|Российская наука и мир|
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)
Политические разногласия между США и Россией по поводу Крыма вышли в космическое пространство - НАСА приостановило сотрудничество с Россией. Однако на Международную космическую станцию бойкот не распространяется, поскольку это приведет к закрытию программы - ни одна из стран не сможет поддерживать ее в одиночку.
The political rift between the US and Russia over Crimea has spilled into space - sort of. Last week, a leaked memo from NASA revealed that the agency was suspending engagements with Russia, in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. The most important Russian-US space collaboration - the International Space Station - is not included in the boycott. We look at what the move means for space activities.
If the ISS is safe from the boycott, what else is there?
There are a handful of smaller-scale activities that might be affected, such as NASA's aeronautical tests in Russia's wind tunnels, and a Russian instrument on NASA's Curiosity Rover, says Scott Pace, the director of the Space Policy Institute in Washington DC. This instrument, the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons, searches for signs of water up to 50 centimetres below the surface.
It is not clear what the status of projects like this one are, because an official list of allowed activities has not been released. Only the ISS is clearly exempt from the policy changes. At a press briefing on 3 April, White House press secretary Jay Carney indicated that many activities will be considered on a case by case basis.
Would such a boycott ever be extended to include the ISS?
That is highly unlikely, says Marcia Smith, the president of the Space and Technology Policy Group, a policy analysis firm in Arlington, Virginia, because that would effectively spell the end of the effort. The two countries rely on each other to keep the space station going, and NASA doesn't have the resources to operate it on its own. "If we decided to suspend the ISS activities, I think the facilities would have to be mothballed," she says.
Has anything similar happened before?
Last week's announcement isn't the first time that political tensions between the two countries have put space operations on ice. In the early 1980s, the US decided not to renew plans for a joint mission to the Soviet space station Salyut after Poland's Soviet-influenced Communist government declared martial law. And international disagreements have prevented NASA from working with China for several years now.
Why did NASA do this?
It didn't. "It's really important to emphasise that it's not NASA making this decision. It's the government making this decision," says Smith. The policy shift was part of a larger directive that the White House sent out to other federal agencies, like the State Department. Ultimately, any public interest in NASA's shift may say more about how we feel about space than about what will happen there in the coming days, says Pace. "The reaction shows space is still symbolically important to people," he says.
© Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.
* * *
Nature / 08 April 2014
Western science severs ties with Russia
Country's science renaissance threatened as NATO and NASA suspend links.
Спад в области научных отношений между Россией и Западом достиг самой нижней точки со времен холодной войны после того, как НАТО приостановило все гражданское и военное сотрудничество с Россией, а правительство США - контакты между НАСА и российскими космическими агентствами по всем вопросам (за исключением МКС), вплоть до визитов, встреч и даже писем по электронной почте. Если изменить ситуацию не удастся, нарастающая изоляция России может стать серьезной проблемой для российской и мировой науки.
Scientific relations between Russia and the West have reached their lowest ebb since the cold war, after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and NASA both cut ties with Russia last week.
On 1 April, NATO suspended all civilian and military cooperation with Russia. This affects scientific collaboration under the organization's Science for Peace and Security Programme, which underpins counterterrorism and disaster-relief work, including work on technology that can detect hidden bombs at crowded public-transport locations. NATO is looking for other partners to continue these projects.
And on 2 April, the US government suspended all contact between NASA and Russian space agencies and government representatives - including visits, meetings and even e-mails. Only activities involving the International Space Station are permitted to continue. The space station has both Russian and US crewmembers on board, and has relied on Russian Soyuz craft for transport since the United States retired its shuttle fleet in 2011.
It is unclear how other space-science collaborations will be affected. Igor Mitrofanov of the Space Research Institute in Moscow, who led work on a neutron-detector device on NASA's Mars Curiosity rover, says that he will not comment on the issue until NASA has notified him of the situation.
The United States and the European Union (EU) have also imposed sanctions against several high-ranking Russian government officials. The US list includes former science minister Andrei Fursenko, who acts as a personal science adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The United States, the EU and Russia have embarked on diplomatic efforts to defuse the situation in Crimea following a crisis meeting in Paris on 30 March between US secretary of state John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. If those efforts fail, Russia's increasing isolation could become a serious long-term problem for Russian and international science, says Harley Balzer, who specializes in international affairs and Russian politics at Georgetown University in Washington DC.
"If Russia were to push one inch further into Ukraine, cutbacks on all sorts of academic exchange programmes and scientific collaborations will inevitably follow," says Balzer. Affected schemes could include the US Fulbright Program, which funds scholarly exchanges with several countries, including Russia.
Further sanctions, Balzer adds, would thwart Russia's efforts to strengthen its research and education systems and to attract foreign talent. In his 2012 election campaign, Putin promised to create several "world-class" universities by 2020, and to substantially raise science spending - it currently stands at a mere 1.3% of gross domestic product. "Putin is killing the chance to make up lost ground," says Balzer.
The symbol of Russia's science aspirations is the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), an English-language research university being created on the outskirts of Moscow in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge.
MIT is developing curricula and research programmes and providing administrative support to Skoltech. It is also running the international calls for proposals for Skolkovo's 15 planned research centres of excellence; 6 centres already exist and 4 more are to be created this year. The terms of MIT's contract with Skoltech are confidential, but sources say that Russia is paying the US institute at least US$300 million (see Nature 500, 262-264; 2013). Balzer predicts that MIT will come under "enormous pressure" to shut down the collaboration should the Crimea crisis escalate.
Edward Crawley, an MIT engineer and the president of Skoltech, says that MIT and Russian officials wish to continue the partnership, and that plans for the four new centres are moving ahead. "Conveying the idea of Skoltech takes on additional significance in these times of strained relations," says Crawley. "When the seas between two countries are stormy, it is the role of scientists and educators to put ballast to the bottom of the ship."
Attracting scientists from abroad is crucial for Russia's scientific renaissance, says Irina Dezhina, a science-policy analyst at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations in Moscow, who heads a research group at Skoltech. A series of collaborative events has been planned to run throughout 2014 for the EU-Russian Year of Science. What happens now depends on the West, she says.
People might think twice about going to a country that violates international law, warns Oleg Kharkhordin, rector of Russia's European University at St Petersburg. "But," he adds, "it should really be the interest of both sides to foster free scientific exchange."
© 2014 Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved.
* * *
Российский производитель компьютеров РСК и Российская академия наук предложили Индии сотрудничество с целью создания компьютера, аналогичного по мощности китайскому суперкомпьютеру "Тянъэ-2", который на данный момент является самым производительным в мире.
BANGALORE: Russian supercomputing company RSC group and the Russian Academy of Sciences have proposed collaboration with India to set up supercomputing facilities that will rival China's Tianhe-2, the world's fastest supercomputer.
"India has many skills for building supercomputers. It is very strong in software," said Alexey Shmelev, cofounder and chief operations officer of RSC group and delegate to the Russian Academy of Sciences. "I am ready to share technology with India. I guess there would not be many players who are willing to do so."
In a letter last month, Boris Shabanov of the Russian Academy of Sciences has invited a team from the Indian Institute of Science and the Karnataka government to explore the possibility of a supercomputing centre in Bangalore.
CNR Rao, a Bharat Ratna awardee who heads the scientific advisory council to the prime minister, said it is difficult to assess a potential collaboration right away, but was of the view that "the Chinese are way ahead".
Tianhe-2, developed by China's National University of Defense Technology retained its position as the world's number one system according to TOP500 project which ranks the most powerful computer systems in the world. It beat Titan, a US supercomputer which briefly held the world speed crown.
India's supercomputer Param Yuva - II is ranked at 83 while Russia's Lomonosov supercomputer is ranked at 37. If the joint cooperation between Russia and India is found viable, it can result in a computing system as big as a basketball court that can perform approximately as many operations per second as several million personal computers.
In 2009, India had taken a huge leap in supercomputing with EKA. It was then the fourth fastest supercomputer in the world and fastest in Asia. "But in the next few years, China took over and it has retained its position as the world's number one system," said Vipin Chaudhary. He is the former chief executive of Computational Research Laboratories, a subsidiary of Tata Sons that built the EKA supercomputer.
"We need to catch up first before trying to leapfrog US and China. A lot of training and research needs to be supported for sustained period of time."
High performance computing can deliver multiple applications for everyday use from weather and climate prediction to what kind of seeds to sow at a location based on the climate, preventing water seepage, oil and gas exploration, simulation of nuclear devices and designing better missiles.
It can also help design drugs for diseases which are more prevalent in India, building better fuel efficient cars and preventing terrorist attacks.
India has committed over Rs 12,000 crore to the Indian Space Research Organisation and the Indian Institute of Science to develop a high-performance supercomputer by 2018. The government has also announced a Rs 4,500 crore national mission on high-performance computing.
"Building the world's fastest supercomputer would send a powerful message to young engineers that we are leading in science and technology and give them confidence," said Anand Babu Periasamy, cofounder of technology company Gluster and who was part of the team that built the US' "Thunder" supercomputer which in 2004 was the second-fastest supercomputer in the world.
"We can easily build faster supercomputer than China; we have very high skilled people. It is just a matter of budget and will."
Copyright © 2014 Times Internet Limited. All rights reserved.
* * *
Daily Mail / 14 April 2014
Who were the accidental mummies? Scientists baffled by amazingly well-preserved 800-year-old bodies found in Russia
С конца 1990-х гг. Ямальская археологическая экспедиция Института истории и археологии УрО РАН работает на севере Ямало-Ненецкого автономного округа. Одна из примечательных находок - средневековый некрополь у поселка Зеленый Яр, где были обнаружены так называемые "салехардские мумии" - неожиданно хорошо сохранившиеся тела, частично или полностью закрытые вырезанными из медных котлов пластинами. Изучение находок продолжается, в том числе генетическое, которое проводится в Институте цитологии и генетики СО РАН.
Russian academics are working on unlocking the secrets of a mystery medieval civilization on the edge of the Siberian Arctic - which had links to Persia.
A burial ground has been found with human remains mummified seemingly by accident - and wearing copper masks.
But who they were remains a puzzle to Russian archeologists and experts.
A total of 34 shallow graves have been excavated by archeologists at Zeleniy Yar, 18 miles south of the Arctic Circle, and included a small treasure trove of jewellery and artifacts indicating this was a trading outpost of some importance around one millennium ago.
"The medieval necropolis include 11 bodies with shattered or missing skulls, and smashed skeletons," reported The Siberian Times.
"Five mummies were found to be shrouded in copper, while also elaborately covered in reindeer, beaver, wolverine or bear fur. Among the graves is just one female, a child, her face masked by copper plates. There are no adult women."
Three copper masked infant mummies - all male - were unearthed nearby. They were bound in four or five copper hoops, several centimetres wide. A red-haired man was also found, protected from chest to foot by copper plating. In his resting place, was an iron hatchet, furs, and a head buckle made of bronze depicting a bear. The feet of the deceased are all pointing towards the nearby Gorny Poluy River, a fact which is seen as having religious significance.
Yet the burial rituals are reported to be unknown to experts and not typical of others in this cold and inhospitable region. Artifacts included bronze bowls originating in Persia, some 3,700 miles to the south-west, dating from the tenth or eleventh centuries, it is believed. "One of the burials dates to 1282, according to a study of tree rings, while others are believed to be older," reports The Siberian Times.
An iron combat knife, silver medallion and a bronze bird figurine was found by one of the adult mummies and are understood to date from the seventh to the ninth centuries. It is thought the preservation of the bodies was "an accident" caused by a combination of the copper, which prevented oxidation of the remains, and a dip in temperatures in the centuries after the group were buried.
Natalia Fyodorova, of the Urals branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said: "Nowhere in the world are there so many mummified remains found outside the permafrost or the marshes. It is a unique archaeological site. We are pioneers in everything from taking away the object of sandy soil (which has not been done previously) and ending with the possibility of further research."
She suggested that the smashing of the skulls may have been done soon after death "to render protection from mysterious spells believed to emanate from the deceased".
In 2002, archeologists were forced to halt work at the site due to objections by locals on the Yamal peninsula, a land of reindeer and energy riches known to locals as "the end of the earth". The experts were disturbing the souls of their ancestors, they feared.
Work is underway now to solve this riddle, including a genetic study of the remains headed by Alexander Pilipenko, research fellow of Institute of Cytology and Genetics, part of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.
* * *
Ректор МГУ Виктор Садовничий рассказал о планах построить 60-метровый телескоп на Канарских островах, где самая прозрачная атмосфера для астрономических наблюдений. Если план осуществится, это будет самый большой и мощный из всех наземных телескопов, задачей которого будет поиск экзопланет, похожих на Землю.
Не все ученые разделяют этот план, считая, что России следует присоединиться к Европейской южной обсерватории (ESO), а не затевать такое масштабное строительство. Вопрос в том, что будет дешевле (и быстрее) - вступление в ESO или постройка собственного телескопа.
The rector of Moscow State University, Viktor Sadovnichy, has unveiled plans for a massive 60 m optical telescope on the Canary Islands. If built, the telescope would be the world's largest and would hunt for Earth-like planets around other stars, says Sadovnichy. But the plans have divided researchers, with some Russian astronomers saying the country should not build its own facility but join the European Southern Observatory (ESO) instead.
According to Vladimir Lipunov, director of the Space Monitoring Laboratory at Moscow State University, the telescope would be built by Russia, Spain and possibly Switzerland and Germany, with Russia getting a quarter of the observing time at the facility. The so-far-unnamed telescope would dwarf all existing - and currently planned - facilities, including the 39 m European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) and 25 m Giant Magellan Telescope, both to be based in Chile, as well as the Thirty Meter Telescope to be built in Hawaii.
"Astronomers are always happy to have a new instrument and will always find a use for it - as there are lots of objects out there to look at," says Sergei Popov of the Sternberg Astronomical Institute in Moscow. However, Popov questions whether it is the best option for Russian astronomy because the country has been debating whether to join ESO since 2006. As a member state, its astronomers would gain access to the ESO's various telescopes, including the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile and the next-generation E-ELT.
All about the money
Membership, however, costs money - and Russia was told it would have to fork out €130m to join ESO, plus an annual subscription of €13m. While the Russian government is deciding whether to allocate the necessary funds, some researchers argue that the money should instead be spent on a facility partly owned by Russia. "The idea is to leave the money at home and use it to build [the 60 m telescope] on the Canary Islands in one of Russia's factories," says Lipunov.
Yuri Balega, director of the Special Astrophysical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences, questions the timing of the proposal to build a 60 m telescope. "Such an instrument will cost at least €2-3bn to build and today we do not have the necessary technologies, engineering power and money to start such a project," says Balega. "Even if we had all that in Russia, such a fantastic telescope would only be built 20-25 years from now." He feels that Russian astronomers, who currently lag behind the rest of the world, would do best by gaining access to ESO's world-class instruments.
© 2014 IOP Publishing.
* * *
Профессор кафедры петрологии геологического факультета МГУ Павел Плечов полагает, что в ближайшее время взрыва Йеллоустонского вулкана можно не опасаться, несмотря на серию случившихся в последние годы довольно крупных извержений.
Считается, что вулканическая кальдера в Йеллоустоунском национальном парке (США), которую иногда называют супервулканом, в случае массивного извержения способна вызвать катаклизм планетарного масштаба.
A Russian scientist offered his take on the Yellowstone volcano and whether it will explode in the near future. The supervolcano has been the subject of much research and it was recently discovered just how massive it is. Several quakes around Yellowstone National Park have put a sense of fear in many. Video footage of wildlife fleeing the area at the end of winter just added to that fear.
In a piece published April 21 in the Voice of Russia, Professor of the Petrology Department of Moscow State University geology faculty, Pavel Plechov, agreed with many American scientists regarding the supervolcano. It was revealed that if the volcano explodes, it could potentially obliterate everything globally.
Plechov informs everyone that the Yellowstone volcano won't blow anytime soon. He said "70,000 years has passed since the latest eruption and there were thousands of similar earthquakes in the area but they triggered no eruptions." He recalled a series of larger earthquakes in 2004, 2007, 2009, and 2010 by saying those events were "typical of this region. I see no prerequisites to the big bang and don't expect any."
Live Science also reported similar findings that the Yellowstone volcano won't erupt in the immediate future. Although the 4.8-magnitude quake that shook the national park area March 30 alarmed the nation, researchers said that doesn't mean the volcano is going to "spew or even belch" anytime soon.
Plechov noted that Americans have a "special monitoring service" that indicates there will be "no eruptions for at least one million years!" He went on to say that the Yellowstone caldera is one of the most closely monitored in the world.
"There is an operating volcano observatory - round-the-clock monitoring seismic activity, gases and many other parameters. Yellowstone is well researched - that's why even minor changes cause media outlets to fuss around the globe," Plechov said.
According to the vast majority of scientists who study the supervolcano, they remain confident it won't explode anytime soon. When it comes to the Yellowstone volcano, no one else seem to be quite sure about that.
© 2006-2014 AXS Digital Group LLC d/b/a Examiner.com.
* * *
Ученые из МГУ совместно с коллегами из Питтсбургского университета (США) выяснили, как образуются липидные медиаторы - молекулы, играющие важную роль в воспалительном процессе. За исследование некоторых из них - простагландинов - в 1982 году шведские биохимики Суне Бергстрём и Бенгт Самуэльссон получили Нобелевскую премию по физиологии и медицине.
Статья "A mitochondrial pathway for biosynthesis of lipid mediators" опубликована в журнале Nature Chemistry.
Russian scientists, in collaboration with their colleagues from Pittsburgh University, have discovered how lipid mediators are produced. The relevant paper was published in Nature Chemistry. Lipid mediators are molecules that play an important role in inflammation process. A study devoted to lipid mediators earned a Nobel prize in 1982.
Mitochondria are known as "cellular power plants", the organelles where oxidation of various substances leads to formation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule universally used for storage and transportation of energy inside cells. But this is not the only role of mitochondria. Yuri Vladimirov, member of the Russian Academy of Medical Science, and head of the Medical Biophysics Department, Faculty of Fundamental Medicine, Moscow State University, explains: "Mitochondria are not only a structure responsible for energy transfer, but also a chemical factory involved in production of molecules regulating the intracellular processes as well as the process of apoptosis, the programmed cell death."
The work of this mitochondrial chemical plant was the subject of the study published Monday in Nature Chemistry.
An international science team from Pittsburgh University lead by Valerian Kagan, including academician Yuri Vladimirov, has discovered a new biosynthetic pathway to generate lipid mediators. Mediators, or messengers, are the chemical compounds that transfer external signals into biochemical pathways and thus affect the processes that run on an intracellular level.
Lipid mediators are fat-like molecules. These molecules have been studied since the 1930s, when their role as messengers in the inflammation process was discovered.
Lipid mediators include such groups as prostaglandins, including "useful" molecules having anti-inflammatory properties, lowering blood pressure and thrombosis risk, as well as others having opposite action. These "harmful" compounds are targets for anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin.
In 1982, Swedish biochemists Sune Bergström and Bengt Samuelsson earned the Nobel prize in Physiology and Medicine for their studies of prostaglandins.
Lipid mediators are produced from polyunsaturated fatty acids (this is a class of fatty acids having two or more double bonds such as the well known ω-3 or ω-6 fatty acids). But until recently, scientists didn't know how and where this process occurs. New studies show that polyunsaturated fatty acids are being oxidized inside the mitochondria with the help of cytochromes stored between the internal and external mitochondrial membranes. This is a fundamentally new way to synthesize lipid molecules used in metabolism regulation.
Working with mouse intestinal tissue and rat cerebral tissue, the scientists discovered this process is intensified in injured tissues.
"Our article is to a large degree a result of many years' studies of a research group lead by a former Soviet, now American researcher of Russian origin Valerian Efimovich Kagan, former winner of the USSR State prize in Science and Engineering, as well as some other Soviet scientists including myself," says Yuri Vladimirov. "During the last few years, Valerian Efimovich managed to establish a first-class laboratory equipped with the most modern equipment including nearly ten mass spectrometers that allowed recovery of the chemical composition of the products of the reactions that run inside mitochondria normally, and in the case of certain pathologies. My personal contribution to this work and that of my PhD student Anna Sergeevna Vikulina, also a co-author of this work, affiliated with the Faculty of Fundamental Medicine of Moscow State University, is in development of a data reduction algorithm and in interpretation of mass spectra during our lengthy visits to V. E. Kagan's lab."
The authors expect that knowledge of the mechanism of biosynthesis of lipid mediators may be applied to manipulate this process during certain diseases, in particular, to regulate prostaglandin synthesis during inflammation.
© Phys.org™ 2003-2013, Science X network.
* * *
Ученые Института ядерной физики СО РАН построили, привезли, установили и настроили для Брукхейвенской национальной лаборатории (США) ускоритель для синхротрона NSLS-II (National Synchrotron Light Source II), несмотря на то, что на последнем этапе столкнулись с проблемами в виде санкций, запрещающих въезд российских ученых на территорию США.
NOVOSIBIRSK, April 22 (RIA Novosti) - Scientists from the Siberian Institute for Nuclear Physics (INP) have handed over a synchrotron worth $14 million to the US Brookhaven National Laboratory, despite recent sanctions against Russia, the deputy director of INP told RIA Novosti.
"The final phase involved a team of programmers resolving the final issues.
Some of the programming team could cross the US border, while others were denied visas," Evgeny Levichev said.
Earlier this month, the US Department of Energy banned its scientists from traveling to Russia and blocked access for Russian scientists to its major physics research centers. The move was announced in a letter sent to scientists collaborating with Brookhaven, the recipient of the new synchrotron.
"Our colleagues acted very sensibly ... they said that everything could be solved remotely, and we took on the task," Levichev said. "Twelve days later the sanctions were lifted, and access for Russian scientist was restored."
"Over the past 20-25 years this is the largest accelerator - possibly the largest scientific installation - produced by a Russian organization or institution in such a turnkey manner, starting with the idea and following through to the launch," Levichev explained, adding that the achievement was to some degree overshadowed by the US sanctions.
The deputy director noted that the accomplishment by a team of young
professionals of assembling the synchrotron in difficult conditions over a prolonged period indicates the Institute for Nuclear Physics has the resources necessary for a large accelerator project within Russia, but that will require public funding.
"Dozens of Nobel Prize-winning experiments in the last 20 years have been performed on synchrotron radiation sources. This is an area in high demand, and every developed country has one or more sources of synchrotron radiation. In Russia we have two. One of them is Siberia-2 at the Kurchatov Institute, and the second one is at INP," Levichev added.
The Russian booster synchrotron is an important part of the United States' National Synchrotron Light Source facility. Synchrotron radiation plays an important role in a wide range of tasks in research in physics, materials science, biology, medicine and chemistry.
* * *