Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Апрель 2005 г.
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Апрель
2005 г.
Российская наука и мир
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    Ученые из Института химической физики им. Н.Н. Семенова разработали специальные добавки, позволяющие "пометить" взрывчатые вещества. Если ввести их в состав вещества, то на месте взрыва останутся своеобразные следы, по которым можно будет идентифицировать взрывчатку и проследить пути ее легального перемещения, что должно помочь следствию выявить каналы снабжения террористов.
Les scientifiques russes de l'Institut de physique chimique Semenov auraient développé un additif permettant de signer les explosifs. Cette technologie permettrait notamment d'identifier l'origine et la date de production des explosifs utilisés par les terroristes. Les recherches sont soutenues par l'ISTC. Le marquage des explosifs est rendu difficile par les conditions de température et de pression auxquels la signature doit tenir, sans présenter de danger pour l'environnement ou pour l'explosif lui-même. Les chercheurs russes proposent d'insérer dans l'explosif des grains fins d'un alliage d'aluminium contenant des éléments rares. Après explosion, les échantillons prélevés dans l'environnement sont analysés par spectrométrie d'émission optique sur plasma induit par laser: l'échantillon porté à très haute température est transformé en plasma analysé par spectrométrie. La méthode d'analyse aurait été développée par le centre de recherche et de production "Typhon". Les premiers essais couronnés d'un succès, il reste à convaincre les fabricants d'explosifs d'utiliser cette technologie qui ne présente un vrai intérêt que si elle est appliquée par tous.
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    К участникам проекта OPERA, одного из самых крупных и дорогих международных экспериментов в области физики, присоединились ученые Объединенного Института Ядерных Исследований (Дубна, Россия) и Института сцинтилляционных материалов НАНУ (Харьков, Украина).
    Цель проекта - поймать в Италии нейтрино, выпущенные в Швейцарии. Система детекторов для регистрации частицы является совместной разработкой российских и украинских ученых.
    В Женеве, в ЦЕРНе, с помощью протонного ускорителя будет сформирован направленный пучок нейтрино. Он пролетит 730 километров под землей до лаборатории Гран Сассо в Италии, пройдет сквозь детекторы, оставит там свои следы и полетит дальше.

Neutrinos released in Switzerland are due to be caught in Italy under the international project OPERA. The system of detectors for identifying these mysterious particles is developed by a joint effort of Russian and Ukrainian scientists.
Specialists from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (Dubna, Russia) and Institute of Scintillator Materials NASU (Kharkov, Ukraine) have joined the Project OPERA that is a biggest and most expensive international experiment in the field of physics.
Under this project, neutrino beam will be generated by proton accelerator in the CERN (Geneva, Switzerland). At a speed close to that of light, the beam will instantly cover the distance of 730 km under ground and reach the laboratory Gran Sasso (Italy) situated at a depth of 1.5 km in the side halls of an automobile tunnel. There, the beam will go through the detectors and leave its traces. A large and dense net is needed for catching neutrinos that can easily go throughout the Earth. To achieve this goal, scientists have designed a huge complex target having dimensions of 10x10x100 m and several systems of particle detection. Its walls are made of bricks that consist of nuclear emulsions and lead sheets. Plastic scintillators, placed between the bricks, are needed to produce a flash of light upon absorption of an ionizing particle, specifically, neutrino. There are also electronic devices to register the flash and identify the actual brick, where the neutrino interaction took place.
However, that is only the beginning of detection process. Then, scientists need to take the brick out of the wall and study particle tracks left on each of the emulsion sheets, which will finally allow for neutrino identification.
One can imagine the scale of work looking at these figures: the target is built of 62 walls containing in total 206336 bricks; each brick is made of 57 nuclear emulsions and 56 lead sheets. The analysis of one brick with the use of latest computer technologies and special equipment will take tens of hours. The Ukrainian scientists are involved into the OPERA project as the designers of new scintillator making technique. They have built the world's largest furnace for raw material processing and produced 33 thousands of 7-meter-long strips with a total weight of 70 tons.
Why the scientists have launched this difficult, expensive, and labour-consuming project? Because discovering the properties of neutrino will in the long run help to understand certain cosmic processes, e.g., the expansion of the universe. Apparently, the mechanism of mass formation in neutrino is somewhat different from that in other particles. It is not excluded that neutrino is the key to future physics.

© AlphaGalileo Foundation 2003
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    В поисках растительных препаратов для профилактики и лечения заболеваний нервной системы, российские исследователи обратились к зеленому чаю. Специалисты Кубанского государственного университета, Кубанской научно-производственной лаборатории физиологически активных веществ и Института мозга РАМН обнаружили, что спиртовой экстракт зеленого чая стимулирует регенерацию нейронов спинного мозга.

In search of vegetable preparations for nervous system diseases prophylaxis and treatment Russian researchers have turned to green tea. Specialists of the Kuban State University, the Kuban Research-and-Production Laboratory of Physiologically Active Substances and the Institute of Brain (Russian Academy of Medical Sciences) have discovered that ethanolic extract of green tea stimulates spinal cord neurons' regeneration.
Spinal ganglia were cultivated in nutrient medium. Dry extract in different concentrations was added to the medium. The researchers judged on neurons′ state and their capacity for regeneration by the number and length of nerve cell processes. The length and number of processes account for the "quality of communication" between neurons and ultimately the ability of the nervous system section to fulfill its functions. The ability to restore bonds is the rate of cells′ resistance to neurodegenerative diseases, for example, ischemia or Parkinson′s disease.
The green tea extract had the most apparent stimulatory action in concentration of 0.004-0.006 percent. On the second day of cultivation, the number of cell processes started to grow as compared to the background ones, and then the length of cell processes began to increase. On the fourth day of experiment, the difference between the background and experimental groups was maximum both in terms of processes number and length. On the fifth day, the green tea extract effect disappeared. Lower concentrations of the preparation also change the growth characteristics of spinal cord neurons, but not to a great extent. Overdoing with green tea makes no good. Double increase of extract concentration would not give any effect whatsoever, but when the concentration was increased by 10 times as compared to the optimal one, 85 percent of cells died. The remaining neurons had almost no processes.
Previously, the Kuban physicians had showed that extracts of the Baikal scullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi) had the same effect on nervous cells′ regeneration. However, tea is a more widespread plant. Apparently, healing power of green tea is caused by high antioxidant content - flavonoids, polyphenols, as well as theanine and vitamins.
Results of the investigation carried out by the Krasnodar scientists, who were the first to demonstrate the stimulatory action of green tea extract on nerve cells′ regeneration have been contributed by findings of researchers from other countries. It is known that theanine injection into ventricles of brain of Mongolian Gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus) prevents destruction of brain neurons in case of ischemia. Intraperitoneal injection of polyphenols also protects nerve cells. Various components of green tea prevent development of laboratory Parkinson′s disease with mice.
Green tea belongs to the group of food substances that avert the nitric oxide abundant synthesis, which can be the cause of neurodegenerative diseases. Of undoubted interest are the recent investigations by foreign researchers that showed anticarcinogenic effect of tea polyphenols. However, there are no sufficient clinical data to prove this effect, therefore investigations in this area need to be continued. Naturally, the researchers working in the capital of the Russian tea cannot stay aside from that.

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    17 молодых ученых России получили гранты Международной программы фонда "Глобальная энергия". Вручение грантов состоялось в Санкт-Петербургском научном центре РАН на заключительном пленарном заседании международного симпозиума "Наука и общество". Общая сумма грантов — около 100 тысяч долларов, сроком на 24 месяца.

Seventeen young Russian scientists who are conducting research on energy received grants valued at a total of $100,000 from the prestigious Global Energy Foundation in St. Petersburg on Monday.
"This award was a big surprise and honor for me and my team," said Alexei Nalevin, 28, a scientist from the Moscow Energy Institute, whose team won the first prize for developing computer programs to prevent breakdowns in energy systems.
"I think such grants are extremely important for our science, which unfortunately has suffered badly from the country's economic crisis, which resulted in a whole generation of Russia's young scientists being lost," Nalevin said.
The grants, the first of their kind, were announced at the final session of the three-day international symposium Science and Society, which was part of a meeting of Nobel Prize winners and winners of the Russian Global Energy prize.
Ivar Griaever, a Norwegian winner of the Nobel prize for physics who presented a certificate to Nalevin, said he "envied young scientists because they have their future discoveries ahead of them," while his were already in the past.
Zhores Alfyorov, who presided at the award ceremony, said that the grants were given to young scientists working "in the most promising sectors of energy science."
Those sectors include solving ecological problems in the energy sphere, the economics of energy, and the use of new information technologies. The grants are for 24 months. When the term is over, winners will make the results of their research public. The Global Energy International Prize Award was founded in 2003 on the initiative of Alfyorov to reward international scientists who make significant achievements in energy science. This year's winners will share a total of $1 million.

© copyright The St. Petersburg Times 1993-2004
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    У животных, впадающих в зимнюю спячку, замедляется процесс старения. Такое открытие сделала группа исследователей из Института клеточной биофизики и Института теоретической и экспериментальной биофизики РАН.

The phoenix is a bird in Egyptian mythology that lived in the desert for 500 years. Like the phoenix, hibernating animals have a mechanism for hindering the aging process, which can be transferred to other animal species. This discovery is made by biophysicists from Moscow Region supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research.
The research team from the Institute of Cell Biophysics and Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics of Russian Academy of Sciences has obtained exciting results in the prevention of rats' aging by treating them with the thymus cells from longtailed Siberian sousliks (also known as Alaskan ground squirrels).
Thymus is a small glandular organ that is situated behind the top of the breastbone and plays a key role in lymphocyte synthesis and immune response. As a result of the aging process, the thymus undergoes involution a progressive decline or degeneration of normal physiological functioning. Involution begins with a rapid degradation of lymphoid tissue of the thymus, which is followed by a decrease in the number of lymphocytes in the blood. A lack of lymphocytes causes weakening of the immune system. Generally, these processes are inevitable and irreversible, but there are exceptions to the rule, particularly, in hibernating mammals. Lymphoid tissue of their thymus dies every winter to get renewed when animals wake up in spring. The Russian researchers got interested in the cyclic renovation of the thymus and tried to slow down the aging-caused degeneration of this gland in other mammalian species. In the long run the biophysicists expect to apply their experience in human senility prevention, but now they are trying to give a longer life to mere rats.
Hibernating mammals have a unique ability to maintain the cyclic renovation of the thymus throughout their life. Understanding the mechanism of this process can be very beneficial for medicine, and this is an on-going research of the Russian biochemists.

© AlphaGalileo Foundation 2003
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    Специалисты Томского политехнического университета и НИИ коллекции культур микроорганизмов (ГНЦ вирусологии и биотехнологии "Вектор") создали биологически активный сорбент нового поколения. Сорбент обеспечивает стопроцентное очищение воды от микроорганизмов и бактерий.

Specialists of the Tomsk Polytechnical University and Scientific Research Institute "Microorganism Culture Collection" (VECTOR State Research Center for Virology and Biotechnology) have developed a biologically active sorbent of a new generation based on cotton pulp, modified 1-percent silica slip containing activated alumina. The sorbent provides for the 100-percent efficient water purification from microorganisms and bacteriophages, it can be applied in a wide range of conditions and possesses sufficient durability and longevity.
Water and aqueous solutions are overfilled with pathogens, viruses and toxins, which so far threaten life and health of people, regardless of undertaken actions. Water purification via filtering is ineffective and underproductive, as fine filters with low throughput capacity have to be utilized. Contemporary purification methods are based on the fact that the majority of bacteria and viruses are negatively charged, therefore they can be captured by a macroporous material possessing positive electrokinetic potential. As a result of the process called electrokinetic capturing, small particles would simply stick to filter material. Since the 70s of the last centur, researchers of different countries have developed several kinds of cation sorbents. Cuno company set up flow-production of a filter material based on diatomite soil under the "Zeta Plus" trade mark. Other foreign sorbents consist of inorganic and organic fiber, the surface of which is covered with needle-shaped boehmite (aluminium hydroxide) nanoparticles. Filter materials developed by the Russian researchers also contain aluminium oxide and they were created with application of nanotechnology. Unfortunately, all these sorbents are rather expensive and fragile, they can be used only in neutral and acid medium. Therefore, Siberian microbiologists took up to develop more durable, inexpensive and undemanding filters.
To get the sorbent, the researchers made use of low-cost ecologically safe components. The sorbent is based on cotton pulp, which is covered by big nonspherical particles of aluminium oxide (boehmite). To this end, wetted cellulose was mixed with aluminum powder. However, large particles of aluminium do not get water-oxidized in ordinary conditions. To turn entire aluminium powder into oxide, the sorbent developers had to perform activation with alternating sinusoidal power current (50 Hz). Tests have proved that the sorbent does not lose durability even after a two-day soaking in distilled water and it is capable of functioning in a wide range of рН values, including alkaline medium. The sorbent's throughput capacity reaches 15000 litre per square meter per hour. The material fully keeps back the test biological object - bacteriophage MS-2, i.e., it exceeds efficiency of Cuno's Zeta Plus 50S filter, which catches only 99 percent of objects.
Thus, Siberian researchers have created an excellent sorbent of low-cost ecologically safe components by applying simple technologies. In their opinion, the sorbent may be widely applied in medicine, veterinary science, food industry and for purification of water, solutions and outbursts of plants related to utilization of microbiological processes.

Copyright © 2003 "Himiya i Zhizn". All rights reserved.
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    В Сибирском регионе с 2004 по 2006 год в рамках Шестой программы ЕС "Технологии информационного сообщества" будет реализован европейский проект SITE (Сибирь, информационные технологии и Европа) по развитию сотрудничества между российскими и европейскими исследователями в области информационных технологий. Задачей проекта является разработка базы данных научных групп в области "Информационные технологии общества". Также предполагается открытие европейских региональных офисов в организациях, имеющих высокий научный потенциал и опыт международного сотрудничества.

La recherche technologique n'est probablement pas la première idée qui vient à l'esprit lorsque l'on pense à la Sibérie, mais c'est précisément cette association d'idées que les partenaires d'un nouveau projet du Sixième programme-cadre cherchent à promouvoir.
Le projet SITE (Siberia, Information Technologies and Europe - La Sibérie, les technologies de l'information et l'Europe) a été mis en place dans le cadre du programme Technologies de la société de l'information (IST) du 6e PC durant l'été 2004. Il vise à accroître le nombre de projets IST représentant des partenaires issus du district fédéral de Sibérie (DFS), une région de la Fédération de Russie qui couvre près de la moitié des dix millions de kilomètres carrés de la Sibérie.
Durant la seconde guerre mondiale, de nombreuses industries et centres de recherche étaient établis dans le DFS, et à l'époque du communisme, la région s'est spécialisée dans la recherche militaire et spatiale. Toutefois, aujourd'hui, bon nombre des 66.000 chercheurs du DFS ont mis leurs compétences techniques au service des technologies de l'information, offrant un potentiel significatif pour la collaboration internationale dans le domaine de la recherche.
Depuis son lancement, le consortium SITE - coordonné par Singleimage (Royaume-Uni) et auquel participe l'association russe pour la formation en ingénierie et l'agence autrichienne de promotion de la recherche (FFG) - a déjà mis en place un réseau de 56 points de contact dans le DFS. Le projet vise à apporter à ces personnes une formation sur le programme IST afin qu'elles puissent à leur tour informer et aider les chercheurs de la région.
La présence de ce réseau de points de contact ainsi que de huit centres de promotion régionaux, également mis sur pied dans le cadre du projet, a pour but de lever l'un des principaux obstacles à la participation de la Sibérie au programme-cadre, à savoir la complexité des procédures communautaires ressentie par les chercheurs du DFS.
L'équipe de CORDIS Nouvelles s'est entretenue avec l'un des partenaires du projet, Petra Reiter de la FFG, et lui a demandé quels sont les autres obstacles à la coopération entre l'UE et la Sibérie dans le domaine de la recherche qui doivent être levés par le projet SITE. Le manque de sensibilisation dans les deux régions est, selon elle, une réelle entrave. Se pose également le problème de la distance géographique ainsi que du niveau de formation en langue anglaise qui doit être relevé en Sibérie.
L'un des volets du projet va dans le sens de la levée de ces obstacles. En organisant des manifestations de courtage entre l'UE et la Sibérie lors de conférences IST dans l'UE (où le projet SITE garantit la présence simultanée de jusqu'à huit chercheurs présentant des propositions de collaboration scientifique), non seulement les deux parties sont davantage sensibilisées, mais les relations personnelles s'intensifient également et peuvent combler les distances qui séparent les chercheurs des deux régions.
Le projet poursuit d'autres objectifs plus spécifiques également. Une base de données a, par exemple, d'ores et déjà été créée afin de permettre aux chercheurs européens de chercher les profils de chercheurs spécialisés dans les technologies en Sibérie, et le consortium souhaite compléter largement la liste des 320 profils déjà entrés à ce jour. Les partenaires de SITE souhaitent également préparer plusieurs propositions formelles pour les prochains appels lancés dans le cadre du programme IST. Comme l'a expliqué Petra Reiter, le but est de rédiger environ dix propositions en espérant, tout en étant réaliste mais sans pouvoir en être certain, en voir deux ou trois retenues.
Interrogée sur le lien entre réussite du projet et nombre de propositions retenues dans le cadre de leurs activités, Petra Reiter a répondu qu'en fait, même si le développement de capacités constitue l'élément le plus important, les propositions comptent également pour connaître de belles réussites et prouver que la collaboration peut offrir de véritables opportunités.
Petra Reiter pense également que les scientifiques des deux régions bénéficieraient dans une large mesure d'une intensification de la collaboration. Pour les chercheurs européens, la Sibérie représente un réservoir encore intact de compétences technologiques pouvant apporter une valeur significative aux projets de collaboration. Quant aux scientifiques du DFS, la participation aux programmes communautaires leur permettra de se familiariser au processus de soumission de propositions formelles et leur offrira des avantages significatifs sur le plan professionnel. Et l'expérience acquise permettra d'instaurer un climat de confiance entre les chercheurs de l'UE et de Russie, ce qui ne peut qu'être positif.

CORDIS NOUVELLES RDT/© Communautés européennes
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    Национальная программа развития водородной энергетики в России "с привлечением целевых средств федерального бюджета и частных инвестиций может быть принята до конца 2005 года", считает академик Месяц.

The academician underlined that, according to the experts' estimations, the need in primary energy will grow 60-70 percent more by 2030. He says that limited amount of hydrocarbon fuel makes countries active in developing alternative and hydrogen energy, ITAR TASS reported.
Mesiats notices, that "efforts of our country are isolated, sometimes they are doubled, and financing is diffused". For example, three Russian Institutions (Russian Ministry of Education and Science, Russian Federal Agency of Nuclear Energy and Russian Research Centre "Kurchatov Institute") have their corporate programs on hydrogen energy. On the other hand, the Russian Academy of Science and Norilsk Nikel Company signed three-year agreement on fuel cells and hydrogen energy development. Financial investment is 120 million dollars, from this account Norilsk Nikel has already allocated 30 million dollars this year. The expected result of scientists' co-operation is pilot models of hydrogen power installations.
"Only systematic co-ordination of scientists' efforts in the frames of the Russian national program, and its targeted financing, will help Russia to achieve good results in hi-tech and low-cost hydrogen energy development", Mesiats underlined.

(c) BELLONA
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    Ученые из Института биологии развития им. Н.К. Кольцова и НИИ глазных болезней им. Гельмгольца предлагают лечить глубокие ожоги роговицы путем трансплантации "живого" эквивалента стромы (основная опорная структура органов, тканей и клеток) на поврежденные участки. Метод уже протестирован, у большинства пациентов наблюдается значительное улучшение.

Specialists of the Koltsov Institute of Developmental Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Gelmgolts Scientific Research Institute of Eye Diseases suggest that deep burns of cornea should be treated by transplanting artificial equivalent of stroma (the tissue directly underlying the cornea) on the affected area. The researchers have developed technique for preparation and transplantation of live equivalent of stroma (LES) and tested it in the clinic on patients with heavy burns of eyes. They managed to help the overwhelming majority of patients.
The share of burns among all eye traumas makes about 38 percent, with considerable proportion of cases involving cornea damage. The cornea is supported by the stroma connective tissue, which also gets damaged in case of deep burns. If the stroma is missing or significantly destroyed, the remaining cornea cells are unable to recover injuries as they have no support. Therefore, the major task in treating cornea defects is stroma recovery. This task is convenient to solve via tissue transfer. Foreign researchers suggest that cell culture taken from a healthy eye should be transplanted on the burnt area. However, such operation poses a serious trauma by itself, which is not always justified.
The Moscow scientists chose another way. They created a live equivalent of stroma - a temporary framework, along which cornea cells could "crawl over" to the damaged area. The live equivalent of stroma represents human fibroblasts inclosed in collagen gel that can be kept for several days. Human fibroblasts were picked out of skin fragments remaining after cosmetic surgery or from the 3- to 5-week abortive material. The method has successfully passed first clinical trials.
The researchers treated 21 patients with severe and extremely severe eye burns. Previously, a lot of volunteers had already tried other treatment modes but without success. The ophthalmologists moved away mortified cells, laid a transplant on the wound and closed the transplant with a soft contact lens. In 3 to 5 days, the transplantation was repeated to reinforce medicinal effect. The live equivalent of stroma allowed not only to preserve traumatized patients' eyes, but even to partially recover eyesight. Treatment efficiency depended on heaviness of stroma affection, condition of eyelids' tissues adjacent to the cornea. If eyelids or conjunctiva had not been affected, and no corneal caligo had occurred, the wound closed within two weeks. Later on, the cornea retained transparency, which allowed to achieve maximum acuity of vision possible in case of such trauma (0.2-0.7). If at the point of treatment the cornea had been blurred, afterwards, acuity of vision did not exceed 0.06. However, with very young patients who started the treatment immediately after burning and cured it quickly, the cornea became more transparent in the course of time.
The researchers believe that the main advantage of the method is its multiple action. Transplanted fibroblasts protect tissues undelying the cornea from negative impact of external factors, create temporary matrix along which the cornea cells can move and close the burn, and excrete growth factors stimulating tissue recovery. As times goes by, the transplant is replaced by the patient's own cells. The authors believe that another advantage of the method lies in the possibility to partially recover transparency of affected cornea.

Copyright © 2003 "Himiya i Zhizn". All rights reserved.
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    Поставив на недавнем заседании на повестку дня законопроект об особых экономических зонах, правительство России продемонстрировало, что страна больше не намерена играть роль поставщика сырья на мировой рынок, какой бы прибыльной эта роль не была. Проблему может решить инновационный прорыв, а в качестве одного из инструментов - особые экономические зоны. Идея сама по себе не нова. С первой половины 90-х по 2002 год было создано 18 свободных экономических зон. Однако почти все властям пришлось ликвидировать, поскольку они превратились во внутренние оффшоры. Теперь Россия намерена сделать вторую попытку.

By placing a Bill on special economic zones on the agenda of a recent session, the Russian government showed that the country was no longer prepared to play the role of a raw materials supplier to the world market, however profitable it may be. An innovation breakthrough, using special economic zones and other instruments, could solve the problem.
This is hardly a new idea for Russia, where 18 free economic zones were created from the early 1990s through 2002. However, the authorities had to close almost all of these, as they had turned into internal offshore zones. Alexei Skopin, a professor at the Higher School of Economics, believes the idea of SEZs was distorted in practice. Indeed, world famous zones were well-considered business projects, whereas in Russia no one calculated how much to invest in projects, or how much a region would gain. The zones came to be used for smuggling and not for economic comforts.
Now that the idea of SEZs is being revived, even this sort of experience is useful. There are many examples to follow through the world, such as Silicon Valley in America, Grenoble in France and Bangalore in India. Given the success there, why not make a second attempt in Russia?
The ministry of economic development and trade has drafted a Bill on SEZs in the Russian Federation. Minister German Gref claims the new law will be fundamentally different from previous ones. It will determine the innovative line, rather than pursue export and trade benefits. President Putin has backed the idea. After visiting the free economic zone in Bangalore and discussing the problem of IT development with scientists in Novosibirsk, the president instructed the government to present a Bill on special economic zones to the State Duma.
Alexander Ustinov, the deputy head of the social and economic reform strategy department of the ministry of economic development and trade, specified that the draft proposes establishing two kinds of zones to distinguish between industrial production and the innovative sphere. The former will embrace an area of no more than 10 sq km and house the production of highly processed goods. Investment must be at least a million euros in the first year of work under contracts and no less than 10 million euros over 10 years (the maximum length of a contract).
Innovation zones will help develop and introduce scientific products. Though smaller, no more than two sq km., they will not be subject to any investment restrictions. Zones of both kinds will operate for a maximum of 20 years, after which the results of the experiment will be analysed. The ministry says the uniform social tax will be cut to 14% for the zones. It also suggests a free customs regime and promises to simplify the registration procedure for residents in such zones. Moreover, mandatory tax inspections will be conducted only once in three years. Residents of free economic zones will also be guaranteed against changes in federal and local legislation, while their contracts are valid.
Russia has evidently come up with a good and promising business. However, is it reasonable to combine two absolutely different concepts, production zones similar to Chinese ones and high-tech zones of the American or French type, in one Bill? There is ample space for both kinds in Russia. Production zones can be based in southern Siberia, the Kemerovo and Tomsk regions and the Far East, where they are likely to attract Korean, Chinese and, probably, Indian investors. Indeed, they can make a profit on the Russian market, given the proximity of production facilities and, consequently low risks and tight control of the situation. Privileges will reduce the cost of production and thus fuel domestic demand.
Russia already has a successful economic zone, the Kaliningrad region, where the defence industry has been converted to produce civilian output. The European Union has supported many projects there, which has led to the emergence of car assembly plants and the production of domestic appliances. Therefore, Russia's new free economic zones must work for the domestic market.
However, experience shows that production supported by the state to provide the domestic market with cheap products tends to put out non-competitive goods in the long run. Bureaucracy and corruption finally discredit the idea. An assumption was made during the discussion of the Bill that any expensive budget project is sure to fail unless the state management system is reformed.
The concept of innovative zones is based on completely different logic. Silicon Valley shows that this kind of zone must be developed around a large university and a number of scientific research centres. The core of the project is financing the latter. Silicon Valley is known to have only started developing owing to a major defence order. The scheme was the same as with other zones, in Grenoble on the Côte d'Azur and in Japan. A union of science and the military creates an infrastructure zone and new production facilities, which put a research centre design on the assembly line.
This model can be applied in three places in Russia: Moscow, St. Petersburg and Novosibirsk. It is worth mentioning that the American model for such high-tech associations was used in the Soviet era. Akademgorodok in Novosibirsk received numerous orders from the defence and research and production enterprises.
Business currently developing in Russia is based on raw materials. There is no need for domestic technology research, because western technologies are already being used. Accordingly, Russia's main problem is to find a source to finance scientific research. Of course, the law cannot solve this problem and a sound policy needs to be worked out in this sphere. Interestingly, IT and other high-processing businesses that would be most interested in the new law are not enthusiastic about the Bill. "This law is not about technoparks," says Oleg Byakhov, of the department of information society development strategy, ministry of information technologies and communications. "It cannot solve the problems of the IT sector."

© 2005: Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd. All rights reserved throughout the world
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    Академик Жорес Алферов считает необходимым государственное регулирование исследований в области нанотехнологий. Отсутствие регулирующего механизма может привести к "провалу" этой многообещающей отрасли российской промышленности.

MOSCOW, April 1 (Itar-Tass) - Absence of a clear government regulatory mechanism in the field of nano-technologies may bring about to a complete failure of that extremely promising branch of the industry in Russia, Nobel Prize-winning academician Zhores Alfyorov said at a roundtable conference in the upper house of Russian parliament.
"By 2015, the use of nano-technologies in all spheres will have a crucial role in the economy, technology and science in Russia only if tough regulatory mechanisms are developed now," Dr Alfyorov said.
"At this moment, Russian government doesn't coordinate research in that area and financial allocations for it are many dozen percent smaller than in the U.S.," said Viktor Shudegov, the chairman of the upper house's committee for science, culture, education, healthcare and ecology.
"Patents in nano-technologies have been booming here in recent years, but there's no market for them yet," he said.
Shudegov indicated at the same time that private investors had already shown interest in nano-technologies.
Alexander Klimenko, the deputy director of the Russian Agency for Science, said a competition was underway to select the most promising projects in nano-technologies.
"A total of 494 organizations filed 750 projects and a special commission selected 42 of them," he said.
They embraced the rational use of natural resources and counteraction to biological terrorism. Those 42 projects will get government financing, Klimenko said. The government allocated 2 billion rubles for development of nano-technologies this year, he indicated.

© ITAR-TASS. All rights reserved.
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