Nikolai Alexandrovich Morozov

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Nikolai Morozov circa 1880s

Nikolai Alexandrovich Morozov (Russian: Никола́й Алекса́ндрович Моро́зов; 7 July 1854, Borok – 30 July 1946) was a Russian revolutionary who spent about 25 years in prison before turning his attention to various fields of science.

Revolutionary activities[edit]

The son of a landowner by a serf woman, Morozov was born in the village of Borok in the Governorate of Yaroslavl. He early became interested in politics and was expelled from secondary school when he was accused of subversive activity. (His distribution of a scientific magazine was considered subversive because Russian schools did not teach science.)[citation needed] He joined the Circle of Tchaikovsky before departing for Geneva in 1874.

By 1878, Morozov was a member of Zemlya i volya or Land and Liberty where he co-edited their mouthpiece, Land and Liberty, (with Sergei Kravchinsky). When the Land and Liberty group faced an internal crisis over tactics and thus split into two groups in August 1879, Morozov rejected the continued use of propaganda to bring about social change and, instead, joined the more adventurous of the two factions, and became a leader of this group, Narodnaya Volya, or People's Will.

In 1880 Olga Liubatovich and Morozov left Narodnaya Volya and went to live in Geneva and London, where he was introduced to Karl Marx. While in exile Morozov wrote The Terrorist Struggle, a pamphlet that explained his views how to achieve a democratic society in Russia. He advocated large numbers of small independent terrorist groups and argued that this approach would make it difficult for the police to apprehend the terrorists. It would also help to prevent a small group of leaders gaining power, forming dictatorships after the overthrow of the Tsar.

Morozov returned to Russia in order to distribute The Terrorist Struggle. This led to his arrest soon after arriving. He was then imprisoned in Suwałki. Liubatovich only just having gone through child birth decided to attempt to rescue Morozov, though her plan did not go well, ending in her arrest leading to Liubatovich being sent to Siberia in November, 1882.

Later life and ideas[edit]

Morozov's cell at the Shlisselburg Fortress

Between 1882–1905 Morozov was imprisoned in Peter and Paul fortress and in Shlisselburg Fortress for his political activities. At that period he wrote political verse and began intense studies in physics, chemistry, astronomy and history. After being released in 1905, he started to teach chemistry and astronomy at the University of St. Petersburg. In 1907 he was elected into the Duma, but as a former prisoner he was not allowed to take the office. He became a member of many associations for science, including the Russian Aero-club. For the publication of his book Songs of the Stars in 1910, he became imprisoned for another year.

Many of his ideas were unorthodox and daring. He conjectured that atoms have complicated level structure and may be transformed. In his treatise on the periodic table, Morozov predicted the discovery of inert elements.

In 1907 Morozov published "The Revelation in Storm and Thunder" where he produced evidence for his hypotheses

After the October Revolution, Morozov took little interest in politics and never joined the Communist Party. However he was still appointed by Anatoly Lunacharsky to run the P. S. Lesgaft Institute of Natural Sciences in Petrograd (Leningrad), a position which he kept until his death at the age of 92. Based on the astronomical records (such as the Almagest) he speculated that much of human history has been falsified. His theories about the chronology of the Middle East and Israel before the first century BC later attracted the attention of Anatoly Fomenko, who based his own New Chronology upon them.

In his declining years, Morozov established a laboratory in his native Borok, north of Uglich, to monitor and study "inland waters". In 1932 he was named an Honorary Member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.[1] His memorial house in Borok is open to the public. Morozov's grave is close by. The asteroid 1210 Morosovia is named in his honour.