Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Февраль 2005 г.
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Февраль
2005 г.
Российская наука и мир
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    PhysOrg.com - Evergreen,VA,USA / January 21, 2005
    Queen's physicist 1st Canadian to win top Russian science prize
    Профессор физики канадского Королевского университета Арт МакДональд получил международную премию имени Б.М. Понтекорво. Эта премия была учреждена в 1995 году и ежегодно присуждается Объединенным институтом ядерных исследований (Дубна) одному ученому за особо ценную научную работу или серию работ по физике элементарных частиц. МакДональд и его команда из обсерватории Садбери решили многолетнюю загадку "недостатка потока солнечных нейтрино".

Queen's University Physics Professor Art McDonald is the first Canadian to win the prestigious international Bruno Pontecorvo Prize in elementary particle physics, Russia's top award in this field. Introduced in 1995 shortly after the death of renowned nuclear physicist Bruno Pontecorvo, the prize is awarded annually by Russia's Joint Institute for Nuclear Research to a single scientist for valuable scientific work in elementary particle physics.
Dr. McDonald and his Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) team are recognized this year for solving the longstanding puzzle of the "missing solar neutrinos" by showing that neutrinos (sub-atomic particles considered the basic building blocks of the universe) change from one type to another on their journey to earth from the sun. The results from the SNO experiments are helping answer questions about the nature of matter at the smallest scale, and providing insight into the structure of the stars and the universe as a whole.
And there's a little-known connection that makes this achievement even more remarkable. The famous scientist for whom the Russian prize is named not only worked decades earlier at the same Canadian research facility as Dr. McDonald, he laid the groundwork for the Queen's physicist's landmark discovery.
"This prize is particularly significant for us because it was Bruno Pontecorvo who first proposed that neutrinos from the sun might change to other types before reaching the earth," explains Dr. McDonald, leader of the international team that developed the neutrino observatory. "SNO's measurements have confirmed this, changing the fundamental laws of physics and validating the detailed theories of energy generation in the sun."
The theory behind this discovery – which transformed the standard model of elementary particle physics – was first proposed in the late 1940s by the Italian-born Pontecorvo when he was conducting research at Canada's Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories north of Pembroke. In the early 1950s Pontecorvo moved to England and subsequently to Russia, where he is revered as one their top scientists.
Dr. McDonald also worked as a research scientist from 1969 to 1981 at the Chalk River facilities, owned by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL). In 1981 he joined the Physics Department at Princeton University, and in 1989 moved to Queen's as Professor of Physics and director of the newly-created SNO Institute.
The Pontecorvo Prize is the third major science award in the past two years to be won by the SNO director. In 2003 he received both the Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal, presented by Science and Engineering Research Canada (NSERC) to the country's top scientist, and the Tom W. Bonner Prize in Nuclear Physics from the American Physical Society, for outstanding experimental research. In both 2001 and 2002, SNO discoveries were ranked among the top 10 in the world by the prestigious international journal Science.

©PhysOrg.com 2003-2004

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    The Scotsman - Edinburgh, Scotland, UK / Thu 27 Jan 2005
    Mexico and Russia to Build Quake-Detecting Satellite
    Российские и мексиканские ученые намерены построить высокотехнологичный спутник, в задачу которого входит раннее оповещение о землетрясениях.
    Совместный проект Мексиканского национального университета (UNAM) и Московского государственного университета предусматривает постройку и запуск спутника через три года.
    В его задачу будет входить измерение электромагнитных параметров, изменение которых может свидетельствовать о скором землетрясении. Подобные изменения будут немедленно фиксироваться спутником, который будет сообщать об этом на Землю.

Mexican and Russian scientists are to build a hi-tech, low-weight satellite designed to detect early warning signs for earthquakes, Mexico's Autonomous National University announced.
The joint project between the national university, known by its Spanish initials as UNAM, and Moscow State University will be completed and the satellite launched into space in about three years, UNAM said.
The so-called nano-satellite will weigh 20lbs and "will allow the detection of electric and electromagnetic" elements "with an important potential to detect possible earthquakes in advance". The project was agreed upon between UNAM Rector Juan Ramon de la Fuente and the director of Moscow State University's Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics, Mijail Panasyuk, in Moscow yesterday, UNAM said.
When earthquakes occur, the emission of radon gas modifies the concentration of electrons in the ionosphere. It is hoped the nano-satellite will detect that change and send a corresponding signal to a receptor located at UNAM in southern Mexico City.
Three tectonic plates come together off Mexico's Pacific coast and have been blamed for a 7.8-magnitude temblor that struck in January 2003 off the resort city of Manzanillo, as well as a 8-magnitude quake that killed 49 people in the same region in 1995 and the 8.1-magnitude in 1985 that killed 9,500 people in central Mexico. Hundreds of smaller earthquakes also occur in Mexico each year.

© 2005 Scotsman.com

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    The Washington Times / January 27 2005
    Space Watch: The Russians are coming
    • By Robert Zimmerman, UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL
    В ближайшие десять лет в космосе вполне может господствовать российская индустрия. Сейчас Россия выводит на орбиту более 45% всех космических кораблей. На прошлой неделе агентство "Роскосмос" подписало долгосрочное соглашение с Европейским космическим агентством, позволяющее России построить космодром для ракет "Союз" в космическом порту ЕКА в Куру (Французская Гвиана). Поскольку Куру ближе к экватору, чем Байконур и Плесецк, это позволит почти вдвое увеличить вес, который "Союз" выводит на околоземную орбиту. Одновременно продолжаются переговоры с НАСА по поводу доставки экипажей и предоставлению спасательных услуг на МКС, а российское правительство твердо намерено завершить строительство своей половины МКС к 2011 году. Кроме того, "Роскосмос" объявил, что за первые три месяца 2005 года на орбиту будет выведено восемь спутников, больше, чем у кого-либо еще. После всего этого вполне можно ожидать, что первые люди, добравшиеся до Марса, будут говорить по-русски…

Washington, DC, Jan. 27 (UPI) - To judge the future by recent events, one might think that by 2010 U.S. tourists will be flying to orbital U.S. hotels on U.S. spacecraft, while at the same time the Bush administration initiative to return humans to the moon will be charging forward at warp speed toward a 2015 return.
Think again. The future of space in the next decade could just as easily be dominated by a resurgent Russian space industry, innovative and efficient, with the ability to provide quality service to its customers at a low cost.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian space program was the first business to face reality and shift gears, quickly adopting capitalistic and market-oriented techniques for making a profit.
Almost immediately, advertisements plastered the walls of mission control in Moscow as well as the sides of Russian rockets. Russian cosmonauts taped commercials in orbit, and the space program sold tickets to Mir to television stations, entertainment consortiums and foreign governments - including the United States. That effort eventually produced paid flights to the International Space Station by well-heeled tourists such as Dennis Tito.
Because of an extremely favorable exchange rate leftover from their failed communist economy, Russian labor costs were significantly lower than those in the West, allowing them to charge significantly less than anyone else. Moreover, rocketry was one of the few Russian industries with a good reputation for high quality standards.
Russia's space program soon became by far the country's most successful export product. By 2000, it had grabbed a significant share of the private commercial launch market with its Proton, Dnepr, Zenit and Soyuz rockets, and by last year it was so successful its rockets launched more than 45 percent of all spacecraft, more than any other nation and 50 percent more than the U.S. market share.
The future looks even brighter. Last week, Roskosmos, the Russian space agency, signed a long-term agreement with the European Space Agency to allow Russia to establish Soyuz rocket-launch facilities at ESA's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Because Kourou is closer to the equator than either Baikonur or Plesetsk - the two launch pads from which the Soyuz rocket family is presently fitted to fly - it will allow Soyuz nearly to double the payload it can lift to geosynchronous orbit, from 1.7 tons to 3 tons. At the same time, the Russians continue to hold the whip hand in their negotiations with NASA over shuttling crews and providing lifeboat services to the space station. The next agreement between the two nations likely will give the Russians even more opportunities to sell tourist tickets each time they send a Soyuz to the ISS, a flexibility that will also "increase launch orders for our space industry," noted Roskosmos chief Anatolii Perminov at a news conference.
With such encouraging business prospects, it is not surprising the company that builds the Soyuz rocket family boosted its planned production for 2005 by 50 percent - from 10 rockets to 15. Moreover, Roskosmos already has announced that, in the first three months of 2005 alone, seven Russian launches will put eight satellites in orbit, a launch rate far exceeding anyone else's.
Even as they are solidifying their domination in the launch industry for both manned and unmanned missions, the Russian government seems firmly committed to complete the Russian half of the space station by 2011, with plans to launch a new laboratory module by 2007, a power and science platform by 2009 and a second laboratory module by 2011.
The Russians also appear to be moving forward aggressively with their next-generation manned spacecraft. Roskosmos first announced it was beginning work on this new vehicle, dubbed Clipper, shortly after President George W. Bush unveiled his space initiative on Jan. 14, 2004. In the year that followed - while NASA could barely write the first draft of its Request for Proposals describing what it required for its shuttle replacement - RSC Energia, the Russian space company, completed a preliminary design as well as a full-scale model, unveiling it last Dec. 1.
Not only is this six-seat manned spacecraft intended to be reusable, but one design option also will have it land on a runway like the space shuttle. Furthermore, Energia officials said if funded they could have it built and flying by 2010.
Topping all this, a number of Russian government and industry officials have expressed guarded optimism their country will mount its own effort to send humans to Mars, sometime around 2015. Nor has this overview mentioned pending launches in 2005 on Russian rockets of cutting-edge solar-sail and space-mirror technologies.
Obviously, it would be a mistake to assume the Russians have no problems at all. For example, Clipper's funding situation remains unclear. Though RSC Energia officials said they could complete a fleet of four Clippers by 2010, the Russian government seems more inclined to stretch out its development until 2015. Moreover, unlike George Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin has made no commitment to any large space effort, including sending Russians to Mars.
Nonetheless, the Russian space industry's future appears rosy. What has been the U.S. reaction to all this? Consider the following anecdote: Soon after Bush announced his space exploration vision last year, NASA officials fanned out across the country, giving talks to describe the technological challenges presented by this effort. At the annual Goddard Symposium, held by the American Astronautical Society in late March 2004 in Beltsville, Md., one NASA engineer outlined the need to design closed environmental recycling systems for any spaceship traveling to Mars. To illustrate what was already known, he described the systems used on NASA's Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules, as well as on the shuttle, Skylab, and the U.S. half of the ISS. Nowhere in his presentation, however, was there any mention of a Russian system, even though since 1971 the Russians have built seven successful space stations prior to the ISS with a remarkable track record of efficient and practical atmospheric and water recycling systems. When asked by this reporter why he had left the Russians out of his presentation, he explained that he did not take their systems very seriously. "We don't have faith in them," he said.
To put it mildly, when it comes to space exploration, U.S. space officials have developed the annoying habit of underestimating the Russians. In 1957, the Soviet Union made no secret of its plans to put a satellite in orbit as its contribution to the International Geophysical Year, a worldwide research event organized by scientists from July 1957 through December 1958. No one in the United States government paid much attention, and so the nation was shocked when Sputnik suddenly appeared in orbit on Oct. 4, 1957.
Nothing, it seems, has changed in nearly 50 years. With all the talk about space tourism and Bush's space exploration initiative, it becomes crucially important to recognize the competitive nature of nations, and how the United States is not the only country with a desire and skills to colonize the solar system.
So it might be prudent to consider the possibility that the first humans to reach Mars might be speaking Russian - not English - when they get there.

Copyright 2005 United Press International

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    The World News Network / Fri 28 Jan 2005
    By Means Of Coronas-f Satellite Russian Scientists Make Discoveries On The Sun
    Запущенный более трех лет назад российско-украинский космический аппарат КОРОНАС-Ф продолжает исследования солнечной активности и солнечно-земных связей. С помощью аппарата была собрана уникальная информация, а полученные научные результаты следует считать одним из главных достижений Российской академии наук.

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti, Lyubov Sobolevskaya) - The CORONAS-F satellite has collected unique information about the Sun that helps to understand the processes inside the heavenly body, Vladinir Kuznetsov, director of the Institute of Terrestrial Magnetism, Ionosphere and Spread of Radio Waves of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IZMIRAN), announced at a meeting of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The data, which have no analogues in the world, were obtained with the use of a solar X-ray telescope installed on the satellite, launched in 2001. They made it possible to re-create the three-dimensional structure of the solar corona. Mr. Kuznetsov said that more than 300,000 "portraits of the Sun" in the roentgen range and about one million roentgen spectrums of the heavenly body were obtained during the observations.
According to Kuznetsov, Russian scientists discovered for the first time areas with plasma temperatures of 10 million degrees Celsius (the usual temperature of the Sun's atmosphere is 1-2 million degrees) in the solar corona. The studies of the solar flashes - the most powerful phenomena in the Solar System - continue. The scientific complex of the satellite consists of 15 instruments that can explore all the types of radiation during the flashes.
Mr. Kuznetsov said that one of the tasks of the CORONAS-F is to predict the consequences of solar storms and other manifestations of "space weather". Mr. Kuznetsov stressed that the Sun is now near the maximum of solar activity, and the CORONAS-F registers the phenomena on our heavenly body which, affecting near-Earth outer space, cause violations of radio communication and anomalous slow-downs of satellites, and influence the operation of sophisticated technical systems on Earth.
One can find a "space weather" forecast on the Institute's web site at: http://forecast.izmiran.rssi.ru. The web site says that a mainly calm geomagnetic situation is expected during the next two days.

© 2005 WN.com

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    CORDIS NEWS / 2005-01-31
    EU-Russia symposium on S&T cooperation in biotechnology
    14-16 марта в Москве будут проходить 3-й Международный Конгресс по биотехнологии и Симпозиум "ЕС-Россия. Симпозиум по научно-техническому сотрудничеству в области биотехнологий".

The third Moscow international congress on biotechnology will feature an EU-Russia symposium and partnering event on science and technology (S&T) cooperation in biotechnology, to be held in Moscow from 14 to 16 March.
The symposium will be an opportunity for European, Russian and newly independent state (NIS) experts active in the field of food biotechnology to identify common topics for future collaboration.
The specially organised partnering event will create a meeting point for science, technology and industry participants, encourage their participation in the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), and raise awareness of other funding opportunities within the EU.

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities

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    RIA / 2005-02-02
    Protocole de Kyoto: la polémique évincée par le pragmatisme
    Полемика вокруг Киотского протокола - плох или хорош он для России - продолжается. Но существует и другой взгляд на эту проблему – сугубо прагматический. Например, руководитель Федеральной службы по гидрометеорологии и мониторингу окружающей среды Александр Бедрицкий уверен, что раз уж Россия присоединилась к Киотскому протоколу, следует думать не о его недостатках, а о том, как свести до минимума возможный риск.

MOSCOU, 2 février. /par Tatiana Sinitsyna, commentatrice de RIA Novosti/. La polémique engagée au sujet de la nature perverse ou bénéfique du protocole de Kyoto monte en vague de temps à autre en Russie. Document sans précédent de toute l'histoire de la coopération internationale, il est déjà une réalité et doit entrer en vigueur le 16 février.
Aujourd'hui, les sceptiques mettent en vedette l'argument selon lequel le protocole de Kyoto désavantage la Russie. "La moitié de l'énergie produite en Russie est employée au chauffage central en hiver, c'est-à-dire à permettre à la population de survivre, alors que, par exemple, en Espagne ou en France, les dépenses d'énergie sont nettement moins importantes", estime le climatologue russe Vladimir Klimenko qui déplore que ce facteur objectif n'ait pas été pris en considération par les auteurs du document. Il se déclare convaincu qu'en "ratifiant le protocole, la Russie est allée à l'encontre de ses propres intérêts". On entend dire aussi que l'Occident devra compenser à la Russie l'oxygène que lui procurent les immenses forêts russes.
Et pourtant, on peut affirmer qu'aujourd'hui une autre vision du protocole de Kyoto est prédominante, celle fondée sur la réalité, sur le pragmatisme. Par exemple, Alexandre Bedritski, directeur du Service fédéral d'hydrométéorologie et de monitorage de l'environnement, se déclare persuadé que "du moment que la Russie a adhéré au protocole de Kyoto, il faut cesser de s'éterniser sur ses imperfections pour se donner la peine de faire un effort de réflexion sur la façon dont nous pourrions en réduire les risques". Ce point de vue est partagé par Gueorgui Korovine, directeur du Centre pour l'écologie et la reproduction des forêts et membre de l'Académie des sciences naturelles de Russie. Au cours du dernier colloque sur le protocole de Kyoto tenu au siège de l'Académie, les scientifiques ont convenu de mettre un terme aux débats sur les "avantages et les inconvénients" inhérents à ce document et décidé de concentrer leurs efforts sur les moyens à mettre en œuvre pour le rendre plus efficace dans les conditions actuelles, a-t-il déclaré, pour sa part.
D'après l'académicien, le protocole de Kyoto promet beaucoup de travail aux spécialistes russes de la forêt. Il faudra, par exemple, recenser jusqu'à la racine tous les arbres des immenses étendues boisées du pays parce que c'est également une masse biologique. Il faudra aussi harmoniser le système national de comptage des émissions de gaz à effet de serre et de leur absorption par les forêts. Pour ce faire, le ministère des Ressources naturelles a déjà créé un groupe de travail spécial chargé notamment d'analyser dans le détail les documents du Groupe international d'étude du climat (GIEC) relatifs au système de recensement de l'émission et de l'absorption des gaz à effet de serre dans les forêts. Il est nécessaire de formuler des propositions sur l'application des méthodes du GIEC pour les modifier et les compléter, conformément aux principes de gestion stable des forêts, aux méthodes d'inventaire des forêts et aux particularités naturelles de la Fédération de Russie.
Un quart des forêts du monde se trouve sur le territoire de la Russie. 40% de ses massifs boisés sont à l'abri de toute activité économique. Ce territoire en défends joue le rôle de source de la diversité biologique, des ressources génétiques, de garant de la stabilité de la biosphère de notre planète.

© 2001 RIA Novosti

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    Toronto Star / Feb. 3, 2005
    Climate change has bright side
    Impact modest, Russian scientist says. Winter heating costs would be lowered

    • By Peter Calamai
    1-3 февраля в Великобритании, в Эксетере проходила Конференция по изменению климата. В первый день работы конференции выступил директор Института глобального климата и экологии Росгидромета РАН, академик Юрий Израэль.

EXETER, ENGLAND - Yuri Izrael, the black sheep of the climate science family, says burning all the world's fossil fuel right away would still not produce catastrophic global warming.
But it would certainly save Canadians money on their heating bills by modestly boosting winter temperatures, Izrael says. As well, his calculations show that the world would harvest enough food for an extra billion mouths because of longer growing seasons, and greater plant productivity from the higher levels of carbon dioxide generated by such a bonfire.
"People always talk about the negatives of climate change. We should also talk about the positives," says Izrael, the most influential science adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The doubling of carbon dioxide levels would gradually increase global average temperature of no more than 5 C, Izrael told an international climate science summit here called by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
"Heating bills in your country and mine would decrease for sure," he said yesterday in an interview with the Toronto Star. While other prominent climate change skeptics couldn't get invited to the conference, the 74-year-old Izrael couldn't be kept away because he is a vice chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The U.N. body issues authoritative climate change projections. The gruff and outspoken scientist also heads the Moscow-based Institute of Global Climate and Ecology and is an environmental hero there for his investigations immediately after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that landed him in hospital with radiation damage.
Izrael doesn't deny human activities like burning fossil fuels are changing the climate. Instead he argues the impact will be too modest to justify adaptation and mitigation costs.
"In the last 100 years we have increased the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 100 parts per million, more than a third. Yet that has put global average temperatures up by only 0.6 degrees. None of the people who are predicting disaster can explain to me why that increase is so little," Izrael said.
The Russian scientist's presentation was the only one in the first two days of the conference to play down real or projected harm from climate change caused by man's activities. Other experts warned that:

  • Large numbers of people could become "environmental migrants," fleeing drought and climate-related diseases like malaria and cholera.
  • The West Antarctic ice sheet, previously assumed to remain stable for 1,000 years, is shedding vast blocks of ice and may be starting to disintegrate. Its collapse would raise sea levels around the earth by five metres.
  • Vast seabird colonies in Britain's North Sea didn't raise any offspring last year, because their dietary staple, fish, was affected by higher water temperatures.

More than 200 scientists, government policy advisers and other climate experts from 30 countries are attending the science summit.
Copyright Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. All rights reserved.

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    The Moscow Times / Monday, February 7, 2005. Issue 3100. Page 8.
    A New IT Attitude for a New Silicon Valley
    • By Bill Robinson
    В России может появиться своя Силиконовая долина - научно-производственный центр, сделанный по западным аналогам – когда и работники интеллектуального труда, и производители сосредоточенны в рамках одного административно-территориального образования. Это возможно при соблюдении нескольких условий. Одно из них – правильно выбрать место. Например, новосибирский Академгородок.

The city has large clusters of gleaming glass buildings surrounded by expensive cars. Youthful and well-dressed workers come and go as they please. A whole new type of economy has been created where none existed before. Nearby, a large academic institution feeds the hungry technological ecosystem with the necessary brainpower. Banks, accounting firms, office parks, laboratories, shopping malls, restaurants, night clubs, movie theaters, sports venues and all manner of small businesses open up to serve the new, well-heeled residents and workers.
While this may sound like a tour of Silicon Valley, I'm actually describing Novosibirsk in 10 years. Or Sarov. Or Dubna. Or Zelenogorsk near Krasnoyarsk. It is not only possible, but very likely, if the government plays its cards right in assisting the technology sector.
Forty years ago, Silicon Valley didn't exist. San Jose, California, as well as places like Los Gatos, Santa Clara, Cupertino, Mountain View and the other communities that sprouted as a result of the economic and technological development of the region were all farms, woodlands or grassy hills. Local people were, for the most part, farmers and laborers.
How did this fantastic evolution from a place for crops to futuristic city happen? What was the formula? Proximity to an academic institution was essential. Stanford University was the spawning ground. Access to a large local pool of talent and knowledgeable workers was indispensable. A groundswell of technological inventions was compulsory. Availability of large amounts of capital for small business financing and growth was very important. A way for those investors to exit profitably was required. A spirit of entrepreneurship and willingness to fail and try again was crucial.
But the most important element, the glue that held everything together, was governmental support. It did not necessarily come in the form of money, but the U.S. government assisted Silicon Valley by avoiding the unpleasantness of over-taxing and over-regulating.
The same thing could and will, I believe, happen in Russia. Provided, of course, the government recognizes the potential for a similar economic development model to work here. This means pouring more of its finite oil revenues into the Russian Academy of Sciences and associated institutes to keep the technology pipeline filled and flowing with fresh, world-changing inventions. It definitely means a change in the government's thinking toward entrepreneurs and scientists alike. The government, in fact all of Russian society, must abandon the stigma attached to business failure, which de-motivates people, and espouse the value of trying. It must recognize the benefit of failing but learning. Politicians paying lip service to expanding the economy should deliver on their word and fund small business and technology development. Government leaders should be benchmarking and modeling their economic development strategies on other more advanced and successful countries around the world.
Take Norway, for example. The Norwegians were serendipitously blessed with surprisingly large oil reserves a while back. Were they content to just sit back and let the oil billions improve Norway's quality of life? No, they are investing and reinvesting a good portion of those one-time oil revenues in investment funds, technology parks and entrepreneurship. Russia needs to be doing the same thing.
If we were to search out the world's most successful economic development initiatives that employed a focused strategy -- interestingly, Silicon Valley had no such intentional strategy; it just happened -- we would see cities such as Cyberjaya, an entire man-made city of technology created outside the congestion of Kuala Lumpur, where a 20-year plan for economic development is working and paying big dividends with Ericsson, NTT, Fujitsu and Shell coming in as anchor tenants; Hong Kong's Cyberport, a multibillion-dollar public/private partnership for technological innovation involving a significant slug of government money and subsidy; and Helsinki's proximity-based Biomedicum and Technomedicum incubators, which are located right next to the University of Helsinki Hospital and are designed as a crossroads for pure technology and biotech.
Russia needs to make a strong commitment to technology and quit obsessing about oil and gas. It needs to carefully pick the cities where it will focus its early efforts. Akademgorodok, near Novosibirsk, looks like a logical first choice. Home to Novosibirsk State University, the Computing Center, the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics, as well as the institutes of Catalysis, Hydrodynamics, and Cytology and Genetics, this proverbial petri dish of research and innovation has the ideal depth and breadth of possible technologies and inventions for the springboard launch of the Russian technology sector.
Here's a possible formula for creating a new Silicon Valley in some of the sleepy "closed cities" that dot the vast Russian landscape.
One, the government must start investing large amounts of money into the scientific and technological institutes that for so long have been accomplishing so much with so little. Making this investment will pay off with better-funded, stronger Russian technologies with better spin-off potential, direct foreign investment and improved ties to Western markets, investors and partners. Not making it will result in the loss of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of man-years of scientific research already conducted in these remote, out-of-the-way places.
Two, the government again can help to create an atmosphere of success and abundance, even wealth, in Russia. This mind-set is vital for the success of the businesses that will spring up. Without it, they will wither and die.
Three, these initiatives should be focused on towns with significant academic and research operations already located within easy integration distance. The university towns are where everything will happen, at least initially.
Four, the development of local investment capital is essential. This will only happen if the government takes the lead and makes the required first steps by investing, showing faith and risking. Then and only then will local indigenous venture capital spring up. For instance, Singapore is one of the only governmental entities in the world that directly invests in small enterprises, and this has worked out brilliantly for its technology community.
Finally, the Russian government must recognize, reward and trumpet the success of its entrepreneurs widely, and show what exactly the benefits to the community and to the individuals can and will be. Failure should be understood and encouraged; for it is only through failure that Russian entrepreneurs will figure out success. In the European Union, entrepreneurs are clearly stigmatized when they fail and have a very tough time getting any financing, investment or support. This is an extremely inhibitive climate for any economy, particularly a nascent one.
These are just a few suggestions for the Russian government. It must start doing the right things now, while the country has the gift of vast oil and natural resource revenues to finance and promote IT ideas. With state help and understanding, Russia can undeniably cultivate another Silicon Valley right here on Russian soil.
Wouldn't that be an excellent way to improve wages, increase outward investment, expand the business and personal tax base, and provide employment opportunities for students, scientists and the general workforce?

© Copyright 2005 The Moscow Times. All rights reserved.

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