Science & Technology

Science and technology in Russia

Science and technology in Russia developed rapidly since the Age of Enlightenment, when Peter the Great founded the Russian Academy of Sciences and Saint Petersburg State University and polymath Mikhail Lomonosov founded the Moscow State University, establishing a strong native tradition in learning and innovation.

In the 19th and 20th centuries the country produced a large number of notable scientists, making important contributions into physics, astronomy, mathematics, computing, chemistry, biology, geology and geography. Russian inventors and engineers excelled in such areas as electrical engineering, shipbuilding, aerospace, weaponry, communications, IT, nuclear technology and space technology.

Recently, the crisis of the 1990s led to the drastic reduction of the state support for science and technology. Many Russian scientists and university graduates went to Europe or United States in the so-called brain drain migration. In the 2000s, on the wave of a new economic boom, the situation has improved, and the government launched a campaign aimed into modernisation and innovation. Current priorities for the country’s technological development include energy efficiency, IT (including both common products and the products combined with space technology), nuclear energy and pharmaceuticals.[1

History

At the start of the 18th century the reforms of Peter the Great (the founder of Russian Academy of Sciences and Saint Petersburg State University) and the work of such champions as polymath Mikhail Lomonosov (the founder of Moscow State University) gave a great boost for development of science and innovation in Russia.

Many famous Russian scientists and inventors were émigrés, like Igor Sikorsky, credited with invention of first helicopters, and Vladimir Zworykin, often called the father of TV, chemist Ilya Prigogine, noted for his work on dissipative structures and complex systems (1977 Nobel Prize for Chemistry), economists Simon Kuznets (1971 Nobel Prize) and Wassily Leontief (1973 Nobel Prize), physicist Georgiy Gamov (an author of the Big Bang theory), engineer Alexander M. Poniatoff, who created the world’s first rotary head recorder and social scientist Pitirim Sorokin who played an important role in development of sociology in the USA. Many foreigners worked in Russia for a long time, like Leonhard Euler and Alfred Nobel.

With many technological achievements in the 19th and 20th centuries, however, since the time of Brezhnev stagnation Russia was lagging significantly behind the West in a number of technologies, especially those concerning energy conservation and consumer goods production. The crisis of the 1990s led to the drastic reduction of the state support for science. Many Russian scientists and university graduates left Russia for Europe or United States; this migration is known as a brain drain.

In the 2000s, on the wave of a new economic boom, the situation in the Russian science and technology has improved, and the government launched a campaign aimed at modernisation and innovation. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev formulated top 5 priorities for the country’s technological development: energy efficiency, IT (including both common products and the products combined with space technology), nuclear energy and pharmaceuticals.[1] Some progress already has been achieved, with Russia’s having nearly completed GLONASS, the only global satellite navigation system apart from American GPS, and Russia’s being the only country constructing mobile nuclear plants.

About the author

Khwaja Yahya