Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Декабрь 2002 г.
Дайджест за другие годы
2002 г.
Российская наука и мир
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)

январь февраль март апрель май июнь июль август сентябрь октябрь ноябрь декабрь

    Taiwan News / 2002-12-25
    Nobel laureate touts Russia-Taiwan cooperation in high-tech development

Bringing his leading expertise in semiconductor and optoelectronics research with his colleagues to Taiwan, Russian Nobel laureate Zhores Alferov said he is certain of successful results from a number of collaboration projects on the next generation of lighting devices, fuel cells, and nanostructure applications.
"In Russia, we are strong in the basic sciences and have high-quality research and many good engineers. In Taiwan, you have good sales and management skills, with sales and marketing experience. Taiwan can help to commercialize the quality products and sell them all over the world. Together our co-operation can develop the best quality products from these new technologies," stated Alferov, director of the Ioffe Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Alferov, who gave the keynote address at the two-day forum on "Taiwan-Russia Cooperation - Present and Future," was in Taiwan at the invitation of the Industrial Technology Research Institute, along with a team of scientists from the Ioffe, the leading physical sciences research institute in the country.
Since 2000, Russian and Taiwanese scientists have signed several memoranda of understanding agreements, and have been working together on key projects on optical communication technology, and more efficient and powerful new semiconductor light sources.
With Russia's strength in the fundamentals of basic research and development of innovative technology, ITRI officials are confident that international collaboration with Alferov and his Ioffe team can light the path for Taiwan in the industrial application and commercialization of new TFT-LCD products, solar energy cells, laser diodes, and nanostructure devices. Alferov was the winner of the Nobel Prize in physics in 2000 for his pioneering work in building semiconductor heterostructures for use in high-speed optoelectronics. He shared the prize with Herbert Kroemer of the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Alferov said he is very optimistic about the collaboration projects with ITRI, because from he is quite impressed with Taiwan's scientific and technological excellence, and has many engineers working in the optoelectronics industry in Taiwan. "I am confident that through the collaboration with ITRI we can find solutions to the problems. These are very important projects for both countries. We have had Russian engineers working for several months in Taiwan... It is essential for us to get the project going. Together we can achieve success and overcome the barriers," said the Ioffe Institute director.
"This international co-operation is very good for both Taiwan and Russia. We can both benefit from the collaboration. The next important step is to work with ITRI for the industrial application of new developments... One of the ways is to form joint ventures for the commercialization of these next generation optoelectronic products," he told the press yesterday.
The initial drive for this bilateral high-tech collaboration program started with a visit by ITRI scientists to the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Ioffe Institute in 2000. Then there was the initial idea of working together on laser diodes, semiconductor light sources, and other optical communication devices.
One pivotal event was the "Taiwan-Russia High-Tech Co-operation Conference held in July of 2000, which was sponsored by ITRI and Ministry of Economic Affairs. Dr. Alferov who came to Taiwan for the first time to attend the conference in July, and visited ITRI with his technology team to discuss collaborative work.
Thereafter everything came together rapidly, with Alferov receiving the Nobel prize in physics in October of that year, a Letter of Intent being signed with the Ioffe Institute in November, and a follow-up with a collaboration contract in December for the co-operation project to begin in January of 2001.

Copyright © 2001-2002 Taiwan News. All Rights Reserved
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      The China Post / 2002/12/25
      Nobel laureate lauds cooperation
    • By William C. Pao, Taipei, Taiwan, The China Post

A Russian physicist and Nobel laureate said yesterday cooperation between the former Soviet Union and Taiwan could result in technological breakthroughs and create a win-win situation for both countries.
Zhores Ivanovich Alferov, vice president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, gave those remarks at a seminar held in Taipei exhibiting work developed jointly by the academy and Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI).
Alferov, who received a Nobel Physics Prize in 2000, commended cooperation efforts between Russia and Taiwan, saying both countries have developed capabilities that are complementary to each other.
Being a closed economy for the past few decades, Russia has developed certain technological capabilities yet is not strong in applying them to the business side, he said.
On the other hand, Taiwan is known throughout the world for making technologies commercial, he stressed.
"Taiwan is about the size of the former Soviet republic of Estonia, and it does not have a big population, only 23 million, or one-sixth of Russia. But by the volume of production and sales of electronic components, your country comes after Japan and the United States. You're producing this kind of things even more than the entire Europe," Alferov said.
Combining the skills held by Russia and Taiwan would help both countries develop the "best products in the world," he said.
"We need to look for partnership opportunities. We must work together," Alferov said, citing the collaboration between ITRI and the Russian Academy of Sciences as an example. "Russia has developed certain technologies, and we could transfer them to the ITRI, which could help us commercialize them."
"If we can find companies capable of absorbing those technologies, it would be great for the both of us," he continued. "And once we find a model based on which we can cooperate successfully, I'm sure both countries will see an increased flow of skilled workers."
ITRI, which has set up an office in Moscow, is working with the Russian Academy of Sciences to develop applications using nanometer science and light-emitting diode (LED) technologies.
Applications include carbon nanotubes ЎX which could break the barriers in the semiconductors manufacturing process ЎX and bright LED lights, which Alferov said may benefit Taiwan tremendously.
"It could replace all these lamps," he pointed to the fluorescent lights on the ceiling. "It would be very important for Taiwan to save electricity in the future."

Copyright © 2002 The China Post. All rights reserved
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    AP Online / December 13, 2002 3:57 PM EST
    Scientists Criticize Visa Restrictions

Washington, DC -- Restrictions on visas for foreigners visiting the United States, imposed to deter terrorists, are hampering scientific research, leaders of the National Academies complained Friday.
"Recent efforts by our government to constrain the flow of international visitors in the name of national security are having serious, unintended consequences for American science, engineering, and medicine," the officials said in a joint statement.
The statement said, "Ongoing research collaborations have been hampered. ... Outstanding young scientists, engineers, and health researchers have been prevented from or delayed in entering this country, (and) important international conferences have been canceled or negatively impacted; and ... such conferences will be moved out of the United States in the future if the situation is not corrected."
The statement was signed by Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences; William A. Wulf, president of the National Academy of Engineering; and Harvey Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine.
Under a security system set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, applications from certain national groups to the State Department for visas to enter the United States are to be checked against possible terrorist names in FBI and CIA databases, a step that can delay visas or worse for men in these groups between ages 16 and 45.
According to a GAO report, a backlog rapidly built up, and in some cases visas were denied, simply because not enough information was available to make a decision. In one case, visas were denied for 90 percent of several hundred young Pakistanis who had been selected by their government as potential leaders of universities there and accepted for graduate training in U.S. universities.
The three National Institutes scientists said that while it is important to make the nation safer, it also is vital "that our visa policy not only keep out foreigners who intend to do us harm but also facilitate the acceptance of those who bring us considerable benefit."
If visa restrictions stop international collaborations at U.S. facilities, then these facilities will cease to attract international support, the scientists said. "Moreover, our scientists and engineers will no longer enjoy reciprocal access to important facilities abroad."
"The professional visits of foreign scientists and engineers and the training of highly qualified foreign students are important for maintaining the vitality and quality of the U.S. research enterprise. This research, in turn, underlies national security and the health and welfare of both our economy and society," they said in the statement.
Among those who have been denied visas, they complained, have been scholars asked to speak at major conferences, distinguished professors invited to teach at universities and foreign associates of the academies.
"It includes research collaborators for U.S. laboratories whose absence not only halts projects, but also compromises commitments made in long-standing international cooperative agreements," they said.
In addition, they said, those blocked included scientists from countries such as Iran and Pakistan "whose exclusion from this country blocks our efforts to build allied educational and scientific institutions in those parts of the world.
In September, the scientists said, visa restrictions came within one day of forcing the cancellation of a meeting in Washington of the Committee on U.S.-Russian Cooperation on Nuclear Non-Proliferation. The committee's responsibilities include assuring that nuclear weapons-grade materiel is under control and out of reach of terrorists.
"It required intervention at the highest levels of the State Department to gain the needed visas," the three leaders said.
To correct the problem, the scientists suggested:
- Reinstating a procedure of presecurity clearance for scientists and engineers with the proper credentials;
- Instituting a special visa category for established scientists, engineers and health researchers; and
- Involving American scientists and specialists pinpointing particular security problems.

Copyright © 2002 Associated Press Information Services, all rights reserved.
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    PR Newswire / December 11, 2002 2:52 PM EST
    BioEnterprise Launches Russian Company Recruitment Program

CLEVELAND, Dec 11, 2002 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Cleveland's BioEnterprise Corporation has launched a Russian Recruitment Program in support of its effort to attract promising bioscience companies and technologies to Northeast Ohio.
A key component of the effort is the signing of an agreement between BioEnterprise and Hudson, Ohio-based international technology commercialization firm 5iTech, LLC. 5iTech and its principal, Leon Polott, will work with BioEnterprise to create new medical device companies in Northeast Ohio based on technologies developed in the former Soviet Union.
BioEnterprise seeks to attract to the region companies with exciting new bioscience technologies at an advanced stage of product development that can serve as core technologies for the creation of strong, new startups.
"The changes experienced in the former Soviet Union ("FSU") over the past decade have opened up many opportunities for business collaborations between leading FSU scientists and researchers and the international business community," noted BioEnterprise President Matt Jennings. "BioEnterprise has positioned itself to take advantage of this potential through its relationship with 5iTech."
The initial objectives of the Russian Recruitment Program include:

    * The creation of a process for effective technology transfer and company creation
    based on FSU technology.
    * The identification and formation of new start-ups in Northeast Ohio based on technology developed by former Soviet scientists.
5iTech is rapidly establishing itself as a leader in the identification and commercialization of technologies developed in the FSU. "Leon Polott has experience in technology transfer and commercialization of Russian technologies, and will be instrumental to our recruitment efforts in FSU states," noted Jennings. "The lead time for commercializing a technology out of Russia can be very long and the process can be difficult. Working with Leon, and the relationships he has established, should greatly assist this process."
Polott has worked with leading Russian scientists for a number of years. While he co-chaired the international section at Hahn Loeser & Parks, Polott was instrumental in the establishment of Imalux Corporation, which is commercializing optical coherence tomography technology (OCT) developed in the FSU. OCT technology has shown particular promise as a tool for early detection of cancer, particularly in the fields of gynecology, gastroenterology, and urology. Imalux recently completed a $1.5 million fundraising round.
"I am very impressed with the team and resources BioEnterprise has assembled to help evaluate and commercialize medical technologies," said Polott. Polott is already working with a substantial pipeline of advanced FSU technologies, and most recently traveled on behalf of BioEnterprise to the Russian Federation in November 2002.
"We had previously identified some very strong medical device technology candidates for commercialization. During this trip, I was able to advance discussions with those inventors and their institutes and to identify additional opportunities that we will explore in collaboration with BioEnterprise," said Polott.
BioEnterprise Corporation is a business formation, recruitment, and acceleration company committed to supporting the growth of bioscience companies. BioEnterprise provides mission-critical senior management and support services to early stage and emerging growth companies. The BioEnterprise management team is comprised of executives with extensive experience in growing bioscience and technology companies.
Located in Cleveland, Ohio, its founders and equal partners are Case Western Reserve University, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and University Hospitals Health System, Inc. Additional regional technology partners include the NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland State University, and NorTech.
Leon A. Polott, Founder and President, 5iTech, LLC, has extensive experience in technology transfer and commercialization of FSU technology in the U.S. Prior to forming 5iTech, he represented U.S. and foreign clients in multi-million dollar negotiations and advised them with respect to commercialization of novel technology, international technology transfer, technology licensing and development, international business ventures and market penetration strategies. He has worked with some of the largest U.S. companies as well as with the leading institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Leon Co-Chaired the International Department at Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP and served as the Chair of the International Section of the Cleveland Bar Association. Leon holds a BA degree (with honors in government) from Oberlin College and a Juris Doctorate from The University of Texas School of Law. He has native fluency in Russian.
SOURCE BioEnterprise Corporation
Copyright © 2002 PR Newswire. All rights reserved
* * *
    Californian online / Friday, December 27, 2002
    Tech transfer

The Russians are coming. Well, one was here and now Russian technology may follow.
Russian scientist Michael Alexandrov is tapping into millions of rubles of research that Russia has done in science with the hope of bringing his country's agricultural technology to the United States, says Ted Eastman, co-director of the Monterey Bay Investors Roundtable.
In November, Eastman invited Alexandrov to attend the Central Coast Agriculture Technology Investment Forum held at the Marina Small Business Incubator.
This and other signs of interest have Eastman looking for a place to set up an agriculture/environmental technology demonstration site, and former Fort Ord has caught his eye. NASA, through contacts at AGV Technologies in Marina, has shown interest. The idea is to attract great technology from around the world and in turn share the technology with the world, Eastman says.

Copyright © 2003 Californian. All Rights Reserved
* * *
    AScribe Newswire / December 12, 2002 10:37 PM EST
    Study Reveals Increased River Discharge to Arctic Ocean -- Finding Could Mean Big Changes to Global Climate

WOODS HOLE, Mass., Dec 11, 2002 (ASCRIBE NEWS via COMTEX) -- An international team of hydrologists and oceanographers report in this week's issue of Science magazine that the flow of freshwater from Arctic rivers into the Arctic Ocean has increased significantly over recent decades. If the trend continues, some scientists predict that this could impact the global climate, perhaps leading to the cooling of Northern Europe.
Bruce J. Peterson of the Marine Biological Laboratory's Ecosystems Center led the research team of scientists from the United States, Russia, and Germany. They analyzed discharge data from the six largest Eurasian rivers that drain into the Arctic Ocean. These rivers, all located in Russia, account for more than 40 percent of total riverine freshwater inputs to the Arctic Ocean.
Peterson and his colleagues found that combined annual discharge from the Russian rivers increased by 7 percent from 1936 to 1999. They contend that this measured increase in runoff is an observed confirmation of what climatologists have been saying for years - that freshwater inputs to the Arctic Ocean and North Atlantic will increase with global warming. "If the observed positive relationship between global temperature and river discharge continues into the future, Arctic river discharge may increase to levels that impact Atlantic Ocean circulation and climate within the 21st century," says Peterson.
A significant increase of freshwater flow to the Arctic Ocean could slow down or shut off the North Atlantic Deep Water formation, the driving factor behind the great underwater "conveyor belt" current known as thermohaline circulation. Thermohaline circulation is responsible for moving great amounts of thermal energy around the globe, influencing the planet's climate. One of the potential effects could be cooling of Northern Europe.
Data analyzed in this study is important because it represents net precipitation (precipitation minus evapotranspiration) over a vast area, in contrast to point measurements of precipitation and evapotranspiration which are difficult to extrapolate to a large area. "This data is a unique measure of an environmental trend both in terms of how long the time series is and in that it integrates over a vast area rather than just measuring a precipitation trend at a few locations," says co-author Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
Project scientists are hopeful that this study, which links the work of hydrologists and oceanographers, will stimulate the two fields of science to better communicate their scientific findings with each other. The group will focus their future work on the links between the atmospheric, continental, and oceanic components of the Arctic hydrologic cycle and on the biogeochemical tracers that allow scientists to follow the circulation of riverine freshwater throughout the northern oceans. This research is needed to better understand the current functioning of the linked land-ocean-atmosphere hydrologic system and improve confidence in predictions of the future behavior of the system.
This project was funded by the Arctic System Science Program of the National Science Foundation.
Authors are: Bruce J. Peterson, Robert M. Holmes, James W. McClelland, The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA USA
Charles J. Vorosmarty (umlauts on both o's), Richard B. Lammers, Alexander I. Shiklomanov, Water Systems Analysis Group, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH USA
Igor A. Shiklomanov, State Hydrological Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia
Stefan Rahmstorf, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany.
The Marine Biological Laboratory of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA, is an independent scientific institution, founded in 1888, that undertakes the highest level of creative research and education in biology, including the biomedical and environmental sciences. The research of the MBL's Ecosystems Center, which was established at the MBL in 1975, is focused on the study of natural ecosystems. Among the key environmental issues being addressed are: the ecological consequences of global climate change; tropical deforestation and its effects on greenhouse gas fluxes; nitrogen saturation of mid-latitude forests; effects of acid rain on North American lakes; and pollution and habitat destruction in coastal ecosystems of the United States.
The Potsdam Institute is a government-funded research institute devoted to interdisciplinary study of global climate change, its causes and its impacts on ecosystems and society. It was founded in 1991 in Potsdam near Berlin, Germany.

Copyright © 2002, AScribe Newswire, all rights reserved
* * *
    Interfax / 12/16/2002
    Experts alert states to threat of environmental disaster in Caspian Sea

MOSCOW, Dec 16 (Interfax) - Research programs carried out by Russian cosmonauts onboard the International Space Station suggest that the Caspian Sea is under the threat of an ecological catastrophe.
"Space monitoring revealed that the northeastern sector of the Caspian Sea is polluted with petroleum products. An imminent ecological disaster will affect not only Kazakhstan but also the Russian sector of the Caspian Sea," Vladimir Kotlyakov, the director of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Geography, told Interfax on Monday.
Oil has been extracted from the Caspian Sea for several years now. But given the problems involved in drilling, large amounts of oil keep spilling over onto the surface, polluting the water. "Earth walls are being built to enclose the polluted zones, so polluted water will not mix with clean water. But the water level has been rising in the Caspian Sea over recent years, as a result of which polluted and clean waters are being mixed," Kotlyakov said. "If the level of the Caspian Sea keeps rising, as has been observed in the past ten years, an ecological catastrophe will break out," he said.

© Copyright 2002 INTERFAX Financial Times Information Limited
* * *
    Internet Wire / December 10, 2002 4:19 PM EST
    Russian Nuclear Scientists Help US Artists Communicate -- Digital Element To Distribute LWWB Communicator For Strela

OAKLAND CA, Dec. 10, 2002 (INTERNET WIRE via COMTEX) -- Digital Element, with the help of NewTek, is proud to announce the first product release from a unique company. The first product is a plugin, a small application that enhances other applications. It is for computer graphic artists that work in 3D - movie artists, computer game artists, and others.
The company is unique in that it is made up almost entirely of former Russian nuclear scientists.
This is one of the first steps of Digital Element's commitment to build business relationships for Strela. The goal is that Strela become a viable company with significant commercial opportunities. About this first project the President of Digital Element, Dom McClure quipped, "The next time we're told 3D art tool development isn't rocket science, we'll happily agree." Digital Element and NewTek have also worked together to form an Animation Annex to retrain Russian traditional artists.
Digital Element, Inc. will be distributing Strela's new plugin for NewTek's LightWave 3D and Digital Element's WorldBuilder Pro 3.5. This communicator allows digital artists using the two packages to work together and build combined scenes. This plugin, called the LWWB Communicator (Lightwave WorldBuilder), is the second in Digital Element's line of Rosetta Communicator Plugins(TM). "We're very enthused to be working with the cutting edge developers at Digital Element and Strela," said Andrew Cross, Senior Vice President of Engineering for NewTek, Inc. "We've devoted a great deal of effort to making LightWave 3D accessible to other products in production pipelines, and Strela's plugin integrates LightWave 3D and WorldBuilder in a way that opens tremendous new power for the users."
The LWWB Communicator represents the next generation of communication between art software packages, allowing scenes from each package to be rendered in their native environment, eliminating the need for traditional importing and exporting. The software packages talk to each other and agree on final rendering decisions, instead of one package forcing the other to work within the other's framework by importing scene data. The communication is a huge advantage in that each package can be used to do what it does best - with the communicator managing both renders and compositing the scenes together into a single scene - sharing lights, camera, and shadows.
Working in a positive way to take steps toward solving potentially flammable situations - such as enfranchising a group of people without a lot of access to good jobs or opportunities but who have a lot of knowledge in making weapons, is a challenge NewTek and Digital Element took up in April of 2001, when they announced the donation of software and support to build the Animation Annex. Samples of the resultant work by student-artists can be seen in Digital Element's User gallery at www.digi-element.com/users--gallery8.shtml

© 2002, Internet Wire, all rights reserved
* * *
    Guardian / Monday December 23, 2002
    Experts whose verdict could start a war: but can they stop it?
    • Ian Traynor in Seibersdorf, Austria

Scientists fear race to analyse samples from Iraq may be in vain

Valery Maiorov points to the little red lines on the screen as he pores over computer graphs that may reveal whether Saddam Hussein is still trying secretly to build a nuclear bomb.
"No uranium here," mutters the St Petersburg physicist. He has agreed to sacrifice his Christmas holiday because of the race to analyse samples just taken in Iraq by teams of United Nations weapons inspectors and brought to this UN laboratory in the flat, snow-dusted countryside near Austria's eastern border with Hungary.
Beside the scientist sits a large glass-topped steel triangle with a little square of grubby cotton cloth stretched under its surface. The four-inch square of cloth arrived here last week in a sealed plastic bag after being wiped on a surface somewhere suspect in Iraq.
It has been taken to the Seibersdorf laboratory along with a further nine samples from Iraq for crucial, high-priority testing which may determine whether Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme, said to have been abandoned in 1990, has been resumed.
The 10-strong international team of scientists putting the samples through state-of-the-art x-ray fluorescence machines, electron microscopes, and gamma spectrometers are under intense pressure.
"Do we realise that this could start a war?" asks David Donohue, the American scientist who heads the "clean laboratory" set up by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a result of the Gulf war a decade ago.
"Yes. But we have safeguards built in and this is something we do all the time. We're under a bit of time pressure, but we can do it."
"This system is brand new, only in operation a few months. And we started on these samples as soon as we received them," says Mr Maiorov. The 10 samples that have been rushed from Iraq to Seibersdorf contain crucial information that could either damn Saddam Hussein to the full might of US American forces gathering in the Gulf, or could give the Iraqi dictator an extended purchase on power.
But while the world waits to hear the results of the dedicated work of the Seibersdorf scientists, the bigger question is whether their efforts will count for much as the lethal showdown between Washington and Baghdad heads towards a climax. The mood among the staff at IAEA headquarters in Vienna is one of resignation and frustration as they watch their work being belittled and obstructed constantly by Washington.
"The US will start a war whenever they want anyway regardless of what we find," says one senior IAEA official.
Over the last three months of preparations for and then resumption of UN arms inspections in Iraq - with the IAEA in charge of the nuclear police work - the US has blocked and criticised the UN effort at every stage.
The sense of resentment in Vienna and Seibersdorf is palpable. But the machines continue to whir, the computers to hum, and the planes to rush the little squares of cotton to Vienna.
After a week of "pre-screening" or preliminary analysis of some of the 10 samples, says Mr Donohue, no suspect plutonium or uranium traces have been found betraying the existence of an illicit nuclear programme.
But it's early days. The testing is scrupulous and exhaustive. It is double-checked by national laboratories aligned with the IAEA in the US, Russia, France, Australia, and at Harwell in Britain.
And assuming the UN inspectors in Iraq have gone to the right places, there can be no hiding President Saddam's nuclear dust, if it exists.
The simple cotton swabs are put through a rigorous set of hi-tech tests that can identify particles of uranium or plutonium a hundred times finer than a human hair.
Next door to the Russian physicist, a Polish technician, Andrzej Ciurapinski, is running another Iraqi cotton swab through an electron microscope that can identify a picogramme of uranium: that's 0.000000000001g, or a millionth of a millionth of a gramme.
The Polish scientist monitors the work of the microscope on a computer screen for hours at a time, his beard and spectacles shrouded in a white plastic hood inside a sterile glass and aluminium shed.
"If the inspectors took the sample in the right place, we'll find it," says Mr Donohue.
Absolute priority
Gabriele Voigt, a Munich biologist and expert in radiation protection who is the director of the IAEA laboratories, says: "We'll have the results in two weeks time. That's very fast-track. The Iraqi samples have absolute priority."
Along with Hans Blix, the head of the arms inspections, the IAEA chief, Mohamed el-Baradei, is to deliver his first "status report" on the findings in Iraq to the UN security council on January 27, a deadline that is now being mooted as a crunch date for a possible US declaration of war.
The Seibersdorf scientists have set themselves a deadline of January 17 for completing their tests on the 10 samples so that Dr el-Baradei has ample time to digest their meaning before pronouncing in New York.
The scientists know where the inspectors have been in Iraq, but they do not know where each sample has been taken so as to ensure the objectivity of their work.
"A decision on war or peace may be hinging on this," says Ms Voigt. "But we're calm, we're scientists. We have to do good work and get our results. Whatever we find out will be a fact."

* * *

    Interfax / 12/14/2002
    Russian scientists to study crashed meteorite in spring
    • Ian Traynor in Seibersdorf, Austria

MOSCOW, Dec 14 (Interfax) - Next spring Russian scientists will continue studying a meteorite that crashed north of Lake Baikal in September 2002, head of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Astronomy Department Lidia Rykhlova told Interfax.
"Although Irkutsk University experts visited the area, it is impossible to reach the parts of the taiga where [meteorite] pieces and trees chopped off in the crash can be found. A mission will be prepared in the spring that will include chemists, astronomy experts and geo- physicists," Rykhlova noted.
"This meteorite is a unique phenomenon and the importance of studying it can be compared with the Tunguska meteorite," she noted.
Eyewitnesses said that the meteorite resembled a ball with a tail. It was difficult to look at and a loud sound was heard when it crashed, they noted. Tremors were registered, lights swung and windows shook, they said.
"The [meteorite] fragments fell over an area 30-50 kilometers around the epicenter. Wild animals have left the taiga where the fragments scattered and hunting has become impossible there," Rykhlova added.
One of the largest ever meteorites crashed in the north of the Irkutsk region in late September. The impact of the explosion was equal to two kilo-tonnes, scientists reported. The location of the crash was determined via satellites.

© 2002 INTERFAX Financial Times Information Limited
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