Famous 20th Century Russian Scientists

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Vote for Your Favourite 20th Century Russian Scientists

 1 
Andre Geim
(Physicist)

Andre Geim
4
Birthdate: October 21, 1958
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sochi, Russia

Andre Geim is a Russian-born Dutch-British physicist. He has been associated with the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester for several years. In 2010, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with Konstantin Novoselov in recognition of his work on graphene. He is also a recipient of the 2000 Ig Nobel Prize in Physics. 

 2 
Peter Kropotkin
(Anarchist, Socialist & Historian)

Peter Kropotkin
4
Birthdate: December 9, 1842
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: February 8, 1921

Russian philosopher Peter Kropotkin was a passionate advocate of anarcho-communism. He was also an activist, revolutionary, economist, and sociologist. He was arrested and imprisoned for his activism in 1874. However, he managed to escape and lived in exile for over 40 years in different countries across Europe. He returned to Russia after the Russian Revolution in 1917. 

 3 
Lev Landau
(Physicist)

Lev Landau
4
Birthdate: January 22, 1908
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Baku, Azerbaijan
Died: April 1, 1968

Nobel Prize-winning Russian physicist Lev Landau is remembered for his pathbreaking research in quantum mechanics. A math prodigy, he had learned calculus at 13. He failed to receive his Nobel in person due to a near-fatal car crash which caused him injuries that eventually caused his death 6 years later.

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 4 
Andrei Sakharov
(Nuclear physicist)

Andrei Sakharov
4
Birthdate: May 21, 1921
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: December 14, 1989

Andrei Sakharov was a Russian dissident and nuclear physicist best remembered for designing RDS-37, Soviet Union's first two-stage hydrogen bomb. Also an activist for peace and human rights, Andrei Sakharov was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975. The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which is awarded by the European Parliament, is named in his honor.

 5 
Sergei Korolev
(Scientist)

Sergei Korolev
6
Birthdate: January 1, 1907
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Zhytomyr, Ukraine
Died: January 14, 1966

Sergei Korolev was a Soviet spacecraft designer and rocket engineer who played an important role during the Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States of America in the 1950s and 1960s. He was largely responsible for developing the R-7 Rocket and launching Yuri Gagarin into space. Sergei Korolev also launched Belka, Strelka, and Laika into space.

 6 
Vitalik Buterin
(Computer scientist)

Vitalik Buterin
14
Birthdate: January 31, 1994
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kolomna, Russia

 7 
Anatoli Bugorski
(physicist, nuclear scientist)

Anatoli Bugorski
4
Birthdate: June 25, 1942
Sun Sign: Cancer
Russian particle physicist Anatoli Bugorski is known as the man who survived after putting his head inside a particle accelerator while examining a faulty equipment. The radiation caused partial paralysis of his face and loss of hearing in his left ear. The Soviet government prevented him from talking about this for decades.
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 8 
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
(Aerospace engineer, Rocket Scientist)

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
4
Birthdate: September 17, 1857
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Izhevskoe, Russia
Died: September 19, 1935

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky was a Russian rocket scientist. Credited with pioneering astronautic theory, Tsiolkovsky is widely regarded as one of the founding fathers of astronautics and modern rocketry. His works served as an inspiration to several other Soviet rocket engineers like Valentin Glushko and Sergei Korolev. Hence, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky's work played an influential role in the Soviet space program.

 9 
Vladimir Demikhov
(Organ Transplant Pioneer)

Vladimir Demikhov
3
Birthdate: July 18, 1916
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: November 22, 1998
While some called him a mad scientist, Vladimir Demikhov is now remembered as a pioneer of organ transplantation. The Soviet scientist coined the term transplantology and shocked the world by creating two-headed dogs, by attaching the head of one dog to the body of another. 

 10 
Boris Nemtsov
(Physicist)

Boris Nemtsov
10
Birthdate: October 9, 1959
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sochi, Russia
Died: February 27, 2015

Boris Nemtsov was a Russian liberal politician and physicist. He served as the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia in 1998. A fierce critic of Vladimir Putin, Nemtsov claimed that Putin's government was becoming increasingly authoritarian. Nemtsov was murdered in 2015 in Moscow. Interestingly, Boris Nemtsov expressed fear that Vladimir Putin would hire men to kill him weeks before his assassination.

 11 
Marina Oswald
(Pharmacist)

Marina Oswald
4
Birthdate: July 17, 1941
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Severodvinsk Molotovsk, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union

Marina Oswald is a Russian-born American pharmacist best known as the widow of Lee Harvey Oswald, who killed the 35th president of the USA, John F. Kennedy. She played a key role in the Warren Commission hearings where she testified against Oswald. Marina has been portrayed by many actresses in films like JFK and Fatal Deception: Mrs. Lee Harvey Oswald.

 12 
George Gamow
(Physicist)

George Gamow
3
Birthdate: March 4, 1904
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Odessa
Died: August 19, 1968

Born to school teacher parents, Ukrainian-American physicist George Gamow grew up to be a pioneer of the big-bang theory. His other contributions include the liquid-drop model of atomic nuclei and his research on DNA. Apart from various science textbooks, he also wrote the popular Mr. Tompkins series of physics books.

 13 

Ilya Prigogine
3
Birthdate: January 25, 1917
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: May 28, 2003

Ilya Prigogine was a physical chemist remembered for his work on irreversibility, complex systems, and dissipative structures. A respected member of several scientific organizations, Prigogine was honored with the Francqui Prize in 1955. In 1976, he won the Rumford Medal for his work concerning irreversible thermodynamics. His work on irreversible thermodynamics earned him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1977.

 14 
Igor Kurchatov
(Nuclear physicist)

Igor Kurchatov
3
Birthdate: January 12, 1903
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Sim, Russia
Died: February 7, 1960

 15 
Andrey Kolmogorov
(Mathematician)

Andrey Kolmogorov
4
Birthdate: April 25, 1903
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tambov, Russia
Died: October 20, 1987

Russian mathematician Andrey Kolmogorov lost his mother at birth and was raised by his aunts. His talent in mathematics was discovered when he joined the Moscow State University to study history and math, while simultaneously studying metallurgy elsewhere. His greatest contribution to mathematics was in the field of probability theory.

 16 
Élie Metchnikoff
(Former zoologist best known for his pioneering research in immunology)

Élie Metchnikoff
3
Birthdate: May 15, 1845
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ukraine
Died: July 15, 1916

 17 
Nikolai Vavilov
(Former agronomist, botanist and geneticist best known for having identified the centers of origin of cultivated plants)

Nikolai Vavilov
5
Birthdate: November 25, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: January 26, 1943

 18 
Yuri Oganessian
(Nuclear physicist known for co-discoverer of the heaviest elements in the periodic table; element oganesson named after him)

Yuri Oganessian
3
Birthdate: April 14, 1933
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rostov-on-Don, Russia

 19 
Sergei Winogradsky
(Microbiologist)

Sergei Winogradsky
2
Birthdate: September 1, 1856
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kiev, Ukraine
Died: February 25, 1953

 20 

Konstantin Novoselov
3
Birthdate: August 23, 1974
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Nizhny Tagil, Russia

Konstantin Novoselov is a Russian-British physicist, currently serving as a professor at the Centre for Advanced 2D Materials, National University of Singapore. He is the Langworthy Professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester as well. Along with Andre Geim, he jointly received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010. 

 21 
Pyotr Kapitsa
(Physicist)

Pyotr Kapitsa
3
Birthdate: July 8, 1894
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kronstadt, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: April 8, 1984

Nobel Prize-winning Soviet physicist Pyotr Kapitsa revolutionized science with his invention of new machines for liquefaction of gases. He is also remembered for discovering that liquid helium is superfluid. He had also served in World War I and had lost his father, wife, and children in the 1918-1919 flu epidemic.

 22 

Zhores Ivanovich Alferov
3
Birthdate: March 15, 1930
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Viciebsk, Belarus
Died: March 1, 2019

Zhores Ivanovich Alferov was a Soviet and Russian academic and physicist whose work, which led to the formation of semiconductor heterostructures, earned him the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physics. Alferov's work helped revolutionize semiconductor design, which in turn played a major role in the development of satellite communications and mobile phones.

 23 
Leonid Kantorovich
(Mathematician)

Leonid Kantorovich
3
Birthdate: January 19, 1912
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: April 7, 1986

Leonid Kantorovich was a Soviet economist and mathematician. Credited with founding linear programming, Kantorovich was honored with the prestigious Stalin Prize in 1949. In 1975, he won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on the theory of optimum allocation of resources. He also made important contributions to functional analysis, operator theory, and approximation theory.

 24 
Vladimir Vernadsky
(Mineralogist)

Vladimir Vernadsky
3
Birthdate: March 12, 1863
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: January 6, 1945

Vladimir Vernadsky was a geochemist and mineralogist who is widely regarded as one of the founders of radiogeology, biogeochemistry, and geochemistry. He is also credited with founding the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Vernadsky is best remembered for his book, The Biosphere, which discusses Eduard Suess' work. He won the prestigious Stalin Prize in 1943.

 25 
Vladimir Voevodsky
(Mathematician)

Vladimir Voevodsky
3
Birthdate: June 4, 1966
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: September 30, 2017

 26 
Alexander Oparin
(Former Biochemist known for contributions to the theory of the origin of life, oacervates)

Alexander Oparin
3
Birthdate: March 2, 1894
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Uglich, Russia
Died: April 21, 1980

 27 

Dmitri Ivanovsky
4
Birthdate: October 28, 1864
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Gdov, Russia
Died: June 20, 1920

Best remembered for his co-discovery of viruses during his research on the mosaic disease in tobacco, Russian botanist Dmitri Ivanovsky is regarded as one of the pioneers of virology. Interestingly, following his discovery, he didn’t focus on virology much and taught plant anatomy and physiology instead.

 28 

Alexander Friedmann
3
Birthdate: June 16, 1888
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: St. Petersburg, Russia
Died: September 16, 1925

Though born to a ballet dancer father and a pianist mother, Alexander Friedmann grew up to be a talented mathematician and cosmologist. He had served as an aviator during World War I and later also taught. He died of typhoid at age 37 after eating a pear during his honeymoon.

 29 
Yury Luzhkov
(Politician, Scientist)

Yury Luzhkov
3
Birthdate: September 21, 1936
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Moscow

 30 
Israel Gelfand
(Mathematician)

Israel Gelfand
3
Birthdate: September 2, 1913
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kherson Governorate
Died: October 5, 2009

 31 
Vladimir Arnold
(Mathematician)

Vladimir Arnold
3
Birthdate: June 12, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Odessa, Ukraine
Died: June 3, 2010

 32 
Petr Mitrichev
(Computer scientist)

Petr Mitrichev
3
Birthdate: March 19, 1985
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Moscow

 33 
Maxim Kontsevich
(Mathematician, Topologist)

Maxim Kontsevich
3
Birthdate: August 25, 1964
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Khimki

Alexei Alexeyevich Abrikosov
3
Birthdate: June 25, 1928
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: March 29, 2017

Alexei Alexeyevich Abrikosov was a theoretical physicist who contributed immensely to the field of condensed matter physics. In 2003, Abrikosov received the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physics which he shared with Anthony James Leggett and Vitaly Ginzburg. Alexei Alexeyevich Abrikosov was also the recipient of the Lenin Prize, the USSR State Prize, and the Landau Prize.

 35 
Pavel Florensky
(Theologian)

Pavel Florensky
3
Birthdate: January 22, 1882
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Yevlakh, Azerbaijan
Died: December 8, 1943

Russian theologian Pavel Florensky is best remembered for his essay The Pillar and the Ground of Truth. During Stalin’s regime and amid a phase of national atheism, he was sent to jail and also banished to Siberia for his religious beliefs, which he refused to renounce.

 36 
Pavel Cherenkov
(Physicist)

Pavel Cherenkov
2
Birthdate: July 28, 1904
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Novaya Chigla, Russia
Died: January 6, 1990

Pavel Cherenkov was a Soviet physicist whose discovery of Cherenkov radiation in 1934 earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in physics in 1958. He also played an important role in the investigation of photo-meson reactions and photo-nuclear and in the construction and development of electron accelerators. Over the course of his career, Cherenkov won several awards, including two Stalin Prizes.

 37 
Igor Tamm
(Physicist)

Igor Tamm
2
Birthdate: July 8, 1895
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Vladivostok, Russia
Died: April 12, 1971

Igor Tamm was a Soviet physicist whose contribution to the discovery of Cherenkov radiation earned him the 1958 Nobel Prize in Physics, which he shared with Ilya Mikhailovich Frank and Pavel Alekseyevich Cherenkov. In the 1940s and '50s, Igor Tamm played an important role in the Soviet atomic bomb project, which was authorized by Joseph Stalin.

 38 

Anatoly Timofeevich Fomenko
2
Birthdate: March 13, 1945
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Donetsk, Ukraine

 39 
Vitaly Ginzburg
(Former Physicist known for Ginzburg–Landau theory, Ginzburg criterion, Transition radiation, Undulator)

Vitaly Ginzburg
3
Birthdate: October 4, 1916
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: November 8, 2009

Vitaly Ginzburg was a Russian theoretical physicist whose contributions to the theory of superfluids and superconductors earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physics which he shared with Alexei Abrikosov and Anthony Leggett in 2003. Ginzburg was one of the most important scientists during the atomic bomb project of the Soviet Union. In 1953, he received the prestigious Stalin Prize.

 40 
Alexander Stepanov
(Computer scientist)

Alexander Stepanov
2
Birthdate: November 16, 1950
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Moscow

 41 
Stanislav Smirnov
(Mathematician, University teacher)

Stanislav Smirnov
2
Birthdate: September 3, 1970
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg

 42 
Leonid Khachiyan
(Mathematician)

Leonid Khachiyan
2
Birthdate: May 3, 1952
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: St. Petersburg, Russia
Died: April 29, 2005

 43 
Phoebus Levene
(Biochemist)

Phoebus Levene
2
Birthdate: February 25, 1869
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Žagarė, Lithuania
Died: September 6, 1940

A Lithuanian Jew, Phoebus Levene moved with his family to the U.S. in the wake of anti-Semitic attacks. While he initially studied medicine, Levene later focused on biochemistry. Known for his path-breaking research on nucleic acids, he worked at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research for over three decades.

 44 
Igor Ansoff
(Mathematician, Economist, University teacher)

Igor Ansoff
2
Birthdate: December 12, 1918
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Vladivostok
Died: July 14, 2002

Best known as the father of strategic management for devising the strategy model known as Ansoff’s matrix, Russian-American applied mathematician Igor Ansoff had also taught at the Carnegie Mellon University. He had also managed countless technology projects and consulted with companies such as IBM, Gulf, and General Electric.

 45 
Grigory Margulis
(Mathematician)

Grigory Margulis
2
Birthdate: February 24, 1946
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

 46 
Vladimir Drinfeld
(Mathematician)

Vladimir Drinfeld
2
Birthdate: February 14, 1954
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic

 47 
Nikolay Basov
(Physicist)

Nikolay Basov
3
Birthdate: December 14, 1922
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Usman, Russia
Died: July 1, 2001

 48 
Lev Pontryagin
(Mathematician)

Lev Pontryagin
2
Birthdate: September 3, 1908
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: May 3, 1988

 49 
Oleg Losev
(Physicist, Inventor)

Oleg Losev
0
Birthdate: May 10, 1903
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tver, Russia
Died: January 22, 1942

 50 
Andrei Okounkov
(Mathematician)

Andrei Okounkov
2
Birthdate: June 26, 1969
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia