Physics in Perspective

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 391–414 | Cite as

Pomor Polymath: The Upbringing of Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov, 1711–1730

  • Robert P. Crease
  • Vladimir Shiltsev


The life story of Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov (1711–1765) opens a window onto Russian science, politics, language, and social advancement in the era of Peter the Great (1672–1725). We cover Lomonosov’s background and upbringing, from his birth in 1711 near Kholmogory until his departure for Moscow on foot in 1730. The special character of the Pomor region, in Russia’s north, where Lomonosov was born and raised, is important for understanding his character, upbringing, and subsequent career trajectory. This character sprang from four overlapping factors: the isolation of the region, the political and religious tolerance that mainly prevailed there, the trade that brought the region into contact with foreigners, and the hardy lifestyle.


Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov Peter the Great Leonty Philipovich Magnitsky Meletius Smotritsky Pomor region Kurostrov Island Solovetsky Monastery St. Petersburg Moscow Academy of Sciences science in Russia scientific mythology biography history of physics 



We thank Gary Marker for commenting on an early version of our manuscript, Marat Eseev for warm hospitality during our trip to Arkhangelsk in summer 2012, and Roger H. Stuewer for his excellent editorial work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA
  2. 2.Accelerator Physics Center, FermilabBataviaUSA

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