Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Июль 2014 г.
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Июль
2014 г.
Российская наука и мир
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)

январь февраль март апрель май июнь июль август сентябрь октябрь ноябрь декабрь
    Россия разрабатывает ракеты-носители сверхтяжелого класса, способные выводить на орбиту космические аппараты для миссий на Луне и Марсе.

MOSCOW: Russia is designing a carrier rocket of the super-heavy class, capable to deliver spacecraft for missions to the Moon and Mars, Russian space agency Roscosmos said.
"We'll hold a meeting in August to discuss the plans to design the rocket carrier," Xinhua quoted Roscosmos head Oleg Ostapenko as saying, adding that the draft proposals were sent to leading Russian space enterprises.
The super-heavy 120-to-190-tonne rocket will be designed as a separate rocket carrier, not as a modernisation of the Angara rocket, he said.
"Roscosmos initiates the creation of a new super-heavy carrier, as the space agency is not satisfied with the Angara rocket's potential as a carrier," Ostapenko said.
The workload of the Angara-5 heavy rocket is within 25 tonnes, not enough for the travel to the Moon, Mars and to build Lunar bases, he said, adding that Russia has the capacity to create super-heavy rockets as the US and China do.
It is possible that special launch site will be constructed for the super-heavy carrier at the newly-built Vostochny cosmodrome in Far Eastern Amur region, Ostapenko added.
Last December, Lev Zelyony, director of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Science, said that Russia had set ambitious goals to regain the title of leading space power by 2023.

Copyright © 2014 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved.
* * *
    Недостаточность и неэффективная система государственного финансирования и бюрократия подрывают российскую науку, а ситуация, когда научными исследованиями занимается одна организация, а финансовыми и организационными вопросами - другая, отнюдь не улучшает дело, считает биолог, общественный и политический деятель Алексей Яблоков.

It is now a year since Vladimir Putin's government announced sweeping reforms of the Russian Academy of Sciences, stripping away its independence and placing it under the control of a new civil agency.
How are things going? Not well. Unfortunately, some of the gloomy predictions of critics at home and abroad that the changes would stifle research and weaken Russian science seem to be coming true.
I can speak as a member of the academy who works at one of its institutes. Formally, all of these academy institutes now belong to FASO, the government agency set up to manage us. The agency handles organization and finances, but the presidium of the academy continues to manage the scientific research. That's a very silly combination.
As part of its new role, FASO demands information from institute scientists that would be funny if it were not so tragic. We are asked to strictly plan our research. For example, how many papers will we write in a year - in two years? What kind of discoveries will we make in two years? On the basis of our promises, they then give us money.
There has, of course, been a great increase in paperwork. FASO says that it needs all this bureaucracy to guarantee our funding. The government transfers science funds to FASO, which then divides them among the institutes for salaries, expeditions, equipment, research, and so on. And just like any other bureaucratic organization, FASO wants to know what it gets for the money it gives.
Not that there is much money. There are so-called mega-grants for scientific projects, but the academy receives only 30% of the budget that the government allocates to science. The remainder goes to the high-technology business area at Skolkovo near Moscow, the Kurchatov Institute (a national research centre) and other places.
It was clear that Russian science needed reform. But the situation now is ridiculous. What the government should have done was to strengthen the way science is funded, following Western examples, such as in the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. There, when the state wants to support science, it mostly gives the money to an independent science agency, and the agency then divides it among the researchers, taking advice from the wider scientific community. The agency staff understand how science works - they understand which teams need support, and which teams say a lot but don't do much.
In my opinion, the government wanted to liquidate the academy as a distributor of independent opinions. And of course, it wanted to get its hands on the academy's huge property portfolio.
Traditionally, academy institutes, scientific stations and labs own a lot of buildings, many in very prestigious areas, such as the centres of Moscow and St Petersburg. The government probably wants to use these properties to make a profit. They have already taken some of the buildings from the presidium of the academy, mainly on Leninsky Prospect in Moscow, where they took two floors.
We have been told that we, the academy, have one year to get used to the new system. But FASO will really be in charge in six months. It has already announced that it will cut 6,000 administrative jobs at the academy by 2018.
Before, when I had to go abroad for scientific events, my assistant would take my passport to a specific department that took care of my visa and tickets. There were at least 50 people in that department in Moscow, and I never had any problems. Just recently, I had to go to France - but when I called that department, I was told that there were only five people left. I made the arrangements myself, which wasted time that I could have spent doing research.
That might not sound like hardship, and it is true that some scientists are spending too much time at their holiday dachas and not in the lab - but this is because we have no money for good equipment and not enough money for field trips and expeditions.
Of course, when the Soviet Union collapsed, many scientists simply stopped working and went to their dachas to grow potatoes and carrots, to have something to eat in the winter. The situation now is not so horrible, but I know that many scientists have another job elsewhere, just to earn some money on the side because their salaries are not enough.
This is all heading towards the collapse of Russian science. Right after the reform was first announced, a huge number of young scientists and mid-career researchers with prospects and connections immediately turned to the West or the East. There are more and more of them, and they are now spending more time abroad. About three years ago, more people opted to stay at home when the salaries increased a bit. The brain drain slowed down, but about six months ago, it speeded up again.
It is not too late to recover the situation. First, the government has to give us more money. Second, this money has to be distributed under the oversight of the scientific community.
I am a biologist, and biologists know that some animals are not able to reproduce in captivity. Scientists are like that, too. We are creative people - and we need conditions in which our creativity can thrive.
Author information
Alexey Yablokov is a councillor at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, and former environmental adviser to the Yeltsin administration. This article is based on an interview with Katia Moskvitch.

© 2014 Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved.
* * *
    Science AAAS / 3 July 2014, Vol.345 no.6192 p.15
    Plan to grade institutes rattles Russian academy
    • By Vladimir Pokrovsky
    В прошлом месяце ФАНО опубликовало дорожную карту реформирования РАН. Ученые по-своему оценили предлагаемые меры, предположив, к каким последствиям это может привести.
    Полный текст статьи доступен по подписке.

Last month, the government body that took over management of the property and finances of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) in January published a road map for its reform. Among the measures it calls for is a formal assessment of the research effectiveness of RAS institutes. Scientists have concluded that the only reason to grade institutes is to decide which ones to close down. The timing of the road map is especially alarming given that a yearlong moratorium on any changes to the staff and property of RAS, set by President Vladimir Putin, will soon be coming to an end. Meanwhile, a draft law setting an age cap for institute directors threatens to leave many of them leaderless and vulnerable.

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.
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    Les Echos / Le 09/07/2014
    Spatial?: la Russie met fin à une longue série noire en lançant sa fusée Angara
    • Benjamin Quenelle
    Состоявшийся в среду на космодроме Плесецк успешный пуск ракеты-носителя «Ангара» (первой созданной после распада СССР) положил конец «черной полосе» в российской космической отрасли.

Cette fusée doit remplacer les mythiques Soyouz, Proton et autres lanceurs ukrainiens.
Avec le succès mercredi soir du lancement d'Angara, sa première nouvelle fusée post-soviétique, le spatial russe a mis fin à une longue série noire. Et s'est ouvert de nouveaux marchés. Les lanceurs Angara, dont la conception a débuté il y a plus de vingt ans, doivent réduire la dépendance spatiale de la Russie vis-à-vis des ex-républiques soviétiques.
Quatre fusées sont prévues afin de couvrir une large gamme de charges utiles, de moins de deux tonnes à vingt-cinq tonnes. Ils doivent remplacer les mythiques Soyouz, Proton et autres lanceurs ukrainiens. Les lancements se feront de Russie même, réduisant la dépendance envers le cosmodrome de Baïkonour au Kazakhstan pour des lancements à visée commerciale comme militaire.
Ce vol inaugural, suivi personnellement par le président Vladimir Poutine depuis le Kremlin, s'est fait à partir du cosmodrome de Plessetsk. Vingt minutes après le lancement, la fusée est parvenue à son objectif, à 5.700 km de son point de départ, dans l'Extrême-Orient. Initialement, ce vol test devait avoir lieu le 27 juin mais il avait été arrêté au dernier moment à cause d'un problème technique.
Le succès d'hier doit désormais relancer le programme spatial russe après des années de fuite des cerveaux et de restrictions budgétaires. Mais aussi de nombreux échecs de lancements. En mai, avait été perdu un satellite de télécommunications de 200 millions d'euros après une mystérieuse panne de moteur de la fusée Proton-M lors de la mise en orbite. Ces dernières années, les accidents se sont succédés et la conclusion des commissions d'enquête a toujours été la même?: les causes sont moins des problèmes techniques sur des fusées peu modernes mais réputées fiables que des erreurs opérationnelles ou de calculs.

Tous droits réservés - les echos 2014.
* * *
    Alphagalileo / 18 July 2014
    Kotoshikhin's Muscovite state-description now in English and fully open access
    A glimpse of XVII-century Russia. Benjamin Uroff's translation of Kotoshikhin classic
    Немецкое научное издательство De Gruyter выпустило аннотированный английский перевод сочинения Григория Котошихина «О России в царствование Алексея Михайловича», написанного в 1666-1667 гг. Издание содержит комментарии и дополнительные материалы.

  • Publication title: Russia in the Reign of Aleksei Mikhailovich
  • Author: Kotoshikhin, Grigorii Karpovich, Ed. by Poe, Marshall, Transl. by Uroff, Benjamin
  • Publication type: Other
  • ISBN number: 978-83-7656-065-6

  • It is rare for a scientific dissertation to be a ready, publishable book. When it also becomes a central reference work in its research field, it is even more startling. Benjamin Uroff's copiously annotated translation of Gregorii Kotoshikhin's 17th century "On Russia in the Reign of Aleksei Mikhailovich" is a rare case of a thesis, which, though a must-read for academics engrossed in customs of XVII-century Muscovite Russia as well as the Imperial Romanov Family, had remained unpublished for over four decades.
    Finally now, De Gruyter Open has published the famous Uroff's translation of the work - complemented with extensive commentaries and supporting materials by the translator, late Benjamin Uroff, and by the editor of the volume, Marshall Poe - himself a renowned historian and writer with extensive teaching experience at Harvard or Yale, among others. Russia in the Reign of Aleksei Mikhailovich will from now on become an essential reading for historians of Russia as an invaluable - and hitherto missing - source of understanding XVII-century Muscovite Russia.
    Gregorii Kotoshikhin wrote his chef d'oeuvre "On Russia in the Reign of Aleksei Mikhailovich" in 1665. It is still regarded today as the most important narrative source of early modern (Muscovite) Russian history. It is also the sole native source that describes the character of the seventeenth-century Russian state and society. Kotoshikhin, who wrote the book in exile in Sweden, offered a unique and detailed picture of the nature of Russian "autocracy"; life at the tsar's court; social mores among nobles and commoners (including religious practice, marriage and family, domestic relations or social life); military affairs, diplomatic relations, etc. The book is a veritable ethnographic encyclopedia of early Russian life.
    Benjamin Uroff, the original translator, had learned Russian at home and had read broadly in both Russian and English. After graduating from Yale, he completed his doctorate at Columbia, where he also wrote his well-thumbed translation of Kotoshikhin's work on Russia under the Tsar Alexis, whose reign and personality were a torrent of conflicts between the devotion to the Russian tradition and the new, emerging elements of Western Europe. It is already at that point that several professional historians of Russia had commented that they considered Urloff's dissertation to be almost ready to publish. But Uroff, a charismatic professor and ever meticulous in his approach, insisted that there were "a few little things" he wanted to improve before submitting it for publication. Sadly, those "few things" were still there right up to his retirement and unexpectedly sudden death.
    The current publication is an edition of the Uroff translation. It is intended to make an English text available to students and non-specialist scholars who might not otherwise have access to Kotoshikhin's original work. Muscovite-era experts will of course want to use Pennington's Russian edition, and they will know that there is also an extensive literature devoted to Kotoshikhin. Russia in the Reign of Aleksei Mikhailovich (Eng. Translation) - is available to read, download and share here: http://www.degruyter.com/view/product/212901.
    * * *
      Space.com / July 21, 2014
      Russia Launches Live Animals on Two-Month Space Mission
      • By Stephen Clark
      Роскосмос продолжает программу экспериментов на живых организмах - 19 июля с космодрома Байконур стартовала ракета-носитель «Союз-2.1а» с биоспутником «Фотон-М». На борту биоспутника - гекконы, дрозофилы, микроорганизмы и семена растений.

    A high-flying package of live animals, plant seeds, and materials samples shot into space Friday (July 18) aboard a retrievable Russian Foton satellite, launching a two-month mission focusing on microgravity research into biological and physical sciences.
    The workhorse launcher fired its kerosene-fueled engines and lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 20:50 GMT (4:50 p.m. EDT), rocketing into a clear sky over the historic spaceport. Launch occurred at 2:50 a.m. local time at Baikonur. The three-stage Soyuz 2-1a rocket, a modernized version of the venerable launch vehicle, put the Foton M4 space capsule in orbit less than 10 minutes later. The Russian Federal Space Agency, or Roscosmos, declared the launch a success on its website.
    The more than 15,000-pound Foton M4 space capsule launched by the Soyuz rocket is due to spend up to 60 days in orbit, hosting 22 experiments supplied by Russian and German institutions probing questions in biological and materials sciences.
    When the mission is complete, the spacecraft will break apart and its spherical landing capsule - fitted with a heat shield - will return to Earth with a parachute-assisted landing in Russia.
    The re-entry capsule's design is based on the Vostok spacecraft that carried Yuri Gagarin into orbit in 1961 on the first human spaceflight. It carries experiments to study the effects of the harsh environment of space on organisms, manufacturing materials, plus other investigations. According to information posted on the Roscosmos website, the Foton M4 spacecraft carries nearly 1,900 pounds of research hardware inside and outside the capsule.
    A joint Russian-German experiment will study the growth of semiconductor crystals in microgravity, an investigation scientists hope will lead to advancements in solar cells, light emitting diodes, transistors and other applications in the electronics industry.
    "The goal is to produce crystals with the highest possible quality," said a statement by DLR, the German space agency.
    Three types of materials will be heated up inside a Russian-made furnace housed inside the Foton M4 spacecraft. Once melted, the samples will crystallize as scientists study the influence of magnetic fields and vibrations on their growth. The materials samples will be divided among Russian and German scientists at the end of the mission. Geckos and plant seeds are also flying inside the pressurized Foton M4 space capsule.
    Researchers will monitor the effects of microgravity on the adult geckos, including their sexual behavior and embryonic development, according to Roscosmos. Scientists will have a continuous video recording of the gecko habitat aboard the spacecraft.
    Dried seeds and silkworm eggs inside the Foton space capsule will be studied to determine their response to cosmic radiation, and the satellite carries several experiments for research into microbes.
    The mission marks the 16th flight of a recoverable Foton spacecraft since 1985.
    The Foton M4 mission carries several upgrades to extend the duration of its flight, including solar panels to generate electricity and a new propulsion module to adjust its altitude. Roscosmos says landing in southern Russia is scheduled for September.

    Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved.
    * * *
      Физики Сергей Филиппов (МФТИ, Российский квантовый центр в Сколково) и Марио Зиман (Университет им. Масарика, Брно, Чехия, Физический институт, Братислава, Словакия) нашли способ сохранить квантовую запутанность частиц при прохождении через усилитель или, напротив, при передаче на большое расстояние. Квантово запутанные частицы в настоящее время рассматриваются как основа нескольких перспективных технологий, например такие, как защищенные от прослушивания каналы связи.
      Статья "Entanglement sensitivity to signal attenuation and amplification" опубликована в журнале Physical Review A.

    Physicists Sergei Filippov (MIPT and Russian Quantum Center at Skolkovo) and Mario Ziman (Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, and the Institute of Physics in Bratislava, Slovakia) have found a way to preserve quantum entanglement of particles passing through an amplifier and, conversely, when transmitting a signal over long distances. Details are provided in an article published in the journal Physical Review A. Quantum entangled particles are considered to be the basis of several promising technologies, including quantum computers and communication channels secured against tapping. Quantum entangled particles are quantum objects that can be described in terms of a common quantum state. Two quantum entangled particles can be in different places, at any distance from each other, but they still are to be considered as a whole. This effect has no analogues in classical physics, and it has been actively studied for the past few decades.
    Physicists have learned to entangle photons and have found application for them, including optical fiber communication channels which are impossible to tap. When trying to intercept the transmission of data over such a channel, quantum entanglement of photons is inevitably destroyed and the legitimate recipient of the message immediately detects interference.
    In addition to this, quantum entanglement allows for carrying out quantum teleportation, wherein a quantum object, for example, an atom, in a certain state in one laboratory transmits its quantum state to another object in another laboratory. It is quantum entangled particles that play the key role in this process, and it is not necessarily about the quantum entanglement of the atoms between which the transmission of the state takes place. The latter atom becomes absolutely identical to the former one, which in its turn transfers into a different state during the teleportation. If all atoms of an object were transferred like this, the second laboratory would have its exact copy.
    The laws of quantum mechanics do not allow for the teleportation of objects and people, but it is already possible to quantum teleport single photons and atoms, which opens up exciting opportunities for the creation of new computing devices and communication lines. Due to specific quantum effects, a quantum computer will be able to efficiently solve certain problems, for example, hacking codes used in banking, but for now it is still just a theoretical possibility. In practice, quantum computing and teleportation are obstructed by a process called decoherence. Decoherence is the destruction of the quantum state due to the interaction of a quantum system with the outside world. For experiments in quantum computing, scientists use single atoms caught in magnetic traps and cooled to temperatures close to absolute zero. After going through kilometers of fiber, photons cease to be quantum entangled in most cases and become ordinary, unrelated light quanta.
    To create an effective quantum computing system, scientists have to solve a number of problems, including preserving quantum entanglement when the signal abates and when it passes through an amplifier. Fiber-optic cables on the ocean bed contain a great deal of special amplifiers composed of optical glass and rare earth elements. It is these amplifiers that make it possible to watch high-resolution videos stored on a server in California from the MIPT campus or a university in Beijing.
    In their article, Filippov and Ziman say that a certain class of signals can be transmitted so that the risk of ruining quantum entanglement becomes much lower. In this case, neither the attenuation nor the amplification of a signal ruins the entanglement. To achieve this effect, it is necessary to have the particles in a special, non-Gaussian state, or, as physicists put it, "the wave function of the particles in the coordinate representation should not be in the form of a Gaussian wave packet." A wave function is a basic concept of quantum mechanics, and Gaussian distribution is a major mathematical function used not only by physicists but also by statisticians, sociologists and economists.
    Quantum mechanics differs from classical mechanics in that there are neither material points, nor clearly specified boundaries for bodies in it. Each object can be described by a wave function - each point in space corresponds to a complex number at each moment. If this number is squared* one may find an object at a given point. To get information on the momentum, energy, or other physical characteristic, the same wave function has to be exposed to a so-called operator.
    * In fact, since the amplitude is expressed as a complex number, it is necessary to multiply the number by a complex conjugate. This detail was omitted due to reader unfamiliarity with complex numbers.
    Gaussian distribution is a function that in its simplest form (without additional coefficients) looks like e-x2. In diagrams, it appears as a bell curve. Many processes in nature are described via this function when the results of observations are processed using mathematical methods. Ordinary photons, which are used in most quantum entanglement experiments, are also described by a Gaussian function. The probability of finding a photon at a given point (a translation of the expression "in the coordinate representation") first increases and then decreases according to the rule of the Gaussian bell curve. In this case "it would be impossible to send the entanglement far, even if the signal is very strong," Sergei Filippov said.
    Using photons whose wave function has a different shape should increase the number of entangled photon pairs reaching the destination. However, this does not mean that a signal could be transmitted through a very opaque environment and at very long distances. If the signal/noise ratio falls below a certain critical threshold, quantum entanglement vanishes in any case.

    © 2014 (e) Science News.
    * * *
      Russia and India Report / 23/07/2014
      Russian scientists support extension of ISS operation until 2024
      Российские ученые выступили за продление эксплуатации Международной космической станции до 2024 г. Ранее вице-премьер РФ Дмитрий Рогозин заявлял, что Россия прекратит участие в проекте после 2020 г.

    Russian scientists have supported the extension of the International Space Station (ISS) operation until 2024, Director of the Institute of Medico-Biological Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences Igor Ushakov told ITAR-TASS in an interview on Wednesday.
    "The scientific community will support this decision," he said.
    According to Ushakov, there are major plans for science support of flights to the ISS. New ISS units are being prepared for launch, in particular, the laboratory, node and scientific-energy modules. "And if these modules are commissioned by 2017-2018, then, of course, the extension of the resource until 2024 is desirable, in order to work on the new modules not for one or two, but for four or five years," Ushakov said.
    Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin previously said that Russia did not see commercial sense in participating in the ISS project after 2020, because this "consumes" more than one-third of the budget of Russia's Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos).

    © 2007-2014 Russia Beyond The Headlines.
    * * *
      Slate.fr / 25.07.2014
      La Sibérie, lieu «idéal» pour stocker la variole, c'est vraiment une bonne idée?
      • Alina Simone, traduit par Bérengère Viennot
      О ГНЦ Вектор, в котором хранится один из двух существующих в мире штаммов оспы.

    Officiellement, les souches du virus ne sont plus conservées que dans deux endroits du monde, aux Etats-Unis et en Sibérie. En raison de l'image que draine la région russe, cette dernière localisation inquiète. A tort?
    Le 1er juillet dernier, un chercheur qui faisait du rangement dans une chambre froide des locaux de la Food and Drug Administration, l'autorité sanitaire américaine, est tombé par hasard sur un carton contenant six fioles du virus de la variole. Sachant que l'Organisation mondiale de la Santé (OMS) considère cette maladie comme une menace si apocalyptique que les échantillons vivants ne sont manipulés que par des scientifiques en scaphandres équipés de leurs propres réserves d'oxygène dans des laboratoires hermétiquement fermés, cela revenait à découvrir une bombe atomique dans le frigo du campus à côté du gratin de nouilles de la veille.
    Cette découverte n'est que le dernier d'une série d'incidents insolites impliquant des agents pathogènes mortels. Le Center for Disease Control and Prevention (centre de contrôle et de prévention des maladies, CDC), où ont été envoyés les échantillons découverts pour être testés et détruits, a récemment fait fermer plusieurs grands laboratoires le temps d'enquêter sur de mauvaises manipulations d'anthrax vivant et de souches extrêmement virulentes de grippe aviaire.
    Cette variole égarée a attiré l'attention sur les deux seules réserves de virus vivants de la variole restant dans le monde, l'une stockée dans l'entrepôt du CDC d'Atlanta, en Géorgie, et l'autre au State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology, également appelé institut Vector, à une vingtaine de kilomètres de la ville sibérienne de Novossibirsk.
    Un lieu étonnamment progressiste
    Curieusement, certaines personnes sont davantage paniquées à l'idée qu'il y ait de la variole en Sibérie que par la découverte de souches à Bethesda, dans le Maryland, à 1.000 km de l'installation autorisée la plus proche. J'ai vécu et travaillé par intermittence à Novossibirsk pendant six ans, je suis donc parfaitement consciente que pour les Occidentaux, la Sibérie est toujours un sinistre synonyme de permafrost, de goulags et de mystérieux cailloux qui tombent du ciel.
    La variole a été officiellement éradiquée en 1978. Le système soviétique de goulag a été officiellement démantelé en 1960. Pourtant, aucune de ces deux horreurs n'a jamais disparu de l'imagination du public. Dites à un Américain qu'il y a de la variole en Sibérie et il imaginera immédiatement un homme grisonnant perché au sommet d'un mirador de prison, agitant une éprouvette avec au fond des yeux toute la douleur des purges staliniennes.
    Mais mis à part les blocs de béton s'imbriquant à l'infini, Novossibirsk ressemblerait plutôt à Minneapolis. Il n'y fait même pas si froid que ça.
    Novossibirsk est la troisième plus grande ville de Russie. Elle possède un métro d'une propreté et d'une efficacité ravageuses, un journal alternatif branché et suffisamment de chaînes de cafés et de restaurants de sushis pour mettre à l'aise la troupe entière des actrices de Girls. La Sibérie est également un lieu étonnamment progressiste. Loin de l'agitation provoquée à Moscou par l'affaire des Pussy Riot, le maire de Novossibirsk vient d'approuver tranquillement la pose d'une plaque en l'honneur de feu la chanteuse sibérienne punk Yanka Diagileva. Il y a même un Ikea - exactement comme à Atlanta!
    Mais si la Sibérie n'est plus un cauchemar à la Soljenitsyne, est-ce pour autant un endroit sûr où stocker la variole? La réponse est définitivement....c'est possible.
    Lorsqu'une employée du labo s'est piquée avec le virus Ebola, elle fut la seule à mourir
    La bonne nouvelle est que l'isolement de la Sibérie et la relative facilité d'y mettre en quarantaine quiconque serait accidentellement exposé au virus constituent un indéniable atout. Avant 1994, les souches russes de la variole étaient stockées dans un laboratoire militaire, à l'arrière d'une ancienne école moscovite. La variole a été déplacée à Vector parce que c'était plus sûr, et parce que ses installations plus sophistiquées permettraient aux scientifiques d'étudier le virus plutôt que de se contenter de le garder sous clé.
    Depuis sa création en 1975, Vector n'a fait que croître et à l'époque du transfert des souches varioliques, il occupait un gigantesque campus de presque 20 hectares et employait plus de 4.500 personnes. Après la chute de l'Union soviétique, le gouvernement américain y a investi beaucoup d'argent, l'aidant à atteindre la taille d'une installation de classe mondiale. Un mur de béton armé encerclait déjà le périmètre et des barrières high-tech, des détecteurs de mouvement et autres améliorations d'infrastructure destinées à réduire les risques biologiques y furent installés assez rapidement. Il y a deux ans, une équipe d'évaluation de l'OMS a séjourné à Vector pendant six jours sans identifier le moindre risque significatif de sécurité.
    Une équipe de l'OMS a séjourné en Sibérie sans identifier le moindre risque
    Plus important peut-être, les scientifiques de Vector ont apporté d'impressionnantes contributions à la recherche sur la variole. Selon Kevin Hendzel, expert en non-prolifération russo-américaine, les scientifiques de Koltsovo ne sont pas reconnus à leur juste valeur, ni pour les «immenses volumes de conséquents travaux de séquençage du code génétique (de la variole) ni pour leur contribution à la découverte de divers vaccins et traitements pour les épidémie en collaboration avec les Etats-Unis.»
    Les chercheurs de Vector sont également assez intelligents pour ne pas déclencher accidentellement une épidémie mondiale pendant les heures de travail. «Il faut des années de formation de haut niveau et une infrastructure massive pour ne serait-ce que toucher ce truc sans tuer accidentellement tous les scientifiques et le reste du personnel» souligne Hendzel.
    «Tout ennemi qui n'aurait pas la formation, l'infrastructure, les moyens de transport et les possibilités d'isoler ou de transformer la souche en arme court bien plus de risques de faire une bourde et de mourir avant de pouvoir s'en servir. Quelque chose comme 10.000 fois plus de risques.»
    La preuve: en 1994, lorsqu'une employée de Vector s'est piquée accidentellement avec le virus Ebola, elle fut la seule à mourir. Vous voyez? Aucun problème de sécurité.
    D'un autre côté, Vector n'a pas toujours été blanc-bleu. En 1992, Kanatjan Alibekov, transfuge passé aux Etats-Unis et impliqué dans le programme de guerre biologique russe, a identifié Vector comme site de recherches sur la transformation de virus en arme.
    Ce qui est bien plus dérangeant, c'est la réputation de secret de l'institut depuis la fin de l'ère soviétique. Selon Jonathan B. Tucker, auteur de Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox [Le fléau de la variole: une menace d'hier et de demain], la transparence à Vector «a connu un brusque déclin» après 2005, époque où le gouvernement russe a placé à sa tête un apparatchik de l'ère communiste, Ilyia G. Drozdov. Depuis, les virologues de Vector ne font plus que de rares apparitions aux réunions de l'OMS. Et lorsqu'ils s'y présentent, c'est pour faire des déclarations pour le moins inquiétantes.
    Au cours d'un comité consultatif de l'OMS fin 2008, des scientifiques de Vector ont annoncé qu'ils avaient déplacé dans des fioles en plastique toutes leurs souches de variole contenues dans des flacons en verre (manipulation hautement dangereuse, étant donné les risques d'annihilation massive susmentionnés) et décidé de détruire presque 25% de leurs stocks de variole sans prévenir personne.
    Mais au final, la variole donne lieu à un si grand nombre de sujets d'inquiétudes que le potentiel manque de fiabilité de l'institut Vector devrait être le moindre de nos soucis. Tout d'abord, comme le prouve la découverte des échantillons de variole à Bethesda, il n'y a aucune garantie que nous ayons réellement éliminé tous les stocks restant excepté ceux du CDC et de Vector. En 1980, l'OMS s'est principalement contentée de demander aux pays qui possédaient des souches vivantes de variole de se déclarer et de détruire volontairement les échantillons qui leur restaient. Mais comme le prouve le Traité de non-prolifération nucléaire, le système reposant sur l'honneur est loin d'être à toute épreuve lorsqu'il s'agit de géopolitique.
    Même si un Etat voyou ne parvient pas à mettre la main sur la variole, cela ne veut pas dire qu'un scientifique crapuleux muni des références idoines ne peut pas tout simplement entrer dans l'un des deux laboratoires habilités par l'OMS pour en voler. Après tout, le FBI n'a-t-il pas découvert que le responsable des attaques d'anthrax de 2001 n'était pas un quelconque fanatique encagoulé mais le microbiologiste et éminent chercheur en bio-défense Bruce Edwards Ivins? Et puis une autre menace se profile à l'horizon: les scientifiques seront bientôt capables de fabriquer une variole synthétique à l'aide de produits chimiques disponibles dans le commerce.
    Le plus grand risque: les cadavres d'anciennes victimes qui émergent du permafrost
    Mais si nous tenons vraiment à nous faire du mauvais sang, pourquoi ne pas transférer notre obsession de la variole vers les vecteurs humains qui émergent à l'air libre, en Sibérie, hors de l'institut Vector? Je veux parler des cadavres d'anciennes victimes de la maladie en train d'émerger du permafrost.
    Si les récentes découvertes aux Etats-Unis de personnes mortes de la petite vérole au XIXe siècle (ou juste de leurs croûtes) n'ont pas réussi à fournir des échantillons fiables de variole, les scientifiques espèrent que des momies sibériennes gelées ont mieux préservé le virus et aideront à répondre aux interrogations sur sa longévité. Les scientifiques de Vector se sont rendus en Yakoutie en 1991, au moment où les dépouilles d'une famille morte de la variole il y a plusieurs siècles ont refait surface. S'ils n'ont alors pas réussi à extraire de souche de virus fiable, une seconde cachette recélant des momies varioliques découverte dans la même zone en 2004 a livré suffisamment d'ADN pour permettre aux scientifiques de reconstruire partiellement sa séquence.
    Donc si l'on prend en compte les diverses menaces, les accidents, le non-respect des règles de sécurité et le chaos ordinaire régnant des deux côtés du globe, je dis allez à Novossibirsk et ne vous faites pas de mouron. Admirez son opéra, émerveillez-vous devant son architecture constructiviste et visitez le musée du Soleil. En revanche, si vous tombez sur un macchabée en peine décongélation - retenez votre souffle et surtout, ne grignotez pas ses croûtes.

    Tous droits réservés sur les contenus du site.
    * * *
      GlobalPost / July 26, 2014
      Giant crater in Russia's far north sparks mystery
      Глубокий кратер диаметром около 40 метров, обнаруженный на Ямале, вызван, скорее всего, таянием подземного льда и последующим мощным выбросом метана.

    A vast crater discovered in a remote region of Siberia known to locals as "the end of the world" is causing a sensation in Russia, with a group of scientists being sent to investigate. The giant hole in the remote energy-rich Yamalo-Nenetsky region first came to light in a video uploaded to YouTube that has since been viewed more than seven million times. "The crater is enormous in size - you could fly down into it in several Mi-8s (helicopters) without being afraid of hitting anything," the person who posted the video, named only as Bulka, wrote.
    The crater is located in the permafrost around 30 kilometres (18 miles) from a huge gas field north of the regional capital of Salekhard, roughly 2,000 kilometres northeast of Moscow. The appearance of the mysterious chasm prompted numerous conspiracy theories and speculation that it may have been caused by something otherworldly, with some even suggesting aliens might be behind it.
    Initial theories suggesting the crater was caused by a meteorite, however, were dismissed by scientists.
    "This does not stand up to any criticism," the deputy director of the Oil and Gas Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vasily Bogoyavlensky, was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency. He said the crater was likely to have been caused by the melting of underground ice in the permafrost, freeing gas that then built up high pressure and broke through to the surface.
    "At some point an explosion took place without any flame," Bogoyavlensky said.
    In an effort to discover its mysteries, regional governor Dmitry Kobylkin sent a group of scientists into the tundra where the crater is located in the Yamal peninsula - which translates as "the end of the world", Interfax reported.
    Marina Leibman, chief researcher at the Earth Cryosphere Institute, which studies permafrost, was part the team sent to scour the area.
    "A thorough search showed there were no traces of people or machinery" by the crater, Leibman said in a statement released by local authorities. She said that the crater could not have been caused by a meteorite because there were no traces of burning around the edge.
    "It most likely happened when pressure went up in some cavity containing deposits of marsh gas (methane)," she said.
    "So far this is just a hypothesis, the least contradictory one. There is no proof," she cautioned.
    Andrei Plekhanov, a senior researcher at the state Scientific Centre for the Study of the Arctic, said the crater has a diameter of around 40 metres (130 feet) on the inside and 60 metres on the outside.
    "To measure the depth precisely, you need specialists with serious mountaineering equipment," he added.
    "It's deadly dangerous to go close because the sides of the raised mound around it constantly cave in," Plekhanov said, quoted by the regional authorities in a statement.
    Scientists measured radioactivity levels and found there was no dangerous radiation.
    The Yamalo-Nenetsky region is the source of more than 80 percent of the natural gas Russia pumps out. The find also prompted speculation that the crater could have been caused by an explosion of shale gas, the regional authorities said in a statement, adding: "This version will also be studied by researchers." Scientists have also found a second, smaller crater with a diameter of around 15 metres, Interfax reported, after reindeer herders alerted them.
    "It's just like the one near Bovanenkovo but many times smaller, around 15 metres in diameter. Snow can be seen inside the hole," local lawmaker Mikhail Lapsui told Interfax after visiting the site.
    Experts said they were keen to explore the big crater further.
    "It's an interesting phenomenon. We are discussing further study of this place. It really is worth continuing scientific work," Vladimir Pushkarev, the head of the Russian Centre for Developing the Arctic, was quoted as saying by regional authorities.
    "A lot of scientists... would like to study the vertical wall of the crater," said Leibman.

    Copyright 2014 GlobalPost - International News.
    * * *
      The National Interest / July 28, 2014
      Russia's Next Crisis: A Brain Drain?
      The Ukraine crisis might not be Moscow's only worry these days
      • Andrew S. Bowen
      Станет ли следующим кризисом в России вновь усилившаяся «утечка мозгов»?

    It has become a race to the bottom on projections of just how stagnate the Russian economy is and on how much money it is losing. As the state of anarchy and blame game over Ukraine continues, Russia continues to hemorrhage capital and investments. Sanctions have had a dramatic impact on investment in the country along with its growth projections as businesses, and countries, continue to be unnerved by the continuing fighting and uncertainty of further sanctions.
    Yet they have not been forceful enough to stop Putin, and the full story of just how badly the Russian economy is doing has yet to be fully told as projections and outflows continue to change weekly. The IMF has just released new projections for Russian growth that are less than enthusiastic: GDP growth rates have been revised to 0.2 percent from 1.3 percent this year and to 1 percent from 2.3 percent next year. This - combined with the massive capital outflow that Russia has experienced since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis (which by some accounts, could be larger than reported. Even possibly $220 billion according to ECB head Mario Draghi) and the potential for Russia to be locked out of EU capital markets, among other measures under discussion by the EU - has understandably unnerved many investors and affected the economic outlook for Russia.
    Yet, despite all the sanctions, Russia's $2 trillion dollar economy still needs to be considered in a wider context. It still retains massive reserves (around $470 billion), along with having an enviable debt to GDP ratio (13.41 percent). Additionally, its own Asia pivot has seen some positive gains in recent months, including the signing of amassive thirty-year, $400 billion natural-gas deal.
    That is why many commentators deride sanctions and their ability to impact the Kremlin's decision-making process. Sanctions by themselves are very unlikely to forcefully change Putin's calculus in Ukraine. However, they are not meant to have the same force as NATO's tanks. Sanctions are designed to create a climate of instability and to increase the costs for continued courses of actions so that the decision makers and elites force Putin to change course themselves. It is a longer-term strategy that goes beyond short-term damage assessments.
    And while Russia's economy continues to muddle through in a mire of uncertainty, a far more damaging and long-lasting trend has emerged. It is not just capital and investment that is fleeing the country, but some of Russia's best and brightest minds.
    Reuters has reported on the latest emigration figures from Russia; official figures show emigration from Russia rising to 186,382 in 2013 from 122,751 in 2012, 36,774 in 2011 and 33,578 in 2010.
    Yet these are not just political activists and opponents of the Putin regime that are emigrating. These are the small- and medium-business owners and entrepreneurs, economists and scientists who are afraid of the increasingly constrictive Russian society. These are the people who are the true engines of growth for the Russian economy, and the people needed to rejuvenate the dormant entrepreneurial spirit that would diversify the moribund economy from its reliance on commodities.
    The most prominent example of this is the former rector of the Moscow School of Economics Sergei Guriev (another example is the founder of Russia's version of Facebook Pavel Durov). As Russia's most famous and internationally respected economist he had succeeded in turning the Moscow School of Economics into an internationally recognized institution along with advising the government on a multitude of issues. However, his advice struck too close to the levers of power when he participated in an independent probe of whether the formerly jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was unfairly jailed. The probe decided he had been. And with that, the all-too-familiar signs of an ominous interaction with the government was assured as investigators began turning up at his offices and asking for documents over a potential conflict of interest in the Khodorkovsky case. He soon fled to Paris out of fear for what would come next if he stayed. In his own words, he was not a political refugee, just another one of Russia's brightest minds fleeing the country for speaking out too loudly. "I have never been a politician, and I am not a political refugee. I left Russia for personal reasons: I personally prefer to stay free." Even prominent Russian journalist Leonid Bershidsky described his emigration as one of "disappointment" and not opposition.
    This is a worrying sign, even as Putin continues to enjoy 80-percent approval ratings. And while the Russian "middle class" has surpassed 40 percent of the population, it is not the middle class of the Western conception. In Russia, the middle class is comprised primarily of employees of the state or public sector, which accounts for 50 percent of the economy and employs some 25.7 percent of the active working population. That is why today's émigrés are all the more important - they have higher educations and are the engines of innovation and growth that Russia can ill afford to lose as it is increasingly isolated from the rest of the World.
    And without people like these, Putin's Stalin-like "four-year production plan" to boost labor productivity and ignite a "technological revolution" that will serve to energize the economy are more than likely to fall short. This - combined with his calls for further support of the arms industry to produce more "high-end jobs"- is not encouraging for the diversification of the Russian economy.
    To be sure, some are merely looking to safeguard their economic assets as a result of Crimea and Ukraine and are not concerned with the societal climate. Yet, this force had been building long before Crimea. As Marc Bennetts noted in an article for Vocativ,
    Russia's latest brain drain began in earnest last year after it became clear that the grassroots opposition against Putin had failed to force political and social change. Some six months earlier, as Putin made his controversial return to the Kremlin, some 80,000 protesters had filled central Moscow to rail against his inauguration.
    Unfortunately for Russia, this emigration is far more damaging and will have much longer-lasting repercussions than the capital flows that will always find a willing banker or lawyer to turn the tap back on.
    Andrew S. Bowen is a columnist for The Interpreter, a Russian-language translation and analysis journal. He is also a Ph.D student in Political Science at Boston College and a researcher for the geopolitical consultancy Wikistrat. You can follow him on Twitter: @Andrew_S_Bowen.

    © 2014 The National Interest. All rights reserved.
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