petersburg period

A Farewell to Saint Petersburg - 10. The Lark
Mikhail Pletnev
A Farewell to Saint Petersburg - 10. The Lark

A Farewell to Saint Petersburg ( Прощание к Петербургом ) - X. The Lark (Жаворонок)

By Composer Mikhail Glinka, Piano Transcription By Composer Mily Balakirev

Mikhail Pletnev, Pianist

“Russian Music” (1881) By Artist James Ensor (1860-1949)

Periodic table creator’s 182nd birthday

Today marks the 182nd birthday of Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev, the creator of the periodic table. Devised amidst the writing of The Principles of Chemistry in 1869 during his tenure teaching at the University of St. Petersburg, Russia, the first table arranged the 63 known elements based on atomic mass.

The table was modified and corrected numerous times, most notably by British chemist Henry Moseley, but was revolutionary for predicting and accommodating the properties of elements that had yet to be discovered, including gallium and germanium.

Mendeleev’s handwritten periodic table.

However, Mendeleev also widely contributed to Russian science. He became a Doctor of Science in 1865 for his dissertation On the Combinations of Water with Alcohol, resulting in the incorrect modern myth that Mendeleev created the standard for Russian vodka to contain 40% alcohol by volume.

He aided in building Russia’s first oil refinery, published extensively on the origins of oil, and first proposed the transportation of oil via pipelines in 1863.

Mendeleev also aided in the development of Russia’s first ship model basic for testing ship designs, as well as the design of the first Arctic icebreaker “Ermak”, due in part to his friendship with explorer and creator of the Russian semaphore code Admiral Stepan Makarov.

Mendeleev in University of Edinburgh professorial robes, 1885

With international recognition, Mendeleev was honoured in numerous ways, including honorary degrees from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, as well as receiving the Davy Medal from the Royal Society of London. However, Mendeleev is noteworthy for having never received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry despite being shortlisted three times.

Many attribute his fervent criticism of Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius’ ‘physical’ ionic theory of conductive solutions, for which Arrhenius was awarded a Nobel Prize, to be a significant factor in his omission.

Mendeleev’s personal life was also marked with controversy when, at the age of 43, he left his first wife, Feozva Nikitichna Leshcheva, for 19-year-old Anna Ivanova Popova in 1882. It was a highly complicated situation in Orthodox Russia, and the church forbade Mendeleev from remarrying for six years, a demand Mendeleev violated to significant public outrage. Despite the divorce, Mendeleev was technically a bigamist and many attribute this and the surrounding controversy as a contributing factor in his failure to be elected to Russia’s Academy of Science at the time.

Mendeleev passed away on 2 February 1907, succeeded by six children across two marriages, and the accolades of innumerable scientists across the world. At his funeral in St. Petersburg, students carried a copy of the periodic table as a tribute to his work.


Yuliya Snigir as Catherine II, behind the scenes.St. Petersburg || The Catherine Palace || The Great Hall or Bright Gallery, as it was called in the eighteenth century, is the largest state room in the palace. It was created to Rastrelli’s design between 1752 and 1756. The stylish hall with a floor area of over 800 square metres was intended as the venue for official receptions and celebrations, banquets, balls and masquerades. Catherine the Great, tv series (2015). {trailer}