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Российская наука и мир
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    AlphaGalileo / 08 August 2005
    Evolution Of The Kulikovo Field

    Эволюция земель Куликова Поля - это иллюстрация того, как государственная стабильность и нестабильность могут изменять территории, включая их ландшафт, их использование и заселенность. К такому выводу пришла О.В.Бурова из Тульского государственного педагогического университет, проанализировавшая материалы археологических исследований за многие годы, архивные данные, результаты комплексных географических и палеогеографических исследований.

Evolution of the Kulikovo Field lands illustrates how national stability and instability may change territories, including their landscape, utilization and land settlement. This conclusion has been made by O.V. Burova from the Tula State Teacher's Training University named after L.N. Tolstoy, who has analyzed archaeological investigation materials for many years, archives data, results of comprehensive geographical and palaeogeographical investigations.
During the Bronze Age, forest-steppes of the Upper Don River were favorite locality of nomads and cattle-breeders. By the 12th century, favorable conditions for settled life were formed on the territories of the Upper Don River: princes came to an agreement with the Don nomadic tribes (polovtsy), and the situation in the region became calm and relatively stable.
These lands were colonized by the Slavs who introduced agricultural system, the agricultural landscape began to set up there, settlements appeared, their number growing. The settlement locations were disforested, but agricultural holdings were established with minimal disafforestation. Therefore, the first phase of developing Kulikovo Field was a delicate one and not disastrous for environment, the specialists are talking about formation of the local type of agricultural landscape. Problems began in the middle of the 14th century. Due to the break-up of the Golden Horde and danger of more frequent forays, the inhabitants left the territory in the 1370s, on the eve of the Kulikovo Battle. Agricultural lands remained desolated for 200 years and turned into a fallow land where natural growth started to restore gradually.
By the end of the 16th century, when 60 percent of the territory was occupied by a fallow land, the next phase of land-reclamation began. In spite of extraordinary measures of the government, who ladled out the lands, there were very few persons wishing to settle down in Kulikovo Field. Within one hundred years, no more than 5 percent of lands were reclaimed. However, in the second half of the 17th century, when the Russian State incorporated the Ukraine, and Tatars' raids stopped, the reclamation became more intensive.
Stability made fertile lands of the Upper Don River favorable for mass settlement, edicts were issued on distribution of lands among landed gentry of different groups of Russian nobles. Large landowners such as A.G. Bobrinsky, princes Golitsins, S.D. Nechayev applied advanced economic methods in their estates. The major part of economy was based on small peasant farms where low rates of ploughing up and livestock per family remained invariable for centuries. It was at that time that the system of settling on this territory was formed, the system being preserved on the whole to present day. Up to the 20th century, the region was developing actively and it became a remarkable producer not only of rye, wheat, barley, oats and buckwheat, but also of vegetables, milk and meat. However, the majority of farms still produced products solely for their own nourishment and did not extend their grounds.
The 20th century drastically changed appearance of the Kulikovo Field territory. Due to land nationalization, collective and state farms establishment, estate squares got significantly consolidated. Now, the average square of an arable field reached as much as 80 hectares vs. 5 to 6 hectares in the 17th and 18th centuries. If previously the borders of fields were natural boundaries – edges of a forest, slopes of gullies, waterways, etc., which supported biological diversity and landscape self-regeneration processes, now abutments disappeared.
All kinds of land including slopes near gallies and valleys were intended for ploughing up, and cattle pasture was transferred to gully slopes and water-meadows, thus destroying hayland. At that time percentage of forest land of Kulikovo Fiels made only 5 percent as compared to the natural one.
The next outflow of population to towns took place in the 90s of the 20th century when people abandoned their farms, land and houses (like it was during the Tatar and Mongolian foreys). The territory development was discontinued, vacant agricultural lands destroyed existing agricultural landscape and gradual restoration of natural landscape – grass and forest communities – began.
The finale is as follows: early in the 21st century, economic production processes revive again on the Kulikovo Field territory. But what kind of processes are they? Traditional way of management is changing: arable farming and grain-crops growing is actively replaced by cattle breeding. Such turnaround is explained by active replacement of nationalities inhabiting the Uper Don River territory by immigrants from southern republics of the former Soviet Union.
Thus, Kulikovo Field, under the influence of politics, state structure, stability and instability, made the 800-year turnaround and again returned back to cattle-breeding almost of the Bronze Age. Would the subsequent course of history be repeated?

© AlphaGalileo Foundation 2003
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    Libre Belgique - Bruxelles, Belgium / le 12/08/2005
    Le permafrost sibérien prend l'eau
    • Gilles Toussaint
    Обширная зона многолетней мерзлоты в субарктическом районе Западной Сибири перестает замерзать зимой и начинает превращаться в территории повышенной влажности. Установлено, что потепление в Западной Сибири идет быстрее, чем где бы то ни было на Земле и за последние 40 лет cредняя температура воздуха в этом регионе выросла на три градуса по Цельсию. Это чревато высвобождением огромного объема метана, содержащегося в зоне вечной мерзлоты и ускорением процесса глобального потепления климата на планете. К таким выводам пришли ученые Сергей Кирпотин из Томского государственного университета и Джудит Марканд из Оксфордского университета. Итоги их работы опубликованы в британском научном журнале "Нью сайентист".

Selon des scientifiques, un dégel encore jamais observé y sévit depuis 3 ou 4 ans. Emprisonné dans le sol gelé, le méthane ainsi libéré va-t-il accélérer le réchauffement?
Le temps passe et les signes inquiétants des conséquences du réchauffement climatique se multiplient. Dernier avatar en date, rapporte cette semaine l'hebdomadaire britannique "New Scientist", un phénomène de dégel important du permafrost (le sol perpetuellement gelé des régions arctiques) de Sibérie occidentale.
Selon les scientifiques qui ont réalisé cette découverte, la plus grande tourbière gelée du monde serait en train de fondre pour la première fois depuis sa formation il y a 11000 ans. Une phase de dégel qui aurait débuté il y a trois ou quatre ans. Et la superficie concernée donne le tournis: un million de kilomètres carrés, soit la superficie de la France et de l'Allemagne réunies.
Aux yeux du botaniste russe, Sergueï Kirpotine, ce phénomène est "une catastrophe écologique probablement irréversible et sans le moindre doute liée au réchauffement climatique". Dans cette région du monde, on constate que le réchauffement est plus important que partout ailleurs, la température moyenne y aurait ainsi progressé de 3°C ces quarante dernières années, souligne le "New Scientist".
Auto-alimentation
Résultant de la combinaison de différents facteurs, ce phénomène de réchauffement du permafrost sibérien inquiète les scientifiques dans la mesure où il tend à s'auto-alimenter: en fondant, la glace de surface laisse apparaître le sol dénudé - la tourbe - qui absorbe davantage encore le rayonnement solaire.
Qui plus est, ces épaisseurs de tourbe gelée qui se sont accumulées durant des milliers d'années présentent la particularité de retenir prisonniers plusieurs milliards de tonnes de méthane, un gaz à effet de serre potentiellement vingt fois plus nocif pour le réchauffement que le CO2. Si elles venaient à être libérées dans l'atmosphère, ces énormes quantités de méthane risquent de doper encore le phénomène de réchauffement planétaire.
Pour Gauthier Chapelle, conseiller scientifique de la Fondation polaire internationale, la fonte du permafrost "était une nouvelle attendue" et la question du méthane a déjà été évoquée dans plusieurs rapports internationaux. "Mais il n'existe pas d'unanimité scientifique quant à savoir si cela a un effet global négatif ou non sur le réchauffement. Certes, la fonte de la glace va relâcher du méthane dans l'atmosphere, mais les tourbières qui apparaissent vont aussi permettre, en se réchauffant, une croissance plus importante de la végétation. Et cette végétation contribue quant à elle à capter du CO2. Tous ces phénomènes sont très complexes".
Professeur de climatologie à l'Université de Liège, Michel Erpicum estime pour sa part que la fonte du permafrost est effectivement la conséquence du réchauffement rapide que nous connaissons actuellement mais, nuance-t-il, "ce réchauffement est un phénomène qui se manifeste par paliers".
"Le réchauffement climatique est conditionné par deux types de causes: d'une part, des causes liées aux activités humaines et, d'autre part, des causes naturelles irrégulieres que l'on ne s'explique pas encore bien. Il est un fait acquis que l'amplification du réchauffement climatique est liée en partie aux causes anthropiques qui s'amplifient de façon continue, mais je pense que l'accélération particulière de ce phénomène constatée depuis une quinzaine d'années ne restera pas aussi soutenue. Elle est due aux causes naturelles qui sont actuellement dans un cycle élevé. Ces dernières vont toutefois se tasser et le rythme actuel du réchauffement devrait ralentir et se stabiliser, avant de recommencer à s'accélérer dans quelques années." De la même manière, estime-t-il, la fonte du permafrost devrait donc aussi être freinée et avec elle le risque de voir d'importantes quantités de méthane libérées dans l'atmosphère.
"Ceci dit, conclut M. Erpicum, il n'en demeure pas moins urgent de limiter de façon stricte les rejets industriels dans l'atmosphère, ce qui n'est pas vraiment le cas des entreprises qui délocalisent leurs activités en Asie où elles sont soumises à bien moins de contraintes environnementales".

© La Libre Belgique 2005

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    Ananova - England, UK / Wednesday 17th August 2005
    Key computer breakthrough
    "Студия Артемия Лебедева" разработала компьютерную клавиатуру Optimus, каждая кнопка которой представляет собой отдельный дисплей на базе органических светодиодов (OLED), изображение на котором изменяется в зависимости от используемого в данный момент приложения.

Russian scientists have invented a computer keyboard where each key has its own tiny video screen.
It means the symbols on the keys can be changed to show different languages or symbols at a stroke.
Every single key of the Moscow-based Art.Lebedev Studio's all-purpose Optimus keyboard is a 32 times 32 pixel OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) display.
The company's director Artemy Lebedev said: "Every key has the display ability of a monitor.
"The possibilities with our invention are absolutely limitless, just like there are no constraints on using a monitor to display any image on it."
According to him, the Optimus keyboard will enable the users to switch from the Arabic, Cyrillic or Latin alphabet or HTLM code in a matter of seconds.
But it could also be programmed for the use of any given software, like Photoshop, computer games or music composition programmes.
The keyboard will have an aluminium case and polycarbonate keys and is due to be released on the market in 2006, at the estimated price of about Ј200.

Copyright © 2005 Ananova Ltd

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    Informnauka (Informscience) Agensy / 12.08.2005
    Bar code of life
    В Российской академии наук принято решение о формировании проекта "Штрих-код флоры и фауны России". Этот проект продолжает инициативу всемирного консорциума "Штрих-код жизни" (CBOL), созданного в 2004 году и объединяющего на данный момент 69 организаций из 31 страны. Цель консорциума – сохранение биоразнообразия на Земле. Но прежде чем сохранять, надо описать его. Поэтому CBOL создает единую методическую и информационную систему, которая позволит описать все существующие на Земле виды животных и растений и помочь в идентификации новых, только открываемых видов. У представителя любого вида в его ДНК выделяется стандартный для всего живого участок, расшифровывается, после чего информация заносится в базу данных.

On June 15, 2005 the Academy of Sciences made a fundamental decision on forming the project entitled "Bar code for flora and fauna of Russia". This project is to continue the initiative by the world Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL), established in 2004.
The Consortium for the Barcode of Life unites 69 organizations from 31 countries: natural-science museums, zoological gardens and herbariums, research organizations, government agencies, foundations and biotechnological companies. The CBOL performs its activity based on the funds received from the foundations for grants. The Consortium' goal is to preserve biodiversity on the Earth. But prior to conservation we should know exactly what we have available, i.e. it is necessary to describe the diversity. Therefore, CBOL is creating a common methodical and information system, which will allow to describe all animal and plant species existing on the Earth (microorganisms are not taken into account) and to help in identification of newly discovered species. As of today, only 1.7 million plant and animal species have been described. The major part (almost half) falls on insects. It is not without reason that biologists say: "God likes beetles." However, according to the scientists' estimates, about 10 million species inhabit the Earth now. It means that more than 8 million still have to be described.
Traditionally, taxonomists describe the species verbally - how they look like, how they live and propagate themselves, etc. The Barcode of Life suggests a new approach. The idea is simple: to single out from the mitochondrial DNA of any species' representative a section standard for all living, to sequence it, i.e. to identify succession of nucleotides, and to enter the information into a respective database in the Internet. If an unusual plant is found and its bar code is identified, then it is necessary to compare it with the ones already available in the database. If divergence from the known code is less than 3 percent, then the plant can be attributed to the same species to which the bar code from the database belongs. If the discrepancy is noticeably higher than 3 percent, it makes sense to talk about a discovery of a new species.
Identification of the bar code, i.e. nucleotide succession - is now a standard enough procedure. To this end, devices for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and automated sequenators are required. Pocket mobile sequenators (resembling mobile phones) are expected soon in the market, which are very convenient in the field conditions. It is assumed that if you catch an unknown butterfly, you should tear off its tarsus and put it into the sequenator. In some time, the sequenator connected to the Internet database will advise whether the butterfly belongs to a new species or to a known one. We certainly feel sorry for the butterfly. But is should be noted for justice that previously dozens of insects would have been ground in a mortar to single out the DNA, but now, thanks to latest techniques, a tarsus is sufficient.
The Barcode of Life project is spreading actively all over the world. Now, taxonomists in Russia will also be engaged in bar-coding. This will primarily deal with endangered, rare, closely guarded and endemic species of plants and animals of Russia.

Copyright © 2003 "Himiya i Zhizn'". All rights reserved.

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Продолжение дайджеста за АВГУСТ 2005 года (часть 2)

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