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    Астрофизики Вячеслав Докучаев и Юрий Ерошенко из Института ядерных исследований РАН предположили, что темная материя может состоять из так называемых «чёрнодырных атомов» (black hole atoms). Это микроскопические - или квантовые - черные дыры, возникшие сразу после Большого взрыва и первоначально имевшие электрический заряд. Этот заряд мог привлекать протоны или электроны, оставляя черную дыру электрически нейтральной, как атом.
    Идея частично основана на теории фридмонов, разработанной в 1960-1970-х гг. советским физиком-теоретиком М.А.Марковым. Согласно ей, фридмон - гипотетическая частица, внутренние размеры и масса которой могут превосходить внешние во много раз за счёт эффектов искривления пространства в общей теории относительности.
    Статья «Black Hole Atom as a Dark Matter Particle Candidate» опубликована в журнале Advances in High Energy Physics.

The search for dark matter thought to compose much of the universe assumes Rumsfeldian dimensions as astrophysicists ponder not only known unknowns but the "unknown unknowns" that worried former President George W. Bush's senior war advisor.
Although scientists don't understand the nature of dark matter, they believe the mysterious hidden material must exist given the immensity of gravity binding the galaxies and other astral structures. Under the present understanding of the physical world, such a universe cannot exist without large amounts of hidden matter. The matter visible to the eye is vastly insufficient.
So for decades researchers around the globe have been searching high and low for evidence of dark matter, using instruments on the ground and in space. Now, astrophysicists Vyacheslav Dokuchaev and Yury Eroshenko at the Institute for Nuclear Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow say they've discovered the cosmic parlor trick. Dark matter may be comprised of the quantum-sized "black hole atoms" science has long postulated as a byproduct of the Big Bang. The explosion would have ripped areas of space dense enough to allow the formation of microscopic black holes, tiny mud puddles neither here nor there.
The mysterious - and apparently ubiquitous - material remains cloaked to the human eye even with advanced telescopes. As some believe intelligence to be distributed throughout the universe, these researchers suggest the university must be full of "primordial black holes." Either that, or an explanation hinges on an unknown waiting to be discovered by future generations of humankind.
But today, Dokuchaev and Eroshenko are building on a theory proposed in the 1970s by fellow Russian physicist Moisei Markov as well as by Canadian research partner Valeri Frolov. The so-called "friedmon theory" resolved a key matter of Einstein's theory of general relativity. This mathematical solution creates a bizarre world in which the friedmon resembles a microscopic black hole with an electric charge exactly like that of an electron - but with an interior as large as the universe itself.
The first to compare friedmons with dark matter, the Russian researchers say the "neutral black hole atoms" should carry the same properties thought to exist in black holes, themselves based upon controversial contemporary theories. Sounding like 19th century Russian novelist, Dokuchaev described the quantum black holes in a paper published in March in the journal Advances in High Energy Physics: They "would therefore be dark, massive, non-interacting particles" - with properties similar to the universe's supposed dark matter.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved.
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    Последние эксперименты в Центре по изучению тяжёлых ионов им. Гельмгольца (Дармштадт, Германия) подтвердили существование 117-го элемента периодической системы - унунсептия. Впервые же 117-й элемент удалось синтезировать российско-американской группе в 2009 году в Объединённом институте ядерных исследований (Дубна, Россия).

En créant son célèbre tableau des éléments chimiques, le Russe Dmitri Mendeleïev avait décidément été bien inspiré de laisser des cases vides. Les progrès de la physique ont en effet permis d'étendre le tableau au-delà de l'atome d'uranium, l'élément chimique numéro 92. Une équipe de chercheurs russes et américains vient ainsi d'annoncer dans Physical Review Letters l'existence de l'élément 117, baptisé pour le moment « ununseptium ». Il s'agit de l'élément chimique le plus lourd jamais observé : il pèse ainsi 40 % de plus que le plomb.
Cet atome, qui tient son numéro des 117 protons contenus dans son noyau, avait déjà été observé en 2010. Cette fois, l'équipe du laboratoire de Dubna, en Russie, l'a créé « en bombardant du berkélium [numéro atomique 97] avec des ions calcium propulsés à grande vitesse, nous apprend Courrier international. L'atome ainsi obtenu, extrêmement instable, n'a cependant survécu que quelques fractions de secondes avant de se décomposer en éléments 115 et 113, relate le magazine Forbes.
Un délai court, certes, mais suffisant pour que l'ununseptium puisse prétendre faire son entrée dans le tableau Mendeleïev. « Pour la première fois, en effet, quatre échantillons de ce nouvel atome ont été synthétisés ; ce qui devrait suffire à le faire reconnaître et nommer. » Un « tour de force », selon Physical Review Letters.
La confirmation de l'existence de l'ununseptium peut apparaître anecdotique, reconnaît Futura Sciences, « étant donné qu'il est bien trop instable et difficile à fabriquer pour envisager la moindre application ». Néanmoins, elle représente une nouvelle étape vers « l'îlot de stabilité » des éléments superlourds en physique nucléaire, précise le site.
L'élément 112, le copernicium, est le dernier a avoir été reconnu par l'Union internationale de chimie pure et appliquée (Iupac), en juin 2009. Après l'ununseptium, les chercheurs espèrent pouvoir confirmer l'existence de l'élément 118, puis des éléments 119 et 120.

© Le Monde.fr.
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    На протяжении нескольких десятилетий ученые стараются понять постоянно изменяющуюся структуру и поведение магнитосферы. В 1989 г. сотрудник кафедры физики Земли СПбГУ Николай Цыганенко создал математическую модель магнитного поля Земли, основанную на совокупности спутниковых магнитометрических данных и признанную лучшей в мире.
    В одной из последних работ - «Data-based modeling of the geomagnetosphere with an IMF-dependent magnetopause», опубликованной в журнале Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Н.А.Цыганенко рассматривает взаимодействие солнечного ветра и магнитосферы на основе данных о 123 геомагнитных бурях за 1995-2012 гг.

For many years, scientists have been striving to understand the constantly changing structure and behavior of the huge magnetic bubble that surrounds our planet. One approach - pioneered by Russian scientist Nikolai Tsyganenko - has been to develop models based on data sent back by spacecraft, such as ESA's Cluster quartet.
As Earth sweeps around the Sun, it is constantly bombarded by energetic particles from solar storms and deep space. Fortunately, the planet generates a powerful magnetic field which largely shields the atmosphere and surface against this perpetual, but variable, assault.
At the same time, the magnetosphere serves as a huge reservoir, storing energy which is pumped in from the solar wind and then released into near-Earth space and the upper atmosphere during magnetic storms.
As humankind becomes more and more dependent on space technologies, it becomes increasingly important to be able to map the terrestrial magnetosphere accurately and predict its dynamics, using all available data from spacecraft and ground-based observatories. In this sense, models of the magnetosphere play the same role as maps drawn up by early explorers when they encountered new, uncharted lands.
Over recent decades, two approaches have been developed in an effort to improve our understanding of how the magnetized gas of the solar wind interacts with the geomagnetic field. One is a purely theoretical approach, which relies on the power of supercomputers and sophisticated numerical methods, modified by simplifying assumptions made along the way.
The other approach - developed by Nikolai Tsyganenko and others - is based on direct observations by spacecraft. In essence, this approach involves a description of the global magnetic field and its responses to interactions with the solar wind by developing a model that provides the best agreement with spacecraft data.
A principal problem is that the magnetosphere is a highly variable system, and the most important task of the modelling is to reproduce its dynamics during stormy space weather events. In particular, there is often an extreme disparity between the enormous multitude of possible geomagnetic disturbances and the fact that the huge magnetosphere is being monitored by only a few spacecraft.
On the other hand, five decades of space missions have produced enormous amounts of archived data, and a whole suite of so-called empirical models have already been developed on that basis. Recent and ongoing multi-spacecraft missions, such as Cluster, keep adding a flood of valuable new data. In most cases, their observations are supported by simultaneous data from solar wind probes and ground-based geomagnetic observatories.
Taking advantage of the latest space missions, Tsyganenko has published the first results of data-based modelling of Earth's magnetic field based on information sent back by the Cluster, Polar, Geotail and THEMIS spacecraft during the period 1995-2012. His recent paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics analyses solar wind - magnetosphere interactions covering 123 geomagnetic storms.
"Most of the spacecraft that contributed to the existing archived database covered the near-equatorial part of the magnetosphere, where most of the electric currents flow," said Nikolai Tsyganenko. "However, to construct a global model one also needs observations made in high-latitude geospace, including the dayside polar cusps, where solar wind plasma penetrates the magnetosphere.
"The Cluster mission is an especially valuable source of data, owing to its multi-year long operation period, high orbital inclination, and its ability to resolve the fine structure of electric currents, owing to the specially designed constellation of four spacecraft, flying in close proximity of each other."
"Thanks to the Cluster Science Data System and the Cluster Active Archive, which provide easy access to the best calibrated Cluster data, such essential models can be produced to support magnetospheric physicists worldwide," said Philippe Escoubet, ESA's Cluster Project Scientist.

© 2002-2014 redOrbit.com. All rights reserved.
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    Россия не будет продлевать эксплуатацию МКС после 2020 года, заявил вице-премьер Дмитрий Рогозин. Вместо этого предполагается направить ресурсы на другие перспективные проекты.

Russian officials said Tuesday that the country plans to stop operations of the International Space Station after 2020, and will no longer let the United States launch its military satellites with Russian rocket engines, according to The Washington Post. The move is the latest development in the increasing tension between the two countries over the crisis in Ukraine.
The announcement comes not from the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, but from Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, which is an important distinction, Scientific American reports. NASA and Roscosmos are still working cooperatively on space station matters, despite an April announcement from NASA that it would cease any collaboration outside of the ISS.
"Part of me thinks it is posturing," Roger Launius, associate director for collections and curatorial affairs at the National Air and Space Museum, told Scientific American. "They're talking about beyond 2020. There's a world of time between now and then."
The ISS is built largely of Russian and United States modules, with some pieces from Japan and Europe. But since the United States retired the space shuttle program in 2011, it has relied on Russian Soyuz rockets to get astronauts to and from the station. Last month, NASA extended its contract for Soyuz launches for $457.9 million, according to the Post.
Russia may also stop hosting U.S. GPS stations, Space Policy Online reports. Operations of 11 stations in Russia would cease starting June 1.
A NASA statement on the issue said ISS operations will continue "on a normal basis," with the launch of a new crew coming in the next few weeks. "We have not received any official notification from the Government of Russia on any changes in our space cooperation," the statement read.
Three space station crewmembers returned to Earth as planned Tuesday night in a Soyuz rocket - U.S. astronaut Rick Mastracchio, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata. In January, the Obama administration approved NASA's request to extend ISS operations to 2024.

©1995-2014, The Weather Channel, LLC weather.com®.
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    Аналитики считают, что ухудшение отношений России с Западом может затруднить доступ к западным технологиям для таких проектов, как Сколково.

SKOLKOVO, Russia, May 22 (Reuters) - Students at Moscow's new science-focused university crowded into a lecture theatre outside the capital earlier this month to hear Canadian-born Nobel prizewinning molecular biologist Sidney Altman speak.
The students at Skoltech are yet to have their own campus because it is still under construction, so the lecture was held at the Moscow School of Management, a long dreary journey from Moscow city centre by metro and then bus up a traffic-clogged road.
"By the spring of 2015 we will have some major laboratories working here at Skolkovo in all of our disciplinary areas," said Skoltech President Edward Crawley, who is leading efforts to develop a university at Skolkovo, Russia's answer to Silicon Valley, with partners such as U.S. college Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Russian President Vladimir Putin and other officials point to projects like Skolkovo as an example of how Russia is diversifying its economy away from energy. Other projects include Russia's effort to develop Moscow as an international financial center and to launch a state-backed private equity fund.
But at the start of Russia's annual investment forum in St Petersburg, from May 22-24, the environment for projects such as the Skolkovo tech park is deteriorating. Western sanctions over Ukraine are exacerbating Russia's economic slowdown and giving foreign investors pause for thought.
For decades Russia has failed to deliver on promises to modernise an economy that is focused on extracting and exporting oil, metals and other commodities.
The chill in relations with the West following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula make a difficult task even harder.
"All these institutions and initiatives could only work as part of the broader Russian effort to become more integrated with the West," said Steven Dashevsky, founder of hedge fund Dashevsky & Partners in London. "We've seen that movement grind to a halt effectively now."
BIG DREAMS
For Skoltech students, the university is a gateway to the world, offering the chance to do placements with MIT and other colleges.
"Even a month at MIT is enough to open your eyes," said Jelena Nadj, an IT masters student from Serbia speaking at Skolkovo's Hypercube by the campus construction site, where tractors heave mounds of earth. "You change your attitude."
The collaboration with MIT was launched in 2011. The U.S. university is helping Skoltech to conceive and launch its graduate research university, which now has 63 masters students. MIT said the Ukraine crisis had not affected the alliance.
"When diplomatic and political dialog becomes difficult, the importance of educational and academic research collaborations becomes even greater," said Professor Bruce Tidor, Faculty Lead at MIT Skoltech Initiative, in an emailed statement.
That view is echoed by other Skoltech and Skolkovo partners contacted by Reuters. The risk for Russia is that attracting new money becomes difficult, however.
The Russian government has pledged 170 billion roubles ($4.9 billion) to Skolkovo, its press office said. The project has also attracted commercial partners including U.S. chip maker Intel, which said Skolkovo remains an important strategic partner.
Skoltech's international partnerships, which alongside MIT include London's Imperial College, Zurich's ETH and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, are a major draw for students.
"The international experience is one of the biggest achievements of this place," said Skoltech energy masters student Dmitry Smirnov, from Rybinsk, Russia. "Russia really needs international experience and to build to Europe and the Western world."
Analysts say that Russia's increasingly difficult relations with the West could result in reduced access to Western technology for projects such as Skolkovo.
"The chill between Russia and Western countries will undoubtedly diminish further the viability of the Skolkovo project," said MIT Professor of the History of Science, Loren Graham.
In emailed remarks Graham also identified the typically Russian 'top-down government-controlled' nature of the project as an obstacle to progress.
"The real problem with Skolkovo is not based on Western connections but with the nature of the enterprise from the beginning," Graham said.
SANCTIONS BACKLASH
The deterioration of relations with the West has led to predictions that Russia may increase business with Asia or become more isolationist. China and Russia on Wednesday signed a $400-billion gas supply deal, opening up a new market for Moscow as it risks losing European customers.
In response to the West's outcry over Ukraine, Russia has shown it is prepared to go it alone. It plans to set up a credit card payment system to rival Visa and Mastercard and is threatening to close U.S. GPS satellite navigation system sites.
"The worst case is we end up with isolationism and these organisations become sidelined and irrelevant and have a less clear future," said Chris Weafer, senior partner with Moscow-based Macro-Advisory.
"You can get plenty of money in the Middle East and Asia but Russia needs partnerships with established companies with expertise and technology and those are mainly Western companies."
The bulk of foreign funds to state-backed private equity fund the Russian Direct Investment Fund comes from the Middle East and Asia.
The U.S. government is asking U.S. firms to steer clear of Russia. Washington has told executives it is inappropriate to visit the St Petersburg forum this week. The event is closely associated with Putin, who usually delivers a keynote speech promoting Russia as a place to invest.
One U.S. executive whose firm is involved in major Russian state projects said his company was "caught between a rock and a hard place" and "laying low until the situation becomes clearer."
Several Russian state-backed schemes have international ties. London has partnered in a project aimed at turning Moscow into an international financial centre.
An annual trip to Moscow associated with the project and scheduled for June by the Lord Mayor of London is now uncertain to go ahead, said one financial source. The City of London's press office said no final decision had been made on the trip.
"It is a sign of the times that even at this late juncture, clarity is not available," said the source.
TheCityUK, an organisation working on the project, said it would continue to review its activity in the light of "the evolving circumstances in the relationship between the UK and Russia and assess how these might impact on the project." ($1 = 34.5447 Russian roubles) (Additional reporting by Marc Jones in Warsaw, Mark Felsenthal in Washington and Polina Devitt and Maria Kiselyova in Moscow; editing by Janet McBride).

© Thomson Reuters 2014. All rights reserved.
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    Скончался Валерий Павлович Бурдаков (1934-2014) - советский и российский учёный в области авиационно-космического машиностроения и энергетики, профессор МАИ, заслуженный деятель науки РФ, основатель научной школы экоматермики - науки, сочетающей достижения экономики, математики и термодинамики, применяемой для комплексного анализа эффективности сложных и больших социальных и производственных систем и организмов. Валерий Павлович также известен как популяризатор космонавтики и один из первых советских уфологов.

Valery Pavlovich Burdakov passed away on April 22, 2014.
Professor Valery P. Burdakov was a Ph.D. of Engineering Sciences, a distinguished Russian scientist, and co-author of an immensely popular book Rockets of the Future.
He personally knew many of those who had created Soviet ballistic missiles and the nation's space exploration program.
For thirty two years, Valery P. Burdakov had worked in Korolyov's design bureau. It was Sergey Korolyov who led the development of several generations of ballistic missiles, launch vehicles, scientific, military and communications satellites, interplanetary probes and manned spacecraft in the USSR.
Professor of Moscow Aviation Institute Valery P. Burdakov had also had participated in the creation of the Energiya-Buran shuttle complex.
Valery P. Burdakov was author of more than 400 works in engineering sciences: monographs, articles, inventions, and patents, manuals for aerospace engineering, economics, energy, and thermodynamics.
In the course of his career, Professor Burdakov had often met and communicated with Soviet and Russian cosmonauts. He learned much from them, including information about very unusual experiences.
Professor Burdakov had studied UFOs for over sixty years. He was against pseudoscience and hoaxes. He believed that 97% of all alien stories are fairy tales. But 3% are real messages from extraterrestrial civilizations. We should listen to such messages, believed the Russian scientist.
I exchanged letters with Valery Burdakov, and received important information from him, which I shared in my articles and books. In October of 1996, Professor Burdakov published his memoirs in Anomaliya Magazine (not to be confused with the newspaper ANOMALIYA) in Moscow. He sent me signed copies of the magazine issues containing the memoirs.
Among many materials and information Professor Burdakov brought to light, two, in my opinion, are significant.
The first one revealed Stalin's interest in UFOlogy.
According to Burdakov, Sergey Korolyov was summoned, and informed that it was by Comrade Stalin's request and that he was needed at the Kremlin.
There, Korolyov was provided with two female translators to assist him; was given a stack of foreign newspapers, books, and three days to complete the job.
At the time it was rumored that a "saucer" was captured near Roswell, New Mexico. In the stack of papers, Korolyov saw many published materials, as well as documentary testimonies. Among the materials there were reports of sightings over the USSR, too. Korolyov asked if he could take everything home with him, study the materials quietly, thoroughly, and consult specialists. Stalin rejected the request and instead provided Korolyov with a special apartment for his work at the Kremlin. In a few days he was again summoned before the dictator.
Stalin asked Korolyov's opinion. The scientist offered his views, stated that UFOs were not weapons of some potential adversary, and did not pose a serious threat to the country. However, the phenomenon itself does exist, added Korolyov.
Stalin thanked him, and said that other experts were of similar opinion. S. Korolyov assumed that Stalin asked such Soviet giants of science as Kurchatov, Topchiyev, and Keldish to perform similar analyses.
The second information had to do with the failure of the Phobos 1989 mission. Valery Burdakov made direct inquiries about the loss of Phobos 2 probe, and discussed the matter with the original designers of the project, as well as those who had tested the spacecraft. Suspicious of official explanations, Professor Burdakov questioned the series of strange events that led to the destruction of Phobos 2. He knew nothing about the photo images taken by Phobos 2, and was unaware that certain individuals in the West discussed possible reasons why the probe perished.
The Professor came up with a hypothesis: if Mars is inhabited, the intelligent beings who exist there would not like the idea of a device placed on the surface of their moonlet for purposes of constant observation. Consequently, in his opinion, they did something about it. Burdakov's views were expressed in an article published in 1992 in a Russian magazine Quant.
Valery P. Burdakov was a full member and Presidium member of the A.M. Prokhorov Russian Academy of Engineering.
His influence, research and knowledge have made him part of the history of Soviet and Russian UFOlogy.

© Copyright 2014 Open Minds Production, LLC, All Rights Reserved.
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    Air & Space Magazine / 21 May 2014
    The Spaceport in Siberia
    Russia is building a rocket launch complex six time zones from Moscow. Will its aerospace industry follow?
    • By Anatoly Zak
    Строительство космодрома Восточный в Амурской области планируется завершить к концу следующего года. Предполагается, что с него будет осуществляться запуск ракет любого типа - вплоть до сверхтяжелых. Однако российская космическая промышленность сейчас в основном сосредоточена в западной части страны.

In the midst of an endless Siberian forest in the Russian far east, 4,000 workers are toiling to build a 21st century version of the historic Baikonur Cosmodrome, where Russia has launched spacecraft since Sputnik. The new launch pad will be finished by the end of next year, and according to official plans, the site, called Vostochny ("Eastern"), will begin launching scientific and military payloads on Soyuz rockets, with manned launches on a new type of rocket to follow perhaps three years later.
Like Baikonur, the new cosmodrome will have its own city, accommodating 30,000 people, an airport, train station, hotels, parks, and schools. But Vostochny will have much more in the way of amenities, including a business center and a complex for training cosmonauts and space tourists. It also will have for its launch pads a mobile, vertical service tower similar to one Russia built in the last decade at the European Space Agency's Soyuz launch pad in Kourou, French Guiana. The service tower allows sensitive instruments, such as those on science satellites, to be processed at the pad.
At 270 square miles, Vostochny will have a much smaller footprint than Baikonur, which is spread out over 2,593 square miles (slightly larger than the state of Delaware). Unlike in Baikonur, where many miles of Kazakh Steppe separate launch pads, each requiring its own infrastructure, all rockets and spacecraft in Vostochny will be prepared for launch under one roof; the several wings of the single processing center will be connected by a common transfer gallery.
As long as Russia flies the Soyuz, manned launches to the International Space Station will still require Baikonur. Because of the design of its launch escape system, the rocket requires hundreds of miles of open space - such as the grasslands of Kazakhstan - so that its crew capsule can parachute down safely, primarily in case of an emergency after launch. At Vostochny, a manned Soyuz would have to overfly the rugged terrain of the Siberian forest and then the ocean, putting launch aborts at risk and making search-and-rescue missions along that path much more difficult.
For that reason, Russian engineers began working on a next-generation spacecraft, called PTK NP, that could make high-precision, rocket-powered landings into pre-determined spots along the flight path. However, the new capsule is too heavy to be carried by the Soyuz launcher, so a new rocket, Angara, is being developed. The launch pad for Angara won't be built at Vostochny until 2018, during the cosmodrome's second phase of construction. If everything goes according to a very optimistic (or, according to some, highly unrealistic) schedule, Angara would lift off from the new cosmodrome for the first time in 2018.
Vostochny owes its existence to the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, which left Moscow in the uncomfortable position of having to rent Baikonur - now $115 million a year - from the newly independent republic of Kazakhstan. It wasn't long before the Russian government vowed to rebuild the strategic spaceport on its own territory. Survey teams from the Russian space agency Roskosmos eyed an old nuclear missile base near the town of Svobodny in the Amur Region, some 478 miles west of the city of Khabarovsk. The base is almost on the same latitude as Baikonur, so rockets could carry the same size payloads as they did when launched from the Kazakh launch pad, and is bounded to the north by hundreds of miles of sparsely populated tundra and to the east by the Pacific Ocean; either is a handy crash site for spent rocket stages.
The choice of Svobodny was determined by orbital mechanics: As is the case with NASA's Kennedy Space Center, most rockets are launched eastward to take advantage of the momentum Earth's rotation affords. If a site had been chosen in western Russia, the eastbound rockets would have overflown populated areas. But the Russian economic crisis of the 1990s delayed large-scale development in the far east for almost two decades. When the economy improved in the mid-2000s, the Kremlin decided to act, and in 2007 approved the Vostochny project. Its estimated cost in 2012: $11.5 billion.
Along with freeing its space program from Kazakhstan, Moscow found an even bigger incentive to shift operations to the far east: jobs. "Without doubt, it should...upgrade the industrial base in the region," Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told his cabinet last November, according to Russian media.
Citing security concerns, the Russian government barred using foreign workers in Vostochny, and managers are still scrambling to find bulldozer operators, concrete mixers, and other construction workers. Despite an apparent lack of personnel, low pay, and reported harsh working conditions, the construction workers made visible progress in erecting the concrete structure of a Soyuz launch pad and support facilities in 2012 and 2013.
Besides the two Soyuz pads, "we plan two heavy launch facilities in Vostochny," the head of the Russian space agency, Vladimir Popovkin, told a Russian newspaper last April.
"Also, we are thinking about the development of a super-heavy rocket complex [with a payload] from 70 to 130 tons." According to the agency's official brochure on Vostochny, the third phase of development at the center, focused on bringing super-heavy rockets to the site, will take place from 2021 to 2030.
President Vladimir Putin alluded to Vostochny's grand future during his visit last April, when he radioed greetings to the crew of the space station. "I hope very much that it would be used not only by the Russian specialists but also by our colleagues in the United States and Europe," Putin said.
However, once the center is ready to start launching rockets of any kind, a major challenge looms. Currently, the Russian space industry is mostly concentrated in the western part of the country, in cities like Moscow and Samara. During his December 2013 visit to Vostochny, Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin summed up the logistic problem: "If our cosmodrome is here in the Amur Region, then why is all our [rocket] industry in the west [of the country]?" It was a politically flipped version of the question: "If our industry is in the west, why did we decide to put a launch site in the east?"
Will each liftoff require hundreds of engineers to commute across Russia's enormous territory, only to have to cross it again to return to their families and places of work in western Russia? To resolve the dilemma, Russia would have to persuade workers and engineers to relocate. To make Vostochny attractive to young engineers, Moscow promised a super-modern city would rise along with the launch and technical infrastructure of the space center. The government media even claimed that technical personnel who agree to relocate to the center with their families would be provided fully furnished cottages.
"In the east, there are all prospects for the rocket and space industry," Rogozin says. "Here Russia should spread its space shoulders. We need to do everything possible to attract young specialists here." It's a multi-billion-ruble gamble that Russia's space program can't afford to lose.

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    Согласно недавнему докладу Thomson Reuters, российская наука значительно отстает от большинства стран Большой двадцатки. За последние 10 лет доля российских статей в базе Web of Science снизилась с 3% до 2,1%.
    Правительство намеревается улучшить позицию российской науки на мировой арене путем усиления научно-исследовательской активности в государственных университетах.

The government is aiming to improve the position of Russian science in the global arena by accelerating research activities at national universities.
According to a recent report by Thomson Reuters, Russian science lags significantly behind most countries in the G20. Statistics show that over the past decade, the share of Russian papers in the Web of Science international database has dropped from 3% to 2.1% - and the papers go largely unnoticed by foreign scientists.
In 2012, Russian scientists published 26,503 papers in international journals, which is a very small figure for a country with Russia's scientific history and potential. The figures for 2013 are currently unavailable, but according to Ministry of Education and Science analysts, they are comparable with those obtained in previous years.
The situation is aggravated by the fact that citations of Russian papers are nearly 19% lower than average global figures. Among the most cited papers are those by physicists, astronomers, mathematicians and chemists.
Higher funding but publication lags
According to Ivan Sterligov, head of the analytical department at the Higher School of Economics - one of Russia's leading universities in the field of economics - the situation is complex as the number of publications by Russian scientists has remained the same despite the fact that science funding has risen significantly in recent years.
In 2000 the government provided about 17 billion rubles (US$500 million) for the acceleration of scientific activities, particularly at leading universities. By 2014 the amount had grown to 366 billion rubles (US$10 billion).
But during that period the number of publications by Russian scientists - and in particular by university professors - increased by only 5%. This compared to an 820% publication growth by Chinese and 51% by German researchers.
Sterligov said one of the reasons for the current situation was lack of world-class journals at Russian universities.
In addition, most of Russia's leading universities continue to pay greatest attention to research in the fields of mathematics and physics, while biology and medicine currently account for a significant share of global publications.
Research has never been a great strength of Soviet and later Russian universities, as the government traditionally placed more focus on developing research in the Russian Academy of Sciences and its numerous branches located throughout the country.
The situation has changed in recent years, however. Dmitry Livanov, the education and science minister has repeatedly announced state intentions to make national universities centres of research.
Among planned measures are increasing the salaries of professors by 200%, establishing laboratories in promising areas of research, and allocating mega grants to attract world-renowned scientists to Russian universities.
According to the presidential press service, implementing these plans will be personally overseen by President Vladimir Putin, who in May 2012 issued a decree aimed at increasing Russia's share of publications in the Web of Science to 2.44% by 2015.

Copyright University World News 2007-2012.
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