Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov was born on 19th November 1711 near Kholmogory in Russia...
He was the son of a fisherman, but chose to conceal his peasant background in order to gain a broad education. Lomonosov was the first Russian scientist of world importance. He had encyclopedic knowledge, interests and abilities. He was a poet, artist and historian. Lomonosov desired an education, however, and posed as the son of a nobleman to gain admission to the Latin Academy in Moscow. There he proved to be an outstanding student and was sent to the Academic University in St. Petersburg in 1735. In 1736, he studied mineralogy and chemistry in Germany, first at Marburg University and then at the Freiburg Academy. In 1742, he was appointed to a physics position at the St. Petersburg Academy of Science. The St. Petersburg Academy of Science was highly respected in Europe; it was staffed at this time mainly by foreign scientists, for example Lehmann. Lomonosov became the first Russian professor of chemistry at the academy in 1745. Lomonosov's scientific activity falls in three periods of his life. Various chemical and physical research prior to 1748. In 1748 he founded the first chemistry laboratory in Russia and pursued mainly chemical projects for the next five years. After 1753 he investigated diverse fields of natural and applied science. His geological contributions came during this last period.
His major scientific work was in physical chemistry. He supported the "atomic-molecular" theory of matter and "molecular-kinetic" theory of heat. The latter was a forerunner of thermodynamics that developed in the following century. Lomonosov was a leader in development of quantitative chemistry and physics. He had interests in optics and astronomy. During a transit of Venus across the Sun on 26 May 1761, he discovered that Venus possesses an atmosphere. His two most important geological publications were both written in Latin. A word on the formation of metals from earth tremors (1757). On the Earth's strata (1763), a supplement to a treatise on metallurgy. Lomonosov supported the fundamental principle of the regular, continuous evolution of nature. He believed the natural environment is not static or unchanging, which was the popular belief of the time. He considered that ancient geology should be interpreted by comparison to modern geological processes, an approach he called the actualistic method. This approach had much in common with Hutton's later concept of uniformitarianism. Lomonosov was the first to explicitly separate geological processes into external (exogenic wind, rain, rivers, glaciers, etc.) and internal (endogenic - tectonic movement, volcanoes, etc.). Most believed at the time that the Earth's crust was stationary. Lomonosov distinguished both slow warping of the crust (epeirogeny) and mountain building (orogeny).
Lomonosov had a particular interest in mineralogy going back to his German education. He noticed natural groupings or occurrences of certain ore minerals and noted that certain minerals typically indicate the presence of other minerals. This phenomenon is now called paragenesis - the common genesis of related minerals. His paper on Discourses on the hardness and liquidity of bodies describes geometric arrangements far packing spheres (atoms) in the crystallattice. He noted the constancy of crystal interfacial angles. Lomonosov also applied chemical analysis to determine the genesis of various rocks and proved the organic origin of soil, peat, coal, petroleum and amber.
Lomonosov strove to upgrade the quality of Russian science and education. He attempted, but failed, to found a university in St. Petersburg. He eventually succeeded in founding what is now Moscow State University in 1755. This university, officially named after Lomonosov, is at the apex of the Russian system of higher education. Lomonosov was well regarded by contemporary European scientists. He was made an honorary member of the Swedish Academy of Science in 1760 and became an honorary member of the Bologna Academy of Science in 1764. He occupies a central place in the history of Russian science. Lomonosov is memorialized in many place names - Arctic submarine ridge, Atlantic current, etc. The Russian Academy of Sciences awards Lomonosov honorary medals in scientific achievement - one to a Russian and one to a foreign scientist. In 1765, Lomonosov caught a cold and died at age 54. He is buried in the cemetery of Alexander Nevsky Monastary in St. Petersburg, Russia
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