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Mikhail Vasilievich Lomonosov


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(1711–1765) Russian scientist and scholar

Lomonosov was the son of a fisherman from Deniskova, now Lomonosov, in Russia. He left for Moscow in 1730 to obtain an education and studied science there until 1735. In 1736 he attended the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences before traveling to Marburg where he studied under Christian Wolff. Following his return to St. Petersburg in 1741 he was put under arrest (1743) and in prison began work on his 276 Notes on Corpuscular Philosophy and Physics, in which he outlined his scientific ideas. He became professor of chemistry at St. Petersburg in 1745.

Lomonosov campaigned successfully for a laboratory for teaching and research at St. Petersburg and this was opened in 1749. On the basis of the results of experiments conducted in the laboratory he set up a glass factory to produce, in particular, colored-glass mosaics. As an administrator he helped to found Moscow University (1755) with Leonhard Euler.

As a chemist Lomonosov was opposed to the phlogiston theory and is reported to have anticipated Antoine Lavoisier on the conservation of mass, Benjamin Rumford on the kinetic theory of heat, and Thomas Young on the wave theory of light.

Lomonosov also made equally important contributions to Russian literature. He wrote the grammar that systematized the Russian literary language and was himself a poet. His work, Ancient History of Russia, published posthumously in 1766, was the first work on the history of Russia.

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