Nikolai Vavilov in prison

The Weed Scientist Who Brought Down the Wrath of Stalin

Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov's hypothesis on the evolution of rye is now accepted. But in the 1930s, his research got him arrested.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and former Russian President Boris Yeltsin attend an inauguration ceremony for Putin May 7, 2000 in the Kremlin in Moscow.

Was Russia Destined to Be an Autocracy?

The most important factors that steered Russia away from democracy, says one scholar, weren't inevitable.
Saint George Defeating the Dragon by Johann König, c. 1630

How Saint George’s Dragon Got Its Wings

As time went on, the dragons in Russian iconography slowly became more Western in style—just like Russia itself.
An unknown woman from the city of Grodno, circa 1900

Tsarist Russia’s Feminist Intelligentsia

In the context of Russia's patriarchal autocracy, its intelligentsia was surprisingly feminist, as Vera Podorovskaya's life illustrates.
Suprematist Painting (with Black Trapezium and Red Square) by Kazimir Malevich

Dreaming of Spaceflight in 1920s Russia

Early in the 20th century, Cosmism was all the rage in Russia, inspiring a utopian and mystical view of interstellar travel.
Frozen lake Baikal near Olkhon island

Exploring Lake Baikal

The world's largest, deepest freshwater lake is home to hundreds of species that don't live anywhere else on Earth. But it's threatened by climate change.
Profile portrait of Catherine II by Fedor Rokotov (1763)

The Memoirs of Catherine The Great

Catherine II ruled Russia for many years. She also wrote her own memoirs, in a time when such writing was considered inappropriate for a monarch.
Composite image of Dmitri Mendeleev, a periodic table, and the Milky Way galaxy

How Far Does the Periodic Table Go?

Efforts to fill the periodic table raise questions of special relativity that “strike at the very heart of chemistry as a discipline.”
Maxim Gorky

Revolutionary Writer Maxim Gorky’s NYC Sex Scandal

In 1906, Russian Bolshevik writer Maxim Gorky was given a warm welcome in the United States. Then the American media manufactured a scandal about his girlfriend.
Cuckoo chick

Russian Cuckoos are Invading Alaska. Songbirds, Beware!

Songbirds may loose their entire broods to cuckoos’ parasitic tricks.