I was going to explain this photo, and then I decided that a caption competition would be more fun.
The Barnstable County Science Fiction, Fantasy, And Light Opera Critics’ Association Author Of The Year Award isn’t exactly the most prestigious honor in literature. But the award statue absolutely kicks ass.
The pines were roaring on the height,
The winds were moaning in the night,
The fire was red, it flaming spread,
The trees like torches blazed with light.
Hey there folks. Today I want to share a few things regarding Nikolai Vavilov, a rather remarkable man.
Vavilov was born in 1887, the son of a Moscow-based merchant. He graduated from the Moscow Agricultural Institute in 1910 and spent the next decade researching plant immunity throughout Europe. In 1926, he founded the Pavlovsk Experimental Station near Leningrad, and it would be where the man makes his mark.
Throughout the 1930s, Vavilov and his colleagues worked on turning Pavlovsk into the world’s largest seed bank. Now, the modern appreciation for biodiversity was hardly there at the time, and Vavilov was one of the first to recognise the importance of protecting existing plant life from gradual extinction. Being an agricultural scientist first, his work naturally gravitated toward archiving the crop variants of the time, which would comprise six hundred strains of apples, over a thousand types of berries, and many others. He visited 64 countries on five continents, learning 15 languages along the way. It is said that by the end of the decade, the Pavlovsk station housed over 250, 000 different seeds - 90% of which was conserved precisely nowhere else at the time.
The end of the decade, of course, was not a good time for the Soviet Union.
In 1940, Stalin was finally fed up by the scientist’s opposition toward Lysenkoist socialist biology. Vavilov was arrested, and in 1941, sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment. This was around the time where Operation Barbarossa was starting to loom over the horizon. The German high command was quite unwilling to take Leningrad through a brutal street-to-street battle that will leave millions of starving civilians on their hands, and opted instead to set up a brutal siege that will leave millions of starving civilians on Soviet hands. Though the whole world had gone to hell around them, the researchers at Pavlovsk took great care of their collection and managed to move it near Leningrad’s Hermitage Museum just before the Germans overran the area.
Slowly but surely, the city started to wither. Food dwindled. Water dried out. When the sawdust bread ran out the people turned to rats, and when the rats ran out they turned on each other. Not the scientists, though. Believing that their seeds would help rebuild the world after war ends, they watched over it with discipline, refusing to let their decade-long work fall to the ashes of war.
Shell rained day and night. Blood ran through the streets. The men of Pavlovsk stood guard still.
By the time the city was relieved in 1944, over a million souls had been lost to the most lethal battle in human history. Twelve of the researchers perished from starvation, tending to their collection dutifully to the end. Vavilov himself had died in prison in 1943. The N.I. Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry stands in St Petersburg today, where it houses what still is the biggest seed collection in the world.
Was it worth it? I don’t know. Perhaps nobody knows for sure. It was a desperate time where innocents die by the thousands each day, and there was no certainty in what their store of decade-old, carefully preserved plant genes could’ve done for anyone. What we know, though, is that the studies that Vavilov and his colleagues started yielded 75% of the grain legume and 60% of the blackcurrant cultivars created throughout the USSR - and bearing that in mind, I think it’s quite safe to say that Pavlovsk station saved a lot more people in the long run than it could’ve otherwise.
What is this and why haven’t I watched it yet
THIS WATER IS BURNT
It’s Hells Kitchen I think. It’s quite funny - 99% because of GR. Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares is good as well (it’s my fav of his shows anyway).
The chicken. The black chicken!!
Genius. It’s no wonder why I love this show as much as I do.