Arriving in town, along "Science Boulevard." Note the skiers!
Today the girls and I went to Pushchino, a city of 20,200 people that's 120 kilometers south of Moscow. It was founded in 1956 as a "Science City" by the Soviet government, a center of scientific research. To this day there are major universities in chemistry, biology and physics there. I know a few people who got their doctorates there, including my boss.
I remember hearing stories back in 1991 about Pushino, about how the KGB was everywhere there to make sure that no secrets were being given away. One of the reasons for creating the city was so that it would be easier to keep an eye on the scientists.
The girls and I drove the two hours to pick up a friend who had spent four days there over New Year's. She was staying with friends of ours, so we had a nice lunch before bundling up her chihuahua and heading home.
I had been curious about the city and it was fun to get out of Moscow. The city is located along the embankment of the Oka River and is an odd mixture of ugly Krushchev cement block construction and beautiful fields and forests. You can see how carefully it was planned out below, even if you don't read Russian; the grey buildings on one side of town are all scientific and the other areas are residential, divided into four mini-neighborhoods:
Here's an example of a research building:
This is what the river looks like in September:
From our friends' home, we could see for miles. Beneath us there were kids sledding and people cross-country skiing. I could see how it could be a really great place to live back when there wasn't a brain drain of intellectuals to the USA and overseas. The kids and I are looking forward to heading back there in warmer months!