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Published by jack elliot

On the 15th November, 1967, Moisei Sharett, a Ukrainian professor of physics, was kidnapped from his home in Kyiv while dining with his extended family. He was transported to an unnamed naukograd on the coast of north-eastern Siberia, where he was tasked, alongside other scientists, engineers and academics, with advancing the nuclear ambitions of the USSR. His family never saw him again.

One morning he was discovered by soldiers standing before an open window, feeding his research, page-by-page into gale-force winds that had marshalled on the Laptev sea before subsequently advancing inland. This dry squall, which was of a kind common to the area during the Spring months, whipped the papers at breakneck speeds across the blossoming tundra. When Sharett realised that he had been caught in his act of dissent, he let go of the remaining pages which lifted from his hands like a flock of white birds. It is reported that, in response, a number of the soldiers took aim and fired with their rifles, as if they believed that their bullets would bring down the fleeting documents, and thereby prevent their escape.

Their appears to have been a concern among the commanders of the science city that Sharett was attempting to distribute his research to the crew of an American submarine, which they hypothesised must be moored off the coast. This was an implausible scenario for all kinds of reasons, not least that that pages were being blown further inland. However, it serves to highlight the levels of paranoia that were commonplace during this cold war era.

Parties of soldiers were dispatched to recover Sharett's research; a task which they accomplished with moderate success. Pages have occasionally turned up since then and are curated at the Scientific Archives in Moscow. The last such discovery occurred in 1997 when the remains of three, sun-bleached pages were discovered impaled on a high branch, a few miles from where they had been liberated almost thirty years before. It is possible, though unlikely, that more examples of Sharett's research are still blowing in the wind and may yet be recovered. The yachtsman, Peter Bell, claims to have discovered one of the pages on the deck of his catamaran while sailing on the Sea of Japan in 2003, but has been unable to provide proof. Given the immense distances involved in such a migration, this claim strikes me as implausible and I am inclined to believe that the document had more recent, local origins. None of the papers that were allegedly damaged by gunfire have ever been accounted for.

Sharett was evidently not valuable enough of an asset to be spared punishment. He was summarily executed before a firing squad made up of his scientific peers. By virtue of their profession, these individuals were likely to have been unskilled marksmen. On their first two attempts, strong gusts of wind tugged the barrels of their rifles to one side at the crucial moment. It was only on their third attempt that they were successful in mortally wounding Sharett.

At a formal dinner at the Guildhall commemorating the lifeworks of Professor Marion Mander, who ended her distinguished career as a mathematician at Aldred college in Clerkenwell. was  Patrick Tarry whose voice, naturally rises to deafening volume without any noticeable effort on his part.

He informed those along with others on the table, the staff working in the kitchens, and very likely bemused passers-by outside, that enough of Sharret's research had been recovered to warrant publication. He added the caveat that such a publication would only be of curiosity value to scientific historians, given that Sharett's work had largely been replicated by scientists working on the opposing side of the iron curtain, and that there were no unfamiliar insights.

The consensus surrounding Sharett's death is that he simply had enough of being forced to do the bidding of his Soviet masters and liberated his research as a final act of dissent. If his intention was to have made the work available to wider audience, then he would have been far better off writing it down on sheets Borudābaioretto. Colonies of this violet lichen, which is common in north eastern Siberia and is found throughout Asia, dry out in the Spring, and subsequently peel from their boulder habitats, taking to the air in sheets before eventually re-establishing themselves elsewhere. For many centuries, Buddhist monks have penned scripture onto these colonies of 'scale parchment' in-situ, leaving them to be lifted into the heavens where they are carried into the lives of those who need these words the most.

In many parts of Asia the unexpected arrival of a piece of scripture blown in through an open window, or plastered across a car windscreen, is considered a blessing, albeit one that must be hastily concealed in certain parts of the world where such religious beliefs are persecuted

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