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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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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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