Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Февраль 2011 г.
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Февраль
2011 г.
Российская наука и мир
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)
январь февраль март апрель май июнь июль август сентябрь октябрь ноябрь декабрь

    Maxisciences / le 07 février 2011
    Le lac Vostok gardera ses mystères une année de plus
    5 февраля было прекращено бурение скважины над озером "Восток". Специалисты из Российской Антарктической экспедиции (РАЭ) достигли отметки 3720 м, осталось пройти около 30 м. Буровые работы планируется возобновить во второй половине декабря 2011 года в ходе 57-й Российской антарктической экспедиции.

Les scientifiques russes n'ont pas réussi à achever le forage des glaces et à atteindre à temps le lac Vostok, en Antarctique. Désormais, les conditions météorologiques rendent impossible tout travail et les scientifiques doivent attendre un an de plus pour percer les mystères du lac subglaciaire.
L'expédition russe envoyée en Antarctique a perdu sa course contre la montre. Celle-ci devait avant le 6 février, date qui marque la fin de l'été austral sur le continent, percer les quelques dizaines de mètres qui la séparait du lac Vostok, le plus grand lac subglaciaire du continent.
Mais le forage intensif de ces deux derniers mois n'a pas suffi. Depuis la reprise en décembre dernier de ce projet, les scientifiques se relayaient jour et nuit sur le site pour accélérer le travail et tenter de l'achever avant la date fatidique. Selon les dernières mesures, le forage avait atteint plus de 3.700 mètres de profondeur.
Pourtant ce weekend, l'expédition s'est vu contrainte de ranger son matériel et d'interrompre de nouveau son travail pour des raisons climatiques. La fin de l'été austral marque le retour des températures glaciaires et des vents violents, rendant impossible toute activité. Ainsi, les scientifiques devront désormais attendre plus de 9 mois et l'autorisation de la commission nationale russe pour reprendre le forage.
En décembre prochain, il se pourrait qu'ils parviennent enfin à percer les derniers mètres de glace et à prélever de l'eau ultra-pure du lac Vostok. Une fois analysés, ces échantillons permettraient alors, après plus de 20 ans de travail, de révéler les mystères de ce lac piégé depuis des millions d'années et qui pourrait, selon les chercheurs, receler des formes de vie encore inconnues.

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    The Moscow Times / 16 February 2011
    Innovation Academy: Siberian Universities and Centers
    • By Howard Amos, Alec Luhn and Yegor Kiprin
    На Западе инновационные центры часто концентрируются вокруг университетов, обеспечивающих наличие образованных людей и генерирование идей. Какие сибирские вузы и НИИ уже имеют опыт по интегрированию науки, образования и бизнеса?

Centers of innovation often spring up around universities, which provide smart people and cutting-edge ideas. In the 1990s, funding was meager and investment opportunities were limited for Russian institutions of higher education. But a 2009 law allowing universities to invest in small, innovative businesses has led to the opening of more than 500 enterprises and given hope for a revitalization of the ivory tower's role in invention.
Tyumen
In 2006, the Tyumen regional government created a project to develop the West Siberian Oil & Gas Innovation Center with private firms, as well as academic partners such as Tyumen State University, Tyumen State Oil & Gas University and the Tyumen State Medical Academy. The first residents moved into the technopark in 2008, and currently the center is developing projects related to oil and gas, manufacturing, medicine, biotechnology, construction, transportation and energy.
Novosibirsk
Novosibirsk State Technical University is home to about 10 small businesses developing products ranging from the fields of water purification to power supplies for audio systems. The university can support these companies with investment, but more often it provides equipment and laboratory space, as well as human capital in the form of its students and professors.
Scientists at the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics have developed technologies to treat cancer with heavy atomic particles, which are more effective than the electrons and gamma rays currently used in radiation therapy. In 2009, the institute's accelerator complex for cancer treatment with ion and proton beams won a gold medal at the High Technologies-Innovations-Investments congress, and in 2008, the institution signed a contract with a Chinese company for two accelerator complexes that is expected to be fulfilled in 2012.
Kemerovo
The first technopark in the Kemerovo region opened in the city of Kemerovo in 2008. Though an affiliate was opened in the region's largest city, Novokuznetsk, it was recently closed down because of problems with organization and funding. Meanwhile, the Kuzbassky Technopark in Kemerovo, which has set up partnerships with universities in Tomsk, Kemerovo and Novokuznetsk, continues to turn out more projects. In 2010, scientists developed several projects related to the efficiency of burning coal and other fuels, and the resulting technologies are ready to be brought to market.
Tomsk
At Tomsk State Technical University, about 15 businesses - about half of them student-led - have been launched to develop products.
Although the new companies aren't seeing large profits yet, 70 older businesses that have relationships with the university but no investment from the institution are profitable, according to university officials.
Krasnoyarsk
At Siberian Federal University in Krasnoyarsk, inventors often work directly with manufacturers to create a new product or production technique. Currently, experts at RusAl's Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Factory are working with scientists from Siberian Federal University and Moscow State University to develop a production process based on inert anodes. The technology would allow aluminum producers to reduce production costs by 10% and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions during production.
Scientists working under the direction of Mikhail Golovin in the Department of Engineering & Experimental Mechanics of Machines at Siberian Federal University have developed a submersible micro hydroelectric power plant. Once submerged, the micro plant produces electricity from the kinetic energy of water flow. That could be useful for isolated communities where electrical infrastructure is unfeasible or costly.
Irkutsk
An especially bright success story out of Irkutsk State Technical University is the company Technology of Mineral Separation, or TOMS, which was started by an impoverished graduate student looking to make a decent income. Today the company has revenue of about 250 million rubles ($8.5 million) a year by building small ore mining and processing mills based on its own energy-efficient technologies. The university receives 10% of the company's profits, and many of its students get work experience at TOMS.

© Copyright 1992-2011. The Moscow Times. All rights reserved.
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    Paris Match / Mercredi 26 Janvier 2011
    Russie. Objectif Lune
    • Yannick Vely
    Государственный космический научно-производственный центр им. Хруничева объявил о программе, которую планируется завершить к началу 2040 года. Основной целью этой программы станет промышленное освоение Луны. Для осуществления программы необходимо будет построить пилотируемые и грузовые корабли, модули орбитальной станции и лунной базы.

Une base lunaire habitée par l'homme en 2036. Tel est l'objectif de la "Nasa" russe, le Centre de production et de recherche spatiale Khrounitchev.
L'information n'a pas fait la Une des journaux locaux, bien sûr concentrés sur le terrible attentat de l'aéroport de Moscou. Mercredi, pourtant, le Centre de production et de recherche spatiale Khrounitchev a annoncé un ambitieux programme spatial à l'horizon 2040, avec, comme principal objectif… l'exploitation industrielle de la lune. Pour les spécialistes du Centre Khrounitchev, cités par Ria Novosti, il faudra, pour réaliser ce programme créer des vaisseaux lunaires habités, des cargos lunaires, un module de la station orbitale lunaire, un module de la base lunaire et un remorqueur spatial. Le programme russe de vols habités vers la lune, initialement prévu pour la période 2025-2040, pourrait être accéléré, avec une première station en orbite lunaire dès 2025, chargée de mettre en place la première base lunaire. Le projet est bien avancé.
Le Centre Khrounitchev envisage d'effectuer les tirs du nouveau cosmodrome de Vostotchny, dont la construction devrait être achevée en 2013. Situé dans la région Amour, à l'Extrême-Orient de la Russie, le gigantesque centre spatial remplacera à terme celui de Baïkonour, aujourd'hui situé au Kazakhstan. "Le nouveau cosmodrome permettra de garantir l'indépendance des activités spatiales de la Russie et sa participation sur un pied d'égalité aux activités spatiales internationales", avait indiqué en mars dernier, Viktor Remichevski, directeur adjoint de l'Agence fédérale spatiale russe (Roskosmos), lors du forum des technologies innovantes Infospace. Il s'agit là d'un vrai enjeu géopolitique, alors que jamais la course pour le satellite n'avait concerné autant de pays.
Un partenariat avec l'Inde
En mars dernier, en voyage officiel à New Dehli, le Premier ministre russe, Vladimir Poutine, avait évoqué la coopération russo-indienne à l'occasion d'une conférence de presse. En 2012 puis en 2013, deux sondes dotées d'un générateur à neutrons seront lancé, afin d'étudier la surface lunaire, conformément à un accord bilatéral russo-indien.
L'objectif est bien sûr pour la Russie de diminuer les coûts et surtout de prendre la concurrence de vitesse.
Le premier octobre dernier, le 61e anniversaire de la création de la République populaire de Chine a été fêté par le lancement en grande pompe de la seconde sonde d'exploration lunaire de sa courte histoire spatiale. "Chang'e-2' ouvre la voie à un alunissage en douceur sur le satellite naturel de la Terre ainsi qu'à l'exploration de l'espace" avait expliqué le jour du lancement Wu Weiren, l'un des responsables du programme spatial, cité par l'agence officielle Chine nouvelle.
"Chang'e-2" restera en orbite à une quinzaine de km de la surface de la Lune. Pékin envisage un premier vol non-habité aux environs de 2013, avec un alunissage prévu à la Baie des arcs-en-ciel. Le Japon et la Corée du Sud ont également des programmes spatiaux très ambitieux. Séoul envisage ainsi - avec l'aide de la Russie - la fabrication d'une fusée d'ici 2018 et l'envoi de sondes scientifiques sur la Lune à l'horizon 2025.
"L'énergie propre, notre nouveau programme Appolo"
Et les Etats-Unis dans tout ça ? Crise financière oblige, le président Barack Obama a mis la conquête lunaire, le projet "Constellation" lancé par George W. Bush en 2004, entre parenthèses. Le développement des futurs lanceurs Ares 1 et Ares 5, ainsi que de la capsule habitable Orion - qui ont déjà coûté 9 milliards de dollars - ont été repoussé à des temps meilleurs. Il faut dire que Washington voit déjà plus loin et envisage une nouvelle mission d'exploration martienne, baptisée Mars Exploration Rover, dont le financement est échelonné sur de nombreuses années. Pour la Nasa, le court et moyen termes tiennent en trois lettres: ISS, la station spatiale internationale, qui doit être pleinement opérationnelle en 2011 après 13 ans d'assemblage et 26 ans de projet. Et si Barack Obama a évoqué le "Spoutnik" et la "Mission Apollo" lors de son discours sur l'Etat de l'Union, hier soir, c'était pour mieux encourager les Etats-Unis à relever le défi… de l'énergie propre.

© Copyright 2009 ParisMatch.com. Tous droits réservés.
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    The New York Times / February 15, 2011
    Russia Embraces Offshore Arctic Drilling
    • By Andrew E. Kramer and Clifford Krauss
    Россия и британская нефтегазовая компания British Petroleum (BP) подписали соглашение о проведении геологоразведочных работ в Северном Ледовитом океане.

MOSCOW - The Arctic Ocean is a forbidding place for oil drillers. But that is not stopping Russia from jumping in - or Western oil companies from eagerly following.
Russia, where onshore oil reserves are slowly dwindling, last month signed an Arctic exploration deal with the British petroleum giant BP, whose offshore drilling prospects in the United States were dimmed by the Gulf of Mexico disaster last year. Other Western oil companies, recognizing Moscow's openness to new ocean drilling, are now having similar discussions with Russia.
New oil from Russia could prove vital to world supplies in coming decades, now that it has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world's biggest oil producer, and as long as global demand for oil continues to rise.
But as the offshore Russian efforts proceed, the oil companies will be venturing where other big countries ringing the Arctic Ocean - most notably the United States and Canada - have been wary of letting oil field development proceed, for both safety and environmental reasons.
After the BP accident in the gulf last year highlighted the consequences of a catastrophic ocean spill, American and Canadian regulators focused on the special challenges in the Arctic.
The ice pack and icebergs pose various threats to drilling rigs and crews. And if oil were spilled in the winter, cleanup would take place in the total darkness that engulfs the region during those months.
Earlier this month, Royal Dutch Shell postponed plans for drilling off Alaska's Arctic coast, as the company continued to face hurdles from wary Washington regulators.
The Russians, who control far more prospective drilling area in the Arctic Ocean than the United States and Canada combined, take a far different view.
As its Siberian oil fields mature, daily output in Russia, without new development, could be reduced by nearly a million barrels by the year 2035, according to the International Energy Agency. With its economy dependent on oil and gas, which make up about 60 percent of all exports, Russia sees little choice but to go offshore - using foreign partners to provide expertise and share the billions of dollars in development costs.
And if anything, the gulf disaster encouraged Russia to push ahead with BP as its first partner. In the view of Russia's prime minister, Vladimir V. Putin, BP is the safest company to hire for offshore work today, having learned its lesson in the gulf.
"One beaten man is worth two unbeaten men," Mr. Putin said, citing a Russian proverb, after BP signed its Arctic deal with Rosneft, the Russian state-owned oil company. The joint venture calls for the companies to explore three sections in the Kara Sea, an icebound coastal backwater north of central Russia.
The BP agreement touched off little public reaction in Russia, in part because the environmental movement is weak but also because opposition politicians have no way to block or hinder the process.
The Arctic holds one-fifth of the world's undiscovered, recoverable oil and natural gas, the United States Geological Survey estimates. According to a 2009 report by the Energy Department, 43 of the 61 significant Arctic oil and gas fields are in Russia. The Russian side of the Arctic is particularly rich in natural gas, while the North American side is richer in oil.
While the United States and Canada balk, other countries are clearing Arctic space for the industry. Norway, which last year settled a territorial dispute with Russia, is preparing to open new Arctic areas for drilling.
Last year Greenland, which became semi-autonomous from Denmark in 2009, allowed Cairn Energy to do some preliminary drilling. Cairn, a Scottish company, is planning four more wells this year, while Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Shell are also expected to drill in the area over the next few years.
But of the five countries with Arctic Ocean coastline, Russia has the most at stake in exploring and developing the region.
"Russia is one of the fundamental building blocks in world oil supply," said Daniel Yergin, the oil historian and chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates. "It has a critical role in the global energy balance. The Arctic will be one of the critical factors in determining how much oil Russia is producing in 15 years and exporting to the rest of the world."
Following the template of the BP deal, Rosneft is negotiating joint venture agreements with other major oil companies shut out of North America and intent on exploring the Arctic continental shelf off Russia's northern coast. That includes Shell, its chief executive said last month. Rosneft's chief executive, Eduard Y. Khudainatov, said other foreign oil company representatives were lining up outside his office these days. Artur N. Chilingarov, a polar explorer, has embodied Moscow's sweeping Arctic ambitions ever since he rode in a minisubmarine and placed a Russian flag on the bottom of the ocean under the North Pole, claiming it for Russia, in a 2007 expedition.
"The future is on the shelf," Mr. Chilingarov, a member of Russia's Parliament, the Duma, said in an interview. "We already pumped the land dry."
Russia has been a dominant Arctic oil power since the Soviet Union began making important discoveries in the land-based Tazovskoye field on the shore of the Ob Bay in Siberia in 1962. The United States was not far behind with the discovery of the shallow-water Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska five years later.
What is new is the move offshore.
The waters of the Arctic are particularly perilous for drilling because of the extreme cold, long periods of darkness, dense fogs and hurricane-strength winds. Pervasive ice cover for eight to nine months out of the year can block relief ships in case of a blowout. And, as environmentalists note, whales, polar bears and other species depend on the region's fragile habitats.
Such concerns have blocked new drilling in Alaska's Arctic waters since 2003, despite a steep decline in oil production in the state and intensive lobbying by oil companies.
In Canada, Arctic offshore drilling is delayed as the National Energy Board is reviewing its regulations after the gulf spill.
But Russia is pressing ahead. The central decision opening the Russian Arctic easily passed Parliament in 2008, as an amendment to a law on subsoil resources. It allowed the ministry of natural resources to transfer offshore blocks to state-controlled oil companies in a no-bid process that does not involve detailed environmental reviews.
Until recently Russia regarded the Kara Sea, where BP and Rosneft intend to drill, as primarily an icy dump. For years, the Soviet navy released nuclear waste into the sea, including several spent submarine reactors that were dropped overboard at undisclosed locations. Rosneft executives say their exploration drilling will not stir up radiation.
But in any case, Mr. Chilingarov, the advocate for Russian polar claims, said a little radiation was nothing to worry about. He said that his son was born on Novaya Zemlya, an Arctic testing site for nuclear weapons during the cold war, and is now "a bit taller than me." "In small doses," Mr. Chilingarov said, "radiation is good for growth."

© 2011 The New York Times Company.
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    United Press International / Feb. 9, 2011
    Russia, Norway sign Barents agreement
    Россия и Норвегия ратифицировали договор о разграничении морских пространств и сотрудничестве в Баренцевом море и Северном Ледовитом океане. Помимо всего прочего, договор позволит странам осваивать нефтегазовые месторождения арктического континентального шельфа на территории 175 000 кв. км.

MOSCOW, Feb. 9 (UPI) - Global climate change warming has opened possibilities for nations with arctic coastlines to exploit offshore energy resources in the usually ice-bound region.
Norway's Parliament voted unanimously to ratify a 2010 agreement with Russia delineating their arctic borders, which opens the possibility of developing the vast oil and natural gas reserves in the Barents Sea.
Parliament's Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense considered the delimitation treaty. Defending the agreement, Conservative party member Ivar Kristiansen said, "It is the committee's opinion that the agreement will be for the benefit of both nations and contribute to further stability in the area of the Barents Sea-Arctic Ocean and between nations, Norway and Russia."
The agreement lifts a moratorium on prospecting the natural gas and oil deposits on the Arctic continental shelf, Golos Rossii news agency reported Wednesday.
The talks between Russia and Norway took four decades to complete and affect an offshore area of 68,000 square miles.
The negotiations over the territory were resolved in phases, with the first agreement on the "Varanger-Fjord" being reached in 2007. In April 2010 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made a two-day state visit to Norway and met with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, further advancing the negotiations, resulting in a treaty that was signed by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Murmansk in September.
The 2010 agreement defined not only the maritime borders of the Barents Sea between Norway and Russia but covered fishery issues and maritime cooperation at sea issues as well, effectively ending the Russo-Norwegian territorial dispute.
The area in contention was shared almost equally, with both Russia and Norway making concessions. The agreement gives both countries clearly defined borders as well as exclusive economic zones and rights to their assigned portions of the continental shelf.
Russian Academy of Sciences academician Vasily Gutsulyak said: "What does Russia stand to gain from the agreement with Norway? Some people say nothing because the country gave up a certain chunk of its territory but I believe that certainty is better than uncertainty.
"On coming into force, the Russian-Norwegian agreement will lift the moratorium on exploring the vast oil and gas deposits of the arctic, a hugely important development now since the old deposits are seriously depleted and drying up."
The Russian Duma has to ratify the agreement a process that is expected to run smoothly. Store said: "According to signals I have received the Russian process is on track, even though it wasn't possible to achieve full compatibility. I believe the signals from Oslo will be taken note of."

© 2011. United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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    Maxisciences / le 10 février 2011
    La Russie touchée par une hausse des températures deux fois supérieure à la moyenne mondiale
    За последние 10 лет среднегодовая температура в России повысилась на 1,1 °C, что почти втрое превышает средний мировой показатель (0,43°C).

Frappée l'été dernier par une longue canicule, la Russie a vu sa température moyenne augmenter de 1,1°C au cours de la dernière décennie. Une hausse deux fois supérieure à la moyenne planétaire.
Ce constat a été dressé par le chef du Service pour l'hydrométéorologie et le suivi de l'environnement russe, Alexandre Frolov. Cité par l'agence RIA Novosti, il souligne qu'une augmentation de la température moyenne mondiale de 0,43°C a été enregistrée au cours des dix dernières années. Mais en Russie, cette hausse est deux fois plus importante. En outre, le nombre des phénomènes météorologiques dangereux aurait augmenté de 7% pendant la même période, note le chercheur.
Cet été, le pays a connu sa pire canicule depuis 1.000 ans. Elle aurait causé la mort de 55.000 personnes, et a engendré d'importants incendies qui ont ravagé des dizaines de milliers d'hectares dans l'ouest du pays.

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    Vancouver Sun / February 10, 2011
    Russian-led expedition to make 8,000-km trek to Canada over North Pole
    • By Thomas Grove, Reuters
    В феврале-июне 2011 года российские полярные путешественники пройдут через самые труднодоступные регионы Европы, Азии и Америки. Это будет первый в истории освоения Арктики трансполярный переход от берегов России до побережья Канады через Северный полюс.
    В ходе экспедиции планируется выполнить сбор статистических данных и проб образцов снега и льда в рамках научной программы, а также провести тестирование российской навигационной системы ГЛОНАСС в условиях Арктики.

A Russian-led expedition aims to make the first crossing from Russia's Arctic shore to Canada over the North Pole, a monthslong voyage over precarious shifting floes.
The expedition, set to begin on Feb. 17, will be one of the first tests of Russia's GLONASS satellite-navigation technology, which is Moscow's bid to challenge the dominant U.S. global positioning system (GPS).
Territorial claims on the Arctic are shared by Russia, the United States, Norway, Greenland and Canada.
But recent Russian moves have raised concerns that it is bent on boosting its stake over the pole's petroleumrich sea bed.
"We're travelling a path which has never yet been taken in the Arctic," expedition leader Vladimir Chukov told journalists in Moscow.
The 8,000-km voyage is expected to reach Canada by the end of May and finish by June 22, he said.
Eight explorers will set out in two specially designed vehicles with overinflated tires that allow for travel over snowdrifts and ice.
The group, including two Russian-born Canadian citizens, plan to observe polar bear populations at the pole and test for climate change and signs of global warming, the results of which Chukov said the team would share later with scientists.
The Arctic test will be one of the first for the $2-billion GLONASS system, which Russia wants to make a central part of domestic consumer technology in cars and mobile phones.
Russia has sought to show predominance in Arctic exploration and in 2007 planted its flag in the seabed of the Arctic Ocean.

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun.
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    Sign & Digital Graphics / Thursday, February 10, 2011
    Sun Innovations to Print Solar Batteries
    Специалисты новосибирской инновационной компании "САН" разработали новую технологию печати солнечных батарей. Это позволяет превратить практически любую плоскую поверхность в солнечную батарею, нанеся на нее точно дозированный рабочий слой.

Russia-based UV-curing digital printer manufacturer Sun Innovations Company announces that it is developing a technology for printing solar batteries. The new technology - which will be presented in the end of 2011 at one of the international trade show exhibitions - involves inkjet printing of solar-receptive materials onto almost any flat surface, essentially transforming that object into the solar battery.
Sun Innovations says the new technology will improve the performance and lower the cost of producing solar batteries.
"This technology is developed in the world for the first time, and becomes, if not a revolution, then, at least, a huge step for mankind towards inexhaustible source of pure and cheap solar energy," says Natalia Stasjuk, managing director of the Sun Innovations Group. Sun Innovations developed the technology in cooperation with scientific institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The new solar battery printing technology to be presented by Sun Innovations Group is part of the National Technological Platform initiative declared by the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation.

© 2011 NBM, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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    NouvelObs.com / 10/02/11
    Des escargots anti-pollution dans l'incinérateur
    В Санкт-Петербургском научно-исследовательском центре экологической безопасности (НИЦЭБ РАН) разработали способ контролировать уровень загрязнения воздуха на мусоросжигательных заводах с помощью гигантских африканских улиток рода Achatina. Самочувствие улиток контролируется посредством оптоволоконных датчиков, передающих информацию о двигательной активности и сердечном ритме ахатин. Улитки из контрольной группы дышат очищенным воздухом.

SAINT-PETERSBOURG, Russie (AP) - Après les canaris pour avertir des coups de grisou dans les mines de charbon, les Russes innovent: ils installent des escargots géants dans un incinérateur d'eaux usées de Saint-Pétersbourg pour mesurer le niveau de pollution.
Ces gastéropodes originaires d'Afrique, parfois gros comme des rats, peuvent atteindre les 20 centimètres de long. Installés dans un aquarium à l'usine de retraitement des eaux usées de Vodokanal, dans le secteur sud-est de Saint-Pétersbourg, ils seront équipés de capteurs qui mesurent leur rythme cardiaque et autres signes vitaux. Trois escargots témoins respireront de l'air propre, trois autres les vapeurs dégagées par les cheminées de l'usine: si les capteurs enregistrent une modification inquiétante de l'état de santé des gastéropodes du second groupe, cela alertera clairement et immédiatement de ce que les émanations provenant de l'incinération de ces eaux usées sont dangereuses.
Si les écologistes crient au coup de publicité destiné à détourner l'attention de pratiques dangereuses, la compagnie des eaux Vodokanal jure ses grands dieux qu'il s'agit d'une tentative tout à fait sérieuse d'améliorer le contrôle des rejets de son incinérateur.
"Des organismes vivants ne mentiront pas au sujet des risques de pollution", décrète Olga Roublevskaïa, directrice de l'élimination des eaux usées chez Vodokanal. Outre les escargots dans l'incinérateur, la compagnie affecte aussi des langoustines à la qualité des eaux de la ville. "C'est un contrôle très strict. Nous sommes désormais en permanence sous la surveillance des escargots et écrevisses!", dit-elle.
"Les escargots africains, qui peuvent vivre jusqu'à sept ans, aideront aussi à mesurer l'influence d'une éventuelle accumulation de substances moyennement nocives sur une longue période", note Sergueï Kholodkevitch, chercheur en écologie dans un institut de l'Académie des Sciences russe, qui a eu l'idée du procédé.
Il explique avoir choisi les escargots car ils possèdent des poumons et respirent "comme les humains". "Un autre avantage réside dans la tranquillité de leur style de vie comparé à celui des souris, qui galopent tout le temps. Le troisième est qu'on peut fixer des capteurs sur leur coquille et qu'ils n'ont pas de pattes avec lesquelles se gratter et s'en débarrasser", ajoute-t-il.
Pour Steinar Sanni, biologiste de l'Institut norvégien de recherches internationales, les escargots ou d'autres animaux peuvent en effet être très efficaces pour surveiller les émissions industrielles et la qualité de l'eau. "Nous allons voir de plus de plus de solutions écologiques de ce type à l'avenir dans le monde", dit-il.
Mais les défenseurs locaux de l'environnement se montrent sceptiques. Ils estiment que c'est surtout un moyen pour Vodokanal de répondre aux critiques sur son usine d'incinération, qui brûle selon eux des déchets industriels toxiques.
Dimitri Artamonov, directeur du bureau de Greenpeace à Saint-Pétersbourg, accuse Vodokanal de dissimuler des informations sur la dangerosité de cette usine pour l'environnement. Greenpeace, explique-t-il, s'est vu interdire d'inspecter les installations de retraitement de l'ancienne capitale des tsars.
"Et nous comprenons pourquoi: ces installations sont faites pour traiter les déchets domestiques mais pas les déchets industriels qui contiennent des substances toxiques et se retrouvent aussi dans les eaux usées", explique-t-il.
Selon lui, la plupart des pays développés ne brûlent plus ce type de déchets. La municipalité de Saint-Pétersbourg devrait donc imposer aux industries locales de mettre en œuvre des technologies nouvelles plus propres et leur interdire de déverser leurs déchets dans les eaux usées de la ville.
Quant aux escargots, leur efficacité est limitée, juge Dimitri Artamonov: "des substances comme les dioxines, par exemple, peuvent s'accumuler pendant longtemps dans un organisme et ne provoquer un cancer que des décennies après."

© Le Nouvel Observateur - Tous droits réservés.
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    The Seattle Times / Monday, February 14, 2011
    Researchers fail to detect signal from rare whale
    Marine researchers say a satellite tag may have finally fallen off a highly endangered whale that was tracked from Russian waters to the Oregon coast
    • By Dan Joling
    Российские и американские ученые с большим интересом следили за перемещением серого кита, которому осенью 2010 г. у берегов Сахалина поставили спутниковую метку с целью определить миграционные маршруты и места зимовки. Считается, что существуют две популяции серых китов - вполне благополучная чукотско-калифорнийская, зимующая в Калифорнийском заливе, и практически исчезнувшая охотско-корейская, зимующая предположительно в Южно-Китайском море. Однако вместо Кореи и Южной Японии кит из Охотского моря направился прямиком через Берингов пролив к берегам Канады и далее вдоль побережья США.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Marine researchers say a satellite tag may have finally fallen off a highly endangered whale that was tracked from Russian waters to the Oregon coast.
U.S and Russian researchers on Oct. 4 attached the cigar-size satellite tag to a 13-year-old, male western Pacific gray whale as part of research into where the rare whales spent winters. The whale, dubbed "Flex," astonished researchers by crossing the Pacific Ocean. Its location was last confirmed Feb. 4 off Siletz Bay, Ore.
Researchers need at least two satellite signals from the tag to calculate the whale's position but had not received even one in the last 10 days.
"I think our adventure with Flex is over for now," said Bruce Mate, director of Oregon State University's Marine Mammal Institute, which worked on the tracking project with the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
"We've got a great track record and lots of great stuff to look at."
Satellite monitored radio tags have lasted as long as 385 days on a gray whale but average four months. The tag on Flex lasted 124 days over 5,335 miles (8586 kilometers).
Western Pacific gray whales are genetically distinct from eastern Pacific gray whales, which breed off the coast of Mexico in winter and make annual migrations north to the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort seas off Alaska's coast to feed in summers. Eastern Pacific gray whales have recovered to number about 18,000 animals.
Only about 130 of western Pacific gray whales remain and little is known of their winter habits. They spend summers near Sahkalin Island and environmental groups say they are imperiled by offshore petroleum development.
Researchers last year had hoped to tag 12 whales but were limited by typhoons and gales to one on the last day of field work.
Flex spent more than two months feeding near Sakhalin Island and moved across the Sea of Okhotsk to the west coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Within a few weeks, the whale rounded the southern tip of the peninsula and left the east coast of Kamchatka across the Bering Sea, averaging about 4.5 mph (7.25 kph).
On Jan. 13, Flex was about 80 miles (128 kilometers) north of Alaska's Pribilof islands. He turned south and was tracked to the south side of the Alaska Peninsula near the Shumagin Islands, possibly crossing the Aleutians through Unimak Pass or False Pass, two common routes for eastern grays during migration.
Eastern Pacific gray whales migrate in shallow water but Flex crossed the Gulf of Alaska in deep water, eventually traveling southeast past British Columbia and reaching shallow coastal waters off the northwest tip of Washington and following the coast to Oregon.
If he had continued south at the same speed, he could have reached the west end of the Santa Barbara Channel on Sunday. Mexico would have been in sight by Thursday.
Mate said he did not have strong feeling that the whale would continue to Baja Mexico.
"I'm ambivalent about that," he said. "His progress here was at very high speeds. It was very impressive ... He could very well be off Oregon or California and have just pulled up and not bothered to go all the way south. There are whales that he has access to if his motivation is breeding."
A few eastern Pacific gray whales are still heading south. A crew looking for Flex spotted a dozen south of Monterey, Calif., on Saturday. Others have started swimming north.
"We're in that transition time," Mate said. "In fact, right about now is when we first start to see northbound whales along the Oregon coast."
Researchers will be photographing whales in California and in breeding lagoons and may eventually match one to Flex.
Mate said Flex's behavior does not preclude the possibility that other western Pacific gray whales spend winters on the Asia side.
"We have to be very open-minded that there may by lots of possibilities, not just one," he said.
He hopes a dozen western Pacific gray whales can be tagged next year but researchers are still in "fundraising mode."
Interest is high. The Web site tracking Flex last week received more hits from more than 7,000 people in 40 countries.

Copyright © 2011. The Seattle Times Company.
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    AScribe / Wed Feb 16 2011
    World's Largest Lake Sheds Light on Ecosystem Responses to Climate Variability
    Колебание температуры поверхностного слоя воды в экваториальной части Тихого океана (феномен Эль-Ниньо) отражается на изменении температуры в озере Байкал. Такой вывод был сделан американскими учеными (Национальный центр экологического анализа и синтеза при Калифорнийском университете) на основе статистических данных, собранных в ходе исследований озера, начатых еще в 1940-ых гг. советским ученым М.М.Кожовым и продолженных его внучкой Л.Р.Изместьевой (НИИ биологии ИГУ).
    Результаты исследования опубликованы в журнале PLoS ONE.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Feb. 16 (AScribe Newswire) - Siberia's Lake Baikal, the world's oldest, deepest, and largest freshwater lake, has provided scientists with insight into the ways that climate change affects water temperature, which in turn affects life in the lake. The study is published in the journal PLoS ONE today.
"Lake Baikal has the greatest biodiversity of any lake in the world," explained co-author Stephanie Hampton, deputy director of UC Santa Barbara's National Center for Ecological Analysis & Synthesis (NCEAS). "And, thanks to the dedication of three generations of a family of Russian scientists, we have remarkable data on climate and lake temperature."
Beginning in the 1940s, Russian scientist Mikhail Kozhov took frequent and detailed measurements of the lake's temperature. His descendants continued the practice, including his granddaughter, Lyubov Izmest'eva at Irkutsk State University. She is a co-author of the study and a core member of the NCEAS team now exploring this treasure trove of scientific and historical records.
First author Steve Katz, of NOAA's Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, explained that the research team discovered many climate variability signals, called teleconnections, in the data. For example, changes in Lake Baikal water temperature correlate with monthly variability in El Nino indices, reflecting sea surface temperatures over the Pacific Ocean tens of thousands of kilometers away. At the same time, Lake Baikal's temperatures are influenced by strong interactions with Pacific Ocean pressure fields described by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.
"Teasing these multiple signals apart in this study illuminated both the methods by which we can detect these overlapping sources of climate variability, and the role of jet stream variability in affecting the local ecosystem," said Katz.
Hampton added: "This work is important because we need to go beyond detecting past climate variation. We also need to know how those climate variations are actually translated into local ecosystem fluctuations and longer-term local changes. Seeing how physical drivers of local ecology - like water temperature - are in turn reflecting global climate systems will allow us to determine what important short-term ecological changes may take place, such as changes in lake productivity. They also help us to forecast consequences of climate variability."
The scientists found that seasonality of Lake Baikal's surface water temperatures relate to the fluctuating intensity and path of the jet stream on multiple time scales. Although the lake has warmed over the past century, the changing of seasons was not found to trend in a single direction, such as later winters.
The climate indices reflect alterations in jet stream strength and trajectory, and these dynamics collectively appear to forecast seasonal onset in Siberia about three months in advance, according to the study. Lake Baikal's seasonality also tracked decadal-scale variations in the Earth's rotational velocity. The speed of the Earth's rotation determines the length of a day, which differs by milliseconds from day to day depending on the strength of atmospheric winds, including the jet stream. This scale of variability was also seen to affect the timing variability in seasonal lake warming and cooling, reinforcing the mechanistic role of the jet stream.
"Remarkably, the temperature record that reflects all these climate messages was collected by three generations of a single family of Siberian scientists, from 1946 to the present, and the correlation of temperature with atmospheric dynamics is further confirmation that this data set is of exceptionally high quality," said Katz. "This consistent dedication to understanding one of the world's most majestic lakes helps us understand not only the dynamics of Lake Baikal over the past 60 years, but also to recognize future scenarios for Lake Baikal. The statistical approach may be used for similar questions in other ecosystems, although we recognize that the exceptional quality and length of the Baikal data was one of the keys to our success."

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    The Independent / Saturday, 19 February 2011
    Satellite project to predict earthquakes will "help save lives"
    • By Shaun Walker
    Группа российских и британских ученых начала работу над проектом TwinSat, который позволит предсказывать землетрясение с помощью системы из двух спутников. Информация со спутников будет сопоставляться с наземными данными.

Scientists have launched a project that they hope could one day help save thousands of lives by predicting when and where earthquakes will happen. A group of British and Russian scientists signed an agreement to work together on the project earlier this week in Moscow.
The TwinSat project involves the launch of two satellites - one of which they say is about the size of an old television set and the other smaller than a shoebox - which will orbit the earth a few hundred miles apart.
Data from the satellites will be collated with data from the ground as the scientists try to understand what natural warnings are given prior to earthquakes.
"As stress builds up in the Earth prior to an earthquake, subtle electromagnetic signals are released that can be read from the upper atmosphere," said Professor Alan Smith, Director of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory at University College, London, who was in Moscow this week to launch the project.
"We want to try to work out how these signals differ from all the other things that are present at any given time." The two linked satellites will monitor zones with high seismic and volcanic activity, such as Iceland and the Kamchatka Peninsula in the far east of Russia.
The project is being run by a team of British and Russian scientists and was heralded "a new milestone in UK-Russia space collaboration" by Professor Smith.
Professor Vitaly Chmyrev, of the Institute of Physics of the Earth in Moscow, one of the Russian partners, said that the possibilities for progress in earthquake research were extremely exciting. He said that the project will "benefit both Russian and British science in addition to making the Earth a safer place".
Professor Chmyrev noted that in the days leading up to the devastating earthquake in Haiti last year, satellites picked up electromagnetic signals from the area, but they were only analysed afterwards. This project could be a huge step towards understanding how to read these signals.
"Just imagine if we could have accurately predicted the Haiti earthquake a few weeks before," said Professor Chmyrev. "Or if we had predicted the Icelandic volcano eruption that paralysed transport routes for weeks. The potential human and economic benefits are enormous."
Peter Sammonds, Professor of Geophysics at UCL and another member of the project team, said that because the satellites were so small, the technology was relatively cheap. "These satellites are absolutely incredible, you can almost hold them in the palm of your hand," he said. "If the project progresses as we want it to, we'll be able to send up several more of them to increase coverage."
The first satellite launch is planned for 2015, and the team is confident that the project could change the way we understand earthquakes. "It wasn't long ago that if you said there was a chance of predicting earthquakes, people would say you were a charlatan, and not a real scientist," said Professor Chmyrev. "But science moves quickly and I'm absolutely certain that sooner or later we'll be able to make very accurate predictions."

© independent.co.uk.
* * *
    Russia & India Report / February 16, 2011
    "Russian Science Day" marked at RCSC
    8 февраля в Российском центре науки и культуры в Нью-Дели прошли мероприятия, приуроченные ко Дню российской науки - семинар "Российско-индийское сотрудничество в сфере науки" и открытие фотовыставки "Прорыв в космос", посвященной 50-летию полета Ю.А.Гагарина.

Speakers at a function organized at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture (RCSC) in New Delhi on February, 8 paid rich tributes to Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, world's first human being to travel in space accomplishing a historic scientific feat for the benefit of the entire humanity.
The function comprised a Seminar "Russian-Indian Cooperation in the Field of Science", dedicated to the "Russian Science Day", and the inauguration of a Photo Exhibition "Breakthrough in Space", commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the First Human Space Flight-Yuri Gagarin's Flight into Outer Space".
The photos displayed at the exhibition contained different facets of Yuri Gagarin's space odyssey that ushered the world into tremendous scientific advancement, plus the first Indian cosmonaut Sqn. Ldr. Rakesh Sharma's joint space flight with two Soviet cosmonauts-Y.V. Malyshev and G.M. Strekalov.
In a nostalgic note, the Chief Guest Mr. Jai Prakash Agarwal, M.P. (Lok Sabha), President, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee, Chairman, Housing Committee of Lok Sabha, recalled the memorable moments when he watched the grand welcome accorded to Yuri Gagarin by New Delhi Municipal Corporation at which his late father was the Deputy Mayor. He said that the substantial support provided by Russia from time to time in the field of science went a long way in the country's progress and self-sufficiency.
In his welcome address, Mr. Fyodor A. Rozovskiy, Director, RCSC, referred to the rousing welcome accorded to Yuri Gagarin during his visit to India following his successful space, adding that he preferred India to be the first country for a goodwill visit in order to fulfill his cherished ambition. He referred to the bilateral tie-ups between Russia and India in the field of space science with special emphasis on the launching of Indian satellites Aryabhata and Bhaskara and the moon-mission Chandrayan.
Dwelling at length upon the Indo-Russian cooperation and collaboration in diverse spheres of science and technology, particularly space science, Prof. Ramadhikari Kumar, President, Indian Association of Teachers of Russian Language and Literature (INDAPRYAL), underlined the prompt readiness and spontaneous response demonstrated by Russia which made India stronger than ever. In this context, he cited important fields and core sectors such as rocket-launching, computer science, electronics, missile development, laser technology, nuclear energy, powder metallurgy, steel industry, agriculture farming, etc. He wished the bilateral cooperation in science to grow stronger.
Indicating the impressive photo exhibition as a potential source of inspiration to science enthusiasts, Dr. (Mrs.). N. Rathnasree, Director, Nehru Planetarium, lauded the amazing achievements made by Russia in the field of science, particularly space science. She emphasized that there are many things still to be explored and exploited in the field of astronomy and the celestial phenomena keeping in view the imperative of the urge and aspiration of younger generation. She profusely thanked RCSC for its appreciable efforts in organizing such creative events.
Observing the studies on space science on a broader perspective, Mr. C. B. Devgun, President, Science Popularization Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE), welcomed the commendable efforts taken by RCSC, and stressed the need of involving considerably larger sections of younger generation in relevant programmes on identical scientific topics. Dr. R. B. Singh, General Secretary, India-Russian Friendship Society (Delhi Unit), proposed a vote of thanks.

© 2007-2011 Russia Beyond The Headlines.
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