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Forget Vodka and Chemistry, Thank Mendeleev for Economics

Published: January 17, 2014 (Issue # 1793)



  • A portrait of Dmitry Mendeleev, the renowned Russian scientist now being recognized for this economic views.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

  • The Dmitry Mendeleev statue in St. Petersburg.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Dmitry Mendeleev is renowned worldwide for his fundamental work, the periodic law of chemical elements.

Among Russians, Mendeleev is also known as the inventor of the ideal formula for vodka, 40 percent alcohol by volume.

But perhaps only today, 180 years after his birth, the full impact of his genius finally being felt, economists said.

Mendeleev, born in a Siberian village on Feb. 8, 1834, was more than a leading figure in science. A far-sighted economist with progressive views of Russia's industrial development, he set Russia's customs tariffs, proposed the idea of oil pipelines, and jarred 19th-century thinking by suggesting foreign investment could boost the economy.

"Of the three major schools of thought in Russian economics, the most meaningful today is based on the ideas of Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleev," said Mikhail Antonov, an economist at the Moscow-based Institute of Russian Civilization. This school of thought is known as physical economics.

The progress of Mendeleev's ideas was difficult, including his periodic table, which received scant attention for 17 years and was scandalously passed over for a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He met fierce attacks from his opponents with antipathy, partly linked to his irascible temper. He stared down a barrage of accusations of economic and financial incompetence.

Mendeleev himself acknowledged that people tended to only appreciate him only for his scientific achievements.

"Do you think I'm a chemist? I actually am a political economist," he once said.

Indeed, about 100 of his numerous scientific works were devoted to economics.

From 1880, at the age of 46, Mendeleev began to examine the issues facing industries in Russia's regions. He was an active member of the Free Economic Society, Russia's first social organization, and traveled throughout Russia and on to Western Europe and the U.S., visiting factories and industrial exhibits. Collecting data, he created a development program for Russia based on industry instead of agriculture, which was dominant at the time. Evil tongues gossiped that Mendeleev was taking bribes from industrialists and entrepreneurs to promote industrialization in Russia.

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Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldn’t miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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