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Mikhail Lomonosov

Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov

BornNovember 19 1711(1711-11-19)
Denisovka, Arkhangelsk Governorate
DiedApril 15 1765 (aged 53)
St Petersburg
OccupationSphere of science: natural science, chemistry, physics, mineralogy, history, philology,optical devices and others. Lomonosov was a poet.

Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov (Михаи́л Васи́льевич Ломоно́сов) (November 19 [O.S. November 8] 1711 – April 15 [O.S. April 4] 1765) was a Russian scientist, writer and polymath who made important contributions to literature, education, and science. His discovered atmosphere of Venus. Sphere of science: natural science, chemistry, physics, mineralogy, history, art, philology, optical devices and others. Lomonosov was a poet, who created base of the modern Russian literary language.


From peasant to scholar

Lomonosov was born in the village of Denisovka (later renamed Lomonosovo in his honor) in the Arkhangelsk Governorate, on an island not far from Kholmogory, in the Far North of Russia. When he was ten years old the young Lomonosov had to help his father, a fisherman, work, but the boy's thirst for knowledge was unbounded. He almost learned by heart the few books he had access to – and, seeing there was no chance of education at home, he decided to walk to Moscow.

An opportunity occurred when he was nineteen and by the intervention of friends he obtained admission into the Slavic Greek Latin Academy in 1731. He lived on 3 kopecks a day (about $0.20) but his progress was very rapid. In only 5 years he completed a 12 year course, finished at the top of his class, and in 1736 he was sent to St. Petersburg with a scholarship. There his proficiency, especially in physical science, again stood out. He also plunged into philological science, learned French and German, and ultimately received a 2 year grant to study in German universities. Upon his return to Russia in 1745, he was appointed professor of chemistry at the Academy itself.

Foreign education

He accordingly went to Marburg University in Hesse, Germany, then one of Europe's most important universities (at a time when universities in general were in some decay) because of the presence of the most eminent German Enlightenment philosopher of his time, Christian Wolff. Lomonosov studied with Wolff and became one of his personal students; both philosophically and as a science administrator (also a forte of Wolff), this connection would be most influential for the rest of his life.   At Marburg, he also began to write poetry, imitating German authors, among whom he is said to have especially admired Günther. His Ode on the Taking of Khotin from the Turks was composed in 1739, and attracted a great deal of attention at St. Petersburg. During his residence in Germany, Lomonosov married a native of that country, and found it difficult to maintain his growing family on the allowance granted to him by the St. Petersburg Academy, which was scanty and sent irregularly. His circumstances became desperate, and he resolved to leave the country and to return to St. Petersburg. In 1743, his wife joined him there.

His achievements

When he arrived in Russia, he rapidly rose to distinction and was made chemistry professor at St. Petersburg University, where he ultimately became rector. Eager to improve Russian education, Lomonosov joined his patron Ivan Shuvalov in founding the Moscow State University (later named after him) in 1755. In 1764, Lomonosov was appointed to the position of a secretary of state.

In 1756, he tried to replicate Robert Boyle's experiment of 1673 and concluded that the commonly accepted phlogiston theory was false. Anticipating the discoveries of Antoine Lavoisier, he wrote in his diary: "Today I made an experiment in hermetic glass vessels in order to determine whether the mass of metals increases from the action of pure heat. The experiments — of which I append the record in 13 pages — demonstrated that the famous Robert Boyle was deluded, for without access of air from outside the mass of the burnt metal remains the same".

He regarded heat as a form of motion, suggested the wave theory of light, contributed to the formulation of the kinetic theory of gases, and stated the idea of conservation of matter in the following words: "All changes in nature are such that inasmuch is taken from one object insomuch is added to another. So, if the amount of matter decreases in one place, it increases elsewhere. This universal law of nature embraces laws of motion as well, for an object moving others by its own force in fact imparts to another object the force it loses" (first articulated in a letter to Leonhard Euler dated 5 July, 1748, rephrased and published in Lomonosov's dissertation "Reflexion on the solidity and fluidity of bodies", 1760). In 1748, he also created a mechanical explanation of gravitation.

Lomonosov was the first person to record the freezing of mercury and to hypothesize the existence of an atmosphere on Venus based on his observation of the transit of Venus of 1761 in a small observatory near his house in Petersburg. Believing that nature is subject to regular and continuous evolution, he demonstrated the organic origin of soil, peat, coal, petroleum and amber. In 1745, he published a catalogue of over 3,000 minerals, and in 1760, he explained the formation of icebergs.

As a geographer, Lomonosov got close to the theory of continental drift[1], theoreticaly predicted the existence of Antarctica (he argued that icebergs of the South Ocean could only be formed on a dry land covered with ice)[2], and invented sea tools which made writing and calculating directions and distances easier. In 1764, he organized an expedition (led by Admiral Vasili Chichagov) to find the Northeast Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by sailing along the northern coast of Siberia.

 Lomonosov was proud to restore the ancient art of mosaics. In 1754, in his letter to Leonard Euler, he wrote that his three years of experiments on the effects of chemistry of minerals on their color led to him became very involved into the mosaics art. In 1763, he set up a glass factory that produced the first stained glass mosaics outside of Italy. There were forty mosaics attributed to Lomonosov, with only twenty-four surviving to the present day. Among the best is the portrait of Peter the Great and the Battle of Poltava, measuring 4.8 x 6.4 meters.[3][4][5]

In 1755, he wrote a grammar that reformed the Russian literary language by combining Old Church Slavonic with the vernacular tongue. To further his literary theories, he wrote more than 20 solemn ceremonial odes, notably the Evening Meditation on the God's Grandeur. He applied an idiosyncratic theory to his later poems – tender subjects needed words containing the front vowel sounds E, I, YU, whereas things that may caused fear (like "anger", "envy", "pain" and "sorrow") needed words with back vowel sounds O, U, Y. That was a version of what is now called sound symbolism. Lomonosov published a history of Russia in 1760. In addition, he unsuccessfully attempted to write an epic about Peter the Great, to be based on the Aeneid by Vergil. Most of his accomplishments were unknown outside Russia until long after his death.

He died in St Petersburg in 1765, leaving no male heirs. A granddaughter married general and statesman General Nikolay Raevsky. A moon crater bears his name. In 1948, the underwater Lomonosov Ridge in the Arctic Ocean was named in his honour – Russian submersibles planted a titanium version of the country's flag on the ridge in 2007, prompting international concerns about a rush for the rights to the minerals under the seabed.[6] The Russian submersibles also left a time capsule, containing a message for future generations and a flag of United Russia – the party created to support President Vladimir Putin – on the seabed.[7] The Arktika 2007 expedition, Russia said, was part of its research contribution to International Polar Year.

See also

  • Lomonosov Gold Medal
  • Moscow State University
  • Ivan Kulibin
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  • Illustrated chronology of Lomonosov's life
  • Evening Meditation on the Greatness of God on the occasion of the Northern Lights
  • Some of Lomonosov's mosaics
  • (Russian) The descendants Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov


  1. ^ Life and Death of Alfred Wegener by Alexey Fedorchuk (Russian)
  2. ^ Eduard Belcher Prediction of Antarctica by Lomonosov (Russian)
  3. ^ Lomonsov biography
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^]
  6. ^ Russia plants flag under N Pole, BBC News, 2 August 2007.Retrieved on 2007-08-07.
  7. ^ Arctic Triumph of Chilingarov Expedition –United Russia website

NAME Lomonosov, Mikhail Vasilyevich
SHORT DESCRIPTION Scientist, writer
DATE OF BIRTH November 19, 1711
DATE OF DEATH April 15, 1765
PLACE OF DEATH St Petersburg
  This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Mikhail_Lomonosov". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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