January 01, 2009

Calendar Briefs

175 years ago Father of Vodka

On January 27, 1834, Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleyev was born. A prolific chemist and inventor, he is perhaps best known as the inventor of the Periodic Table of Elements, which he designed in order to predict the atomic properties of elements that would yet be discovered. Yet, to Russians, he is equally famous for his work on the Russian national drink: vodka. In 1894, Tsar Alexander III asked the chemist (who the previous year had been appointed to head the Bureau of Weights and Measures) to create a vodka standard. Through his research, he decided that the optimal alcohol content in the beverage was 38%. But the number was rounded up to 40%, because at the time taxes on vodka were based on their strength, and a round number was easier on the computation skills of tax officials. A founder of the Russian Chemical Society, Mendeleyev also helped found Russia’s first oil refinery. He died in 1907 from influenza.

55 years ago Nikita’s Gift

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