Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Июнь 2005 г.
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2005 г.
Российская наука и мир
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)
январь февраль март апрель май июнь июль август сентябрь октябрь ноябрь декабрь
    Ученые Санкт-Петербурга провели митинг, протестуя против реформы Российской академии наук. Собравшиеся выразили убеждение, что "нужна не реформа, а адаптация РАН к новым условиям".

Quelque 300 scientifiques ont manifesté mercredi à Saint-Pétersbourg (nord-ouest) pour protester contre une réforme de la recherche qui prévoit notamment la privatisation de leurs instituts et signifierait "la mort de la recherche fondamentale" selon eux.
"La privatisation de la science est en contradiction avec les intérêts nationaux et signifie la mort de la recherche fondamentale russe", a affirmé parmi les manifestants Alexandre Zinoviev, professeur de l'Institut de physique de Saint-Pétersbourg.
Le projet du ministère russe de l'Education prévoit notamment de ne maintenir à l'horizon 2008 que 100 à 200 instituts de recherche au sein des structures de l'Académie des sciences, au lieu des près de 2.400 existant actuellement, alors que les autres seraient privatisés ou fermés.
"Non à la destruction de la recherche fondamentale!", clamaient les pancartes des manifestants qui exigent également une hausse du financement de la science russe et du salaire des scientifiques.
"La science russe a besoin d'une réforme mais pas d'une telle réforme, qui peut la détruire completement", a declaré dans les rangs des scientifiques en colère Viktor Balakine, astronome.

© AFP
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    Уникальный прибор на основе кремниевых светодиодов разработали питерские физики - сотрудники Физико-технического института им. А.Ф.Иоффе РАН и Санкт-Петербургского государственного электротехнического университета. Излучение дальнего инфракрасного (ИК) диапазона длин волн, которое генерирует это устройство, поможет вылечить в обычной больнице даже такие ожоги, справиться с которыми прежде удавалось лишь в специализированных ожоговых центрах.

St Petersburg (Russia) researchers suggest that infrared emission should be used to treat burns. The Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises (FASIE) will help the authors in the framework of the "Start" program to develop and begin production of devices required for such treatment based on silicon light-emitting diodes.
A unique device based on silicon light-emitting diodes was developed by the St. Petersburg physicists - specialists of the Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, and the St. Petersburg State Electrotechnical University. Emission of far infra-red range of wave-lengths generated by this device will help to cure in an ordinary hospital even such burns that could be previously treated only in specialized burn centers. The Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises ( FASIE ) will help the researchers to arrange production of remarkable devices.
"The fact that the far infrared emission promotes quicker healing of burns can be considered ascertained," - says project manager, Professor Bagrayev, Doctor of Science ( Physics&Mathematics ). "We have already made sure of that through applying the small-size device developed by us, which proved well in treating arthrosis, wounds, ulcers and bedsore. It has turned out that in case of burns the device helps very efficiently: affected surface heals quicker and hurts less. However, irradiation of a large surface accordingly requires the radiation source of a larger flat area than the one previously used."
"The problem is that until now there existed no far infrared radiation sources of a larger flat area. That is why we have patented our apparatus and treatment mode not only in Russia but also abroad. The radiation spectrum required for efficient treatment should be wideband one, from 3.5 through 40 microns, while all previously known far infrared light-emitting diodes either had narrow radiation spectrum and were expensive or provided strong parasitic effect - emission in the near infrared area. That is, they heat up the patient too much and can even burn the patient, which is absolutely unacceptable."
The far infrared range panel emitters developed by the group under guidance of N.T. Bagrayev are based on silicon. The researchers have developed technology, which allows to grow extra small p-n barriers ( only two to three nm deep ) on the surface of single-crystalline silicon, i.e. tiny radiating light-emitting diode elements parted by 2 nm thick barriers.
However, the value of that structure would have been low, if the authors did not invent the way to reinforce emission from these extrasmall light-emitting diodes. And they did invent it! The researchers learned to grow a resonator layer on the same plate - silicon microscopical pyramidia, covering all over the formerly smooth crystal boundary, consisting of multitude radiating elements.
Based on such well-disposed rows of silicon light-emitting diodes, the researchers have now learned to produce large panels ( the square being 1.8 m x 0.6 m ), each of the panel will contain 108 pieces. Final clinical trials of the new device in the Vishnevsky Scientific Research Institute are scheduled for April this year, but the authors do not expect any troublesome surprises: all preliminary tests have been successful. Moreover, the researchers are sure that the device they have developed will be efficient even in cases that seemed hopeless so far- i.e., patients in shock condition, with large area of burns.
The first infrared devices for treating burns are scheduled for release already by the end of 2006. These vitally important devices will be produced by a small-scale enterprise to be set up in the framework of the "Start" program with the help of the Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises. The enterprise will be called "Dipole Structures".

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    BELLONA / 2005-05-24
    Russian Supreme Court to handle spy case of researcher Valentin Danilov
    The Russian Supreme Court should set a date within a month for the hearing on Valentin Danilov's case.
    Верховный суд РФ должен назначить в течение месяца дату рассмотрения кассационной жалобы адвокатов ученого-теплофизика Валентина Данилова, осужденного за государственную измену. 24 ноября 2004 Красноярский краевой суд приговорил года Валентина Данилова к 14 годам лишения свободы по обвинению в госизмене в пользу Китая. Сам Данилов неоднократно заявлял, что информация, с которой он работал, была рассекречена более 10 лет назад и освещалась в научных журналах.

His lawyer Anna Stavitskaya said to RIA-Novosti on May 18 that the Supreme Court received the case files and according to the law should set a datewithin a month for the hearing concerning Danilov's cassational appeal agains the last year verdict on his case.
November last year, the investigation found that Danilov passed the results of research conducted for the Russian Defence Ministry to officials of the All-China Import-Export Company Precision Engineering and the Lanzhou Institute of Physics in 1999. At that time, Danilov headed the Thermo-Physics Centre at the Krasnoyarsk State Technical University. He was also accused of having taken over 450,000 rubles belonging to the university using his authority and forging financial documents. The scientist did not plead guilty.
Danilov's research dealt with the effect of solar activity on space satellites. In December 2003 he was cleared of the charges but in June 2004 the Supreme Court cancelled that verdict and sent his case for a retrial with another group of judges. Dr. Danilov has consistently maintained that the information he is accused of selling has been available in scientific journals and had been declassified for over 10 years.

© BELLONA - Reuse and reprint recommended provided source is stated
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    Обширные леса на севере России - одна из последних больших глухих областей мира. Они - легкие северного полушария, которые поглощают углекислый газ на всем пространстве от Европы до Сибири. Сейчас этим "легким" угрожают беспрецедентные по частоте и силе лесные пожары.

The vast forests of northern Russia are one of the last great wilderness areas of the world. They are the lungs of the northern hemisphere, soaking up the carbon dioxide emissions that float across Siberia on the prevailing winds from the industrial regions to the west. Yet they are also under threat from an unprecedented surge in the number, frequency and scale of forest fires.
Twenty years ago forest fires destroyed about two million hectares of Siberian forests - the loss of an area the size of Wales. Last year 22 million hectares - about half the size of France - were lost to fire. Russian forestry scientists said they were bracing themselves for this year's fire season, which starts in late June.
Siberia's largest forest, the taiga, accounts for one fifth of the world's total forested land and contains half of the planet's evergreen forest. Yet in the space of a couple of decades this seemingly unlimited expanse of trees has suffered an unprecedented tenfold increase in the rate of deforestation caused by fire.
Lightning strikes in the dry summer months have meant that forest fires have always been a natural feature of the Siberian taiga. But Anatoly Sukhinin, head of the forest fire laboratory at the Sukachev Institute of Forest in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, said that global warming, government underfunding and arson by loggers had caused a dramatic and unnatural surge in the number of fires.
"Late June and early July is when fires are most likely to occur and we are expecting some very fierce fires then," Dr Sukhinin said. "It is getting worse and it is a fact. The extent of fires and the extent of emissions is on the rise in the Russian federation," he said.
"There has been at least a tenfold increase in the size of the area. You ask me about why this is happening? There are two factors in play here. One factor is global warming, and there is absolutely no doubt that this is happening. Global warming results in more extreme droughts, greater droughts, longer droughts, and more frequent droughts," Dr Sukhinin added.
"The other factor is underfunding. We are critically underfunded. We cannot do a good job to preserve and protect our forests. There is very little money to fund such work. We have some equipment left from the old times, we have some organisational support, but they are critically underfunded by the government. We are practically penniless. There is not enough money," Dr Sukhinin said.
In Russia, forests are under federal protection and it is up to the government in Moscow to make all the important funding decisions, he said.
"One of the reasons why the federal government is not doing a good job putting out all these forest fires is that our timber does not cost that much. Our forests are pretty inexpensive, at least in comparison to foreign timber and foreign markets, and once there is a fire, the area affected by the fire costs nothing and is of minimal market value," he said.
But part of the reason for the explosive growth in the number of forest fires in Siberia is also due to deliberate arson by criminals who use fires as an excuse to exploit the system of logging licences. The federal government in Moscow issues cheaper licences when the land has already been scarred by a fire, even though much of the timber is still perfectly useable - often only the foliage and undergrowth is destroyed, which makes tree-felling even easier.
"After a fire, the timber improves and is even better, it comes in better quality after a fire, and that is the time when people can come in, fell the trees, and sell the timber to China and get good money," Dr Sukhinin said.
"The Chinese pay good money, and they pay the same money for timber from affected areas as for timber from unaffected areas, and that is the reason for the arson. If you want to fell good forests that have not been affected by fires, you have to pay a lot for the licence. But affected-area licences are pretty cheap," he said. The Sukachev Institute of Forest in Krasnoyarsk - where the British Council last week launched an exhibition on global warming called Zero Carbon City - is Russia's pre-eminent centre for forestry research. Yet the institute has seen its resources dwindle since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1992.
Even though Russia has developed its own fire-fighting aircraft for the export market, the institute has none of its own planes and has had to resort to expensive leasing arrangements, often with foreign companies.
"If we have to use an aircraft we have to pay for the lease of the aircraft. We don't own our own aircraft fleet. The leasing is pricey, that's why we don't have enough aircraft at our disposal to be effective against forest fires," Dr Sukhinin said.
"Most of the time we have to lease these aircraft from abroad, not locally. Russia leases and sells these aircraft to foreign countries but doesn't have any of its own," he said.
One practical development since the fall of the Soviet Union has been the dramatic increase in active collaboration between the Sukachev Institute and Western scientists. The American space agency, Nasa, has for instance supplied vital satellite data to help the Russians to track forest fires in the remoter regions of Siberia.
In one satellite image taken in June 2003, for instance, some 157 fires across an area of 11 million hectares could be monitored simultaneously. The smoke plumes from this conflagration reached Kyoto in Japan, about 5,000 miles away.
But the effects of Siberia's gigantic fires can be felt much further afield. In the same year, smoke from Siberian forest fires affected the air quality in the west coast American city of Seattle across the Pacific Ocean. In the first week of June, Seattle's air monitors recorded levels of ground-level ozone that were 17 parts per billion by volume higher that they would otherwise have been, pushing levels over the health limits set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Dan Jaffe, an environmental scientist at the University of Washington, Bothell, said that in the past the possibility of long-range transport of pollutants was not considered to be particularly significant. "What we're finding is that these events can bring in significant levels of pollution, even to urban areas where the levels already are relatively high," Dr Jaffe said.
"Siberia has perhaps warmed more than anywhere else on the planet in the past 50 years. If there is increasing burning in Siberia, then we will see higher levels of ozone [in Seattle]," he said.
It may seem strange that a forest fire in one part of the world can cause effects in another, but weather patterns do not respect national boundaries and the size of the Siberian forests means that fires can run out of control for weeks on end.
It is difficult to comprehend the sheer scale of the Siberian forests, which extend from the Urals in the west to the Pacific coast of the Kamchatka peninsula in the Russian far east. Some of the forests are so remote that they have been barely explored, let alone exploited.
The trees range from evergreens such as larch, pine, spruce, fir and Siberian pine to deciduous species such as lime, oak and birch, which grow mainly in southern regions. Long winters and short summers mean that trees are slow growing and even a 200-year-old larch can have a slender trunk.
Eyvgeni Petrenko, a former director of the Sukachev Institute and veteran forester of 50 years standing, estimates that between 30 and 50 per cent of the Siberian forests are completely pristine and untouched by human activities. Most of these regions are in the north and north-eastern Russia, where larch trees are even able to grow on the permafrost, which extends for between 100 and 300 metres below the ground.
A distinctive feature of Siberia's forests is that most of them - some 70 per cent - grow on ground that is permanently frozen. In principle this should make them more resistant to fires because the ground remains soggy during the summer months, yet with warmer, drier summers even this has not made them immune to fire.
And when fires do begin in these permafrost regions, the ground is changed permanently. Trees are unable to grow back as easily as in the warmer regions to the south. "Forest fires have always been a natural feature of Siberia and they have in the past been of little concern. But we know that people set fire to the forest intentionally. We see a lot of it on the border with China and Korea," Dr Petrenko said.
The link between people and forest fires was confirmed earlier this year in a landmark study conducted by Nasa scientists using an imaging instrument on board the space agency's Terra satellite. The moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer instrument was able to compare the location of forest fires in central Siberia over a three-year period with the position of roads, railways, towns, cities and other industrial sites. The scientists found a clear correlation, which suggested human activities rather than lightning strikes were responsible for many of the worst forest fires.
Katalin Kovacs, a scientist at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland, who led the study which was published in the journal Earth Interactions, said that there was some anecdotal evidence to suggest that many fires were caused when people built small fires to temporarily stay warm outdoors, keep insects away from cattle, cook, or burn rubbish. One speculative suggestion is that the wind may carry the sparks from these fires by accident to a nearby forest area.
The researchers, however, also found a strong correlation between the location of forest fires and areas of agricultural land where farmers deliberately set fire to the stubble. Forest fires were much more likely in these regions than in forested areas well away from farmland. Although Russia has signed up to the Kyoto agreement on climate change, there is still a feeling in the higher echelons of its national academy of sciences that global warming is part of a natural cycle of climate change rather than a man-made phenomenon. This mood emerged last week during a scientific debate in Krasnoyarsk between Russian and British scientists organised by the British Council as part of its Zero Carbon City exhibition. Some senior Russian scientists said that the Kyoto agreement was part of an attempt by Western countries to stifle Russia's economic development by penalising its use of energy.
However, other scientists in Russia clearly see Kyoto as an opportunity rather than a threat. They want to deal in carbon credits, the "currency" devised under the agreement where countries with large forests and relatively small industrial emissions - such as Russia - can sell their credits on the open market.
Anatoly Sukhinin of the Sukachev Institute said that carbon trading should be exploited by Russia as a means of supporting the protection of its forests. Dr Sukhinin said: "Our industry is not that large, really, so we are not polluting that much. We are lucky to have our forests and forest preservation should really be a priority."
"We should try to protect our forests, because they are the lungs of the planet: they absorb carbon dioxide, and it looks to me like these huge forests are currently being devoured by a powerful lung cancer."  

© 2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.
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    Способ создания инсулина в таблетках вместо инъекций предложили московские химики. Они разработали полимерную капсулу, которая защищает инсулин от разрушительного действия желудочного сока. Работа выполнена при финансовой поддержке Министерства промышленности, науки и технологий России в рамках международного научного сотрудничества.

The Moscow chemists have suggested a way to produce insulin in pills instead of injections. They have developed polymeric capsules that would protect insulin from destructive effect of digestive juices. The research has been accomplished with financial support of the Ministry of Industry, Science and Technology of Russia within the framework of international scientific cooperation.
Once insulin appeared, diabetes mellitus is no longer a verdict for the patients. However, to control the sugar level in blood, diabetics have to make injections on a regular basis up to several times a day, which undoubtedly makes their life more difficult. The lack of timely injection may result in fatal outcome. The pills would significantly simplify their life. However, the fact that insulin gets quickly destroyed when it appears in acid medium of the stomach does not exclude but significantly complicates creation of pilled insulin. Researchers of the Chemical Faculty, Lomonosov Moscow State University, have found the way to protect insulin from digestive juices' destructive effect and to preserve the ability to perform its function.
To introduce insulin in the organism, the Russian chemists suggested that multi-layer polymeric capsules should be used. These polymeric capsules are stable and remain intact in acid medium, and in neutral medium, capsules gradually excrete insulin.
To create such capsules, the researchers used two polymers - positive protamin and negative dextransulphate. They formed layers in series one upon the other according to the plus towards minus principle and made a multi-layer covering around the insulin filling, which makes up to 85 percent of the entire microparticle.
Insulin covered by protective capsule is stable at pH from 1.7 to 5 units, when pH increases higher than 5 units, insulin gets released. Further pH increase up to 8 units results in accelerated protein release rate. Such behavior of particles occurs due to the fact that at pH higher than 5.5 insulin acquires negative charge and its bond with the negatively charged polymer of the first layer - dextransulphate - gets destroyed. Such pH-dependence of protective polymeric capsules provides fundamental capability to create insulin in pills. In the stomach, where medium is extremely acid, these capsules would protect the insulin molecule and would not allow its destruction. Having gone through the stomach and having reached the small intestine and ileum, where pH reaches 6 to 8 units, capsules will start to excrete insulin intensely. In thin intestines, insulin can penetrate blood. Therefore, the capsule determines by itself where insulin should be retained in closed form and where it should be released.
The polymers used to create capsules belong to natural biodegradable polymers. After utilization they get easily destroyed by enzymes and removed from the organism without causing any harm to health.

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    Стентирование используется в сосудистой хирургии, чтобы избежать повторного сужения сосудов. Стент представляет собой конструкцию в виде каркаса, как правило, изготовленную из металла. Группа красноярских исследователей провела испытания стентов с полимерным покрытием.

A group of Russian researchers have tested characteristics of a new polymeric coating for vascular stents, concluding that stents with these materials have advantages as compared to standard metallic ones.
In the animal study, researchers at the Krasnoyarsk regional department of morbid anatomy have used polymers of fatty acids' oxyderivatives (polyhydroxyalkanoates or PHAs) - biocompatible and biodegradable materials of microbe origin as coating stent material. PHAs, which practically do not provoke immune reactions, are highly believed in by vascular sturgeons who are planning to make prosthetic cardiac valves of this material and to use it for angioplasty.
The PHA synthesis, isolation and purification technique was developed in the Institute of Biophysics (Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences). The technique allows to get high-purity samples tolerant to contact with blood. The researchers carried out all necessary investigations, including acute and chronic experiments with laboratory animals, and made sure that PHAs are biocompatible with cells, tissues and the organism as a whole.
The polymer was used to cover stents for peripheral vessels made of nitinol - nickel/titanium alloy. Intravascular stents (0.8 mm in diameter, 10 mm long) were introduced under anaesthetic into the femoral artery of laboratory dogs. Investigations carried out in two and twelve weeks after the operation proved that vessels were patent in all cases, artery lumen was not constricted. Stems with polymeric coating have proved to be better in every respect than metal ones. With their implantation, inflammatory reaction is much weaker, therefore they caused significantly less reactive changes of the vascular wall and did not provoke thrombi formation.
Within twelve weeks all stents, as expected, grew into vessel tissues, having plunged into its wall. In case of nitinol stent with polymeric coating, the wall of a vessel practically did not thicken, while in the vessels with metal stent it was significantly thicker than the standard.

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    Уникальный материал на основе белков паутины создают российские исследователи из ГНЦ РФ "ГосНИИгенетика", Научно-исследовательского центра "Углехимволокно", и Института молекулярной биологии РАН совместно с учеными из Мичиганского университета при поддержке Международного научно-технического центра (МНТЦ) (проект 1033.2).

A unique material based on cobweb proteins is being created by Russian researchers of the State Research Center of Russian Federation GosNIIgentics, Scientific Research Center "Coal-Chemical Fiber", State Research Center of Applied Microbiology in cooperation with their colleagues from Michigan University with support form the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) (project 1033.2).
The spider's hunting net is built from several different proteins. Researchers are mostly interested in the proteins of cobweb framework filaments, which make them extremely strong (the rupture strength of these filaments is several times higher than that of steel) and elastic at the same time. Cobweb framework filaments consist of two proteins: spidroin-1 and spidroin-2. They differ slightly in their properties: spidroin-1 is considered to be stronger, and spidroin-2 - more elastic. Together they account for unique properties of spider's web. Such material would prove useful for multiple purposes, but fist of all - for medicine: as suture material, artificial ligaments and tendons, films for healing wounds and burns, etc.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to synthesize these proteins chemically in a laboratory - they are too complicated. However, it is possible to get the protein by synthesizing a respective gene and making it work within the composition of some microorganism. The scientists have chosen this particular biotechnological way.
At the first stage of the project (June 1999 through May 2000), the researchers focused on obtaining spidroin-1. The problem is that the structure of this protein has not been fully decoded, and the international database does not contain its complete amino acid sequence. Only fragments are available there. But the researchers decided to try and use the known fragment for the gene synthesis and obtaining a recombinant protein.
They succeeded in synthesizing the gene that codes the spidroin-1fragment, its size making 400 pairs of nucleotides. The gene contained in plasmid was transferred into Saccharomices cerevisiae yeast plants and made sure that the gene does work inside the yeast plant - the yeast produces protein. The researchers developed original methods for educing and rectifying recombinant proteins.With their help the scientists have already produced hundreds of milligrams of the product.
Refined protein should be dissolved, which is a complicated task as the protein solution of such concentration (40 percent) - 400 milligrams in one milliliter - cannot be received by ordinary methods. To dissolve the protein, sodium thiocyanate was used, thus providing the so-called spinning solution. A filament should be spun from it as a spider does. To this end, the researchers developed special methods and got a filament which, however, did not yet possess either cobweb's strength or elasticity.
At the second stage of the project (2002 through 2004), the researchers started to work concurrently to also obtain recombinant spidroin-2. The structure of the most part of this protein is known, but it is extremely complicated. Before the gene for spidroin-2 could be synthesized, it was necessary to thoroughly analyze amino acids sequence in the molecule. Mathematicians addressed the issue and discovered periodically recurrent sequences in the chain. Thanks to that, it became possible to divide the molecule into monomeric units and to handle individual units.
"In such a way we assemble a gene, says Vladimir Bogush. This is a very lengthy work and it has not been finished yet. But our final goal is to get a complete analogue of the spidroin-2 natural gene."
While the researchers are handling the spidroin-2 complicated gene, concurrently a recombinant protein - analogue to spidroin-2 - was received through synthesizing the gene that corresponds to one of its fragments (similar to the way they worked with spidroin-1). The scientists created a gene, inserted it into yeast plants and got the protein. In this case, however, the researchers applied a different species of yeast -Pichia pastoris, special culture of which ideally suits for biotechnological manipulations due to peculiar mutation.
Availability of protein in selected yeast plants is checked by electrophoresis method - a fascia appears on the plate, its position corresponding to its molecular mass.
The yeast grows and produces protein in a special apparatus - fermenter. Some days later, the cell suspension with finished product is partially poured off, fresh cultural medium is added, and the cycle is reiterated. Therefore, the process is called "quasi- continuous".
At this stage, the researchers also improved the process of artificial spinning and learned to get a strong elastic filament. The filament was tested for strength on special devices by the specialists of the Scientific-Research Center "Coal-Chemical Fiber" in the town of Mytishchi. A filament being several microns thick can stand for rupture of 50 to 100 milligrams of weight.
"Our filament has turned out to be only four times less strong than that of a spider, says Vladimir Bogush, project manager, and this is a very good result."
The protein can be used to produce not only filaments but also films. In this form it is supposed to be used for production of healing coating for wounds and burns, which will not be rejected by the organism and will stimulate regeneration of its own epithelium. In the meanwhile, the films produced from recombinant protein were investigated for toxicity in experiments with cell culture. The conclusion made by the researchers is that the films are non-toxic.
When the researchers succeed to finalize the synthesis of a very complicated gene and to get a full natural analogue to spidroin-2, it will be possible to mix two proteins in different ratio changing the properties this or that way and to bring artificial spidery filament to perfection.

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    Глубокое бурение над подледниковым озером Восток в Антарктиде планируется продолжить. До реликтовых вод озера около сотни метров льда. Исследование льда из этой скважины и предстоящее исследование вод озера Восток играет огромную роль в изучении климата и эволюции жизни на нашей планете.

Les glaces de Vostok vont de nouveau être forées par les scientifiques russes, qui ont obtenu une nouvelle autorisation pour creuser un peu plus profondément dans ces glaces millénaires. Les carottes de glace forées dans l'Antarctique sont très précieuses pour connaître l'histoire de la Terre, notamment l'évolution de son climat. Les foreurs russes ont déjà creusé jusqu'à plus de 3.600 mètres dans l'épaisse couche de glace de 4 km qui recouvre le lac Vostok.
Lors de la prochaine campagne de forage ces chercheurs devraient descendre de 50 mètres supplémentaires. Il resterait donc moins d'une centaine de mètres avant d'atteindre l'eau piégée depuis des millions d'années sous la glace. Le lac Vostok s'étend sur 240 km de long et renferme 5.400 km3 d'eau. Il serait composé de deux bassins séparés.
L'équipe russe espère atteindre l'eau en 2007 ou 2008. Le responsable de l'expédition, Valeri Lukin, a declaré à la BBC que son équipe avait mis au point des équipements capables de prélever l'eau sans la contaminer. Ce projet suscite les inquiétudes de nombreux chercheurs qui entendent bien exprimer leurs réserves. Il est vrai que l'enjeu est de taille. L'étude du lac sous-glaciaire de Vostok pourrait nous apprendre beaucoup de choses sur les origines de la vie sur Terre et constituerait une utile répétition avant d'aller explorer les glaces d'Europe, satellite de Jupiter.

© Sciences et Avenir 2003/2004
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    14 июня пройдут первая встреча и переговоры главы Роскосмоса Анатолия Перминова с новым руководителем НАСА Майклом Гриффином о сроках возвращения к полетам шаттлов и будущем МКС. Встреча состоится в Ле-Бурже, где будет проходить международный авиакосмический салон.

La première rencontre et les négociations entre le directeur de l'Agence spatiale russe Anatoli Perminov et le directeur de la NASA américaine, Michael Griffin, sur les délais de reprise des vols de navettes et sur l'avenir de la station spatiale internationale est fixée au 14 juin au Bourget.
Le chef de Roscosmos ne dissimule pas ses craintes suite aux incessants reports du lancement de la navette Discovery.
"Cela nous préoccupe beaucoup. Nous attendons ce lancement depuis février. Nous espérions que la navette partirait au mois de mai. Maintenant ce sera pour juillet mais il y a des rumeurs de nouveau report", a déploré Anatoli Perminov.
"Les engagements de la Russie en matière de transport spatial expirent cette année. Il faut maintenant penser à ce qu'on doit faire en 2006. Il faut réunir tous les partenaires et décider", a-t-il ajouté.
Les vols de navettes américaines ont cessé après la catastrophe de Columbia le 1er février 2003. Depuis, les équipages américains ou internationaux utilisent des Soyouz russes pour se rendre sur l'ISS tandis que les charges utiles y sont déposées par des cargos russes Progress.

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    Российская академия наук подвела итоги первого этапа запущенной весной этого года многосторонней программы по развитию водородной энергетики. Цель программы - создание топливных элементов, разработка комплексов получения, очистки и транспортировки водорода, развитие инфраструктуры водородной энергетики и т.д.

The Russian Academy of Sciences has summed up the results of the first stage of the comprehensive hydrogen-energy program that got underway this spring.
This program's main aim is to develop, finance and implement top-priority high-tech projects, create competitive import-substituting equipment and materials in the field of hydrogen energy and fuel elements.
Production can be begun of 70% of all recent national hydrogen-energy projects. Russian experts have developed fuel elements with solid-polymer electrolyte and the methods required to produce them.
Intensive work is under way on hydrogen-energy programs. The United States, Germany, Japan and Russia have developed experimental hydrogen-powered cars. Some companies, such as Daimler-Chrysler, are considering mass-producing these vehicles in 2006.
What opportunities does Russia have in this sphere? Russian scientists now synthesize cation-conducting polymers that are in no way inferior to their foreign equivalents. The potential of our military-industrial sector means state-of-the-art equipment can be developed. The Norilsk Nickel ore-processing factory, the world's leading platinum and palladium producer, can provide enough strategic feedstock for all the required catalysts. Russia therefore has every chance to launch serial production of hydrogen cars in the next few years.
It has been decided to establish the New Energy Project national innovation company. This company will work with institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences to develop a pilot production process for making fuel elements and hydrogen electro-chemical generators. Production will be mostly sited at the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, which became famous for its Salyut and Mir orbital stations, as well as Soyuz and Progress spacecraft.
Russian industry and major private companies have become interested in the Academy's fundamental research programs in the last few years and want to develop competitive products using them, which would see Russia become a leading high-tech country. And this is vital, because fundamental research is the only way to achieve a technological leap for mankind. 

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