Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen is credited for saving tens of thousands of lives in WWI and WWII and for saving millions of lives since then through a discovery he made on November 8, 1895. He found that certain unknown rays, he called them X-rays, could penetrate the exterior of objects and an image of the interior of those objects could be captured on a specially prepared photographic plate. The x-ray (German: roentgen, Russian: рентген) has since revolutionized medicine.
For a great read about Roentgen's life and work, we recommend Otto Glasser's biography, Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen and the Early History of the Roentgen Rays.
Having served as a nurse in Germany during WWI, Lise Meitner following the war became the first woman in Germany to become a full professor of Physics. As one of Germany's greatest physcists, she discovered the "Auger effect." Realizing that Einstein's E=MC2 could provide the basis for the release of huge amounts of energy she is recognized as a co-discoverer of nuclear fission. In 1943, Meitner was asked to join a group of British scientists...who were bound for Los Alamos to work on the atomic bomb. The offer promised intriguing physics, valued colleagues and escape from Sweden. Yet she refused. Her refusal arose from a deep revulsion,'I will have nothing to do with a bomb!'" --Lise Meitner, A life in Physics by Ruth Lewin Sime.
In 1820, fearing death was close, he wrote a testament in which he explained why he had become a recluse:
"O ye men who say that I am malevolent, stubborn or misanthropic, how greatly do ye wrong me, you do not know the secret causes of my seeming so. From childhood my heart and mind were disposed to the gentle feelings of good will, I was ever eager to accomplish great deeds, but reflect now that for six years I have been a hopeless case, aggravated by senseless physicians, cheated year after year in the hope of improvement... O how harshly was I repulsed by the sad experience of my bad hearing, and yet it was impossible for me to say to men speak louder, shout, for I am deaf. Ah how could I possibly admit such an infirmity in the one sense which should have been more perfect in me than in others, a sense which I once possessed in highest perfection, a perfection such as few surely in my profession have enjoyed - Therefore forgive me when you see me draw back when I would gladly mingle with you..."
In 2008 Russians were asked to name the most influential Russians of all time. From online voting a list of the top 500 most influential Russians was made. Here is a picture of one of them. Do you know who this is? To check your answer go to http://top50.nameofrussia.ru and click on individual pictures.
Starting this monththe Russian section web page will regularly present a short article on a person from the list. Visit the site to find out more about what these famous and infamous Russians did with their talents, insight, and power.