Famous Ukrainian Chemist
(Vladimir Vernadsky, Vasiliy Karazin, Nikolay Beketov )
Nikolay Nikolayevich Beketov (Бекетов, Николай Николаевич in Russian) (January 13 [O.S. January 1] 1827—December 13 [O.S. November 30] 1911) was a Ukrainian physical chemist, academician of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1886).
In 1849, Beketov graduated from Kazan University and worked with Nikolay Zinin. In 1855, he became a junior scientific assistant in the Department of Chemistry at Kharkov University. In 1859-1887, Beketov was a professor at the same university. In 1865, he defended his Ph.D. thesis on "Research on the displacement phenomenon in metals" ("Исследования над явлениями вытеснения одних металлов другими"). In 1886, Beketov moved to Saint Petersburg, where he worked at the academic chemical laboratory and taught at the University for Women. In 1890, Beketov delivered lectures on the "Basics of Thermochemistry" at Moscow State University.
Beketov discovered displacement of metals from solutions of their salts by hydrogen under pressure. He also established that magnesium and zinc displaced other metals from their salts under high temperatures. In 1859-1865, Beketov proved that aluminum restored metals from their oxides under high temperatures. Later on, Beketov's experiments served as a starting point for aluminothermy.
Beketov's biggest merit was his contribution into physical chemistry as an independent science. In 1860, he taught a course on "Relations between physical and chemical phenomena" in Kharkov and a course on "Physical Chemistry" in 1865. In 1864, they established a Physical Chemistry Department in Kharkov University at the request of Beketov, where students would conduct research and do practical work.
Beketov's students were Alexander Eltekov, Flavian Flavitsky and others. The poet Alexander Blok was his brother's grandson.
Vasiliy Nazarovych Karazin (Ukrainian: Василь Назарович Каразін, Vasyl Nazarovych Karazin, Russian: Василий Назарович Каразин; January 30, 1773 – November 4, 1842) was a Ukrainian Enlightenment intellectual, inventor, and scientific publisher in Imperial Russia. He is the founder of Kharkiv University, which now bears his name. He is also known for opposing to what he saw as colonial exploitation of Ukraine by the Russian Empire, even though he himself was ethnically Serbian.
He was born in Kruchyk village (Sloboda Ukraine Governorate (Slobodsko-Ukrainskaya Guberniya), now Bohodukhivskyi Raion of Kharkiv Oblast), Russian Empire (today Ukraine), in the family of Nazary Alexandrovych Karazin, a Russian Imperial Army officer (noted for his involvement in Prvu Cantacuzino's 1769 rebellion in Wallachia). Vasyl Karazin considered himself to be ethnic Serb, though his family originally known as Karadji was of Greek origin.
Vasyl Karazin was educated in nobility schools in Kharkiv and Kremenchuk. At the age of eighteen, he left for Saint Petersburg, and underwent military training in the prestigious Semyonovsky Regiment. He also studied at the School of Mines, one of the top educational institutions in Russian Empire at that time. Karazin was, nevertheless, opposed to this environment, and often reacted against the manners and customs condoned by the nobility of the times. Unsatisfied with his military service, he moved back to his village and married a fourteen-year-old serf.
In 1798, Karazin attempted to leave Russia given his opposition to the policies of Russian Emperor Paul I, but was denied a passport. After he attempted to cross the border illegally, he was swiftly arrested.
When Alexander I took power, Karazin began petitioning him with his views on government development, pointing out the state's need to invest in education. In 1802 he obtained the tsar's permission to open a university in Kharkiv. On September 1 of that year, during a meeting of the Kharkiv nobility, he gave a famous speech on the benefits of a university, asking for voluntary donations. Lacking sufficient funding and academic supplies, Karazin underwent hardship in achieving his educational priorities.
On January 17, 1805 the Kharkiv University was opened; Karazin did not take part in the opening ceremony, as by that time he had lost his position with the Ministry of Education. According to Alexander Herzen, "the colossal ideas of Karazin were downscaled to a provincial German Hochschule". Forced to return to his village, Karazin did not give up on all his plans, and established a school for local children. In November 1808, Karazin wrote a letter to the emperor titled On non-intervention in European affairs for which he was arrested for the second time.
Karazin continued his academic work. He was a member of 7 academies, published more than 60 articles in different fields of science, primarily agriculture, pharmacology, chemistry, and physics. As an example of his innovative spirit, in 1810 in his village he opened Ukraine's first weather station.
Karazin repeatedly voiced critiques of what he viewed as colonial exploitation of Ukraine by the Russian Empire, and was a proponent of constitutional monarchy as a form of government organization. In 1820–21 he was imprisoned in Shlisselburg fortress. He died in Mykolaiv.
The Russian painter and writer Nikolay Karazin was his grandson.
Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (Ukrainian : Володимир Іванович Вернадський, Russian : Владимир Иванович Вернадский) (March 12 [O.S. February 28] 1863 - January 6, 1945) was a Russian and Soviet mineralogist and geochemist who is considered one of the founders of geochemistry, biogeochemistry, and of radiogeology. His ideas of noosphere were an important contribution to Russian cosmism. He also worked in Ukraine where he founded the National Academy of Science of Ukraine. He is most noted for his 1926 book The Biosphere in which he inadvertently worked to popularize Eduard Suess' 1885 term biosphere, by hypothesizing that life is the geological force that shapes the earth. In 1943 he was awarded the Stalin Prize.
Vernadsky was born in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire, on March 12, 1863, of mixed Russian and Ukrainian parents. His father, a descendent of Ukrainian Cossacks, had been a professor of political economy in Kiev before moving to Saint Petersburg, and his mother was a noble woman of Russian ethnicity (Vernadsky himself considered himself both Russian and Ukrainian, and had some knowledge of the Ukrainian language).
Vernadsky graduated from Saint Petersburg University in 1885. As the last mineralogist had died in 1887 in Russia, and Dokuchaev, a soil scientist, and A.P. Pavlov, a geologist, had been teaching mineralogy for a while, Vernadsky chose to enter Mineralogy. He wrote to his wife Natasha Vernadsky on 20 June 1888 from Switzerland: