The Russian Academy of Sciences, 2006 Update
The creation of the Academy of Sciences is directly connected with Peter the Great's reformer activities aimed at strengthening the state, its economic and political independence. Peter the Great understood the importance of scientific thought, education and culture for the prosperity of the country. And he started acting "from above". Under his project, the Academy was substantially different from all related foreign organizations. It was a state institution; while on a payroll, its members
... to provide for the scientific and technical services of thee state. The Academy combined the functions of scientific research and training, having its own university and a high school. On December 27, 1725, the Academy celebrated its creation with a large public meeting. This was a solemn act of appearance of a new attribute of Russian state life. Academic Conference has become a body of collective discussion and estimation of research results. The scientists were not tied up by any dominating dogma, were free in their scientific research, and took an active part in the scientific opposition between the Cartesians and Newtonians. Possibilities to publish scientific works were practically unlimited. Physician Lavrentii Blumentrost was appointed first President of the Academy. Taking care of bringing the Academy's activities to the world level, Peter the Great invited leading foreign scientists. Among the first were mathematicians Nikolas and Daniil Bornoulli, Christian Goldbach, physicist Georg Bulfinger, astronomer and geographer J.Delille, historian G.F.Miller. In 1727, Leonard Eiler joined the Academy. In the first three decades, the Academy's research work was done in the three directions (of "classes"): mathematical, physical (natural sciences) and the humanities. Actually, the Academy at once joined in multiplying the scientific and cultural riches of the country. It got a splendid collection of the Cabinet of Curiosities. An anatomical theater, a department of geography, and astronomical observatory, a physical cabinet, and a mineralogical cabinet were set up. The Academy had a botanical garden and instrumental shops. Here, prominent botanists I.G.Gmelin and I.G.Kelreiter, the founder of embrylolgy K.F.Volf, the famous naturalist and traveler P.S.Pallas were working. Work on electricity and magnetism theory was done by G.V.Rikgman and F.U.Eoubys. Thanks to the academic scientists' research, foundations for development of mining, metallurgy, and other branches of Russian industry were laid. Work on geodesy and cartography was going on. In 1745, the first general map of the country, the Atlas of Russia, was created. From the start, the activities of the Academy let it take an honorable place among the greatest scientific institutions of Europe. This was prompted by the fame of such giants as L. Eiler and M.Lomonosov. The fruitful, really titanic scientific activities of the great scientist Leonard Eiler started in St.Petersburg Academy of Sciences. The mathematical research of L.Eiler heralded the most important stage in the development of calculus after Newton and Leibliz. L.Eiler obtained deep results in number theory, set foundations for complex analysis, variational calculus, analytical mechanics, and, together with Daniil Bernoulli, hydrodynamics. His mathematical research was closely related to practical problems in mechanics, ballistics, cartography, shipbuilding, and navigation. L.Eiler brought up first Russian mathematicians later becoming Academy members. The scientific, educational and organizing activities of the great scientist and a person of encyclopaedic learning. Mikhail Lomonosov made as much as a whole era in the Academy's history. He enriched the Academy with fundamental discoveries in chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology, geography, and made a large contribution to the development of history, linguistics and poetry. He set up Russia's first chemical laboratory in 1748. In 1755, he took an active part in founding Moscow University now rightfully bearing his name. On the Academy's initiative and with its participation, complex expedition were carried out, making an enormous contribution to the discovery of Russia's natural resources, and ethnographic research of the country's territories from the White to the Caspian Seas, from the western regions to Kamchatka. The Great Northern Expedition of 1733-1742 and the academic expeditions of 1760-1770, the fundamental works of their participants I.G.Gmelin, S.G.Gelin, A.P.Gorlanov Sea, S.P.Kracheninnikov, S.P.Pallas and other played an outstanding role in the development of geography, biology, ethnography, history and culture of the peoples of Russia, and were highly praised in Europe, discovering territories little known to European researchers. They solved the problem of a bay between Asia and America, and the northeastern borders of Russia. The regions' maps were made, fauna and flora studied, mineral resources discovered, history, ethnography, economic activities of the people lining there descried, and their languages studied. G.V.Steller, who sailed together with V.Bering, started pioneer studies of the nature and everyday life of the peoples of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. The academy started publishing Russian history sources, and participants in its expeditions collected artifacts of the numerous peoples living in the suburbs of the Empire. The works of V.N.Tatishchev, M.V.Lomonosov, G.F.Miller, M.M.Scervatov, I.N.Boltin, publishing The Oldest Russian Bibliotheca, setting up departments of archives and manuscripts in museums crowned the making of history as a science in Russia. In the early forties, several volumes of the catalog of collections of the Cabinet of Curiosities were Published. The Academy becomes a keeper of the monuments of home and world science. In 1773, 18 volumes of Kepler's manuscripts were acquired, even now a pride of the academic archives and used by the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in publishing his complete works. A very rich collection of scientific correspondence of the 18th century was being amassed, the most valuable monument not only of Russian but also of Pan-European culture. The Academy was constantly in touch with European scientific journals publishing abstracts of its publications. Since 1728, a journal in Latin, or, more precisely, an annual collection of scientific papers. Commentarii Peterburgskoi akademii nauk (Commentaries of St.Petersburg Academy of Sciences) was launched, which enjoyed wide popularity with the scientific community as one of the leading scientific journals in Europe. The Academy set up its own printing press, quickly winning an excellent reputation. The press was assigned to publish all kinds (except for ecclesiastical) of the literature in the country. This marked immediately the leading role of the Academy in the general development of Russian culture. As early as 1736, the well-known French physicist D. de Merand wrote that "St.Petersburg Academy since its inception rose to an outstanding scientific height, which the Paris and London Academies reached only after 60 years of hard work". In 1748, first Russian President of the Academy (Count K.G.Razumovsky) was appointed. Native scientists started being elected to the Academy. The first Russian academicans became S.P. Krasheninnikov, author of the first natural science book Description of the Land of Kamchatka written in Russian, M.V.