How bumbling British boffins became a standing Russian joke

Modern Toss

IF YOU happen to have travelled on the London Underground’s District, Circle or Hammersmith & City lines in the past three months, you may have spotted the legendary Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, creator of the periodic table. Not in person of course, but splashed across the side of a special train celebrating Russian achievements in science, space and the arts.

When The Heart of Russia took to the rails in October, the British Council announced that it would be running a similar stunt on the Moscow Metro: a Science Train adorned with images of Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday and the like. Part of something called the UK-Russia Year of Science and Education, one of its goals was to improve the reputation of British scientists in Russia.

God knows they need it. But the train never materialised, perhaps because it would have instantly become the object of ridicule.

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