|Российская наука и мир|
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)
Российские ученые разработали неинвазивный метод раннего выявления преэклампсии у беременных женщин, определив специфические биомаркеры этой патологии.
Des chercheurs russes ont identifié des substances présentes dans les urines de femmes qui pourraient conduire au développement d'un test urinaire de pré-éclampsie, une maladie fréquente de la 2ème partie de la grossesse de cause inconnue pouvant avoir des conséquences graves pour la mère et l'enfant.
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Une maladie multi systémique
La pré-éclampsie est une maladie fréquente de la grossesse, pouvant survenir à partir de la 20ème semaine de gestation. De cause inconnue, cette maladie multi systémique se caractérise par l'apparition d'une hypertension artérielle et d'une protéinurie (présence anormalement élevée de protéines dans les urines). Malgré ces deux signes, les symptômes sont variables et peu spécifiques incluant des maux de tête, sueurs ou encore fatigue, ce qui rend le diagnostic précoce difficile. De ce fait, nombre de femmes développent des formes sévères (éclampsie) qui peuvent mettre en danger le pronostic vital de la mère et de l'enfant, d'où l'importance d'un diagnostic et d'une prise en charge précoces.
Jusqu'alors, les seuls moyens thérapeutiques sont la surveillance en milieu spécialisé si besoin pour permettre la progression de la grossesse jusqu'à un âge de gestation d'un fœtus viable.
Des pistes pour un diagnostic précoce
Depuis des années, des scientifiques ont essayé de retrouver des marqueurs spécifiques de la pré-éclampsie afin de pouvoir la dépister et prendre en charge précocement. Pour identifier des biomarqueurs urinaires potentiels, les chercheurs de plusieurs instituts de recherche russes ont analysé et comparé les urines de 3 groupes de femmes enceintes : 10 avec une grossesse normale, 10 avec une pré-éclampsie légère et 10 avec une pré-éclampsie sévère. Chez ces 30 femmes, les chercheurs ont identifié 1786 peptides (fragments de protéines). Ensuite, en utilisant des méthodes plus spécifiques, les scientifiques ont séparé et mis de côté des peptides ayant été identifiés par des études précédentes comme des biomarqueurs potentiels de pré-éclampsie.
Identification de 35 biomarqueurs potentiels
A l'issue des analyses plus fines, les chercheurs ont retrouvé dans l'urine des femmes enceintes ayant une pré-éclampsie légère à sévère, 35 peptides qui étaient absents chez les femmes avec une grossesse normale. Autrement dit, ces 35 peptides sont des biomarqueurs potentiels de pré-éclampsie. Il s'agit de fragments de alpha-1-antitrypsine (14 peptides), de chaînes collagène alpha-1 (I), alpha-1 (III) (6 peptides et uromoduline (7 peptides).
Selon les auteurs de cet article publié dans la revue Journal of Proteomics, "notre travail nous a permis de confirmer des marqueurs ayant été préalablement identifiés par d'autres chercheurs mais aussi d'identifier de nouveaux biomarqueurs". Et d'ajouter "l'étape suivante sera de confirmer l'importance de chaque marqueur pour enfin arriver au développement d'une méthode fiable de dépistage précoce de pré-éclampsie par un test urinaire".
A.S. Kononikhin, N.L. Starodubtseva, A.E. Bugrova, V.A. Shirokova, V.V. Chagovets, M.I. Indeykina, I.A. Popov, Y.I. Kostyukevich, O.V. Vavina, K.T. Muminova, Z.S. Khodzhaeva, N.E. Kan, V.E. Frankevich, E.N. Nikolaev, G.T. Sukhikh. An untargeted approach for the analysis of the urine peptidome of women with preeclampsia. Journal of Proteomics, 2016.
Завершилась совместная экспедиция американских и российских исследователей в государственный природный заповедник "Остров Врангеля" (расположен на двух островах Чукотского моря - о-ве Врангеля и Геральде). Целью было выяснить, как чувствуют себя живущие в заповеднике овцебыки в условиях изменения климата и нашествия в связи с этим белых медведей.
NEW YORK (June 1, 2016). The Wrangel Island Federal Reserve, a remote island some 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Russia, was recently the site of an expedition to understand the impacts of climate change and polar bear predation on muskoxen - a Pleistocene relic that survived the woolly mammoths and woolly rhinos that once roamed this northern Siberian tundra.
The accelerating phenomenon of melting sea ice, driven by climate change, is forcing more and more polar bears to seek prey on land rather than the ice. Expedition results will be used to understand this quickly-changing predator-prey dynamic, and to help guide conservation and management efforts in the High Arctic.
The trip was spearheaded by Dr. Joel Berger of the WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) Arctic Beringia Program and professor at Colorado State University, in collaboration with his Russian colleagues Dr. Alexander Gruzdev, Ilya Borisovich, Igor Oleinikov, Grigory Nikolaevich, and Sergey Abarok.
Expedition members brought back stunning photos and video taken during this expedition, including a charge of the scientists by a muskox. Berger approached a herd of 40 muskoxen dressed alternately as a polar bear and as a caribou, to gauge responses to species the animals may increasingly encounter due to climate change. Also included are the stark images of the barren tundra and the remains of Russian buildings that once that once provided protection for miners and fisherman in the mountainous island.
"The land is pristine and hosts wolves and wolverines, polar bears and muskoxen," said Dr. Alexander Gruzdev, Director of the protected area. "If ever there was a place of Arctic grandeur, it is Wrangel."
The ongoing study is not the first collaboration between Russia and the United States where muskoxen are concerned. While the species today exists in Greenland and parts of the North American Arctic, muskoxen died out in Asia during the recent past. They were returned to Siberia beginning in 1975 through a joint Russian-U.S. program. The population on Wrangel Island today is estimated at roughly 900 individuals.
Berger stated, "Grizzly bears are becoming efficient at eating muskoxen in Alaska, but are absent on Wrangel Island. Our goal - in consort with our Russian collaborators - has been to contrast how the polar bears of Wrangel deal with muskoxen and, just as critically, how muskoxen deal with them in return. We believe that once our analyses are complete, we'll come away with much greater insights about the novelty of prey-predator interactions that result from climate change and what this means more broadly across the Arctic." Indeed, how these iconic Arctic species respond to one another when forced into close proximity by climate change will hugely guide their conservation and management in the future.
The team used photogrammetry, a technique used to photograph the head sizes of young muskoxen so that annual growth can be measured and related to different climatic variables. Such measurements will help determine how the Wrangel Island population is faring in comparison with populations WCS and collaborators study in Arctic Alaska, a region warming faster than northeastern Siberia, and where hunting is permitted on the herds. Ultimately, this information will be used to inform the conservation of the species by identifying and addressing which specific factors are limiting muskoxen health, growth and survival.
Berger continued, "It's humbling to be in a land so raw and so beautiful; it's a piece of the planet where one can watch the Pleistocene still unfold with many of the players who shared the environment with mammoths. It's just as compelling to work side by side with Russians who share the same vision of the future, one with conservation of our joint Arctic natural heritages at the forefront."
This WCS-led project was funded by the Trust for Mutual Understanding and the National Park Service's Shared Beringian Heritage Program.
WCS would also like to thank the Wrangel Island Federal Reserve management.
Copyright 2015-2016 by Wildlife Conservation Society.
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Согласно недавним заявлениям министра образования и науки Дмитрия Ливанова, правительство России планирует создать условия для ускорения научно-исследовательских и опытно-конструкторских работ в национальных университетах.
The Russian government plans to create conditions for the acceleration of research and development activities at the national universities, according to recent statements of Dmitry Livanov, Russia's minister of education and science.
To date, the vast majority of scientific research in Russia has been conducted within the walls of the Russian Academy of Sciences - more than 80%, according to Vladimir Fortov, the head of the academy - however, the Russian Ministry of Education and Science is planning to change the entire approach for the development of science in Russia.
The ministry has drafted a new federal law that will regulate the development of Russian science and the system of higher education and which should replace the existing federal law on 'Science and State Scientific and Technical Policy'.
The new law will pay more attention to the development of university science and will stimulate the conducting of research and development, or R&D, activities in national universities, as opposed to the Russian Academy of Sciences.
A contributing motive for the switch in emphasis to universities is the high level of bureaucratisation of the academy, whose structure has been criticised by the Russian federal government and in particular by Livanov and other top officials from the Ministry of Education and Science.
Lyudmila Ogorodova, deputy minister of Russia's Ministry of Education and Science, said existing legislation in the field of science and higher education, and in particular the basic federal law on 'Science and State Scientific and Technical Policy' is incoherent and reduces the effectiveness of scientific activities in Russia.
She said there is a "high level of bureaucratisation of national science" and that priority to date has been given to the national Russian Academy of Sciences, leaving universities with an "insignificant" share of R&D activities in Russia.
Livanov was the first to advocate the development of university science in Russia in the State Duma in 2014, where he received the backing of MPs.
The focus in the initial stages would be on developing R&D activities in some of the country's leading universities, including the Moscow State University, Saint Petersburg State University, the Far Eastern Federal University and some others. The Russian government will provide grants to these universities for the acceleration of R&D activities, although the scale of the grants is not expected to be announced until later this year.
The heads of some of Russia's top universities have voiced support for the change of tack.
Viktor Sadovnichy, head of Moscow State University, said there is an "acute need" for the development in Russia of university science that will fully comply with the current trends in the global system of higher education.
"At Moscow State University, in recent years we have doubled the area of university infrastructure specially designed for conducting research and development activities in different spheres of science," he said.
"The new law should also help to more actively put our scientific research into practice."
He said the university is planning to more actively transform scientific findings and the developments of scientists into technological developments supporting Russian industrial production. For this purpose, there are plans to establish a special environment in the form of a special technological cluster in Moscow.
In a separate development, as reported in University World News, the government in March approved a large-scale research and technology valley in the centre of Moscow, which will be the largest scientific and technological centre in Russia, incorporating part of Moscow State University and the Russian Academy of Sciences. It will focus on research activities and the commercialisation of scientific developments and, according to state plans, will be like a hybrid of Harvard University and Silicon Valley.
*Meanwhile, writes Brendan O'Malley, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has told his government that the drive to achieve five universities in the top 100 internationally by 2020 is yielding results. At a cabinet meeting on 19 May he told ministers the number of universities included in the overall global rankings has grown, as have ratings on key disciplines. These included ratings in areas of traditional Russian strength such as mathematics and physics but also, in the past two years, in the humanities.
"Many universities have improved their research results and the number of publications - the citation index has doubled since 2012," he said.
The drive has been supported by the allocation RUB30 billion (US$446 million) in competitive subsidies for universities in 2013-15 - 88 applications were filed and 21 universities became winners - and RUB11 billion this year.
However, the prime minister warned that more must be done to market Russian universities.
"We have world-class universities. But we have little experience in promoting ourselves in the education market. Anglo-Saxon universities, for example, do a far better job. We should learn to promote our strengths," he said.
Copyright University World News 2007-2014.
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EE Times / 6/2/2016
Russian Make Diamond MEMS Resonators
Improving breakthrough 20-GHz resonator.
Физики из МФТИ научились использовать алмазы как подложку для сверхчувствительных пьезоэлектрических датчиков, способных распознавать малейшие изменения в давлении, температуре и других параметрах окружающей среды.
Статья "Lamb waves dispersion curves for diamond based piezoelectric layered structure" опубликована в журнале Applied Physics Letters.
LAKE WALES, Florida - The Russians are harnessing the piezoelectric effect on diamond substrates for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) semiconductors. Claiming a new world's record in the microwave regime, their faster-than-silicon piezoelectric "acoustic wave" resonators have been successfully modeled for super-sensitive sensors according to the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT).
The breakthrough claimed by the Technology Institute for Superhard and Novel Carbon Materials (TISNCM) in conjunction with the Siberian Federal University, is diamond substrate MEMS resonators whose speed exceeds 20-GHz while maintaining a quality factor (Q) over 2,000. Such performance could be used not only just to produce high-speed clocking signals, but to create ultra-sensitive surface- and bulk-acoustic (SAW/BAW) wave resonators for biosensors that could detect near single bacteria and other nanoscale-quantities of toxic agents.
"High frequency SAW/BAW resonators have been studied by several authors. Several reports included relatively high frequencies (but less than 10-GHz) and the quality factor was relatively low," researcher Arseniy Telichko from TISNCM told EE Times. "Our diamond-based device can operate at dozens of GHz by adjusting all its parameters, such as thickness, width and electrode material, and could result in near-single bacterium detection."
The Russians claim to be working on devices that outperform other researchers by virtue of fine-tuning of their high pressure high temperature (HPHT) deposition process. The other researchers referenced used slow-growth CVD processes, whereas the TISNCM chains its method is not only faster, but results in a more perfect crystalline lattice.
"The main point is that other authors usually use CVD diamond created with technology using relatively slow carbon deposition. The diamond crystal 'grows' slowly, forming a thin film. But such CVD growth makes the diamond very stressed - with numerous internal forces 'unbalanced' in such crystals," Telichko told EE Times. "We, on the other hand, have used almost pure carbon synthetic single crystal diamond grown with HPHT. As a result, our diamond is in fact a single crystal, with minimum internal stress in the structure. So, our devices, based on single-crystal diamond operate at higher frequencies, have higher quality factor and are just better than CVD diamonds in general."
The trick to realizing superior applications using its pure crystalline substrates, according to Telichko, is to layer piezoelectric material atop the substrates sandwiched between two metals (aluminum and molybdenum). As a result, the more resonant structures not only make possible higher frequencies, but also simultaneously realize higher Qs.
"The studied high-overtone bulk acoustic resonator is a structure where all the parameters are mainly determined by the substrate material. Using HPHT diamond instead of quartz, langatate, or even CVD diamond makes the device better with higher quality factors, higher operating frequencies (up to 20-GHz) and less internal losses," Telichko told EE Times. "Recently we have shown that attenuation in diamond has linear frequency dependence after 1-GHz, while all other crystals have squared dependence. That means, that attenuation - energy losses - in diamond after 1-GHz increase slowly compared with other crystals, which makes diamond a perfect substrate for high-frequency electronic applications."
Previously in the lab, MIPT had experimentally studied and built a number of diamond based resonators and shown them operating at >20-GHz, "which is a world record for such devices," said Telichko. However, at such speeds Telichko's team had noticed some spurious peaks near the main overtone, resulting in the current work which explains and classifies them the result of Lamb-mode waves - elastic waves whose motion lies in the plane of the surface- and bulk-waves.
To maximize performance, the Russians are proposing a revised evaluation of the Lamb waves propagation. Using finite-element analysis, the propagation of the acoustic waves in the layered piezoelectric structure was studied in detail, and the dispersive curves of their phase velocity plotted.
For the future, the team plans to take the advantage of a promising new aluminum-scandium-nitrogen piezoelectric film, which may turn out to quell the Lamb-wave induced spurious peaks.
Copyright © 2016 UBM All Rights Reserved.
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Российские (Томский госуниверситет), американские и мексиканские зоологи доказали, что людям могут передаваться инфекции от летучих мышей. Раньше считалось, что отряд рукокрылых экологически достаточно изолирован от остальных позвоночных и не опасен как переносчик инфекции.
Tomsk State University zoologist Maria Orlova participated in an international research project dedicated to parasites of bats from Mexico and the Antilles. The study proved that both parasites and bats can act as the transmitters of dangerous human infections.
The scientific community has commonly believed that bats are ecologically isolated from other vertebrates. Thus, for a long time, bats were not considered to be transmitters of dangerous infections, which was one reason that bat parasites are understudied. An international research team has focused on studying the role of bats and their parasites in the transmission of dangerous natural focal infections in Central America and the Antilles archipelago, where tourism is widespread.
One of the most important goals of the research is to determine which infections are transmitted by bats and their parasites and whether human infection is possible. The Antilles are tropical habitats for many bats species and a significant number of bat parasite species. Both were tested for any infections, according to Orlova, a postdoc of the TSU Laboratory for Biodiversity Monitoring.
Opinions about the isolation of bats in the tropics are changing. Bats are now known to be closely interconnected with other groups of animals. Bats tend to inhabit human-made shelters, which makes their direct contact with people possible. In the wild, they exchange parasites and infections with rodents, which often live near people; thus, transmission of infections is possible through this link, as well.
"The samples from the bats contained gamasid mites. They are common with rodents, which indicates cohabitation," says Orlova. 'In Siberia, such findings are extremely rare, but the warmer the climate, the closer the contact between bats and rodents. Cases of parasite exchange become more frequent, so the probability of contagion grows." The infection cycle may include not only specific mites, but also human-biting mosquitoes, which comprise yet another vector of infection to humans.
Thus, listing the infections and studying transmission routes becomes urgent. For instance, the researchers in this project found causative bacteria of such genera as Bartonella, Ehrlichia, and Rickettsia, and also nematodes of the Litomosoides genus in the tissue and parasites of bats. Those are infections that may threaten people as well.
Most common bat parasites are harmless for people, but the research proves that these mites may spread the disease among small mammals, which may in turn transmit the infection to people. "This is why it is absolutely necessary to study gamasid mites," concludes Orlova.
More information: Jason D. Beck et al, First record of Chiroderma improvisum Baker & Genoways, 1976 (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae) from Saint Kitts, Lesser Antilles, Check List (2016). DOI: 10.15560/12.2.1854
© Phys.org 2003-2016, Science X network.
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8 июня Международный союз теоретической и прикладной химии (IUPAC) объявил о присвоении имен четырем новым элементам периодической таблицы Менделеева с атомными числами 113, 115, 117 и 118. Элементы с атомными числами 115 и 118 названы, соответственно, "московием" (Mc) и "оганессоном" (Og). Первый - в честь расположенного в Подмосковье Объединенного института ядерных исследований, где были синтезированы три из четырех элементов, второй - в честь академика Юрия Оганесяна, внесшего значительный вклад в исследование сверхтяжелых элементов.
Официально названия будут утверждены 8 ноября 2016 г., после публичного обсуждения.
Les quatre éléments lourds qui sont venus compléter le tableau de Mendeleïev en janvier ont été baptisés en hommage à un scientifique et aux laboratoires qui les ont découverts. Les nouveaux éléments s'appelleront Nihonium, Moscovium, Tennessine et Oganesson.
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Tant pis pour les 156 278 fans de Motörhead qui avaient signé la pétition : aucun élément du tableau de Mendeleïev n'a été nommé "lemmium" en hommage à feu Lemmy Kilmister, leader du groupe de heavy metal. La blague aurait été bonne, car ce sont quatre métaux lourds qui ont rejoint en janvier le grand tableau périodique de tous les éléments chimiques connus (métaux lourds, heavy metal… c'est bon pour tout le monde ?). Désormais, la dernière ligne du tableau est complète.
Mais c'est aux découvreurs de ces quatre éléments que revenait l'honneur de proposer un nom. Pour suivre les recommandations officielles, ils devaient s'orienter vers "un concept ou un personnage mythologique, un minéral ou une substance similaire, un lieu ou une région géographique, une propriété de l'élément chimique, ou un scientifique". Souvent, c'est une référence géographique qui est choisie, pour honorer le laboratoire à qui l'on doit la découverte de l'élément. On sait par exemple où furent créés l'Américium et le Californium… et à qui rendent hommage le Curium et l'Einsteinium.
Depuis janvier, la division de chimie inorganique de l'Union internationale de chimie pure et appliquée (UICPA) a longuement réfléchi… et annoncé sa décision ce mercredi. Un nom finaliste est retenu pour chaque élément. Une consultation publique est désormais ouverte jusqu'au 8 novembre 2016, avant que l'UICPA n'y mettre son dernier tampon d'approbation.
113 : Nihonium (Nh)
Cet élément porte le numéro 113 car son noyau comporte 113 protons. Il s'appelait provisoirement ununtrium, un nom de code inspiré du latin pour dire "un un trois", avec le suffixe -ium qui va bien pour tous les éléments chimiques. 113 vient d'un accélérateur d'ions au Japon. Il a été généré par une collision entre deux ions, et n'a vécu que quelques millièmes de secondes avant de se désintégrer car il n'est pas stable du tout.
Son nouveau nom, nihonium, traduit son origine : Nihon, c'est le Japon… en japonais. On ne pouvait pas faire l'impasse sur cette référence géographique, car le nihonium est le tout premier élément à avoir été découvert dans un pays asiatique. L'UICPA espère ainsi "que la fierté et la foi dans la science supplanteront la défiance de ceux qui ont souffert du désastre nucléaire de Fukushima en 2011".
115 : Moscovium (Mc)
Avec ses 115 protons, il s'appelait ununpentium depuis son officialisation en janvier. Lui est né dans les éprouvettes de l'Institut unifié de recherches nucléaires en Russie, qui compte neuf laboratoires et un centre universitaire. L'Institut est implanté à Doubna, dans l'oblast de Moscou. Moscou, moscovium… On comprend la logique.
117 : Tennessine (Ts)
Voilà un nom plus intéressant. Bêtement appelé ununseptium en attendant une meilleure idée, l'élément aux 117 protons est le dernier découvert parmi les quatre petits nouveaux. Il est apparu au laboratoire Flerov de Doubna en Russie en 2010, puis à l'université Johannes-Gutenberg de Mayence, en Allemagne, en 2014. Mais sa matière première vient des Etats-Unis : le laboratoire d'Oak Ridge, dans l'Etat du Tennessee, a fourni l'élément lourd berkélium, qui a été bombardé de faisceaux d'ions calcium. Ce sont les deux parents de bébé 117. Et l'équipe du Tennessee a ainsi été remerciée avec ce nom, tennessine.
Placé dans l'avant-dernière colonne du tableau des éléments, le tennessine aurait pu appartenir à la famille des halogènes avec ses confrères le fluor, le chlore, le brome et l'iode, mais ses propriétés chimiques l'en éloignent. On dirait plus un métalloïde, quelque part entre les métaux et les non-métaux. Quoi qu'il en soit, la colonne des halogènes et cie adopte une terminaison en -ine (en anglais fluorine, chlorine, bromine...).
118 : Oganesson (Og)
Un-un-huit, soit ununoctium pour le nom de code en latin. L'élément à 118 protons a finalement été baptisé oganesson en hommage au professeur Yuri Oganessian, né en 1933. Il fut "pionnier des recherches sur les éléments transactinides", soit les éléments superlourds au-delà du numéro 92, explique l'UICPA. "Ses succès incluent la découverte d'éléments superlourds et des avancées significatives dans la physique nucléaire comme la preuve expérimentale de l'îlot de stabilité".
Quant à la terminaison en -on, elle suit la règle de tous les éléments installés dans la dernière colonne du tableau, les gaz nobles : néon, argon, krypton, xénon, radon (sauf l'hélium).
"Certains verront peut-être de l'autocongratulation dans ces choix de noms, reconnaît Jan Reedijk qui a coordonné la réflexion à l'IUCPA, mais il est formidable de pouvoir reconnaître que les collaborations internationales sont au coeur de ces découvertes, et que ces nouveaux noms rendent enfin les découvertes plus tangibles".
Физики из Российского квантового центра доказали, что квантовая телепортация, впервые теоретически описанная в 1993 г., может идти не в одну, а сразу в две стороны.
Статья "Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past" опубликована в журнале Physical Review A.
In quantum world teleportation is not a science fiction. But can teleportation be realized in both directions simultaneously? Scientists from Russian Quantum Center revealed that the answer is "yes". Moreover Alice and Bob can teleport quantum states of their bits (qubits) to each other using the same quantum resource as in the standard quantum teleportation protocol: preliminary shared pair of maximally entangled qubits (also known as Bell state), wrote Aleksey Fedorov and colleagues in a paper, recently published in Physical Review A.
In the original protocol Alice performs a joint measurement on a particle with the qubit state she wants transmit to Bob and a particle form the shared entangled pair. This measurement destroys the transmitted state on Alice's side together with initial entanglement of the pair. In the same time, Bob can reconstruct Alice's state on his particle from the pair using measurement outcome obtained from Alice via classical communication.
"In our approach, we propose slight modifications of the protocol: now Alice and Bob act in more symmetric and gentle way," said Fedorov.
Each of the parties performs soft measurements on their particles with states they want to transmit and particles from the entangled pair. This softness makes it possible to employ simultaneously the shared entanglement for bidirectional transmission and receiving of quantum information. Nevertheless, nothing comes free: the transmission of quantum states becomes imperfect and only noisy versions of input states could be obtained at the output.
"Using a duality between quantum states and channels (known as the Choi-Jamiolkowski isomorphism) we show that such generalization of the seminal protocol demonstrates an interesting interplay between quantum entanglement and classical communication revealing a potential resource of entangled states for imperfect quantum state transmission", Fedorov noted.
© Phys.org 2003-2016, Science X network.
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The Guardian / Friday 10 June 2016
Russia dragging heels on creation of Antarctic conservation zone
Stretch of water in Ross Sea is ideal place to study marine life and climate change, say scientists.
Море Росса (Западная Антарктида) - одна из наиболее важных экосистем мира, в которой обитают большие популяции китов, тюленей, пингвинов, а также десятки видов рыб. По мнению ученых, это идеальное место для изучения жизни в Антарктике и последствий изменения климата.
В течение многих лет Комиссия по сохранению морских живых ресурсов Антарктики (АНТКОМ), куда входят 24 страны и Евросоюз, выступает за запрет промышленного рыболовства и создание международного заповедника в водах моря Росса. Решение должно быть принято единогласно всеми 25 членами, однако Россия и Китай постоянно блокировали процесс. Китай все же уговорили, но Россия своих позиций не изменила, а недавнюю неофициальную встречу Комиссии в Москве российские официальные ведомства попросту проигнорировали. Вопрос снова будет поднят в октябре, на ежегодном саммите АНТКОМ в Хобарте (Тасмания, Австралия).
A major diplomatic effort is under way to persuade Russia to agree to a conservation zone in the Ross Sea, a stretch of water in Antarctica that is home to large populations of whales and penguins as well as dozens of species of fish.
The Ross Sea is one of the world's most important ecosystems, a largely untouched marine area which scientists say is the ideal place to study life in the Antarctic and the effects of climate change.
For many years, conservationists have pushed for the creation of a no-fishing zone in the area, but Russia and China have repeatedly blocked the proposals, which need to be agreed unanimously by the 25 member states of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). China is now on board.
Russian fishing vessels fish in the area for Patagonian toothfish, also known as Chilean sea bass. Russian scientists claim there is not enough evidence to prove a conservation zone is required, while global campaigners say action is crucial.
"In 10, 20 or 30 years, it will be too late," said Lewis Pugh, who has undertaken swims in all the world's oceans. Last year, he completed five swims in the Ross Sea in Speedos, despite a water temperature of -1C and air temperature of -37C. Pugh was in Moscow this week to help with the lobbying effort.
"There's a lot going on in the world: Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, we would be foolish to think this is the only thing on the agenda, but really the single biggest issue for us all is the health of our planet," he told the Guardian.
More than 1.3 million people have signed a petition on the website Avaaz calling on Russia to sign up to the proposals.
"President Putin holds the fate of one of the last ocean wildernesses in his hands," said Nataliya Rovenskaya, global campaigner at Avaaz. "Over 1 million people from all over the world are calling on Russia to make history by protecting the Ross Sea and the countless whales, penguins and all the other magnificent species which live there."
The decision will be taken in October at the annual summit of the CCAMLR in Tasmania, and there is a diplomatic effort to change Russia's mind before then.
An appeal by the former archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu, released on Friday, forms part of the lobbying, with Tutu pointing to a 1959 agreement between the Soviet Union and the US, as well as other countries, to protect the Antarctic as a sign of what cooperation can achieve.
"When we protect an environment, we further peace. For me Antarctica is a symbol of peace. At the height of the cold war, the US and Soviet Union and several other countries put aside their difference and had the foresight to put aside the continent as a place dedicated to peace and science. That was a great moment," he said.
This year Russia is the chair of the CCAMLR, and campaigners hope it is the perfect moment for it to relax its opposition to the conservation goal.
Dozens of diplomats, as well as campaigners such as Pugh and José Marнa Figueres, former Costa Rica president and co-chair of the Global Oceans Commission, attended a lavish dinner at a palace in Moscow on Thursday night as part of the lobbying effort. However, only one Russian official attended the event, the former ice hockey player Viacheslav Fetisov, who is now a senator in Russia's upper house of parliament.
He was cagey on whether Russia might change its mind, denying that there was a disagreement: "I don't know what you're talking about; I think Russia like every other nation understands there are a great many reasons to save the planet," he said.
A western diplomat said it would be "very challenging" to get Russia to change its mind, and that Moscow's concerns were as much about sovereignty over an area of the globe it sees as strategically important.
Antarctica was discovered by a Russian mission dispatched by Tsar Alexander I, which reached the continent in 1820, and ever since Russia has paid close attention to the area. Recently, the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church visited the continent, where he communed with penguins and held a service at an Orthodox church built near a Russian research station.
Pugh said he was "hopefully optimistic" that the mood in Moscow might be changing. "It all comes down to Russia at this point. There is a lot of back-channelling and private discussions, and I hope that things here are slowly changing."
© 2016 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
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Россия переживает самую массовую "утечку мозгов" за последние четыре года. Уезжают молодые и образованные, и наиболее заметны последствия этого в сфере науки и технологий - в самую продуктивную возрастную группу (30-50 лет) входят менее трети ученых, работающих в России.
Статья приводится в сокращении.
Oil and natural gas prices are low. Western sanctions over Crimea continue to bite. Declining revenues have led the Russian government to demand another double-digit cut in state investment programs and administrative costs, with social spending likely also to take a hit. What Russia needs most is smart, technologically driven investment to shed its dependence on commodity exports and focus on diversified sources of growth. What it's getting instead are regret-laced waves goodbye from many of its top thinkers and creators. Those most likely to propel the country forward are instead charting their paths elsewhere.
To get at actual magnitudes, a look at immigration statistics in destination countries is required. Central Asia and other CIS countries remain the primary landing spots, and movement to China has been on the rise. But the West is increasingly attractive. Russian applications for the United States green-card lottery have soared in recent years, reaching an all-time high of 265,086 in 2015, almost one hundred thousand more than in 2012. Data for the United Kingdom reveal a similar pattern, with the number of immigrant visas actually issued to Russians up well over 50 percent from 2010 to 2013. About 75,300 Russians got residence permits for the European Union and Switzerland in 2014, up 25 percent over 2010. Israel reports that citizenship applications from Russians are up 30 percent over that time frame.
The most obvious impact lies in science and technology. Emigration has already hollowed out and aged Russia's scientific community, and the situation seems likely to get worse. Currently in Russia, there are 26,800 holders of Doctor of Sciences degrees. In the United States alone, there are sixteen thousand holders of these degrees originating in the former Soviet Union. Fewer than one-third of the researchers still in Russia fall within the most productive age group (thirty to fifty), while a quarter are over seventy. Independent funding for scientific research and development is now almost nonexistent, and international scientific collaboration has become increasingly restricted. The Dynasty Foundation, a nonprofit launched in 2002 to support Russian scientific research and education, was declared a foreign agent in May of 2015; its founder, Dmitry Zimin, left the country a month later, and the foundation shut its doors (and bank accounts) in October.
Overall, the most alarming recent trend is the emigration of students and recent graduates, driven by low salaries for young researchers, housing issues, substandard research facilities, an inadequate overall scientific environment, low social prestige for scientists and lack of effective government measures to improve the situation. The problem then compounds: the emigration of Russian scientists leads to declining production of PhDs in the next generation, as measured by admissions and graduates. The resulting shortage of mentors encourages the next generation to follow and pursue doctoral studies abroad.
Skolkovo, a Kremlin-created Silicon Valley imitator just outside Moscow, was supposed to plug the leak, but several Russian observers now call Skolkovo an "incubator of emigrants." More and more, investment in Skolkovo and its resident firms is coming from Russian state-controlled entities rather than from abroad. Financing for high-tech start-ups has always been scarce in Russia, and the local market for products limited, but the situation has been exacerbated by the ruble's plunge and Western sanctions freezing Russia out of capital markets. Home-grown Russian venture-capital funds now invest almost entirely in Russia, unwilling to support start-up founders looking to build internationally oriented businesses. It's no surprise that Russian social media is full of groups with names like "Time to Go?", offering commiseration and advice for Russian professionals, especially those in high tech, contemplating a move.
With an eye to implications for economic development, some recent government actions appear designed to keep Russian talent at home. In October 2014, the government cancelled the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX), a twenty-three-year-old high-school program that had supported twenty-three thousand Russian students to study in the United States. Putin has complained about foreign organizations "working like a vacuum cleaner" to lure the most talented Russians abroad. A spring 2015 survey of Russian students found 39 percent either considering or definitely planning to live and work abroad after graduation. A government scheme to offer full scholarships for 1,500 students to study in top universities around the world - in exchange for an ironclad commitment to return home - has been undersubscribed, the return-home clause a deal breaker. The government has recently doubled the stipend in hopes of filling the slots; the jury is still out on whether that will be enough. In the meantime, many Russian firms are reportedly disinterested in the program's graduates, who will return from abroad full of "foreign ideas."
Russian science and engineering, if not the entire "creative class," including small- to medium-sized business owners, is increasingly relocating abroad, prompted by shifts in the country's political environment over Putin's third term. Not all the smart, young entrepreneurs are walking out the door, of course, but the exodus appears perilously close to a threshold that could matter. Combined with underlying demographic processes simultaneously hollowing out the working-age population, the implications for Russia's economic and social development are stark. The only saving grace may be the continued ties - apartments, bank accounts and remittance flows, family - loosely binding those who have left to a country that, at core, they still love. But until and unless the current occupant of the Kremlin is gone, and although his regime may be pleased in the short term with the more compliant human capital that's left behind, the long-term price appears quite high. Russia's chief sustainable comparative advantage - its brainpower - is drifting away.
Judy Twigg is Professor of Political Science at Virginia Commonwealth University.
© 2016 The National Interest. All rights reserved.
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EurekAlert / 16-Jun-2016
Gravitational waves caught again
Scientists report gravitational waves from another pair of colliding black holes.
Ученые во второй раз в истории зарегистрировали гравитационные волны, источником которых было слияние двух черных дыр 1,4 млрд лет назад.
"The second detection of the gravitational waves from merging black holes is very important. The foundation for the gravitational-wave astronomy is becoming stronger and more reliable," says Valery Mitrofanov, Professor of the Physics Department of the Moscow State University.
Studies are conducted within the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) - a team of more than 1,000 scientists from the United States and 14 other countries, including Russia. Among the Russian scientists of the LIGO Collaboration is also the staff of the Physics Department of the Moscow State University: Head of the Moscow group, professor of physics of oscillations, Valery Mitrofanov, professors of the Faculty of Physics, Igor Bilenko, Sergei Vjatchanin, Mikhail Gorodetsky, Farid Khalili, Sergei Strygin, assistant Leonid Prokhorov. The development of the detectors and the data analysis involve more than 90 universities and research institutes. About 250 student participants also contribute significantly. LSC detectors network includes LIGO interferometers and the GEO600 detector.
"It is important that the second signal has been generated by the black holes with the relatively small masses, which better corresponds the astrophysicists' predictions. Now we can be more confident that the first event was not a rare exception," reports Farid Khalili, Professor of the Faculty of Physics of the Moscow State University.
"Gravitational waves, these flying pieces of space-time curvature, from something exotic became a common source of the new information about the universe and opened the era of gravitational astronomy," describes the situation Sergey Vjatchanin, Professor of the Physics Department of the Moscow State University.
In contrast to the signal recorded on the first detection of gravitational waves, which was clearly visible with the noise on its background, the second signal was weaker and not clear in the noise. However, the scientists were able to "filter" it with the help of a special technique.
Physicists have come to the conclusion that the observed gravity waves were generated by the two black holes of 14 and 8 solar masses in the last fraction of a second before they merged to form a single, more massive rotating black hole of 21 Solar masses.
During the merger which occurred about 1.4 billion years ago the amount of the energy equivalent to roughly one solar mass has become a gravitational wave. The recorded signal was produced on the last 27 turns of black holes before they merge. The detector in Livingstone recorded the event 1.1 milliseconds before the detector in Hanford, which allows to give a rough estimate of the location of the source on the celestial sphere.
The first detection of gravitational waves, announced February 11, 2016, was a milestone in the development of physics. It confirmed the prediction of the general relativity theory that Albert Einstein made in 1915, and marked the beginning of the new field of gravitational-wave astronomy. Detection of the two signals within four months of the first Advanced LIGO observations cycle allows predicting how often the signals of the gravitational waves may be detected in the future. Both discoveries were made possible thanks to the more refined Advanced LIGO detectors, which are more sensitive than the first generation of the LIGO detectors and can significantly increase the amount of the probed the universe. The next cycle of observations is scheduled for autumn this year. It is expected that by that time further improvement of the LIGO detectors' sensitivity will be able to enlarge the volume of the probed Universe 1,5-2 times. It is also expected that in the second half of this observation cycle the Virgo detector will become operational.
"The new result marks the conversion of LIGO from an extremely expensive scientific experiment into the instrument for the continuous extraction of the otherwise unavailable information about the structure of the Universe," says Mikhail Gorodetsky, professor of the Physics Department of the Lomonosov Moscow State University. "The repeating detection of gravitational waves gives a powerful impetus for the creation of a new generation of gravitational wave detectors for the further study of the Universe all over the world," concludes Sergei Strygin, Associate Professor of the Physics Department of MSU.
Moscow Ligo Scientific Collaboration group
Russia is represented in the Ligo Scientific Collaboration (LSC) with two research groups: the group of the Physics Department of the Lomonosov Moscow State University and a group of the Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Nizhny Novgorod).
The Moscow group was founded and until recently was headed by Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Borisovich Braginsky - the world-famous scientist, one of the pioneers of the gravitational-wave research in the world. The research group included professor of physics of oscillations: I.A. Bilenko, S.P. Vjatchanin, M.L. Gorodetsky, V.P. Mitrofanov, F.Y. Khalili, senior professor S.E. Strygin and assistant L.G. Prokhorov. The immeasurable contribution to the study is made by students, graduate students and technical staff of the department.
The Moscow University group is involved in the project since 1992. From the outset, the main efforts were directed at improving the sensitivity of gravitational wave detectors, determination of fundamental quantum and thermodynamic sensitivity constraints for the development of new measurement methods. Theoretical and experimental studies of Russian scientists were embodied in creating detectors which allowed to directly observe gravitational waves from the merger of two black holes.
The Moscow University research group is presently involved in the development of the next-generation gravitational wave detectors which will replace the current detectors and will provide a significant increase in sensitivity, enabling to detect gravitational wave signals almost on the daily basis. One of such projects is the LIGO-Voyager, which is supposed to use 150 kg of test masses made of monocrystalline silicon, cooled to the temperature of about 120 K, as well as significantly increase the optical power of the interferometer's arms and use compressed light. An important area of research to increase the sensitivity of gravitational wave detectors is the transition from a traditional interferometer scheme recording the displacement of the test mass mirrors to the new scheme allowing better suppression of the quantum fluctuations of light. For example, to the scheme of quantum tests masses speed measurement, proposed by the Moscow State University. The prototype of such a detector is being created at the University of Glasgow.
Copyright © 2016 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
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По последним прогнозам аналитиков российского Министерства образования и науки, стоимость обучения в российских вузах может увеличиться вдвое - из-за финансового кризиса и девальвации рубля.
The cost of tuition at Russian universities may double this year, due to the devaluation of the national currency, the ruble, and the consequences of the financial crisis in the country, according to latest predictions of analysts of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science.
The biggest growth of fees will be observed among private and state-owned universities located in the Russian regions that were mostly affected by the economic crisis in Russia - the economy contracted by 4% last year and is expected to contract further this year according to the International Monetary Fund - and the recently tightened state requirements on the quality of higher education. The latter mainly affected private universities.
By contrast, leading universities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg will try to restrict further growth of tuition fees for at least a year, helped by the huge volume of support that is traditionally provided to them by the Russian federal government.
Vladimir Zernov, chairman of the Association of Russian Private Universities, a public association, said: "The financial crisis in Russia, caused by Western sanctions, has had a negative effect on the entire system of higher education in Russia.
"A significant decline of the incomes of the local population may result in a drop in students from both private and state-owned universities. According to our predictions, the number of applicants for the next academic year may decline by a third, compared to current figures."
In the meantime, the planned increase of tuition fees has already sparked concerns in the Russian parliament (State Duma), which has already called on the national government to take measures in order to prevent their further growth.
According to Vladimir Burmatov, a first deputy chairman of the Duma Committee on Education, despite the current complex situation in the national system of higher education, the Russian government is not taking any measures for its improvement. He said the Ministry of Education and Science does not control and even does not track basic information regarding the current pricing policy of Russian universities.
Representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science declined to comment. But according to some sources close to Dmitry Livanov, Russia's Minister of Education and Science, the ministry has no plans to ask the Ministry of Finance to allocate additional funds for the support of struggling national universities.
Concerned about the ever deteriorating situation and inaction of the national government, the Duma has announced its intention to establish a special parliamentary commission that will tighten control of the pricing policy of national universities.
Artyom Khromov, Russia's student ombudsman, said that students should complain to the Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science (Rosobrnadzor), a controlling state agency in higher education nationally, if any university unilaterally increases fees.
Khromov said the Russian Student Union, or RSU, has already drawn up a letter to universities, asking them not to tie the cost of studying to the currency and to inform the students of any fee increases in advance.
According to the RSU proposal, a possible measure that could stabilise the current situation in the industry would involve extending the provision of educational loans to students. According to Khromov, currently more than 80% of students in Russia are unable to take such a loan as their higher education institutions have not signed an agreement with any bank.
Copyright University World News 2007-2014.
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United Press International / June 20, 2016
New study reveals how frog heads are formed
"In the course of the study, we discovered that the Noggin4 signaling protein is not like its relatives," explained researcher Fedor Eroshkin.
Биологи из Института биоорганической химии РАН выяснили, как проходит процесс роста головы и того, что в ней находится, у зародышей гладких шпорцевых лягушек. Ключевую роль здесь играет сигнальный белок Noggin4, связанный с белками и генами из семейства Wnt, которые управляют развитием эмбриона и стволовых клеток практически во всех многоклеточных организмах.
MOSCOW, June 20 (UPI) - A new study by researchers at the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, part of the Russian Academy of Sciences, has revealed the genetic mechanism underlying frog head formation.
Scientists have previously identified the "Noggin" family of cell-secreted proteins as key in signaling tissue formation. New analysis has identified a member protein singularly responsible for the formation of frog embryos and frog heads.
Previous research has revealed Wnt-cascade proteins are central to embryogenesis and cell differentiation, as well as the growth and development of malignant tumors. Computer models showed that the Noggin4 signaling protein binds exclusively to Wnt-cascade proteins.
"In the course of the study, we discovered that the Noggin4 signaling protein is not like its relatives," researcher Fedor Eroshkin said in a news release. "Unlike Noggin1 and Noggin2, it is not able to bind to proteins that organize the construction of tissues in the body, but instead binds only to those proteins that are responsible for the development of the embryo."
"Noggin4 therefore plays a key role in the formation of the head, and in particular, in the formation of the forebrain during embryogenesis," Eroshkin concluded.
When scientists artificially suppressed Noggin4 expression, live frog embryos suffered significant head formation defects.
"For Wnt-signal suppressers, we first found a partner which really diffuses much faster than other protein sensors, morphogens, by which cells communicate, 'feel' their spatial position within the embryo and instruct each other for further differentiation," explained Eroshkin.
The researchers hope their findings - published recently in the journal Scientific Reports - could improve human stem cell research and therapies.
Copyright © 2016 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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United Press International / June 22, 2016
New self-learning prosthetic arm controlled by owner's brain signals
"Initially, software will be universal, but we will adapt it to each specific artificial arm," said researcher Nikita Turushev.
Ученые из Томского политехнического университета разрабатывают прототип протеза руки, управляемого миоэлектрическими сигналами мозга. Протез будет способен выполнять те же действия, что и обычная рука.
TOMSK, Russia, June 22 (UPI) - The most maneuverable prosthetic arms require the attachment of a traction belt to the owner's shoulder. In addition to being cumbersome, users must contort their body into unnatural positions to trigger certain motions.
Researchers at Tomsk Polytechnic University in Russia are working on a prosthetic arm that learns from the user's brain signals and anticipates expected movements.
Scientists are perfecting a prototype. They say the final product will be able to perform the full range of motions of a healthy arm.
The human brain sends myoelectric signals to muscles to trigger an expected motion. Researchers have designed an algorithm to analyze myoelectric signals and anticipate the expected motion of the user.
"Initially, software will be universal, but we will adapt it to each specific artificial arm," researcher Nikita Turushev said in a news release.
The software's machine learning algorithm will enable the arm to copy and recognize the myoelectric signals and patterns specific to its owner.
Researchers are teaching the algorithm the myoelectric signals used by more than 150 study participants to control their healthy limbs. The scientists say they'll be ready to present their prototype and software within two years.
Copyright © 2016 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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Новосибирские археологи обнаружили более 20 петроглифов возрастом примерно 4000 лет в районе реки Ларги (Забайкалье).
More than 20 ancient pictographs have been discovered in a remote region of Siberia on the Largi River near the village of Gorbitsa, according to The Siberian Times.
Well, technically speaking, they have been discovered multiple times over the millennia, but most recently (as in, three years ago) scientists found the site and have been researching it carefully before making it known to the public.
"We now have a complete copy, with which we can work already to study the images, and analyse the plot (depicted in these pictures)," said one of the researchers, Dr. Sergei Alkin from Novosibirsk State University. "On the one hand, our task was to tell everyone about these amazing petroglyphs, brought to the study by other scientists. On the other hand, we wanted this rock art to remain undamaged with no marks and drawings left by tourists."
What do the images mean?
The images are composed of red and orange ocher - a naturally-occurring pigment composed partially of ferric oxide (sometimes called rust). They seem to depict ancient humans, a bull, a tree, and some birds, although many of them are up for debate.
"Of course, we must understand that interpretation of these images is not easy," said Alkin. "Central in the composition are the anthropomorphic images. It is difficult to say definitely who they represent: the hunters or spirits? In particular, there is a figurine, close to which is depicted a circle - a solar sign, the sign of the sun. It has a cross inside. The glyph may represent shaman drums in these cultures. So it is possible to assume that the figure with the solar sign depicts a shaman with a drum."
Another puzzling image involves something that might resemble a modern comb, with several dots above it. The dots may simply be a method of bookkeeping - perhaps something like the artist's number of cattle, according to a Novosibirsk State University release.
"As for the number of vertical lines above the horizontal line, it is quite possible that these show dugout canoes with people sitting in them," said Alkin to the Times. "Anyway, this is how such images have been interpreted by colleagues in other regions. There is only one such image known in Trans-Baikal region so far."
While it isn't entirely certain who created the pictographs - perhaps people of Tungus or Mongolian origin - preliminary testing offers up better evidence of a date: 4,000 years old. And it's pretty unique relative to finds in the area to boot.
"The rock art at Largi river is a rare site," said Alkin. "It is large and contains many images, while generally…the rocks in this area show between one and three poorly preserved drawings. Secondly, we are pleased that it is perfectly preserved."
© 2002-2016 redOrbit.com. All rights reserved.
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На прошлой неделе в России был спущен на воду самый мощный атомный ледокол в мире водоизмещением 33,5 тыс. тонн. Предполагается, что новые ледоколы такого класса будут способствовать освоению арктического региона, поскольку дают возможность круглогодичной навигации. Окончательно строительство завершится в 2017 г.
There's no icebreaker like a nuclear icebreaker, and last week Russia launched its biggest yet: the 567-foot, 33,500-ton Arktika. It is no coincidence that the giant ship has been unveiled just as Russia plans to extend its influence in the Arctic region.
The Arktika, launched in St Petersburg, is the first of a new class of ships known as Type LK-60YA, ordered by Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom (eventually there will be three vessels). Its task will be to smash a path through the ice of the Northern Sea Route. Raw power counts for a lot in icebreaking, and by bringing 80,000 hp (60 megawatts) to bear, Arktika will be able to break through floating ice almost ten feet thick. The icebreaker will lead convoys along a route that otherwise would be impassable.
"There are no icebreakers equivalent to Arktika anywhere in the world," Rosatom CEO Sergey Kirienko said at the launching ceremony. He went on to claim that it is more advanced than anything afloat. "The icebreaker Arktika means real new opportunities for our country."
Back in 2011, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested the Northern Sea Route could become more important than the Suez Canal for world trade, as it offers a short passage from Europe to the Asian Pacific. The first ships to ply this passageway may be LNG (liquified natural gas) carriers transporting Russian gas to Eastern markets. New icebreakers will play a key role in this expansion.
The previous nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika, which retired in 2008, displaced just 23,000 tons. So the new generation is almost 50 percent bigger. Russia currently has six nuclear icebreakers in operation as well as more than 30 diesel vessels.
The US currently has three icebreakers operated by the Coast Guard. These are non-nuclear, and much smaller than the Russian vessels - they weigh in at 13,000 tons and have a quarter of the power of the Arktika. Even so, the Polar Star can force a passage through ice more than six feet thick. Yet the disparity has some commentators worried about an "icebreaker gap" that would give the Russians an advantage in the Arctic.
"We're not even in the same league as Russia right now," Coast Guard Commandant Paul F. Zukunft told Newsweek in 2015. The concern is that the Russians will be better placed to exploit gas and oil deposits on the Actic seabed, an area Russia has been seeking to claim as her own.
President Obama has accelerated plans for another Coast Guard icebreaker to be delivered in 2020. According to the Coast Guard, a second new heavy icebreaker will be needed "to ensure continued access to both polar regions and support the country's economic, commercial, maritime and national security needs." The ships cost about a billion dollars each, though, which is not easy to find in the current economic climate.
Arktika will now have her reactors installed, and the ship will be completed in 2017. Her sister ships, Siberia and Urals will follow in 2018 and 2020.
© 2016 Hearst Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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EurekAlert / 23-Jun-2016
Russian physicists create a high-precision "quantum ruler"
Physicists have devised a method for creating a special quantum entangled state.
Российские и французские физики использовали эффект квантовых запутанных состояний для более точного измерения больших расстояний - с точностью до миллиардных долей метра. Этот метод может значительно улучшить возможности оптических интерферометров, подобных тем, которые используются для обнаружения гравитационных волн в проекте LIGO.
Physicists from the Russian Quantum Center (RQC), MIPT, the Lebedev Physical Institute, and L'Institut d'Optique (Palaiseau, France) have devised a method for creating a special quantum entangled state. This state enables producing a high-precision ruler capable of measuring large distances to an accuracy of billionths of a metre. The results of the study have been published in Nature Communications.
"This technique will enable us to use quantum effects to increase the accuracy of measuring the distance between observers that are separated from one another by a medium with losses. In this type of medium, quantum features of light are easily destroyed," says Alexander Lvovsky, a co-author of the paper, the head of the RQC scientific team that conducted the research, and a professor of the University of Calgary.
The study focused on what is known as N00N states of photons in which there is a superposition of spatial positions of not one, but several photons. That is, a multiphoton laser pulse is at two points at the same time.
These states could be important for metrology, or, more precisely, they could significantly improve the capabilities of optical interferometers, such as those used to detect gravitational waves in the LIGO project.
In optical interferometers, laser beams from two mirrors "mix" with each other and interference occurs - the light waves either strengthen or cancel each other - depending on the exact position of the mirrors. This allows their microscopic displacements to be measured, because the distance between the interferometric fringes is the same as the wavelength - approximately 0.5-1 microns. However, many experiments require even greater precision. Detecting gravitational waves, for example, required measurements of displacements comparable to the diameter of a proton.
"Though such extremely high sensitivities have already be achieved, N00N states could be useful to increase the accuracy even further, because the interference fringes they create are much narrower than the wavelength." - says Philippe Grangier, another co-author of the study, a professor of L'Institut d'Optique.
"The problem is that N00N states are extremely susceptible to losses. When travelling over long distances -in either atmospheric or fiber channels - a light beam inevitably loses intensity. For ordinary, classical light, that does not matter too much. But if an entangled state of light passes through a medium with even small losses, it "disentangles" and is no longer useful," says Lvovsky.
He and his colleagues found a way of solving this problem.
"There is a phenomenon called entanglement swapping. Suppose that Alice and Bob have an entangled state. If I then take one part of Alice's entangled state, and another part from Bob, and I do a joint measurement on them, the remaining parts of Alice's and Bob's states will also become entangled even though they never interacted" says Lvovsky.
"In our experiment conducted at the RQC laboratory, Alice and Bob create two entangled states. The send one of the parts to a medium with losses, which in our experiment is simulated by darkened glass. A third observer, midway between Alice and Bob, conducts joint measurements on these parts. This results in entanglement swapping: the remaining parts of Alice and Bob's states are in the N00N state. And as these parts did not experience losses, they exhibit their quantum properties in full," explains the lead author of the paper, Alexander Ulanov, a researcher at RQC and MIPT postgraduate student.
According to him, the level of losses in the glass corresponds to an atmospheric thickness of approximately 50 kilometres. The same method could also be used for light propagating in vacuum, either in the current ground-based interferometers such as LIGO, or in future space-based ones such as LISA.
Copyright © 2016 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
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Ученые из Университета ИТМО и Мариинской больницы (Санкт-Петербург) нашли способ прицельно растворять тромбы в кровеносной системе. Новый препарат для лечения тромбоза состоит из тромболитического фермента и пористой магнетитовой основы, которая и позволяет (с помощью магнитного поля) локализовать действующее вещество.
Статья "Leach-proof magnetic thrombolytic nanoparticles and coatings of enhanced activity" опубликована в журнале Scientific Reports.
Scientists from the ITMO University in partnership with Mariinsky Hospital in Saint Petersburg have successfully developed a new magnetically controlled drug that can condense blood clots using magnetic field.
At present, health care providers thrombolytic drugs are used intravenously during emergency situations concerning thrombosis. The Russian researchers described this procedure like "using a sledgehammer to crack a nut," because thrombolytic drugs do not target the clot, but instead spread over the whole circulatory system. This means that the drugs are being given in high dosage in hopes that even a small amount can reach in the area where the blood clot is located.
"Dissolving a little blood clot that blocked a vessel of only 1-2 mm in diameter, thrombolytic drugs negatively affect the entire network of blood vessels. In order to change the situation, we decided to develop a method of targeted drug delivery that would allow us to considerably reduce the dosage and ensure that the whole therapeutic effect is focused on the clot," explained Ivan Dudanov, head of the regional cardiovascular center of Mariinsky hospital and co-author of the study, in a statement.
The new drug, described in the journal Scientific Reports, uses a new composite material produced by the researchers to deliver thrombolytic enzymes in a safe and effective manner. The new composite material, which contains porous magnetite framework and molecules of urokinase, was used to create thrombolytic coating for artificial blood vessels and stable injectable solutions made of nanosized particles that can be easily localized near the clot by means of an external magnetic field.
Additionally, the magnetite framework also protects the enzymes from various present in the blood and can deactivate thrombolytic medications.
"We experimentally demonstrated that enzymes protected using our approach do not lose therapeutic properties over extended periods of time and even after repeated use. The rate, at which the new drug can dissolve the clot outperforms unprotected enzymes by about 4000 times," noted Andrey Drozdov, first author of the study and researcher at the Laboratory of Solution Chemistry of Advanced Materials and Technologies, in a press release.
All the materials used for the new drug are potentially safe for humans and already have permission for intravenous injection.
© Copyright 2016 IQADNET LLC All rights reserved.
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Международная группа биологов (Германия, Великобритания, Норвегия, Россия, США) объяснила, почему лиственничные леса Сибири мало изменились со времен ледникового периода, несмотря на потепление климата.
The vegetation of the Siberian permafrost could take several thousand of years to adapt to climate change, scientists have warned. The intensity of previous ice ages could be a crucial factor in determining how quick the flora is likely to evolve, as temperatures increase.
The researchers initiated the study - published in Nature Communications - after observing that in regions where pine and spruce forests should have been growing due to warm air temperature, Siberian larch trees and permafrost vegetation were in fact still thriving. They thus investigated the cause of this paradox by analysing a million-year-old bee pollen.
"Based on the temperature increase in the last century the larch forests should have been displaced in the tundra in the Northern Siberia and should have been invaded by pines and spruces from the south. But studies so far have shown only very small changes in the vegetation - and we were wondering why," lead author Ulrike Herzschuh explains.
Ancient pollen and long ice age
Using a 2.1 to 3.5 million-year-old pollen preserved in sediments at Lake El'gygytgyn the team compared the ancient traces of vegetation with reconstructed climate values of the warm and cold periods of that time. Essentially, their results point to the fact that because the last ice age was very cold, Siberia's vegetation lags behind the climate by several thousands of years.
Indeed, the comparisons between pollen and temperatures revealed that the colder an ice age was, the longer the vegetation needed to adapt to a new warmer climate. Thousands of years could be needed and not centuries, like scientists thought previously.
"The most recent ice age, about 20,000 years ago, was extremely cold, the permafrost spread over a large area, and forced deep rooted trees such as pines and spruces far to the south. The shallow-rooted Siberian larch trees - which only require a summer thawing of the permafrost soils of 20 to 30 centimetres - were able to survive in protected areas in the region," says Herzschuh.
Challenge for the future
But even if it takes longer than expected, pines and spruces will still end up appearing in Siberia - with potentially disastrous consequences for global warming and the future of the region.
"In the wake of sustained warming of the Arctic, pines and spruces are now slowly coming to the Siberian Taiga. This means that the forests will become denser and thus also darker so they will save more heat than before. This fact in turn implies that the temperature in Siberia will rise in the distant future," says Ulrike Herzschuh.
© Copyright 2016 IBTimes Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
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Popular Mechanics / Jun 27, 2016
Russia's Plan To Spin Off a New Space Station From the ISS
The end of the International Space Station may not be the end after all.
Россия рассматривает возможности для создания собственной орбитальной станции после завершения эксплуатации МКС (планируется на 2024 г.). Насколько реален этот проект?
The potential breakup of an international alliance is now brewing, and no, we're not talking about Brexit. This one is happening above our heads.
Russia's main contractor in human space flight just detailed its plans to separate the newest modules from the International Space Station (ISS) once the long-lived project comes to an end in the 2020s. It plans to build a new habitable base in Earth orbit called the Russian Orbital Station, or ROS. The outpost will include three modules initially, possibly joined by two more in the future.
Russian plans to split the ISS have been circulating for years. Now, for a host of political, financial, and technical reasons, this isn't just a wild idea on paper anymore.
The ISS has been a hallmark - perhaps the hallmark - of post-Cold War cooperation between the US, Russia, Europe, Japan, and Canada for more than two decades. But as its retirement looms, the partners have failed to strike a concrete deal about where to go next. NASA has been slowly building a deep-space exploration program that all but excludes Russia. Back on Earth, the political relations between U.S. and Russia are going in the gutter, complete with American sanctions against Russia and Russian fighter jets buzzing American warships.
One more big problem for the space station is that Russian efforts to complete its segment of the ISS have been stalled for years, first by poor quality control and then by the financial crisis. This month, reports surfaced that the launch of the Multi-Purpose Module, or Nauka (Russian for "science"), had been pushed back by another six months to December 2017. Given the complexity of the 20-ton behemoth, one can bet there will be more delays before Nauka reaches the launch pad.
It would make little sense to launch such an expensive spacecraft just few years before the ISS is scheduled to be retired and plunged into the ocean sometime in mid-to-late 2020s. But even with all their problems on the ground, Russians proved with the ISS (and previously with Mir) that their hardware can keep crews safe for in orbit for decades. Consider those two factors together and here comes the idea for the all-Russian Orbital Station.
According to RKK Energia, the prime Russian contractor on the ISS, the new outpost would begin with the separation of the Nauka from the rest of the old station in mid-2020s. By that time, Nauka should have two even newer modules in tow. One would be the so-called Node Module, a tinker-toy-like component that could connect to six other modules, crew ships, cargo tankers, structural elements, you name it. The Node Module is already in RKK Energia's garage and ready to go within a few months after the Nauka.
Next would be the new Science and Power Module (NEM) which, as it name implies, will finally give cosmonauts a state-of-the-art science lab and a pair of large solar arrays, making the Russian segment fully independent from the rest of the ISS in terms of power, communications, and other resources. The launch of NEM, currently promised as early as 2019, would set the stage for these three components to leave the ISS to form ROS.
And then Russia could add on. Someday, Russian engineers hope, they will outfit the Russian station with its own inflatable habitat and with a roomy airlock for spacewalks. Crews could be delivered to the new station onboard veteran Soyuz spacecraft or by a new-generation transport ship, which is currently in development.
Right now the future Russian station is only a plan, not an official strategy approved by the Kremlin. But Russian engineers want to make sure that the nation's cosmonauts have a destination in space in case all other options on the table do not pan out. Ironically, Russian space officials also left door open for other nations to join the project, an idea that so far has had a mixed reception at NASA and ESA.
© 2016 Hearst Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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Science Daily / June 28, 2016
No need for supercomputers
Russian scientists suggest a PC to solve complex problems tens of times faster than with massive supercomputers.
Физики из НИИ ядерной физики МГУ нашли способ решать уравнения квантовой механики не на суперкомпьютере, а на самом обычном персональном с мощным графическим процессором.
A group of physicists from the Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics, the Lomonosov Moscow State University, has learned to use a personal computer for calculations of complex equations of quantum mechanics, usually solved with help of supercomputers. This PC does the job much faster. An article about the results of the work has been published in the journal Computer Physics Communications.
Senior researchers Vladimir Pomerantcev and Olga Rubtsova, working under the guidance of Professor Vladimir Kukulin (SINP MSU), were able to use on an ordinary desktop PC with GPU to solve complicated integral equations of quantum mechanics - previously solved only with the powerful, expensive supercomputers. According to Vladimir Kukulin, the personal computer does the job much faster: in 15 minutes it is doing the work requiring normally 2-3 days of the supercomputer time.
The equations in question were formulated in the '60s by the Russian mathematician Ludwig Faddeev. The equations describe the scattering of a few quantum particles, i.e., represent a quantum mechanical analog of the Newtonian theory of the three body systems. As the result, the whole field of quantum mechanics called "physics of few-body systems" appeared soon after this.
This area poses a great interest to scientists engaged in quantum mechanics, nuclear and atomic physics and the theory of scattering. For several decades after the pioneering work of Faddeev one of their main purposes was to learn to solve these complicated equations. However, due to the incredible complexity of the calculations in the case of fully realistic interactions between a system's particles stood out of the researchers' reach for a long time, until the supercomputers appeared.
The situation changed dramatically after the group of SINP decided to use one of the new Nvidia GPs designed for use in game consoles on their personal computer. According to one of the authors Vladimir Kukulin, Head of Laboratory of Nuclear Theory, the processor was not the most expensive, of those that you can buy for $300-500.
The main problem in solving the scattering equations of multiple quantum particles was the calculation of the integral kernel - a huge two-dimensional table, consisting of tens or hundreds of thousands of rows and columns, with each element of such a huge matrix being the result of extremely complex calculations. But this table appeared to look like a monitor screen with tens of billions of pixels, and with a good GPU it was quite possible to calculate all of these. Using the software developed in Nvidia and having written their own programs, the researchers split their calculations on the many thousands of streams and were able to solve the problem brilliantly.
"We reached the speed we couldn't even dream of," Vladimir Kukulin said. "The program computes 260 million of complex double integrals on a desktop computer within three seconds only. No comparison with supercomputers! My colleague from the University of Bochum in Germany (recently deceased, mournfully), whose lab did the same, carried out the calculations by one of the largest supercomputers in Germany with the famous blue gene architecture that is actually very expensive. And what his group is seeking for two or three days, we do in 15 minutes without spending a dime."
The most amazing thing is that the desired quality of graphics processors and a huge amount of software to them exist for ten years already, but no one used them for such calculations, preferring supercomputers. Anyway, our physicists surprised their Western counterparts pretty much.
"This work, in our opinion, opens up completely new ways to analyze nuclear and resonance chemical reactions," says Vladimir Kukulin. "It can also be very useful for solving a large number of computing tasks in plasma physics, electrodynamics, geophysics, medicine and many other areas of science. We want to organize a kind of training course, where researchers from various scientific areas of peripheral universities that do not have access to supercomputers could learn to do on their PCs the same thing that we do."
V.N. Pomerantsev, V.I. Kukulin, O.A. Rubtsova, S.K. Sakhiev. Fast GPU-based calculations in few-body quantum scattering. Computer Physics Communications, 2016; 204: 121 DOI: 10.1016/j.cpc.2016.03.018
Copyright 2016 ScienceDaily.
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