Leonhard Euler was a Swiss physicist, mathematician, logician, geographer, astronomer, and engineer. He is credited with making influential and important mathematical discoveries, such as graph theory and infinitesimal calculus. Widely regarded as one of the greatest and most prolific mathematicians of all time, Leonhard Euler also made pioneering contributions to analytic number theory and topology.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Aleksandr Borodin was a Russian musical composer. He was one of the popular 19th-century group of musicians known as The Five, who worked together to create a national style of classical music. A chemist and doctor by profession, Borodin also made important contributions to organic chemistry. His best known work as a chemist is his work pertaining to organic synthesis.
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.
Trofim Lysenko was a Soviet biologist and agronomist. Lysenko was one of the most influential supporters of Lamarckism. He also condemned Mendelian genetics and supported Lysenkoism, a political campaign that rejected natural selection. Lysenko used his political power to imprison his critics. Several Soviet scientists, including Nikolai Vavilov, who failed to renounce genetics were either imprisoned or killed.
Russian polymath Mikhail Lomonosov was born to a fisherman father and left his village later to satiate his hunger for knowledge. Apart from reforming Russian language and literature, he also made the first colored glass mosaic in his country and discovered the atmosphere of Venus. He loved simple life.
Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii was a photographer and chemist of the Russian Empire. Prokudin-Gorskii is remembered for his effort to capture early 20th-century Russia and his groundbreaking work in color photography. From 1909 to 1915, Prokudin-Gorskii traveled across the Russian Empire, documenting several of its aspects. After his death, many of his negatives were taken to the U.S. Library of Congress.
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.
Theodosius Dobzhansky was a Ukrainian-American geneticist and evolutionary biologist. He played a key role in shaping modern synthesis in the field of evolutionary biology. His 1937 book, Genetics and the Origin of Species, is a seminal work on modern synthesis. He was the recipient of several awards, including the US National Medal of Science and the Franklin Medal.
Russian business-tycoon, engineer, mathematician and government official Boris Berezovsky is counted among the famed Russian oligarchs who made their fortunes during the 1990s, when Russia was going through privatization of state property. He remained a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin since the latter’s election as president in 2000 and was granted political asylum by the UK in 2003.
Russian geneticist Nikolai Vavilov not just taught at the University of Saratov but also served as the director of the Bureau of Applied Botany in Petrograd. He made expeditions worldwide, but invited criticism from Soviet agronomist T.D. Lysenko, who was close to Stalin. Vavilov was eventually imprisoned and died in captivity.
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.
Alexander Stepanovich Popov was a Russian physicist best remembered for his pioneering work in transmitting radio signals. One of the first inventors to come up with a radio receiving device, Popov's work was contemporaneous with the groundbreaking work of Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi. Popov's life and career inspired the 1949 biographical film Alexander Popov which was directed by Herbert Rappaport.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Russian microbiologist Sergei Winogradsky was the first to suggest the concept of the cycle of life. Born into a family of lawyers, he initially aspired to be a lawyer and also studied music, before switching to chemistry and then botany. His research covered sulfur-oxidizing bacteria and the nitrogen cycle.
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.
Wolf Prize-winning Ukrainian mathematician Vladimir Arnold is remembered for his research on singularity theory, dynamical systems, and differential equations. He had also authored several textbooks, such as Mathematical Methods of Classical Mechanics. His most important contribution was the Kolmogorov–Arnold–Moser theorem.
From solving complex math problems at age 10, Petr Mitrichev went on to become a globally renowned competitive programmer. His achievements include gold medals at the IOI, apart from wins in the Topcoder Open and the Facebook Hacker Cup. A sports lover, he also loves soccer and table tennis.
Russian naval commander Stepan Makarov led the Pacific fleet at the start of the 1904 Russo-Japanese War. A talented naval architect and ship designer, he was also a pioneering oceanographer. At 41, he became the youngest admiral of Russia. He was killed when his flagship, Petropavlovsk, collided with a mine and sank.
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.
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.