Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Апрель 2018 г.
Дайджест за другие годы
2018 г.
Российская наука и мир
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)

январь февраль март апрель май июнь июль август сентябрь октябрь ноябрь декабрь
    Российская Национальная премия по прикладной экономике 2018 года присуждена профессору Массачусетского университета (США) Ине Гангули - за цикл из трех статей, посвященных анализу продуктивности российских ученых в 1990-е годы, их решений по поводу эмиграции и влияния эмиграции на диффузию российской науки в США. Премия учреждена в 2009 году и присуждается раз в два года за выдающиеся научные работы, посвященные анализу российской экономики и имеющие большое значение для развития научно-экономического образования в России, а также для повышения эффективности российской экономики.

The winner of this year's award is University of Massachusetts Amherst Professor Ina Ganguli. This American researcher stood out for her series of three articles devoted to analysing the productivity of Russian scientists in the 1990s, as well as their decisions on emigration and the impact of emigration on the diffusion of Russian science in the United States.
The Russian National Award in Applied Economics is given once every two years for outstanding published papers on the Russian economy at the country, industry, regional, or company level. The main purpose of the award is to identify works of high importance to the development of academic research and economics education in Russia, as well as to the increased efficiency of the Russian economy and economic policy.
In her work 'Saving Soviet Science: The Impact of Grants When Government R&D Funding Disappears' published in AEJ-Applied Economics, Ganguli focuses on the effect of the smaller grants that George Soros' foundation gave as emergency funding to support scientists amid the sharp decline in state funding for the natural sciences immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union. These grants caused a spike in the recipients' scientific activities with minimal associated costs. The work also studies the grants' impact on the emigration of recipients and the differentiation of the effects compared to different categories of scientists.
Published in the Journal of Labor Economics, the article 'Immigration and Ideas: What Did Russian Scientists "Bring" to the United States?' shows that the immigration of Russian scientists to the U.S. considerably broadened the familiarity of their American colleagues with scientific works published in Soviet journals, works produced by both the immigrants themselves, as well as other Russian researchers.
The third piece, 'Who Leaves and Who Stays? Evidence on Immigrant Selection from the Collapse of Soviet Science' researches factors that impact the researchers' decision to emigrate. The author shows that, all else being equal, the likelihood of emigration is higher for men, as well as for younger and more productive scientists. All three works are based on a unique set of data. Ina Ganguli reached her conclusions using contemporary econometric methods that allowed her to establish cause-and-effect relationships.
Like in previous years, all of the works that were nominated for the competition underwent an anonymous peer-review process by at least two experts. The majority of them were world-renowned researchers who represent top universities and research institutes.
'This year the topics of the works were truly broad, ranging from problems of employment in science-intensive industries in the USSR and modern Russia all the way to the role of economic and political institutions in economic development and issues concerning the history of Soviet economic science. I want to note the high quality of the majority of works nominated for the prize this year. Even against this backdrop, the works by Professor Ganguli stand out thanks to their originality, the important questions they raise, the high-level reasoning in the answers to these questions, and the thoroughness demonstrated in working with data,' notes one member of the jury, Indiana University Bloomington Professor Michael Alexeev.
The Russian National Award in Applied Economics was established in 2009 by the Higher School of Economics (HSE, Moscow), New Economic School (NES, Moscow), the Ural Federal University (UrFU, Ekaterinburg), Association of Russian Economic Think Tanks (ARETT, Moscow), RAS Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO RAS), and Expert business magazine (Moscow).
The awards ceremony for the Russian National Award in Applied Economics will take place on April 11th, as part of the XIX April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development.

Copyright © 2018 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
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    Science Daily / April 3, 2018
    Deep inside Perseus A - A telescope larger than the Earth makes a sharp image of the formation of black hole jets in the core of a radio galaxy
    Международной группе астрономов из восьми стран, в том числе из России (ФИАН, МФТИ), впервые удалось визуализировать процесс образования джета - струи плазмы, формирующейся в окрестности черной дыры. С помощью наземно-космического интерферометра «Радиоастрон» было получено детальное изображение, позволившее увидеть структуру струи достаточно близко к месту ее зарождения. Полученные данные позволяют предположить, что джеты запускаются не из эргосферы (области пространства рядом с вращающейся чёрной дырой), а с окружающего дыру аккреционного диска.

An international team of researchers has imaged newly forming jets of plasma from a massive black hole with unprecedented accuracy. Radio images made with a combination of telescopes in space and on the ground resolve the jet structure merely a couple of hundred black hole radii or 12 light days from its launching site.
At the centres of all massive galaxies are black holes weighing as much as several billion times the mass of our Sun. It has been known for long that some of these massive black holes eject spectacular plasma jets at a near speed-of-light that can extend far beyond the confines of their host galaxy. But how these jets form in the first place has been a long-standing mystery. One of the main difficulties in studying them has been astronomers' inability to image the structure of the jets driven by the black hole close enough to their launching site so that direct comparison to theoretical and computational models of jet formation would be possible.
Now an international team of researchers from eight different countries has made ultra-high angular resolution images of the black hole jet at the centre of the giant galaxy NGC 1275, also known as radio source Perseus A or 3C 84. The researchers were able to resolve the jet structure ten times closer to the black hole in NGC 1275 than what has been possible before with ground-based instruments, revealing unprecedented details of the jet formation region.
"The results were surprising. It turned out that the observed width of the jet was significantly wider than what was expected in the currently favoured models where the jet is launched from the black hole's ergosphere - an area of space right next to a spinning black hole where space itself is dragged to a circling motion around the hole," explains Professor Gabriele Giovannini from Italian National Institute for Astrophysics, the lead author of the paper published in Nature Astronomy.
"This may imply that at least the outer part of the jet is launched from the accretion disk surrounding the black hole. Our result does not yet falsify the current models where the jets are launched from the ergosphere, but we hope it will give the theorists an insight into the jet structure close to the launching site and clues about how to develop the models," adds Dr. Tuomas Savolainen from Aalto University in Finland, head of the RadioAstron observing program which produced the images.
Another result from the study is that the jet structure in NGC 1275 significantly differs from the jet in the very nearby galaxy Messier 87, which is the only other jet whose structure has been imaged equally close to the black hole. Researchers think that this is due to the difference in the age of these two jets. "The jet in NGC 1275 was re-started just over a decade ago and is currently still forming, which provides a unique opportunity to follow the very early growth of a black hole jet. Continuing these observations will be very important," explains a co-author of the paper, Dr. Masanori Nakamura from Academia Sinica in Taiwan.
"This study of the innermost region of NGC 1275 continues our investigations of Active Galactic Nuclei at the highest possible resolution. As the distance to that galaxy is only 70 Megaparsec or 230 million light years, we are able to examine the jet structure with an unprecedented accuracy of only a few hundred black hole radii or 12 light days," concludes Professor Anton Zensus, director at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany and head of its VLBI research department, a co-author of the paper.
One radio telescope in space - dozens on the ground
The significant improvement in the sharpness of the jet images was made possible by the Earth-to-Space Interferometer RadioAstron, which consists of a 10-metre orbiting radio telescope and a collection of about two dozen of the world's largest ground-based radio telescopes. When the signals of individual telescopes are combined using the interference of radio waves, this array of telescopes has the angular resolution equivalent to a radio telescope of 350,000 km in diameter - almost the distance between the Earth and Moon. This makes RadioAstron the highest angular resolution instrument in the history of astronomy. The RadioAstron project is led by the Astro Space Center of the Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Lavochkin Scientific and Production Association under a contract with the State Space Corporation ROSCOSMOS, in collaboration with partner organizations in Russia and other countries.
"We at the RadioAstron mission are truly happy that the unique combination of the Russian-made space radio telescope and the huge international ground array of the largest radio telescopes has allowed to study this young relativistic jet in the immediate vicinity of the supermassive black hole," comments the RadioAstron Project Scientist, Professor Yuri Kovalev from the Lebedev Institute in Moscow.

Copyright 2018 ScienceDaily.
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    Российский и канадский палеоэнтомологи опубликовали результаты исследования ископаемого насекомого возрастом 53 млн лет - скорпионовой мухи. Найденный в Британской Колумбии экземпляр поразительно похож на окаменелости того же возраста с Тихоокеанского побережья России. По мнению ученых, это подтверждает то, что миллионы лет назад между Северной Америкой и Евразией была сухопутная связь.

It seems Canada and Russia have a prehistoric connection of the "beautiful" but "cockroachy" kind involving a 53-million-year-old insect fossil called a scorpionfly.
Paleoentomologist Bruce Archibald of Simon Fraser University and the Royal BC Museum said the discovery in British Columbia's McAbee fossil beds is strikingly similar to fossils of the same age from Pacific-coastal Russia.
A previous connection between the countries' Pacific regions has been found in the same area near Cache Creek, B.C., through fossilized plants and animals. Archibald said his identification of the colourfully winged species of scorpionfly found at the protected heritage site is another example of Canada and Russia's ancient geographical link, before the continents split apart.
"They kind of look cockroachy, although I don't want people to be disgusted. Today, they have one living relative in Chile, of this group that we discovered fossils of, in the southern beach forest called the Valdivian forest."
The Canadian species of scorpionfly is dubbed Eomerope eonearctica, and its Russian cousin is named Eomerope asiatica. The latter was identified in 1974 by a researcher who now works at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow and is Archibald's co-author on an article published online in The Canadian Entomologist. The article also features the discovery of another scorpionfly species found about two years ago by amateur Kathy Simpkins in a fossil she collected during an outing with a rock and fossil club near Princeton, B.C. It's been coined Eomerope simpkinsae.
The scorpionfly Archibald identified was from a collection at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C. He said it tells a story of how a group of insects travelled to different parts of the world through shifting continents and the rise and fall of sea level.
"I recognized off the bat that this was something special and something different," he said.
"In the Russian one the wings were almost all clear and in ours the wings are sort of tinted, with a little bit of colour on them. Aside from that you can't really tell them apart and that's pretty interesting."
He said the similarities feed into the big picture of the migration of animals and plants across what is now the Bering Strait.
"In paleoentomology, we use insects almost like a detective uses fingerprints to put together a much bigger story of how life has changed and how the earth has changed." Scientists believe the northern continents were connected millions of years ago but moved over time through plate tectonics.
"At that time you could walk from Vladivostok, in Russia, to Vancouver, and you could walk from Vancouver right onto Greenland and then over into Europe all the way without getting your feet wet. And it was mild climate so there were forests right up the Arctic Ocean," Archibald said.
He said his work is part of a "golden age of discovery" in B.C., where fossilized insects are almost an unknown resource.
"Fossil sites in the continental United States and in Europe and a lot of places have been explored for a long time, 100 years or so. But we in British Columbia remained relatively remote until quite recently," he said of a time before much of the province was connected through highways in the 1950s.

© Copyright 2018 The Globe and Mail Inc. All rights reserved.
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    Президент России пообещал к концу года увеличить финансирование фундаментальной науки на 150%. Значительная часть запланированного финансирования будет выделяться на конкурсной основе - специальная комиссия выберет наиболее перспективные проекты, которые будут реализованы через российские университеты.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to increase funding of national science by 150% over current levels by the end of the year, according to the press service of the Presidential Administration of Russia.
The increase will be applied to unallocated funding under Russia's existing science and technology programme 2014-20, and will increase the amount available from RUB40 billion to RUB60 billion (US$644 million to nearly US$1 billion).
A significant part of the planned funding will be allocated to universities, particularly those from a list of strategic institutions that includes the Moscow State University, Saint Petersburg State University and some others.
University science development a priority
Implementing the plan is part of the Russian government's recently announced strategy to make university science development a national priority in years to come.
Before 2017, the development of science happened mainly through the Russian Academy of Sciences and its numerous subsidiaries. But in recent years the situation has changed, with the government paying more attention to developing science in universities.
Vladimir Putin stated: "We want to ensure that the volume of state funds, allocated for basic research on the basis of domestic universities and R&D centres affiliated with [them], will increase by one-and-a-half times during the period of 2018-19.
"There is a need to reward scientists on the basis of their scientific results and activities, but not for their past endeavours." According to the existing federal programme for developing the scientific and technological complex, designed for 2014-20, the volume of state investments is estimated at RUB228.7 billion (US$3.7 billion).
Most of these funds have been allocated, with the remaining amount around RUB40 billion. According to the latest Putin statement, this amount will be increased by 1.5 times to RUB60 billion.
Competitive funding
Unlike in previous years, it is planned that most of the allocated funds will be provided to Russian universities on a competitive basis.
That will take place in accordance with a recent decision by the Ministry of Education and Science and the Federal Agency for Scientific Organisations, the newly created state agency for managing Russian Academy of Sciences property.
Under the terms of the new scheme, funding will be allocated on the basis of tenders. A special state commission will select the best and the most promising projects for national science, which will be implemented through Russian universities.
Not all happy
But some Russian scientists have already criticised the latest state decision.
Alexander Kuleshov, a leading mathematician and information technology expert and director of the Kharkevich Institute for Information Transmission Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences, commented: "The increase in funding and the use of a model of competitive financing is good news." However, he is worried that many promising researchers would not receive funding, and would be suspended or has their research frozen.
According to Eugene Onishchenko, deputy head of the Moscow University of Economics, there could be a threat of research money going to universities that have strong lobby influence within government but are not the best institutions. He added that planned tenders would not be transparent, as there would be special terms and conditions.

Copyright University World News 2007-2018.
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    Российские спелеологи спустились на дно самой глубокой известной пещеры в мире - пещеры Веревкина в Абхазии, глубиной более двух километров. Ученые также собрали образцы обнаруженной там уникальной фауны.

Russian speleologists have carried out a successful expedition to reach the bottom of the world's deepest known cave in the Gagra district of Georgia's Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, reports said Sunday.
According to reports, the expedition to reach the bottom of the Veryovkina Cave was completed in a week.
More importantly, Russian explorers discovered that the depth of the cave was recorded as 2,212 meters (7,257 ft) rather than the previously known 2,190 meters (7,185 ft), making it the new deepest-known cave in the world. Before the discovery, 2,197-meter deep Krubera Cave, also in Abkhazia, was recognized as the deepest cave on Earth.
American and European speleologists had previously attempted to carry out expeditions to reach the bottom of the cave, but were unable to do so, reports said.
While the expedition was expected to take place around 27 days, Russian speleologists reduced it to just a week.
The excavation team led by Russian speleologists Pavel Demidov and Ilya Turbanov noted that they discovered rare and never-before-seen species in the cave and have taken samples to analyze these in the lab.

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved.
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    На сегодня самыми точными часами являются атомные, в которых время отсчитывается с помощью перехода электронов между энергетическими уровнями. Чем короче период между двумя переходами, тем более краткую долю секунды можно отмерить.
    Физик из Научно-исследовательского института ядерной физики имени Д.В.Скобельцына МГУ Евгений Ткаля теоретически показал, как еще больше повысить точность атомных часов с помощью атома тория-229 и изолирующей сферы вокруг него.

A Russian scientist from Skobelitsyn Research Institute of Nuclear Physics, MSU theoretically substantiated that the speed of transition of thorium-229 from ground to excited state may be managed depending on external conditions. The frequency of transitions may be increased or decreased by dozens of times. This effect will help create extremely precise clocks exceeding even the best atomic ones. The article was published in Physical Review Letters journal.
The most precise modern clocks are atomic ones in which time is registered on the basis of electron transition between energy levels. Recently scientists suggested switching from electron to nuclear transitions that may considerably increase the precision of clocks due to higher frequency. However, in the majority of cases this frequency and corresponding energy are too high for the method to be applied. The main candidate to be used in such clocks is the nucleus of thorium-229. Its low-energy transitions are unique and lead to the emanation of an UV-spectrum photon. The work with nuclei is complicated due to internal conversion that causes the energy released in the course of nuclear transition to be transferred to one of the electrones and not released as a photon.
The probability of an electron gaining energy instead of its transition to a photon in a thorium-229 atom is a billion times higher. However, if the atom is placed in a crystal with a wide band gap, the situation changes.
"My idea is that in a crystal electronic sheath may be completely rearranged, allowing us to observe nuclear radiation without conversion," - explained the author of the work Evgeny Tkalya from RINP, MSU.
In his new work he theoretically reviewed the transitions of a thorium-229 nucleus in a crystal with the whole system covered with an isolator, a thin dielectric film, or metal. The author concluded that spontaneous emission can be controlled if the nucleus is placed within such bodies. This phenomenon is well-known for optic electron transitions and is called Purcell effect.
Analysis has shown that the cover, depending on its size and properties, may change the transition speed up to 50 times. This process is specifically interesting in clocks, as the emission line becomes narrower as well allowing the mechanisms to keep time more accurately.
"This may increase the precision by an order of magnitude compared to thorium-based clocks that do not take this effect into account," - said the scientist. "Using these additional physical phenomena, we may reach relative precision over 10-20."
The main issue that hinders the development of a nuclear clock prototype is the lack of knowledge about transition energy. Currently the inaccuracy of measurements for this value is tenths of electron-volt (eV), and to efficiently excite the nuclei with external radiation, the inaccuracy should be reduced to the level of the exciting laser line width (about 10-5 eV).
The scientist also shared the results of experiments carried out by a group of researchers at MEPhI showing that the radiation can be controlled and proving theoretical provisions of his work.

Copyright © 2018 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
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    В 2019 году в Санкт-Петербурге начнется строительство уникальной ледостойкой платформы «Северный полюс», предназначенной для изучения Северного ледовитого океана. Платформа, рассчитанная на 48 ученых и 12 членов экипажа, сможет автономно находиться в море до двух лет и преодолевать льды без помощи ледокола.

The Russian Hydrometeorological Service has signed a contract with the Admiralty shipyard in St. Petersburg for the construction of a self-propelled North Pole research platform able to house 48 researchers and 12 crew.
The platform, to be named North Pole and expected to be complete in 2020, will have ice classification of Arc8 and able to carry enough fuel for two years' sailing. It will be designed for year-round scientific studies in the Arctic Ocean and will be 67.8 meters (222 feet) long, 22.5 meters (74 feet) wide, will have a deadweight of 7,500 tons and a top speed of 10 knots.
Construction is expected to start early 2019 at an estimated cost of $120 million.
The Soviet Union and later Russia has had floating research stations in the Arctic since 1937. In recent years, research stations have been set up on an ice floe in September-October with around 20 scientists over-wintering there. However, it has become increasingly difficult to find ice floes solid enough to hold a station.
Russian research has encompassed marine life, meteorology and natural resources. Recent research has also focused on studying the Lomonosov Ridge to collect evidence that could strengthen Russian territorial claims to the seabed in that region within the Russian sector of the Arctic.

© Copyright 2018 The Maritime Executive, LLC. All rights reserved.
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    Найденный в 1894 г. в торфяном болоте под Екатеринбургом Шигирский идол считается древнейшей сохранившейся деревянной скульптурой в мире - ему не менее 11600 лет. Исследование, проведенное международной группой ученых позволило также более подробно изучить вырезанные на нем изображения и получить некоторые представления о культуре и уровне развития создателей идола.

In 1894, gold prospectors digging up a peat bog near the Russian city of Yekaterinburg unearthed something bizarre: a carved wooden idol 5 meters long. Carefully smoothed into a plank, the piece was covered front and back with recognizable human faces and hands, along with zigzag lines and other mysterious details. It also had a recognizably human head, with its mouth open in an "o." For more than a century, the statue was displayed as a curiosity in a Yekaterinburg museum, assumed to be at most a few thousand years old.
This week, a paper published in the journal Antiquity argues that the statue was crafted from a single larchwood log 11,600 years ago, making it one of the world's oldest examples of monumental art. In age and appearance although not material, the authors write, the so-called Shigir Idol resembles the stone sculptures of Göbekli Tepe in Turkey, which are often cited as the first monumental ritual structures. Both monuments represent a leap beyond the naturalistic images of the ice age.
The idol also shows that large-scale, complex art emerged in more than one place - and that it was the handiwork of hunter-gatherers and not, as was once assumed, of later farming societies. "We have to conclude hunter-gatherers had complex ritual and expression of ideas. Ritual doesn't start with farming, but with hunter-gatherers," says Thomas Terberger, an archaeologist at the University of Göttingen in Germany and a co-author of the paper.
The first radiocarbon dating of the idol, in the 1990s, yielded a startlingly early date: 9800 years old. But many scholars rejected the result as implausibly old. They argued that hunter-gatherers couldn't have produced such a large sculpture, nor have had the complex symbolic imagination to decorate it.
New samples were taken in 2014. At a 2015 press conference in Yekaterinburg, team members announced (before the results were peer reviewed), that these samples revealed even older dates, moving the age of the sculpture back 1500 years, to a time when the world was still transitioning out of the last ice age.
The new dates come from samples taken from the core of the log, uncontaminated by earlier efforts to conserve the wood. "The further you go inside, the older [the date] becomes - it's very indicative some sort of preservative or glue was used" after discovery, says Olaf Jöris, an archaeologist at the Monrepos Archaeological Research Centre and Museum for Human Behavioural Evolution in Neuwied, Germany, who wasn't involved with the study. An antler carving discovered near the original find spot in the 19th century yielded similar dates, adding credibility to the result.
The date places the statue at a time when forests were spreading across a warmer, postglacial Eurasia. As the landscape changed, art did, too, perhaps as a way to help people come to grips with the unfamiliar forest environments they were navigating, says Peter Vang Petersen, an archaeologist at The National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen who was not involved with the study. "Figurative art in the Paleolithic and naturalistic animals painted in caves and carved in rock all stop at the end of the ice age. From then on, you have very stylized patterns that are hard to interpret," Petersen says. "They're still hunters, but they had another view of the world."
At a conference in Yekaterinburg last year, experts debated the meaning of the Shigir symbols, comparing them to other art from the period and more recent ethnographic examples. The most similar finds from that time are those at Göbekli, more than 2500 kilometers away, where hunter-gatherers gathered for rituals and carved similar stylized animals on stone pillars more than 5 meters high.
Terberger sees a more recent parallel: the totem poles of the Pacific Northwest, meant to honor gods or venerate ancestors. Co-author and archaeologist Mikhail Zhilin of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow says the idol might depict local forest spirits or demons. Petersen suggests that the zigzag carvings could be a kind of "Keep out!" sign intended to mark a dangerous or taboo space.
The society that carved the idol is starting to come out of the shadows. Equipped with pumps and special equipment, Zhilin has returned to Shigir and another bog site about 50 kilometers away to excavate finds buried several meters deep in the waterlogged soil. He and his team have found hundreds of small bone points and daggers from the same time period, along with elk antlers carved with animal faces.
They've also found ample evidence of prehistoric carpentry: stone adzes, other woodworking tools, and even part of a pine log smoothed with an adze. "They knew how to work wood perfectly," Zhilin says. The idol is a reminder that stone wasn't the only material people in the past used to make art and monuments - just the one most likely to survive, possibly skewing our understanding of prehistory. "Wood normally doesn't last," Terberger says. "I expect there were many more of these and they're not preserved."

© 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights Reserved.
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    Исследовав захоронения кочевников-скотоводов бронзового века на границе Калмыкии и Ставропольского края, российские археологи обнаружили сосуды с остатками одомашненного ячменя. Ученые считают, что найденный в захоронениях ячмень был не выращен в том же регионе, а получен в результате обмена с населением предгорий Кавказа, где его стали выращивать почти на 3 тыс. лет раньше.

An international team of scientists including a professor of the Faculty of Soil Science, MSU studied burial sites dated back to the Bronze Age at the border between Kalmykia and Stavropol Territory and found traces of domestic barley on the walls of vessels. Local residents did not have agriculture at that time, so the barley was likely received from the peoples of leaving at the foothill of Caucasus in exchange for other goods. The details of the study were published in Vegetation History and Archaeobotany journal.
"The article presents the results of analysis of charred food remains on the inner walls of vessels from burial sites located in East Manych and West Manych belonging to the catacomb archeological culture (2500-2350 BC). We analyzed the phytolith composition and pollen of wild steppe plants and domesticated crops (namely, barley). Direct carbon dating of one of the samples showed that the spikes and stems of barley were used by local steppe communities during burial ceremonies," explained Anatoly Bobrov, a co-author of the work and Professor of the Faculty of Soil Science, MSU.
The scientists explored the burial sites (barrows and catacombs - underground burial constructions that have their name to the whole culture) along the East Manych River that flows through the territories of Stavropol Territory and Kalmykia. In the middle of III century BC when the burials took place, this region was occupied by cattle breeding nomads that moved between the foothill of Caucasus and Volga and Don Valleys. The scientists found charred remains of wild plants (such as amaranth or gromwell) on the floors of barrows, walls of ware and ritual vessels. Local peoples began to cultivate plants not earlier than at the end of the Bronze Age.
The authors of the work studied the remains of plants on the walls of clay vessels in the burial sites of the catacomb culture. Such remains are accumulated over time, and the layer may be several millimeters thick. In these layers scientists find big items (fish and animal bones, seeds of plants) as well as small particles (pollen, insects, collagen threads).
The purpose of the study was to determine what wild and domesticated plants were used by local peoples as food or during rituals. To do so, the team used carbon dating and phytolith analysis. Carbon dating helps the scientists determine the age of samples based on the combination of different carbon isotopes in them. Using phytolith analysis, one can tell what plants grew in the target area thousands of years ago. Phytoliths are silicon particles that are accumulated in plants and preserved for a longer time than other parts of plants.
Virtually all remains of plants were identified based on pollen or phytoliths. The team found the traces of plants from the sunflower family, as well as sage, ephedra, and other plants typical for the area of their study on the walls of vessels. In two vessels the remains of domesticated plants (related to modern millet, wheat, and barley) were discovered. Carbon dating showed that the age of the deposits on the vessels corresponded to that of the people buried in the sites or was slightly higher. The difference may be explained by the fact that the plants were cooked, and processing makes the samples look older.
The results of the study showed that the majority of plants included into the diet of the people belonging to the catacomb culture were not domesticated. The only exception is barley. The residents of the Caucasus region had started to grow it in late VI or early V century BC, and its traces were discovered in the burial sites further to the south. Barley only came to steppes about 2500 BC.
According to the author of the article, there is no evidence that the barley found in the burial sites was grown in the same region. It is likely to be obtained from the peoples of leaving at the foothill of Caucasus in exchange for something. This version is supported by the results of isotope analysis of human and animal remains. Judging by the correlation between isotopes of strontium, carbon, and nitrogen in their bodies, the nomads of the catacomb culture could travel far in the mountains. This assumption is yet to be proven after more detailed plant dating data is received for different burial sites of Southern Russia and Caucasus.
The study was conducted together with the scientists of the State Historical Museum, Institute of Geography of Russian Academy of Sciences, Kolomna Archeological Center, Institute for Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry of Russian Academy of Sciences, and the University of Groningen.

Copyright © 2018 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
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    С 9 по 13 апреля в Московском государственном университете в рамках XXV Международной научной конференции студентов, аспирантов и молодых ученых «Ломоносов» прошел научно-популярный лекторий, на котором выступили ведущие ученые России и мира. Одну из лекций прочел известный философ и политолог, профессор Гарварда Майкл Сэндел.

Even as tensions between the U.S. and Russia were rising toward Cold War intensity, 1,500 Russian students recently packed a historic building adjacent to the Kremlin for a lecture and public discussion led by Harvard Professor Michael Sandel on ethics, markets, and democracy.
The event took place in Moscow's Manege Central Exhibition Hall, where earlier this year President Vladimir Putin delivered his state of the nation address to Russia's Federal Assembly. Sandel's lecture, hosted by Moscow State University (MSU) and PolitIQ, an educational program affiliated with MSU's political science department, attracted students from as far away as St. Petersburg.
"We were shocked to see 1,500 people," said Karina Kurenkova, one of the organizers. "For the Russian academic community, this is unprecedented. The lecture was both a great academic event and a platform for public discussion, a truly democratic debate in the very heart of the Russian capital."
Kurenkova attributed the turnout to the prominence of Sandel's books and online lectures in Russian universities. The lecture, titled "What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets," related themes from Sandel's book of that name to current Russian controversies.
"We have gotten used to the fact that the rules are brought to us from above - the norms of morality, ethics, and law," said MSU senior Alexei Uvarov. "We are used to taking them on faith, without much thinking. But at Professor Sandel's lecture, there were no dogmas and infallible truths, but there was - and this was the main thing - a conversation. Even though there were 1,500 of us, this discussion was frank and trustful. It invited us to reflect, think, argue, discuss, and choose."
"The discussions were surprisingly uninhibited," said Sandel, Harvard's Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government. "The fact that we were doing this in the center of Moscow, even as Presidents Trump and Putin were trading threats and expelling diplomats, was slightly surreal. But seeing Russian students engage in lively, thoughtful debate about moral and political philosophy was impressive and inspiring."

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