, the laser. Working in the US, Townes simultaneously made the same breakthrough.

Basov later became a professor in the department of solid-state physics at the Moscow Institute of Physical Engineers. He was also appointed as vice-director of at the P N Lebedev Physical Institute in 1958, where he became director in 1973. He achieved further recognition in Soviet political life, serving in the Presidium from 1982 until 1989. Basov was a head of the laboratory of quantum radiophysics at the Lebedev institute at the time of his death at the age of 78.

Ivan Pavlov

Academician Ivan Pavlov (1854 - 1929) is the first Russian Nobel Prize winner in the Theoretical Medicine
, the Honorable Doctor of the Cambridge University, member of 132 academies and societies, the first physiologist of the world. The scientific activity of Pavlov lasted for more than six decades. His name is connected with the most remarkable discoveries in the sphere of blood circulation physiology, digestion and central nervous system.

He developed investigations in the field of physiology and pathology of the human and animal higher nervous activity, cortico-visceral interrelations, neurogenetics, evolutionary and comparative physiology. Studies on physiology of the sensory and visceral systems were developed intensively. An important aspect of the performed investigations was analysis of the regulatory effect of the nervous system upon the organism functional systems and processes of their autoregulation.

Pavlov Institute of Physiology of the Russian Academy of Science was founded in 1925 by Ivan Pavlov. Under his guidance, in 1925-1936, problems ofphysiology, pathology, and genetics of the higher nervous activity were intensively investigated. In 1930s-1990s, directors of the Institute were prominent researchers and organizers of science, members of the USSR Academy of Sciences.

At present, more than 300 researchers have been working at the Institute. Pavlov Institute of Physiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences is the largest multiprofile physiological institution of the country.

Ilya Repin. Portrait of Dmitry Mendeleev. 1885. Watercolour on paper. The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
Ilya Repin. Portrait of Dmitry Mendeleev. 1885. Watercolour on paper. The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

Dmitri Mendeleev.Dmitri Mendeleev

Dmitri Mendeleev (1834-1907) is a famous Russian chemist who arranged the 63 known elements into a periodic table based on atomic mass,
which he published in Principles of Chemistry in 1869.

According to Mendeleev it took him 20 years to invent this system. During the time when the system was being invented atomic weights of many elements had been defined wrongly, forms of their compounds were imperfect, many elements had not been studied yet and as the result of all this there was a serious confusion in correlation between atomic weights and elements characteristics. Actually this invented periodical system was just one of many systems built basing on atomic weight.

The wonderful legend says that Mendeleev invented the periodical system in his dream and this story is bases on a real fact told by Inostrantsev. Once Inostrantsev came to Mendeleev's private office and saw that Mendeleev was in a very gloomy mood. Mendeleev complained that he was thinking about the system and he almost got it in his mind but couldn't express in a table. Three days later he was still working at his favourite table in his office without having a rest for three nights trying to compile a table. Nothing helped so at the end he was very exhausted and fell asleep. In his dream he saw the table of elements very clear and when he woke up he wrote down everything he had seen and only one small correction was made afterwards.

From his remarkable table Mendeleev predicted the properties of elements then unknown; three of these (gallium, scandium, and germanium) were later discovered. He studied also the nature of solutions and the expansion of liquids. An outstanding teacher, he was professor at the Univ. of St. Petersburg (1868–90). He directed the bureau of weights and measures from 1893 and served as government adviser on the development of the petroleum industry. His Principles of Chemistry (2 vol., 1868–71; tr. 1905) was long a standard text.

The formula of 40° vodka was also discovered by Mendeleev.

It is known that the British started doing alcoholometric research at the 18th century and some other scientists from different countries were also doing weight analysis of alcoholic solutions.

While they used to mix water and spirit basing on volumes Mendeleev tried to mix them by weight, which was more difficult and give more accurate results. It turned out that the ideal content of spirit in vodka should be 40° , the figure that you can only get if you mix precise weights not by mixing volumes. Largest compression of mixture can be reached upon reciprocal dilution of weights: 45.88% of anhydrous spirit with 54.12% of water. It means that if there are three water molecules for one spirit molecule then the volume of mixture is minimal and therefore specific proportion is reaches maximum. Thus, 1 litre of 40° vodka shall weight 951 grams exactly.

Mendeleev wrote a formula of 30 components in 5 rows. He thought his formula was very simple but the result of this formula was so precise that it exceeded all results of researches of his predecessors.

One reason that no adequate biography of Mendeleev has yet been written is that he was as active in politics and social issues as he was in chemistry. The future biographer faces a mountain of archival material, most of it collected in the Mendeleev Museum in St. Petersburg.

Mikhail Kalashnikov.Mikhail Kalashnikov

Kalashnikov was born on November 10, 1919, in the village of Kurya, Altai Territory, to a large peasant family.

In 1938 he entered the Red Army in Kiev where he attended tank mechanics school. In the army, he designed a device to count the number of shots fired by a tank as well as other useful tactical devices for tanks.
Kalashnikov machine gun.After surviving fierce battles against the Nazi's in 1941 as a tank commander, he found himself in hospital recovering from serious wounds. Here at the hospital he began to conceive ideas for a new machine gun which could provide high volume, light weight firepower for soldiers. In 1944 his first prototype was adopted for further development and finally in 1949 the soviet army adopted the Automatic Kalashnikov design of 1947 as their standard rifle.

The submachine guns of Kalashnikov system are widespread all over the world. Some countries have included its image in the State Emblem.

More than 50 armies of the world have in their arsenals firearms created by Mikhail Kalashnikov.

By 1990 there were made about 70 millions units of Kalashnikov submachine guns of various modifications both in Russia and abroad including those made under license and piratically (till nowadays the invention has not been patented).

he cause of such great popularity of Kalashnikov submachine guns is in the fact that Kalashnikov has achieved an optimum combination of a number of qualities which provide the usage of guns with high efficiency of application and exclusive reliability in battles.

The President of Russia Boris Eltsin personally decorated the outstanding designer M. T. Kalashnikov with the Order "For Distinguished Services for the Motherland" Second Class and promoted him to Major-General to his 75th anniversary.

Alexander Popov

Alexander Popov.Russian people will always remember their great scientist Alexander Popov (1859-1905) who invented radio.

In 1895 he developed the first radio-receiver that could register thunderstorm electricity discharge from considerable distances.

Thunderstorm electricity discharge controller.On 12th of March 1896 Popov together with Ribkin demonstrated wireless transmission of Morse signals from one university building to another that was 200 meters far from the first one. It was the first sensible transmission of text in the world. In spring of 1897 Popov conducted some experiments on the ships and was able to transmit information to a ship that was as far as 640 meters from Popov. He was increasing the distance of transmission day by day.

In 1897 he also discovered that all metal objects in the way of a radio wave could change the wave direction, or in other words could reflect it. It was the start of another useful invention called later radio-location. Imperfection of equipment at that time did not allow to put the observation into use until 40 years later when the first radio-radar was built. Others have laid claims that they discovered this phenomena of wave reflection, but it should be remembered that the invention was actually made by Popov.


bout Lomonosov:,,, Lomonosov University official website (in Russian).
Nikolai Basov Biography, Ivan Pavlov Biography, about Sofia Kovalevskaya, interview with Valentina Ttereshkova, V. Tereshkova's biography, U. Gagarin's biography, Uri Gagarin - life in pictures.
About Mikhail Kalashnikov, about Alexander Popov.

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