Dmitrii Mendeleev and Russian Meteorology During the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century


  • Nathan M. Brooks New Mexico State University


Dmitrii Ivanovich Mendeleev, who lived from 1834 to 1907, was one of the most important scientists and public figures in Russian history and the history of science. His fundamental work in postulating and developing the Periodic System of the Chemical Elements, expressed in the Periodic Table, brought him great fame not only in Russia but throughout the world as well. This achievement had an immense influence on the development of modern chemistry and physics, and it became part of the basic principles learned even today by every chemistry student. In Russia, Mendeleev’s influence spread far beyond the discipline of chemistry. Mendeleev acted as a consultant and took an active role in many different fields of interest, including agriculture, industry, economic policies, and others. He served as an informal science advisor to many important officials in the Russian government and he headed the Russian Bureau of Weights and Measures for the last 15 years of his life. Meteorology was one of the many fields that Mendeleev worked in during his life. However, Mendeleev was an “outsider” in this research area and his ideas met resistance from specialists in meteorology in Russia, at least partly because he did not approach the subject from the traditional ways of doing meteorology in Russia. In this paper, I will briefly discuss Mendeleev’s work in meteorology and how it related to other work in meteorology in Russia.