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Vol. 31 No. 3
May-June 2009

Conference Call | Reports from recent conferences and symposia 
See also www.iupac.org/indexes/Conferences

D.I. Mendeleev and the Problems of Sustainable Development
by N.P. Tarasova, D.I. Mustafin, and E.-M. Lee

Read a brief history of "Mendeleev and Natural Resources"

In February 2009, the world community celebrated the 175th anniversary of the birth of Russian scientist Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev (1834–1907). Celebratory conferences, exhibitions, scientific fora, and memorial symposia were held at venues throughout Russia, including the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) in Moscow and St Petersburg, D. Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology in Moscow, St. Petersburg State University, D.I. Mendeleev Russian Chemical Society, the news agency ROSBALT, and many other academic and educational institutions.

The State Post Office of Russia produced, for 2009, a souvenir sheet of postage stamps in celebration of the life of D.I. Mendeleev. [see Stamps International feature] The Polytechnics Museum in Moscow featured an exhibition on “Russian Genius for Humankind” dedicated to Mendeleev’s multifaceted career.

IUPAC President Jung-Il Jin attended the celebration of the 175th anniversary of the birth of D.I. Mendeleev.

The centerpiece of the month-long celebration was the International Symposium on the Periodic Table of D.I. Mendeleev, which was held on 11 February 2009 and organized by RAS. At the conference’s opening ceremony, held in the great hall of RAS, the president of the RAS, Academician Y.S. Osipov, recalled a quote from the Russian chemist L.A. Chugaev about D. I. Mendeleev: “Brilliant chemist, first class physicist, faithful explorer in the fields of hydrodynamics, meteorology, geology and various branches of chemical technology and other associated disciplines of chemistry and physics; A great expert of chemical industries and industry in general. An exceptional Russian he was an original thinker in the field of the study of national economy and statesmanship, who unfortunately was not fated to become a statesman, but who saw and understood that the task and the future of Russia lay in the improvement of the representation of her official power.”

In his address to the memorial conference the president of the Russian Federation D.A. Medvedev emphasized the significance of D.I. Mendeleev and his contribution to Russian science and wished all chemists a similar degree of fruitfulness in their work.

Also participating in the anniversary celebrations was IUPAC President Jun-Il Jin. His appearance in the great hall of the Russian Academy of Science was met by thunderous applause. In his lecture, Jin emphasized the outstanding results Mendeleev achieved in different fields of science and practice: chemistry, physics, hydrodynamics, meteorology, isomorphism, mineralogy, investigation of resources, geology, oil production, economics, aeronautics, Arctic exploration, state education, judicial expertise, cheese-making, the development of a customs tariff, and much more. Jun-Il Jin also emphasised the role of Russian chemical science in modern science. He noted that throughout the years there have always been distinguished Russian scientists in IUPAC: Academicians V.A. Koptyug, K.I. Zamaraev, and K.Ya. Kondratyev served as IUPAC presidents. The Academician O.M. Nefedov served a member of the Executive Committee of the IUPAC Bureau, and in the Bureau Russia is currently represented by N.P. Tarasova, the director of the Institute of Chemistry and Problems of Sustainable Development at D. Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology of Russia.

IUPAC Bureau Member Natalia P. Tarasova with IUPAC President Jung-Il Jin at the D.I.Medeleev conference.

After the ceremony, Jung-Il Jin answered questions put forth by journalists and emphasized that today Mendeleev’s work provides inspiration for new research, not only in chemistry but in the problems of sustainable development and ecology—fields that did not exist as individual areas of science in his time.

The celebrations in honor of the 175th anniversary of the Russian chemist occurred not only in Russia, but in many other countries around the world. They were significantly well attended and became the forerunners of the International Year of Chemistry. However, Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev would have given the organizers of these celebrations the cold shoulder. He did not like loud praise. When one of his students one day described him as a “genius,” Mendeleev threw up his hands and cried as loudly as possible: “Some kind of genius! I’ve been working hard all my life, that does not make me a genius!”

Natalia P. Tarasova <nptar@online.ru> is the director of the Institute of Chemistry and Problems of Sustainable Development at the D. Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology, Russia. She is an elected member on the IUPAC Bureau and a member of the IUPAC Committee on Chemistry Education. Dimitry I. Mustafin <dim.moscow@gmail.com> is a professor at the. D. Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology of Russia. E.-M. Lee is a Ph.D. student at the D. Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology of Russia.


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