Mikhail Vasilievich Lomonosov (1711-1765) is considered the first truly world-class natural scientist in Russia. He was engaged in physics and chemistry, wrote an encyclopedia, was a remarkable practitioner and theorist. Lomonosov was an astronomer, geographer, metallurgist, geologist and poet. The scientist developed a project for Moscow University, insisting on its opening.
Lomonosov's activities were so universal that it is difficult to determine his main direction. In tsarist Russia he was extolled as a statesman, and in the Soviet Union they emphasized the national origin of the genius, hinting at a hidden struggle with the regime.
And today the memory of Lomonosov is honored, the anniversaries associated with him are being celebrated. The myths about Lomonosov are gradually coming to light 300 years after his birth.
Lomonosov came from a poor family. The family of a scientist was not even considered poor, let alone a beggar. Mikhail Lomonosov was born on November 8, 1711 in the village of Denisovka, Kholmogorsk district, Arkhangelsk region. And although his parents were not of the noble class, there was wealth in the house. Father, Vasily Dorofeevich, was known in Pomorie as the owner of a fishing artel. He was also engaged in trade. In this area, Vasily Lomonosov was one of the most educated people, he had his own small library and the experience of studying in Moscow. Lomonosov's mother was the daughter of a clerk. It was she who taught her son to read as a child, instilling in him a love of books. Going to conquer Moscow, Mikhail was not at all uneducated. He already had some knowledge, the maximum possible for that environment. This allowed Lomonosov to enter the Slavic-Greek-Latin Academy. The Lomonosovs' entourage represented the Pomors, the descendants of Novgorodians. They did not know serfdom, corvee. There were rich traditions of trade, crafts and handicrafts.
Lomonosov in bast shoes reached Moscow. Another myth about Lomonosov says that he came to Moscow for a fish train in some bast shoes to study there. But this wagon train apparently belonged to Mikhail's father. The father let his son go for a short time to accompany the cargo. And he went on the run. They say that Lomonosov ran away also because they wanted to marry him, which he did not want. And this young man from a wealthy family was not in bast shoes; he obviously had his own boots.
Lomonosov was the son of Tsar Peter. Such a rumor appeared during the life of the scientist himself. It seemed inconceivable to many that a peasant entered the Moscow Academy, studying with the children of priests and nobles. And further brilliant career of Lomonosov raised questions among envious people. The facts were far-fetched. At one time, Peter worked as a simple carpenter at the Bazhenov shipyard, not far from Kuroostrov. True, the creators of the myth ignore the fact that nine months before the birth of Lomonosov, Tsar Peter was far from these places. He physically could not participate in conception. The argument in favor of kinship is the violent nature of the scientist, which is often compared with the "father's". Lomonosov did not try to be diplomatic, he directly expressed his thoughts, proving by practice that he was right. He ignored scandals, as if not fearing the consequences. History has it that science geniuses may well have run-of-the-mill parents. This is proved by the examples of Newton, Faraday, Landau, Feynman. And who said that everything in life was easy for Lomonosov? He really studied a lot, first at the Slavic-Greek-Latin Academy, then in Germany. Lomonosov recalled that for the sake of study he lived in extreme poverty, they laughed at his age.
Lomonosov was a Pomor. For the first time the Russian historian V. Lamansky called Lomonosov a Pomor. His further colleagues only replicated this myth. However, none of the biographies of the scientist, written before Lamansky's work in 1863, did not mention such an origin of Mikhail Vasilyevich. Shuvalov, who loved him, did not say anything about this in "Ode to the death of Lomonosov", the educator and publisher N. Novikov also did not consider the scientist a Pomor. And in the stories of Lomonosov's fellow countrymen, recorded by M. Muravyov, there is nothing that would betray such an origin. There are no historical documents in which the scientist himself called himself a Pomor. During his interrogation at the Synod in 1734, Lomonosov said that his father was a peasant Vasily Dorofeev, but did not say anything about the Pomors. In those days, inhabitants of completely different territories - the western White Sea region - were called Pomors. And the inhabitants of the eastern White Sea began to call themselves Pomors only from the 19th century.
Lomonosov was not a serf. The prominent Marxist Georgy Plekhanov said that the Arkhangelsk peasant could become a great leader also because he was a Pomor who did not know a "serf collar." But such a statement does not agree well with a fairly well-known fact. To go to Moscow, Lomonosov straightened his passport. And when the document expired, he began to be listed as a fugitive. If serfdom is perceived as a ubiquitous state regime that restricts the movement of the population for the purpose of collecting taxes, then serfdom was still present in the Russian North. Wanting to leave for Moscow, Lomonosov received a passport. In the 17th-19th centuries, such a document was given to those seeking to leave their place of residence. On his return, the passport was returned. Lomonosov's document was valid until mid-1731, the young man did not return. And until he received the title of nobility in 1747, Lomonosov was considered a fugitive peasant, living with an expired document. For 16 years, fellow villagers paid a fee of one and a half rubles a year for him (a lot of money for the peasants), while he communicated with the empress, was entered the palaces, was an academician.
Lomonosov was a bad husband and father. The main woman in the life of a scientist was his wife. Young Elizaveta Zilch was the daughter of a German brewer. She met Mikhail Lomonosov when he was studying at the University of Marburg. When the 19-year-old woman gave birth to her daughter, the child's father was no longer in the country. He asked his spouse to wait for a call from him to Russia. But the request never came. Did Lomonosov really leave the woman and her daughter? This story has a continuation. Two years later, Elizabeth, not being officially either a wife or a widow, herself sought out Lomonosov through the embassy and came to him in Russia. The news that the scientist had a family shocked many. Everyone considered him a bachelor. But Lomonosov did not at all try to evade responsibility. In those years, a Russian student could not, according to Russian laws, marry a German woman; this required permission from the Academy of Sciences. Lomonosov never received it, which is why he could not get married. The wedding was played in Germany according to local laws. And the further family life of the scientist proves, if not love for his family, then in any case great respect. For 20 years of marriage Lomonosov with Elizaveta Andreevna lived in "unanimity". No debauchery was noticed behind him. Mikhail Vasilyevich died in the arms of his loved ones. And his wife outlived her husband by only a year and a half.
Lomonosov was a passionate alchemist. Returning to his homeland in 1741, Lomonosov set about experiments in the field of chemistry. Few materials about that activity have survived, such mystery allowed the myth of the practice of alchemy to appear. Sumarokov's poem also hints at this, in which there is a hint of this - the extraction of gold from milk. Even if Lomonosov was familiar with alchemy, this knowledge was required for the main occupation in his life - for chemistry. As a result, the scientist was not only able to refute the basic postulates of iatrochemistry and alchemy, but also to create the foundation for physical chemistry. On the basis of Lomonosov's addiction to alchemy, a fascinating story was created, according to which, all his life, the scientist tried to decipher a mysterious scroll with the texts of the sages of Hyperborea. He got this rarity from his father, and that from the sorcerers-shamans. The writings mysteriously resembled the records of medieval alchemists, and in the texts Lomonosov discovered chemical formulas. Lomonosov allegedly once showed his scrolls to Christian Wolf, a professor at the University of Marburg. He saw in the letters the recipes for the philosopher's stone and advised the young scientist not to waste time on such complex searches. But could an inquiring mind do this? Fans of fiction explain the discovery of solid mercury by scientists precisely by the search for the philosopher's stone. According to legend, shortly before his death, Lomonosov burned all his notes and papers. But this version has no relation to science and history, it has a place in fiction.
Lomonosov was an Old Believer. As a child, Lomonosov belonged to one of the consents of the Old Believers, it is likely that he even studied in a skete. But then the scientist spoke negatively about this trend, considering it superstitious. And Lomonosov was buried in the Orthodox cemetery, according to the Orthodox rite. In adulthood, he was an ordinary member of the traditional church. Lomonosov, with his thirst for knowledge, was interested in the books protected by the Old Believers, keeping the age-old wisdom. However, the young man quickly realized that there was nothing interesting for him, answers to exciting questions. The whole principle of the Old Believers, martyrdom and bitterness was based on ridiculous stubbornness and ritual trifles. The Old Believers openly hated scientists who comprehend the world. And this is exactly what Lomonosov wanted to become.
Lomonosov fought against the church. There is an opinion that the scientist was a heretic, a fighter against God, and treated the church only formally. The proof of the myth is the rather insulting poem "Hymn to the Beard." There is nothing of Christian piety in this scandalous creation. No one doubted the authorship. Lomonosov was even summoned to a meeting of the Synod. There he did not even think to deny his insolence. This angered the members of the Synod. He asked Empress Elizabeth to publicly exterminate the libel, and to give the impudent person to the spiritual authorities for re-education. In fact, this threatened with reference to Solovki. But the case remained without consequences, and Elizabeth did not approve the report. The most progressive minds noted that science and education are gaining strong positions in society. But the scientist should not be considered such an enemy of the church. He had poems dedicated to the great church enlightener Dimitri of Rostov. In many works, Lomonosov praises God for wisdom, and he addresses the Church as a mother. There is every reason to believe that he was not a false believer, but was a true Christian. And the periodic attacks in the direction of the church can be explained by the experience of religious freethinking acquired in Germany. It seemed to the scientist that he could correct the behavior of the church at the expense of his intellect. But anti-church behavior and theomachism were certainly not inherent in Lomonosov.
Lomonosov discovered the atmosphere of Venus. To begin with, we note that in the West this discovery is attributed to the German astronomer Schreter and his English colleague Herschel. But they carried out their observations 30 years after Lomonosov. Given the size of the planet, a telescope with an aperture of 200-250 mm was needed to fully observe it, which the Russian scientist simply did not have. Lomonosov himself wrote that he saw a certain "pimple". This was later interpreted as a "rim of light". The scientist's drawings show that the light rays, passing through a denser medium, are refracted. This he understood from observations. But there is no question that Lomonosov managed to see the luminous rim of the planet. Perhaps he guessed about the existence of an atmosphere on other planets, but clearly did not write about it.
Lomonosov fought against foreigners. This myth appeared in the middle of the 19th century, when the Westernizers clashed with the Slavophiles in Russia. Lomonosov himself studied in Germany, the deep influence of German culture remained with him throughout his life. Almost all the professors of the Academy of Sciences with whom the scientist collaborated were foreigners, mostly Germans. And his wife was German too. And what if there were many foreigners among Lomonosov's enemies in Russia? After all, his few friends were not Russian either. Foreign professors came to work in St. Petersburg for only a few years, not particularly wanting to break away from their research. And for Lomonosov, an important goal was to educate Russia, such a superficial approach of the temporary workers angered him. But he did not feel hatred for foreigners, and if he scolded anyone, it was not for his origin, but for his behavior.
Lomonosov founded Moscow University. The university was actually founded by Ivan Ivanovich Shuvalov. This friend and student of Lomonosov was also a prominent patron of the arts. But in the Soviet Union, the nobleman and favorite of the empress could not be an object of worship and veneration, which is why the role of Lomonosov in the creation of an educational institution was exalted in every possible way. In fact, his role was limited to writing the draft charter and curricula. The scientist gave much more strength to the St. Petersburg Academic University, becoming its rector in 1760.
Lomonosov discovered simultaneously with Lavoisier the law of conservation of mass. This myth also appeared during the Soviet era. In general, the theoretical principle of conservation of mass has been known since ancient times. In 1756, Lomonosov began to calcine metals in closed vessels, and then weigh them. Antoine Lavoisier started a similar experiment only in 1772, burning phosphorus in a closed vessel. Both experiments demonstrated the law of conservation of mass of matter in this particular case, but did not prove the universality of the rule. And the Russian scientist himself, because of his views on weight and combustion, did not attach much importance to experience. Before his death, Lomonosov did not even include observation in the list of his main discoveries. And although in domestic textbooks the law was called Lomonosov-Lavoisier, it was the Frenchman who later confirmed it and proved its universality by experiments.
Lomonosov tried to be independent from the authorities. It is known that the scientist valued his independence and personal dignity, while he was a fierce statesman. Lomonosov believed that enlightenment in the country could be implanted only with the help of the powerful power of the state. Some of the scientist's actions for the intellectuals of the 19th-20th centuries look simply unthinkable. For example, in 1748, the enlightener took part in a search of the historian Miller's, who was suspected of illegal correspondence with the French astronomer Delisle. It turned out that he was sending copies of secret geographic maps to Paris. Lomonosov saw nothing wrong with his step, because he defended the interests of the state.