Russia

Dmitri Shostakovich’s Apocalyptic Soundtrack for the 20th century

Dmitri Shostakovich’s Apocalyptic Soundtrack for the 20th century

On 25 September 1906, Soviet-era Russian composer and pianist Dmitri Shostakovich was born. He became internationally known after the premiere of his First Symphony in 1926 and was regarded throughout his life as a major composer. In addition to 15 symphonies, instrumental concertos, stage works and film music, he composed 15 string quartets, which are among the major works of the 20th century chamber music repertoire. “I live in the USSR, work…
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Leonid Kulik and the Mysterious Tunguska Event

Leonid Kulik and the Mysterious Tunguska Event

On August 19, 1883, Russian mineralogist Leonid Alekseyevich Kulik was born. Kulik is noted for his research in meteorites. In 1927, Kulik conducted the first scientific expedition (for which records survive) to study the Tunguska meteor impact site, the largest impact event in recorded history, which had occurred on 30 June 1908.[1] Leonid Kulik – Bachground Leonid Kulik was born in Tartu, Estonia, which was later to become part of the Soviet Union, and was…
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Andrey Markov and the Markov Chains

Andrey Markov and the Markov Chains

On June 14, 1856, Russian mathematician Andrey (Andrei) Andreyevich Markov was born. He is best known for his work on stochastic processes. A primary subject of his research later became known as Markov chains and Markov processes, i.e. sequences of random variables in which the future variable is determined by the present variable but is independent of the way in which the present state arose from its predecessors. Markov Chains I guess, as…
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Sir Waldemar Haffkine – A Saviour of Humanity

Sir Waldemar Haffkine – A Saviour of Humanity

On March 15 1860, Russian bacteriologist Sir Waldemar Mordechai Wolff Haffkine was born. Haffkine is best known for an anti-cholera vaccine that he tried out successfully in India. He is recognized as the first microbiologist who developed and used vaccines against cholera and bubonic plague. He tested the vaccines on himself. Lord Joseph Lister named him “a saviour of humanity”.[4] Early Years Born as Vladimir Aaronovich Khavkin, Waldemar Haffkine was born into a family of Jewish teachers living…
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Peter the Great and the Grand Embassy

Peter the Great and the Grand Embassy

On March 10, 1697, Russian Tsar Peter the Great began his diplomatic mission to Western Europe, referred to as the ‘Grand Embassy‘. The goal of this mission was to strengthen and broaden Russia‘s influence in Western Europe and to find allies against the Ottoman Empire. What makes the mission so special is that Peter the Great led the mission himself, but incognito under a wrong name. “Alas! I have civilized my own…
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Nikolai Gogol and Russian Surrealism

Nikolai Gogol and Russian Surrealism

On March 4, 1852, Russian novelist Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol passed away, whose novel Myortvye dushi (Dead Souls) and whose short story “Shinel” (“The Overcoat”) are considered the foundations of the great 19th-century tradition of Russian realism. However, later critics have found in his work a fundamentally romantic sensibility, with strains of surrealism and the grotesque. “What a dreary world we live in, gentlemen.” — Nikolai Gogol, How the Two Ivans Quarrelled (1835)…
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Vladimir Bekhterev and the Bekhterev’s Disease

Vladimir Bekhterev and the Bekhterev’s Disease

On January 20, 1857, Russian neurologist Vladimir Mikhailovich Bekhterev was born. He is often referred to as father of objective psychology, but is best known for noting the role of the hippocampus in memory, his study of reflexes, and Bekhterev’s disease. Moreover, he is known for his competition with Ivan Pavlov regarding the study of conditioned reflexes.[1] “Only two know the mystery of brain: God and Bekhterev.” — Friedrich Wilhelm Theodor Kopsch, as…
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Pjotr Kropotkin and the Theory of Mutual Aid

Pjotr Kropotkin and the Theory of Mutual Aid

On December 21, 1842 (or December 8, according to the Gregorian Calendar), Russian geographer, economist, activist, philologist, zoologist, evolutionary theorist, philosopher, writer and prominent anarchist Prince Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin was born. Besides being a political person, his main scientific contribution is the publication of his theory of mutual aid, voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit as a counter model to the historic concept of an autonomous individual, the…
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The “King of Bombs” and the Craze of Cold War Nuclear Armament

The “King of Bombs” and the Craze of Cold War Nuclear Armament

On October 30, 1961, the Soviet Union detonated the hydrogen bomb Tsar Bomba over Novaya Zemlya, which still is the largest explosive device ever detonated, nuclear or otherwise. Technical Challenges Just to get an idea of the bomb’s power, the Tsar Bomba measured ten times the power of all explosives used during World War II. Still, the bomb was known for the very little amount of fallout, produced during the explosion since about 97%…
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Peter Simon Pallas – A Pioneer in Zoography

Peter Simon Pallas – A Pioneer in Zoography

On September 22, 1741, German zoologist and botanist Peter Simon Pallas was born. Pallas was a pioneer in zoogeography by going beyond merely cataloging specimens with simple descriptions, but included observations of causal relationships between animals and their environment. He looked for hidden regularities in natural phenomena over an extreme range of habitats. Peter Simon Pallas – Early Years Pallas was born in Berlin, the son of Professor of Surgery Simon Pallas…
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