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 Mikhail Lomonosov

Born:   19 November 1711
Deceased:   04 April 1765

Great Russian scientist, poet and linguist


Human history knows many persons of great talent, and famous Russian scientist Mikhail Vasilievich Lomonosov is definitely among world top ten geniuses. Theory of light and heat, electricity and gravitation, meteorology, geography and metallurgy, history, chemistry, philosophy and literature, geology and astronomy – these are only few fields, where Lomonosov applied his fantastic talents.

Great scientist, pride of his Motherland, was born on November 19th, 1711 in Russian village Mishaninskaya, which now bears his name, in peasant family of Vasiliy Dorofeevich Lomonosov. Since he was ten years old, Mikhail accompanied his father in far and dangerous journeys – father’s galiot “Chaika” (“Sea Gull”) took little Lomonosov to Severnaya Dvina river, the White Sea and the Arctic Ocean. He showed a keen interest in life and nature of his native heath, in customs and manners of the population, and interest in industry followed him for his whole life.

Everything the boy saw impressed him and caused a thirst for knowledge, quite unusual for such young child. When Mikhail returned from his trips, he immediately began reading books. He was very young, when he learned how to read, thus he soon learned those few books he had at his disposal by heart. However, these were church books, which contained no answers to his questions. With great difficulty Lomonosov managed to get those few non-church books, which existed at that time – Smotritsky’s “Slavonic Grammar” and Magnitsky’s “Arithmetic” opened new, previously unknown knowledge horizons to the boy. However, his life at home wasn’t cloudless, since his mother died, when he was little, and his stepmother made his existence unbearable. Desperate situation and irresistible impulse to learn affected Mikhail’s decision to leave his own home.

It was winter of 1730, when Mikhail Lomonosov left for Moscow – where in January 1731 he was admitted to Zaikonospasskaya Slavic-Greek-Latin Academy, the first higher education establishment of Russia. Studying was a difficult process – Mikhail spent almost all his money on books and was bullied by his classmates due to his age – he was much older than the majority of students. In 1736 Mikhail Lomonosov was invited to Saint Petersburg among 12 best students of the Academy, and then was sent to Marburg of Germany to study mining engineering together with another two bright students.

In June of 1741, after spending almost five years abroad, Lomonosov returned to Russia and in six months was appointed an adjunct of physical class. He also took part in some political games, resulting in governmental changes. February of 1744 saw the defense of Lomonosov’s master thesis “On insensitive physical particles”; later the same year Mikhail has finished a remarkable study “Considering the nature of cold and warmth”. In the following year Mikhail Lomonosov applied for professorship and, after defense of Doctor Thesis in metallurgy – “On lightness of metals” and a vivid discussion of his works “On insensitive physical particles” and “Attempt to develop the theory of air elastic force”, in which famous mathematician Leonard Euler took part, praising Lomonosov’s genius, he finally became the professor of chemistry.


From the very first step as a professor, Lomonosov started several projects, which were crucial for Russian science. The first one was building Russian chemical laboratory, and the second one – publishing his own translation of “Wolff’s Experimental Physics”, not only the first Russian physics textbook, but also standard of scientific Russian language. Years between 1745 and 1750 are notable for many creative achievements of Mikhail Lomonosov – he developed and gave reasons for new discipline – physical chemistry, heat and gas kinetic theory, and formulated laws of matter and momentum conservation. At the same time Mikhail Lomonosov was busy solving scientific and organizational problems, as well as performing pedagogic and literary activities – Lomonosov is a famous author of odes and tragedies and a recognized speaker; he took active participation in discussions on Russian history and started experiments on coloured glass technique (mosaic). September 6th of 1751 is notable for the famous “On Benefit of Chemistry” speech. During next five years the genius became even more active, however, he expressed great interest in two fields – electric phenomena and chemistry, not to forget about coloured glass and porcelain. Lomonosov’s intensive efforts were the reason first Russian mosaic glass plant was placed to operation in 1753. He wrote and introduced a revolutionary new lecture course in physical chemistry, thus getting well ahead of his century. Mikhail Vasilievich directed much energies to Moscow University, developing its project, and finally the university, now being a leading higher educational institution in Russia named after Lomonosov, opened its doors in April 1755. At that time Lomonosov wrote “Treatise on electricity, written by mathematical means”, and his experiments with light and colours resulted in “Essay on origin of light, describing new colour theory”. Discovery of mercury freezing point in 1759 led to “Essay on body’s hardness and liquid properties” in 1960. In 1757 Lomonosov was appointed office adviser, and in March 1758 he became in charge for Historic and Geographical Assembly, as well as for upper secondary school and university.

On May 26th of 1761 Lomonosov observed a rare celestial phenomenon – Venus passing over the solar disc, which helped him to discover Venus’s atmosphere. His geography studies resulted in “Essay on high accuracy of sea route”, where he suggests opening International Nautical Academy and expanding studies of Earth magnetism, geophysics and meteorology; “Brief description of various trips in Northern seas and possible journey to East India via Siberian Ocean”, where he expresses the idea of the Northern Sea Route; and “Thoughts on origin of ice mountains in Northern seas”. Lomonosov has always emphasized the great significance of national language in developing nation’s culture.

In March 1765 Lomonosov had caught flu and died on April 4th 1765.

    Website about Lomonosov
    Online Encyclopedia
    Moscow State University about its founder


Tags: Russian science Russian literature Russian scientists Mikhail Lomonosov  

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