The -ev's and -ov's

June 27, 2010

Torah Kachur

Science in Seconds On Location:  Torah in St. Petersburg, Russia.


Russia is famous for a few things - vodka, dudes with awesome mustaches and scientists.


A country that is actually proud of its scientists...sounds impossible (and my dream country).  Here, in Russia, they don't idolize athletes accused of rape or drug-using tween rockers, they idolize Pushkin, Tchaikovsky and Pavlov.  In other words, they have culture - which is why scientists are included on the list.


The Russian Academy of Sciences is one of the oldest scientific institutions around, it was founded by Peter the Great in 1724 and now emcompasses many different institutes across the country that study everything from Astrophysics to the U.S.A and Canada.  It's original headquarters was in St. Petersburg in a fabulous building right on the Neva River that was once home to some seriously cool researchers:  Pavlov, Mendeleev, Popov, the KGB (in its time) and has housed 18 Nobel Laureates (yes, eighteen).





Ha!  Gotcha!   Started to drool didn't you?  This is now called a Pavlovian response, thanks to Ivan Petrovich Pavlov who studied salivation responses in dogs and trained them in something he called 'classical conditioning' where the body responds according to associated stimuli.  Pavlov won the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1903 and was the first from the Academy to be honored.  Lenin was super-duper proud of his buddy too, and not just because of Pavlov's kick-ass facial hair.


Mendeleev did something a bit more boring, but also infinitely useful.  Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev was born in Siberia, and seeing that there is nothing to do in the vast forests of the Russian wilderness, he turned to chemistry.  Mendeleev came up with the first version of the periodic table of the elements and a version of which we still use today.  Cool?  Yes, but no Nobel Prize.  But, like all Russian famous characters he had a flair for the dramatic - he was also technically a bigamist.  You go Dmitri!


Like every major superpower, there exists a tad bit of propaganda still in Russia, touting their various accomplishments - including the invention of the radio.  Alexander Popov is celebrated in Russia with a small planet named after him, a museum, an institute - all for the invention of the radio.  Except, it may not really have been him that did it.  Tesla, Hertz, Marconi, Braun and Popov all contributed to different aspects of radio waves and short range communication, so it is impossible to say who invented it.  Except, Popov did have the best facial hair (second prize to Tesla's sexy-face).




Russia is also filled with engineers and physicists who are way too smart for me to report on.  Although, all of these brilliant minds still can't explain the Lada.



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