The study trip "Mendeleev 2016" to Estonia and Russia has passed and everyone got home safely with plenty of stories. Luckily, these stories were all written down by participants and committee in the final report which can be downloaded here, or if it takes too long you can download a version with lower quality here. Enjoy reading!
Every two years the Kleine Buitenlandse Excursie (KBE) committee of the study association FMF
organizes a study trip to a foreign country. This year, the destination is the beautiful city of Saint Petersburg which runs under the name
"Mendeleev". The goal of this study trip is to experience different cultures and get an impression on the state of affairs of science, research
and education outside of the Netherlands. The program will therefore contain both visits to universities, research institutes and companies as
well as cultural activities. We have visited Saint Petersburg with 27 participants including committee and staff members from the 18th to the
29th of April. The deadline for signing up has passed, but for those who can't come along: there will be more study trips by the FMF
in the future! The announcement video can be seen here.
Name of the KBE 2016
The name of this KBE is "MENDELEEV", which is an acronym for "Meesterlijke Excursie Naar De Enclave Leningrad En Enkele Vodkabrouwerijen". We based the acronym for our excursion on the name of one of the most famous and important scientists of all time: Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev.
Born in Siberia in an Orthodox Christian family, Mendeleev was encouraged by his mother to search for “divine and scientific truth”. At the age of 13, after a series of tragic struck his family, he attended the gymnasium in Tobolsk after which he left with his mother for Moscow to seek higher education. Moscow did not accept him, so Mendeleev ended up in Saint Petersburg.
After graduating in Science, Mendeleev moved to Heidelberg where he worked on capillary fluids and the spectroscope. Here he also wrote a book about the latter. In 1862 he married and in 1864, respectively 1865, became a professor at the Saint Petersburg Technological Institute and the Saint Petersburg State University. During his long period of research in Saint Petersburg, Mendeleev began to see patterns in the chemical properties of the several elements that were known at the time (56 by 1863). He quoted:
"I saw in a dream a table where all elements fell into place as required. Awakening, I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper, only in one place did a correction later seem necessary."
Mendeleev ordered the elements in his ‘periodic table’ and predicted several elements that were not yet discovered at the time, but were confirmed in later work by colleagues. His work was recognized by the Swedish Royal Society but was never awarded the noble prize due to harsh lobbying of Arrhenius calling the periodic table ‘outdated’. Still Mendeleev’s table of elements encouraged scientists to research the chemical properties of elements and the correlation between them, which has led to Periodic Table as we see in hanging on the wall in lecture halls nowadays.
This scientific excursion is dedicated to Mendeleev, whose work was underrated at the time but deserves more respect having influenced scientists in all disciplines of the Natural Sciences.
About Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is the more ‘Western’ version of Russia. The city’s population (almost 5.2 mln
citizens in 2015) is highly multicultural and the city has the highest number of students among the
larger Russian cities. This gives the city a nice and refreshing international vibe, much similar to a city
like Groningen. Russians are quite stubborn people compared to people from Western European cultures. At first
they can seem surly and sometimes even quite rude. However, when you get to know the Russians a
bit they will ‘defrost’ after a while and a world of hospitality opens up for you. Russians are actually
quite nice and funny, especially after a few shots of vodka.
In contrast to the rest of Russia, Saint Petersburg has a more maritime climate, which means that
humidity levels are high and temperatures rarely get very low. We will visit Saint Petersburg in
spring, which always comes very late in this city (early April at the earliest) but nevertheless brings a
great vibe of renewed life to the ambience in town. Spring in Saint Petersburg can unfortunately still
be very chilly from time to time, so bring gloves and scarves just in case. The residual snow from
winter will turn into slush on streets so watertight shoes are probably also a good idea. If we are
lucky we might see blocks of ice floating down the city’s waters to open sea, a rare but beautiful
Average temperature in April: 0 - 8 degrees Celsius
Average downpour in April: 30 mm
Click here for more info.