|Российская наука и мир|
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)
В Москве на встрече министров стран-участниц проекта ITER была, наконец, принята декларация о строительстве этого экспериментального реактора ядерного синтеза. Принятие декларации стало итогом трудных переговоров, которые продолжались несколько лет. Реализация проекта была заморожена с декабря 2003 года, после того как у стран - лидеров в области науки возникли разногласия, где его строить. Россия и Китай поддерживали предложение Евросоюза разместить реактор на юге Франции, в окрестностях города Кадараш, а США и Южная Корея выступали за Японию. Наконец решение принято - реактор будет построен во Франции.
Scientists should today finally get the go-ahead to build a prototype nuclear fusion reactor which could offer a clean source of unlimited energy.
Ministers are expected to announce at a meeting in Moscow that a ?7bn experimental reactor, designed to prove the new type of nuclear power is commercially viable, will be built in France. The reactor is intended to produce electricity by harnessing the nuclear reaction at the heart of the sun.
Today's announcement follows years of often bitter negotiations. The international project - called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor or Iter - has been deadlocked since December 2003, when the world's leading scientific pow ers fell out over where to build it. Russia and China supported the EU's plan for Cadarache in southern France while the US and South Korea favoured a rival bid from Japan for Rokkasho.
Reports say Japan has been persuaded to drop its claim in return for lucrative construction contracts.
Unlike conventional nuclear power stations that harness the energy released when atoms split, Iter would work by capturing the heat produced when hydrogen isotopes combine to form helium.
Supporters claim such fusion reactors could produce enough electricity to solve the world's energy demands and, because they would not release carbon dioxide, the problem of global warming. Critics argue that the science is unproven, and say that the promise of nuclear fusion has been 30 years away since the 1960s. Iter will show who is right.
Sir Christopher Llewellyn Smith, director of a fusion research facility called the Joint European Torus (Jet) in Culham, Oxfordshire, said: "It's great news because it will enable us to get on with fusion. Iter is the absolutely vital step on the way to building a real fusion power station."
Experimental reactors such as Jet have proved fusion can work in principle but they have not been able to produce more energy than they use to get the reactions going in the first place. Iter aims to produce 500 megawatts of power, or 10 times its predicted input.
Some problems remain. The US cannot ratify any agreement until Congress looks at complaints from domestic energy researchers that their grants have been slashed to pay the US contribution.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005
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Innovations-Report - Germany / 04.07.2005
An Ear For Robots
Человек без труда узнает знакомое слово независимо от того, с какой интонацией и громкостью оно произнесено. Мозг человека мгновенно отфильтрует смысловую часть от массы фоновых звуков. А вот для машины каждый вариант голоса уникален, поэтому в конце концов в ее памяти собирается огромная библиотека, хранящая тысячи возможных вариантов произнесения одних и тех же слов.
Ученые из Института радиотехники и электроники РАН "научили" компьютер фильтровать индивидуальные особенности и отбрасывать все несущественное. В результате машина приобретает способность даже распознавать отдельные звуки и в уме составлять из них знакомые слова.
A fundamentally new approach to computer identification of words was been suggested by Russian scientists. With its help, people will be able to give orders even to the most primitive cellular phones.
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A sentient being recognizes without difficulty a familiar word regardless of the voice and intonation it is pronounced with. "Six" or "eight" remain six and eight for a person no matter how they are pronounced - in a loud voice or in a whisper, in an excited or a calm voice, by the voice of an old man or a child, by that of a man or a woman. The brain of a person immediately separates the semantic part from the mass of background sounds.
As for a machine, each variant of voice is unique. That is why the speech recognition program usually has to be taught. As a result of training, an enormous library appears in the memory of the silicon brain, where thousands of possible options of pronunciation of the same words (for example, numerals) are stored. Having heard a word, the computer would look through the library and almost certainly something similar to the heard word will be found in it.
The approach suggested by the scientists from the Institute of Radio Engineering and Electronics, Russian Academy of Sciences, is rather human, than machine one: a computer under the researchers' guidance filters individual peculiarities, i.e. picks out the most basic things and rejects all immaterial ones. As a result, the machine even acquires the ability to discern individual sounds and to put together in its mind familiar words from these sounds.
As a result, memory of only 1 KB would be sufficient for a processor to confidently recognize all numerals and some simple commands, however, pronounced only in Russian yet. Several dozens of human beings - men and women, with irreproachable and far-from-ideal articulation - tried to confuse a quick-witted program, pronouncing numerals either in a whisper or in a voice trembling with excitement. However, the computer successfully rejected emotional frequencies as immaterial.
"The prototype software interface developed and established by ourspecialists for the system of data and management commands voice input is intended for mass mobile electronic devices, says the project manager, Vyacheslav Anciperov. Perhaps, the most important and fundamentally new about our work is that we have managed to single out essential elements of speech being guided by the notion of hierarchical structure of speech. Like in a musical composition, one can recognize more or less high levels of organization - rhythm, main theme, arrangement, so we have also learned to single out the ranges in the speech flow (i.e. in the wide frequency spectrum), which carry the major semantic loading. It has turned out that this is a very small part of human speech sounds - only up to 1 KHz. All the rest relates to psychophysis. Thus we simplified the task for the computer to the maximum. And one more thing - we have taught the computer to recognize individual sounds, which is sometimes far from easy. As a result, our system wins in processing speed and in processor time and memory consumption as compared to those of all known similar systems. This is the path to efficient speech processors that nobody has passed yet."
The Sunday Times / July 03, 2005
Russia plans first men on Mars
Российское космическое агентство ищет шестерых добровольцев, готовых провести 15 месяцев в муляже космической капсулы, в рамках подготовки к полету человека на Марс. Россия планирует организовать пилотируемую экспедицию к Красной планете в 2015 году, на 15 лет раньше, чем это предполагают сделать США. Агентству необходимо выяснить, как долгое пребывание в замкнутом пространстве сказывается на физическом и психологическом состоянии космонавтов. Оно уже получило более 40 заявлений со всего мира. Отбор начнется осенью. В начале будущего года экипаж приступит к испытаниям и тренировкам, а затем проведет 458 дней в герметически закрытом муляже космического корабля. По оценкам, полет и возвращение на Землю займут именно столько времени.
RUSSIA'S space agency is looking for six volunteers to spend 15 months locked in a mock space capsule as part of its plan to put a man on Mars.
The Soviet Union sent the first man into space but was beaten to the moon - and now Russia is planning a manned mission to the red planet as early as 2015 - 15 years before an expected American attempt.
The agency needs to test the physical and psychological effects of long confinement on its cosmonauts. It has already received more than 40 applications from around the world. Selection will begin in the autumn.
Early next year the crew will be subjected to rigorous tests and training before they enter a hermetically sealed mock space craft for up to 458 days - the estimated time of the return flight.
"It's a unique experiment," said Mark Belakovsky of the Centre for Medical and Biological Problems, which will take part in the project.
"No one can really be completely sure of what to expect on such a long mission."
The volunteers, who will be subjected to both weightlessness and the reduced gravity of Mars, will be under constant observation. Their capsule will have a gym, a television and a small laboratory where they will grow salad to supplement their rations.
They will be able to wash only with baby wipes and lotions. Crew members will simulate serious illness to train the others to be self- sufficient. They will also be required to perform mock surgery on each other.
"Living conditions on the way to Mars will be very harsh," said Belakovsky. "Radiation levels will be high and temperatures will vary in the extreme. In addition there is the danger of intense flashes from the sun which could cause dangerous magnetic problems. It's a tough journey and we want to simulate what it will be like."
Copyright 2005 Times Newspapers Ltd.
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Innovations Report - Germany / 04.07.2005
Family Portraits Of Russian Regions
Российские генетики провели исследования генофонда русского народа, используя вместо генетических маркеров часто встречающиеся фамилии. Геногеографический анализ показал, что, определяя степень сходства населения различных территорий по составу фамилий, можно получить достоверную информацию о генетическом сходстве популяций. Работа поддержана грантами РФФИ и РГНФ.
Gene pool of the Russian nation may be investigated using people's surnames instead of genetic markers. This is being performed by Russian researchers supported by the Russian Foundation for the Humanities (RFH) and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR).
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Researchers use people's surnames as a special class of genetic markers, with the help of which one can judge of internal diversity of human populations and relative connections between them. In Russia, specialists of the Laboratory of Human Population Genetics (Medicogenetic Research Center, Russian Medical Academy of Sciences) are carrying out this research. Within the last three years, the researchers collected and analyzed enormous quantity of data and for the first time got the opportunity to compare rural population of major groups of the Russian nation across the entire pool of surnames. The researchers came to the conclusion that the Russian surnames suit for analysis not only of individual groups but of the whole nation.
So far, geneticists have analyzed surname distribution across five regions of Russia that were conventionally called Western, Eastern, Northern, Southern and Central regions. These researches by the Moscow scientists were carried out with the help of their colleagues from Belgorod State University, Northern State Medical University (Arkhangelsk), Smolensk Medical Academy and the Kuban State Medical Academy (Maikop). The researchers studied the lists of indigenous countrymen from the age of 18. Among almost a million people representing more than 800 populations, the researchers counted about 50 thousand different surnames. The three fourths of them are rare surnames, i.e., they belong to less than five adult inhabitants of the region. Such surnames were excluded from the analysis and only most frequent ones were investigated.
It has tuned out that "All-Russian" surnames are more typical of the Eastern, Western and Central regions, such as: Smirnov, Levedev, Kuznetsov, Sokolov, Ivanov, Vinogradov, Kozlov, Vasiliev, Petrov, Novikov. The Northern and Southern regions differ significantly from the pool of Russian surnames. Surprisingly, but in both of these "peculiar" regions the first place was occupied by the same surname (Popov). However, it was followed by local surnames. In the Southern region, these surnames are Goncharov, Shevchenko, Kolesnikov, Bondarenko, Tkachenko; in the Northern region - Khromtsov, Bulygin, Potashev, Ryabov, Chernousov and Bobretsov.
It was very important to find common surnames over the entire Russian areal. The researchers determined 257 of such surnames, i.e., every fiftieth surname is found in all the five regions but with different frequency. For example, the family name Smirnov is more frequently found in the Eastern region and less frequently - in the Central region; Ivanov - in the Western and Central regions, Popov and Ponomarev - in the Northern region. The surname Volkov is the leader mainly in the Central, Western and Eastern regions. Only the Southern region plays an insignificant role: only the Kovalevs are numerous there, but less than in the Western region. Contrary to the diffused opinion that the most common Russian surnames are Ivanov-Petrov-Sidorov, it has turned out that out of 25 most frequent common surnames, only 8 surnames are derived from the names of the Orthodox calendar, along with that these 8 surnames are far from being leaders in the list. Only the Ivanovs are among the first top ten frequent surnames.
The Central region is represented by the smallest sampling in the research (only 25 thousand people). Nevertheless, this region indeed takes the central place not only geographically but also in the area of Russian surnames. The list of 50 most common surnames of the Western and Eastern regions and their frequency are quite close to that of the Central region. There are few specific "Central region" surnames (Belousov, Rumiantsev, Blinov, Rybakov, Gorshkov, Skvortsov, Voronin, Zhuravlev, Sobolev, Bobrov). And the Northern region, the peculiarity of which is evident, demonstrates a large number of differences, which are still much fewer that those in the most peculiar region (the Southern region).
Each genetic marker has its own typical areal. It is also applicable to Russian surnames. Thus, the surname Vasiliev, raking the third place among calendar-derived surnames, is spread in the west and north-west of the Russian areal, and it is not represented in the east and south-east of the areal. The Kovalevs (the third place among profession-derived surnames) compactly inhabit the Bryanksk and Smolensk Regions. The researchers assumed that Kovalev and Kuznetsov surnames were not to be found together, but these surnames' areals overlap. The surname Soloviev, the tenth in the list of the all-Russian names and the fourth in the list of animal-derived surnames is absent in the north and the south-east of the Russian areal, however, it is found along its edge from the south (at the Don river mouth) to the north (Lake Onega). However, the Solovievs are most common in the middle zone of Russia (the Tver and Kostroma Regions).
According to the surname frequency data, geneticists have built a map for 49 regions, which allows to forecast the level of accidental kindred marriages. Evidently the level of such marriages and respectively the burden of hereditary diseases grows steadily from the south-west towards the east.