Thursday, November 1, 2012

Where are all the Ukrainian scientists?

This is metro station Наукова.

Наукова is Ukrainian for research and this station pays tribute to the best of the best.

How many faces do you recognize?

Okay, I know, that was too easy for all of you clever readers :p

But how about these guys?

Pavlov probably rings a bell. {Get it?} He is indeed the man of the Pavlov's dogs fame.

Mendeleev is interesting. Before moving to Ukraine I'd never heard of him. Sure, I knew about the periodic table of elements, but I didn't know anything about its creator. That would be what I considered an obscure science fact... until getting to Ukraine, that is. Everyone knows Medeleev here- his picture is hanging in school classrooms all over the country- and it's not the periodic table, it's Mendeleev's table. This is one of those cultural tidbits that will quickly reveal you as a foreigner; it's like not knowing who Cheburashka or Mavrodi are. It's amazing how many little things you must learn to begin understanding a culture. It's not just the language you need to study.

There were no Ukrainians (someone born in what is now Ukraine) featured at this metro station. Why is that? I did discover a local celebrity on Pushkinska Street-
Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov, winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1908, another individual ignored in my American education!
Mechnikov was born in 1845 in the Kharkov region. He studied immunology and gerontology and you can thank him for the huge probiotics health craze of the past 100 years. Wikipedia has a great article on his life and research.

Can anyone recommend other notable Ukrainian scientists?


  1. Igor Sikorsky was born in Kyiv... he invented the helicopter. He did emigrate to the U.S. early on in the 20th century, of course, but that counts, right?

    Also, good old fake agronomist Trofym Lysenko was Ukrainian, too, unfortunately.

    1. Very useful, thank you for the tips!

      I didn't realize that Sikorsky was originally from Kyiv and had never heard of Lysenko... and he was born practically next-door to Kharkov! That Wikipedia article was a really good history lesson. It's crazy how one man grew to have so much influence over an entire field and how he used it to hurt others.

  2. There's a Mechnikov brand of probiotic yogurt that is popular in Korea...

    1. Holy cow, that's awesome! Let me know if you ever get your hands on a pic of some...

  3. Sergei Korolev was born in Zhitomir. He was a designer of the first space ships and satellites.Because of his ideas was launched the first satellite and the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
    Nicholay Barabashov was a soviet astronomer. He was born in Kharkov. He performed a lot of studies of the optical properties of the Moon, the atmospheres and surfaces of planets.In 1918 he found that the moon's surface is porous.One of the Kharkov metro station named after him.

    1. Olga, thank you! : ) I had no idea that Barabashova metro station was named after an astronomer, not that he was from Kharkov, how cool!