Once upon a time, Professor Zinin held an exam and asked a student a question: “What are alkaloids?” The student answered: “Alkaloids are what ends in –in or -ine: strychnine, caffeine, quinine, nicotine...” But the professor interrupted the student: “You are mistaken. I am Zinin and I am not an alkaloid.” Of course, not! Nikolay Nikolayevich Zinin was a prominent Russian scholar, the first president of the Russian Physical and Chemical Society. He became a chemist almost by chance – at the request of the rector of the Kazan University Nikolay Ivanovich Lobachevsky, the mathematician and physicist Zinin set up the chair of chemistry. The result was great – many scientific achievements and an entire galaxy of students, including Butlerov, Borodin, Beketov.
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