Russia on the rise

From Yu.S. Osipov's book
«Academy of Sciences in the History of the Russian State» Moscow, «NAUKA», 1999

In the twenties of the 19th century, a special building was constructed for the Academy in St.Petersburg. In the thirties, the Botanical, Zoological, Ethnographic, Mineralogical, Asian, Egyptian, and Numismatic Museums were set up, using the exhibits of the Cabinet of Curiosities. Some have subsequently become corresponding departments of the Hermitage and other world-famous museums. On January 1, 1839, the Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory was unveiled, which at once occupied a leading place in the world astronomical science. Its first director was V.Ya.Struve, and the second his son O.V.Struve.

In 1804, the academy of Sciences started issuing a new publication, Technological Journal, or a Collection of Works and News Related to Technology, and Applications of Discoveries Made in Science. The journal reflected the striving to strengthen the ties of science with practice. The periodic scientific publications Theoretical Studies, Works of the Academy of Sciences were published in Russian. The number of its corresponding members and hnonrary members was growing, including N.I.Gnedich, V.M.Golovnin, N.I.Grech, V.I.Dal, N.M.Karamzin, K.Kh.F.Ledebur, N.I.Pirogov, N.F.Polevoi, O.I.Senkovsky, Kh.Kh.Steven,, A.S.Shishkov, and many other men of culture, famous travelers and naturalists. The fact, that among its foreign members we see the names of brilliant writers and scientists of the 19th century such as A.-M.Ampere, J.L.Gay-Lussac, T.H.Huxley, W.Herschel, J.W.Goethe, A. von Humboldt, Ch.R.Darwin, Ch.Layel, T.R.Malthus, O.L.Cauchy and J.Fourier, proves a high authority of the Academy.

The early 19th century became a new bright stage in the history of Russian geographical studies. In 1803-1806, I.F.Kruzenshtern and Yu.f.Lisyansky made the first round-the-world trip, in which Academy embers W.`Tilesius bor Tilenau and G.I.Langsdorf took part. In the first half of the 19th century, the Russian government organized about 50 major sea trips, in which, as a rule, the Academy’s naturalists took part, An outstanding event in the development of geographical studies became the discovery of Antarctica by the expedition of F.F.Bellinsgausen and M.P.Lazarev in 1820. The expeditions brought glory to Russia, and turned St.Petersburg into a center of world geography. The value of zoological collections and botanical herbaria of those years increased hundredfold today. It is only from them that we can learn of some species disappeared in the last two centuries.

Problems of calculus, mathematical physics and mechanics were given development in the studies of the outstanding mathematicians M.V.Ostrogradsky and V.Ya.Bunyakovsky. To demonstrate successes of university science, one can take the discovery of non-Euclidean geometry by the great Russian mathematician N.I.Lobachevsky, as an example, the theory was ahead of its time.

Among the greatest mathematicians of the 19th century is Pafnuty Lvovich Chebyshev. He created new directions in calculus, function theory, probability theory and number theory, solved most difficult problems of long standing, not yielding to the efforts of his predecessors. P.L.Chebyshev’s greatest achievement is the creation of the famous St.Petersburg school of mathematicians. A.N.Korkin, Ye.I.Zolotarev, A.A.Markov, A.M.Lyapunov and V.A.steklov make up a far from complete list o brilliant representatives of his school. The famous disciple of P.L.Chebyshev founder of mathematical theory o stability, A.M.Lyapunov wrote:

“P.L.Cheyshev and his followers constantly remain of the real ground, being guided by the view that only such studies are valuable that are caused by applications (scientific of practical), and only such theories are really useful that follow from considering particular cases. A detailed study of the problems, particulary important from the standpoint of applications, and at the same time, presenting particular theoretical difficulties, which should be overcome by the invention of new methods and retracing one’s steps to the principles of science, and then generalization of a more or less general theory were the directions of the majority of works of P.L.Chebyshev and the scientists sharing his views”. This quotation is very characteristic of methodological views of the St. Petersburg mathematical school.

Since that time and until now, Russia has remained one of the world leaders in mathematics.

Of greatest importance for the development of fundamental problems in aerodynamics were the works of N.Ye.Zhukovsky and S.A.Chaplygin; in astronomy, of V.Ya.Struve, F.A.Bredikhin and A.A.Boloplsky. The following discoveries made history: of the electric arc. By V.V.Petrov; the studies of E.Kh.Lenz, who formulated the law of the thermal effect of the current, and also a fundamental rule determining the direction of induced currents; B.S.Yakobi invented electroplating and the ships’ electric motor. A.G.Stoletov and P.N.Lebedev performed a fundamental study on electromagnetic processes. An outstanding achievement was invention of radio by A.S.Popov in 1895.

The second half of the 19th century is characterized by the flourishing of chemistry in Russia. The contributions by D.I.Mendeleev, creator of the periodic table of the chemical elements, N.N.Zinin, founder of a school o organic chemists, and A.M.Butlerov, creator of the theory of chemical construction, are invaluable.

Biological sciences in the Academy of the 19th century were represented by K.M.Baire, founder of the comparative embryology of animals, A.O.Kovalevsky, founder of evolutional embryology, A.S.Famintrsyn, creator of evolutional physiology of plants and author of the symbiogenesis hypothesis. On the verge of the 20th century Russia gave the world such names as D.I.Ivanovsky, discoverer of viruses, I.I.Mechnikov, one of the first Nobel laureates, who discovered cell mechanisms of immunity, I.P.Pavlov, a Noble laureate, who discovered conditioned reflexes base o consciousness, and whose 150th anniversary we mark this year.

V.M.Severgin was the first of work out systematization of minerals, created a fundamental work on the topomineralogy of Russia. The first geological map of the European part of the country was made by G.G.Gelemersen. Ye.S.Fyodorov laid foundations for structural crystallography, a systematic geological mapping of Russia was performed under the leadership of A.P.Karpinsky. B.B.Golitsyn created foundations of seismometry.

The works of genius by V.I.Vernadsky laid foundations for new sciences: geochemistry, and then radiochemistry and radiogeology. His teaching o biosphere and noosphere plays an outstanding role in solving ecological problems. Establishing new system of the Paleozoic, called the Perm system, became the greatest discovery related to the Earth’s history. It was then that considerable resources of platinum in the Urals, uranium in Fergana, oil in the Baku region, and gold and coals in Siberia were discovered.

One of the Academy of Sciences most important goals was perfecting the Russian language. Together with prominent linguists, the brilliant Russian writers P.A.Vyazemsky, V.A.Zhukovsky, I.A.Krylov, I.A.Goncharov, F.M.Dostoevsky, A.N.Mainkov, I.S.Turgenev, A.N.Ostrovsky, A.K.Tolstoy, F.I.Tyutchev, A.A.Fet, A.S.Khomyakov and others joined the Department of the Russian Language and Literature.

Acad. Ya.K.Grot set norms of Russian orthography, maintained until the reform of 1918, and compiled a dictionary, which has not lost its importance even now. Acad. A.Kh.Vostokov, researcher of monuments of Old Slavonic literature, published Ostromirovo Gospel in 1843. In the 19th century, historians drew society’s attention to the riches of native history. In 1818, publication of The History of the Russian State by N.M.Karamzin started. N.M.kramzin was elected Honorary Member of the Academy that same year. As A.S.Pushkin put it figuratively, “the history of Russia was discovered by Columbus”. Its tortuous history Russia learned also thanksto the efforts of academic historians S.M.Solovyev, V.O.Klyuchevsky, T.N.Granovsky, nd others.

In the first quarter of the 19th century, statesman N.P.Rumyantsev succeeded in uniting scientists K.F.Kalaidovich, I.I.Grigorovich, A.Kh.Vostokov, P.M.Stroev and others, who made it their vocation to collect, study, and publish documents of Russian history. An archeographic expedition was organized in 1828-1834. The Lavrentyevskaya, Troitskaya and Ipatyevskaya Chronicles, and the Code of Laws of 1497 became accessible to general public. N.P.Rumyantsev amassed a collection of manuscrips and books making up a base for the Rumyantsev museum. Fundamental studies of philologists I.I.Sreznevsky, V.I.Dal and A.A.Shakhmatov wre made widely known. The works of V.R.Rozen, V.V.Radlov, U.U.Bartold, F.I.Shcherbaatsky, S.F.Oldenburg and others laid foundations for the now world-known schools of oriental studies.

The high scientific and social status of Academy members was to a considerable degree also due to the fact that many of them were professors at higher educational establishments. It was the Academy that used to award the most prestigious prizes in the field of science.

The Demidov, Uvarov and Upshkin Award funds were active. The F.F.Brandt, V/Ya.Bunyakovsky, K.M.Baire, G.P.Gelmersen, Metropolitan Macarius and Count D.A.Tolstoy Awards were instituted. In 1865, the 100th anniversary of the death of M.V.Lomonosov was marked by a new annual M.V.Lomonosov Award. By the way, the Academy member Metropolitan Macarius Award was reinstituted by the Moscow Patriarch, Government of Moscow and our Academy three years ago.

In December 1899, when the 100th anniversary of the birth of A.S.Pushkin was marked, a Section of Belles Lettres was set up under the Department of the Russian Language and Literature, with the goal of compiling a Dictionary of the Russian Language and publishing an annotated edition of the works of Russian writers.

The Section of Belles Lettres also united Honorary Academicians among writers, artists and literary critics. During the first elections in Jonuary 1900, the first generally recognized “masters of thought” of Russia L.N.Tolstoy, A.F.Koni, A.M.Zhemchuzhnikov, V.G.Korolenko, A.P.Chekhov, V.S.Slolvyev and V.V.Stasov were elected. In the following years, K.S.Alekseev (Stanislavsky), I.A.Bunin, A.N.Veselovsky and lethers became Honorary Members. And though sometimes stormy disputes and even scandals accompanied the elections, as in electing A.M.Gorky, men of literature and arts highly evaluated their election as Honorary Members of the Academy, and regarded the fact as not only a manifestation of the Academy’s interest in the country’s culture, but also as an act of recognition by the whole of Russia.

In 1889, the Academy was headed by a highly-educated member of the Emperor’s family, a well-known poet Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich Romanv. He led the Academy without losses through the hard times of the early 20th century.

©РАН 2018