did the USSR have a strong scientific base

Its my understanding that the USSR went from a backwards group of nations to having a very strong scientific base, at least when it came to some areas like nuclear physics or aeronautics.

I just finished reading Khidir Hamza’s book ‘Saddam’s bombmaker’, he says in the peak of the Nuclear building drive in iraq (which was in 1993-4 for some reason) there were 2000 engineers, 300 Ph.D.s in biology, chemistry, physics, chemical engineering and nuclear engineering; 800 M.S. in biology, chemistry and physics, and about 10,000 technicians (which require either a B.S., A.S., or on the job training) working on a nuclear weapon.

So thats not alot of educated people from what i can tell. 300 Ph.D.s, 800 M.S.s, and several thousand bachelor and associate degrees in engineering or scientific technology would be enough to build a bomb apparently, or at the very least be one of the most productive bomb building outfits on the planet, all with only 1100 advanced degrees, 2k bachelor degrees and 10,000 associate degrees.

so, is this what happened in the USSR, the nation as a whole remained the same in regards to education but about 10,000 Ph.D.s were trained? Did education opportunities for the average individual on the street increase dramatically? what percentage of individuals in the USSR were college educated.

How did the USSR start its educational programs. What kind of educational programs were they (in country, out of country, 4 year, 8 year, etc), how many educated people did they turn out. Were their educated people just educated in fields that were very competitive during the cold war like nuclear physics and aeronautics or were they educated in all fields like biology, engineering, chemistry, art, computers, etc.

I’d always thought that the USSR didn’t go through all that trouble. They just grabbed all the German scientists they could after WWII. Kind of the same thing the USA did.

The USSR certainly had a strong science base, and those lands still do today. Many scientific papers are written in Russian, and of those many are never translated to English - that’s why I learned Russian 25 years ago (though I have mostly forgotten it now).

The technical successes of the Soviets are even more impressive when you realize they were relatively more isolated than Western scientists and engineers, and considering the hardships of Soviet intellectualism during the Stalin years, and especially if you believe that their economic system robbed them of some kinds of well-being that Westerners enjoyed.

I think Sputnik and Gagarin speak for themselves.

Maybe its just me, but it seems like the Soviets had a more crazed and determined mentality towards the pursuit of knowlege. Okay, maybe I’m full of it, but just looking at crazy Russian weapons, and the the fruits (and rotten bananas) of their space program, it seemed like they were much more willing to take risks to push forward science, even if the agenda might have been primarily political (weren’t many scientific agendas?)

True, Sputnik was an accomplishment but one of my questions was does this imply a general scientific base or just an area of highly educated specialty in the middle of a much larger uneducated population? Iraq’s nuclear program was very advanced, but when you came down to it it was 300 Ph.D.s, 800 M.S.s, 2000+/- B.S.s and about 10,000 people with A.S.s or on the job training. That is 1100 graduate degrees and 2000 bachelor degrees for a nation of about 22 million people, so it doesn’t really speak of the educational state for the nation as a whole.

An article on higher education in the USSR

To put the figures given in perspective: the population of the USSR (1989 census) was 286.7 million.