Three Centuries to Science, RAS Celebrating Anniversary
9 February 2024
Science has always determined the development path for the state and society. Scientific discoveries solved global problems and provided steady progress. Today, achieving Russia’s technological sovereignty is unimaginable without intense scientific thought.
Emperor Peter-the-Great realized well the importance of national education and culture as long as three centuries ago, in the distant 18th century. By his order, the Academy of Sciences was established by the Senate’s Decree dated February 8, 1724. The Academy combined research and teaching, uniting a university and a gymnasium. Initially, it worked within three areas: mathematical, natural science, and arts. Those years were remarked with such outstanding personalities as Leonhard Euler, mathematician and mechanical engineer; Mikhail Lomonosov, Russia’s first major natural scientist; Stepan Krasheninnikov, botanist, ethnographer and geographer; Peter Simon Pallas, Encyclopedist, natural scientist and traveler; and Vasily Trediakovsky, poet, translator and philologist.
During the 300 years, the Academy changed its name and composition, remaining still one of the strongest scientific centers in the world. The mid‑late 19th century and early 20th century saw the raise of Dmitry Mendeleev, the encyclopedist and author of the periodic table; Dmitry Ivanovsky, the founder of virology; Ilya Mechnikov, a founder of evolutionary embryology; Ivan Pavlov, the author of theory on higher nervous activity; etc.
The Soviet period was remarkably bright in the history of the Academy. During the Great Patriotic War, the scientists could develop advanced aircraft, tanks, artillery, small arms, multiple launch rocket systems, and improve the military aircraft flight performance. The post-war years witnessed the creation of nuclear weapons and a breakthrough in space exploration. TsAGI (a part of NRC “Zhukovsky Institute”) was involved in all these activities.
Today, the Russian Academy of Sciences has the mission to organize and do fundamental research aimed at obtaining new knowledge on the laws of development of nature, society and human, and contributing to Russia’s technological, economic, social and spiritual development. It is important to shape a strategy of interaction between fundamental science, applied science and industry; here, TsAGI plays one of the key roles.
Nowadays, TsAGI and Institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences are working within a number of advanced research areas, including aeroacoustics, composite structures, development of domestic software systems, etc. Much work is done by the World-Class Research Center (WCRC) ‘Supersonic’, which aims to give revolutionary flight performance, environmental performance and acoustic performance for new-generation supersonic transport by solving fundamental R&T tasks related to supersonic flight. In the late 2023, as TsAGI celebrated its 105th anniversary, an agreement was signed on creating the WCRC Consortium on Advanced Aircraft Technologies for Aerospace Engineering, which aims to increase efficiency of shaping and transferring breakthrough knowledge and technological solutions into advanced aerospace projects. The program of the Consortium will be also implemented jointly with the Russian Academy of Sciences.
‘For three centuries, the Russian Academy of Sciences has made breakthrough discoveries for the national interests; TsAGI has been involved there for over a century. Now, as Russia is facing unprecedented political and economic challenges, our interaction becomes especially important. Joint projects and the World-Class Research Centers will create a research-and-technology basis allowing for a huge leap in state-of-the-art technology, and for stronger cooperation between fundamental science, applied science, and the industry,’ said Kirill Sypalo, Director General, TsAGI; Corresponding Member of the RAS.