Mikhail Lomonosov was born in 1711 in the family of a fisherman in the northern coastal village of Denisovka not far from Arkhangelsk. When he was ten years of age his father began to take him sea fishing. That dangerous life taught the precocious youngster to observe the phenomena of nature more closely. During the long winter nights the boy studied his letters, grammar and arithmetic diligently.
Since he was the son of a peasant, he was refused admission to the town school, so he walked to Moscow. By concealing his peasant origin he gained admission to the Slavonic-Greek-Latin Academy and for five years lived from hand to mouth on 3 kopecks a day. The noblemen’s sons studying with him made fun of the twenty-year-old giant, who despite their jeers and his own desperate poverty, made rapid progress.
After 5 years came the chance of entering the Academy of Sciences as there weren’t enough noble-born students to fill the quota. His ability and diligence attracted the attention of the professors, and as one of the best students he was sent abroad. He spent all the time there in delving into the work of leading European scientists studying chemistry, metallurgy, mining and mathematics. On his return to Russia in 1745 he was made a professor and the first Russian scientist to become a member of the Academy of Sciences.
For versatility Lomonosov has no equal in Russian and world science. Many of his ideas and discoveries won recognition only in the XIXth century. He was the first to discover the vegetable origin of coal, for instance, and as a poet and scientist he played an eminent role in the formation of the Russian literary language, eliminating distortions and unnecessary foreign borrowings. He had a great thirst for knowledge. The great son of the Russian people Mikhail Lomonosov died in 1765. His living memorial is the Moscow University which he founded in 1755. How he would have appreciated the gigantic building which stands on the hills where Napoleon stood in 1812 to watch Moscow bum.
phenomenon (pl. phenomena ) — явление, феномен
diligently — прилежно, старательно
peasant — крестьянин
to gain admission — добиться принятия
to live from hand to mouth — с трудом перебиваться; кое-как сводить концы с концами
the noblemen’s sons — дети знати
giant — великан
jeers — насмешки
desperate poverty — отчаянная бедность
to delve — рыться (в книгах и т.п.)
scientist — учёный
chemistry — химия
metallurgy — металлургия
mining — горное дело
mathematics — математика
the Academy of Sciences — Академия наук
versatility — многосторонность
eminent — выдающийся
eliminating distortions and unnecessary foreign borrowings — исключив искажения и ненужные иностранные заимствования
thirst — жажда
to found — закладывать (фундамент), основывать; создавать
to appreciate — ценить
Napoleon — Наполеон
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