Vladimir Vernadsky

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Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (Russian: Владимир Иванович Вернадский, Ukrainian: Володимир Іванович Вернадський; 12 March [O.S. 28 February] 1863 – 6 January 1945) was a Ukrainian and Soviet mineralogist and geochemist who is considered one of the founders of geochemistry, biogeochemistry, and of radiogeology.[1] 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.

Contents

Biography

Vernadsky was born in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire, on 12 March 1863, of mixed Russian and Ukrainian parents. His father, a descendent of Ukrainian Cossacks,[2] had been a professor of political economy in Kiev before moving to Saint Petersburg, and his mother was a noblewoman of Russian ethnicity[3] (Vernadsky considered himself both Russian and Ukrainian, and had some knowledge of the Ukrainian language.)[4]

Vernadsky graduated from Saint Petersburg State University in 1885. As the last mineralogist had died in 1887 in Russia, and Vasily Dokuchaev, a soil scientist, and Alexey Pavlov, a geologist, had been teaching Mineralogy for a while, Vernadsky chose to enter Mineralogy. He wrote to his wife Natasha on 20 June 1888 from Switzerland:

...to collect facts for their own sake, as many now gather facts, without a program, without a question to answer or a purpose is not interesting. However, there is a task which someday those chemical reactions which took place at various points on earth; these reactions take place according to laws which are known to us, but which, we are allowed to think, are closely tied to general changes which the earth has undergone by the earth with the general laws of celestial mechanics. I believe there is hidden here still more to discover when one considers the complexity of chemical elements and the regularity of their occurrence in groups...

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