Monday, November 19 is the 290th anniversary of the birth of the prominent scholar and public figure Mikhail Lomonosov. Russia's first world-famed specialist in natural science, a poet who laid down the foundations of Russian literary language and an advocate of education, Lomonosov will forever remain in the history of Russian science as "the first and the greatest." Aspiring to get an education, Lomonosov left his native village of Kholmogory in Northern Russia in 1730 and travelled all the way to Moscow on foot. The son of a poor fisherman, he had to conceal his origin in order to be admitted to the Slavonic-Greek-Latin Academy of Moscow. Recognized by his instructors as an excellent pupil, he completed his education in St. Petersburg and in Germany. Upon his return to Russia, Lomonosov was elected the first Russian professor in chemistry. Simultaneously, he began delivering public lectures in physics in Russian. It was at his urgent request that Russia built its first chemical laboratory. Having set out on his career as a researcher in chemistry and physics, Lomonosov soon developed an interest to many other sciences. One of his best-known inventions was a telescope that allowed better vision in the dark. In 1761, he announced his discovery that the planet Venus is surrounded by an atmosphere. The scholar spent many years developing the technology of smalt, or colored glass, which he later used to create a mosaic portrait of Peter I and a monumental inlay called The Battle of Poltava. Literary works, odes and tragedies authored by Lomonosov /who regarded the Russian language as characterized by "a natural exuberance, beauty and power"/ had a great impact on the following generations of poets and writers. The innovations he introduced to the art of prosody later earned him the title of Peter the Great of Russian literature. An aggressive advocate of education, Lomonosov wanted to make Russian science as strong as possible and insisted on opening a public, European-style university in Russia, which was eventually done in 1755. Today, the Moscow University is named after Mikhail Lomonosov. The name of Lomonosov was given to an Atlantic current, a mountain range in Novaya Zemlya and other geographical objects.
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