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A Well-Ordered Thing$
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Michael D. Gordin

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691172385

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691172385.001.0001

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The Great Reaction

The Great Reaction

Everyone against the Academy of Sciences

(p.106) Chapter 5 The Great Reaction
A Well-Ordered Thing
Michael D. Gordin
Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on Dmitrii Mendeleev's rejection from the Academy of Sciences' chair in technology. In November 1880, Mendeleev was subjected to a personal humiliation that became a national scandal, with hundreds of Russia's most vocal intellectuals entering the fray. Four years earlier, after placing himself at the center of a commission to debunk Spiritualism, he had been for a time the darling of the liberal media. Now, he would become their darling once again—but not under the circumstances of his choosing. The cause of his fame and also his embarrassment was the very institution whose recognition he had coveted for so long: the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. Having combated the Spiritualists, riding a crest of public acclaim, and with two successful elemental predictions to his credit, Mendeleev was confident of nomination for the Academy's full chair in technology. As such, his rejection sent shock waves throughout elite Petersburg, not least within the Academy itself.

Keywords:   Dmitrii Mendeleev, Academy of Sciences, technology, St. Petersburg

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