Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Май 2006 г.
Дайджест за другие годы
2006 г.
Российская наука и мир
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)

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

    Лауреатами премии "Глобальная энергия" 2006 года стали академик Евгений Велихов (Россия), Робер Эмар (Франция) и Масаджи Йошикава (Япония). Премия присуждена "за разработку научно-технических основ для создания международного термоядерного реактора (проект ИТЕР)". Международная премия "Глобальная энергия" учреждена в 2002 году по инициативе ведущих российских ученых и вручается ежегодно.

MOSCOW, April 19 (Xinhua) - Russian Academician Yevgeny Velikhov, French Doctor Robert Heimard and Japanese Doctor Masadji Ioshikawa have been named laureates of the Global Energy International Prize, chairman of the prize's board of trustees announced on Wednesday.
Academician Alexander Rumyantsev said the prize had been awarded for the development of the first project to create an international thermonuclear experimental reactor. All of the three prize winners are members of the project.
An international agreement on the beginning of the construction of the world's first thermonuclear experimental reactor is expected to be signed this year. The project involves Russia, Europe, the United States, Japan, China, South Korea and India.
The prize was increased to 1.1 million U.S. dollars this year, a fund which the three winners will share equally.
Founded in 2002 and awarded annually since 2003, the Global Energy International Prize, is a new scientific award for outstanding theoretical, experimental and applied research, development, inventions and discoveries in the field of energy development and power generation.
The idea of an international energy prize was put forward by a group of well-known Russian scientists led by the Nobel prize winner Zhores Alferov and was backed by the scientific community as well as by the largest Russian power producing companies. The initiative was approved and endorsed by the president of Russia.
The prize fund is formed and funded by the leading Russian companies - Gazprom, UES of Russia and Surgutneftegas.
These major power corporations acting as founders of the Prize have undertaken to finance the Prize on a permanent basis.

Copyright © 2003 Xinhua News Agency. All rights reserved.

* * *
    На совещании с региональными руководителями Сибирского федерального округа российский президент Владимир Путин заявил, что нефтепровод "Восточная Сибирь – Тихий океан" должен пройти на двести километров севернее водозаборной зоны Байкала. Вначале нефтепровод предполагалось проложить всего в 800 метрах от Байкала, что вызвало бурное возмущение экологических организаций.

MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin declared on Wednesday that an oil pipeline being built across Siberia should be rerouted away from the northern shore of Lake Baikal, one of the world's natural landmarks.
Putin's unexpected edict reversed a controversial government decision last month to allow the country's pipeline monopoly, Transneft, to build the line within a half mile of Lake Baikal, the world's most voluminous body of fresh water.
The pipeline, a $11.5 billion, 2,500- mile, or 4,023 kilometer, project to pump Russia's oil to markets in Asia, prompted rare public protests following the approval of the initial route in March, with rallies held from Moscow to Irkutsk, the Siberian region bordering the lake.
"It was not a huge wave," Aleksandr Shuvalov, deputy executive director of Greenpeace Russia, said of the protests in an interview by phone, "but it was a wave." The pipeline's route, coming so close to Lake Baikal, had raised concerns that any accident in a remote, seismically active region could send oil spilling into a lake holding more than 20 percent of the world's fresh water and an abundance of unique species of wildlife. Not only environmental groups, but also Russian scientists opposed Transneft's planned route.
A commission of experts from the Russian Academy of Sciences initially recommended against the route on environmental grounds, only to have its recommendation rejected and a new review ordered with a new panel of experts.
Putin's reversal appeared highly choreographed for state television networks. Meeting with federal and regional officials in the Siberian city of Tomsk, he publicly chided Transneft's director, Semyon Vainshtok, after asking him whether there was any alternative to the contested route.
"Since you hesitate, it means that there is such a possibility," Putin said to a visibly uncomfortable Vainshtok. "If there had not been such a possibility, you would have said "no" without any doubt."
Putin then ordered that the route hew more closely to one that had been recommended by the Academy of Sciences but rejected by a regulatory agency. He said a new route should be charted at least 40 kilometers from Lake Baikal. That would push it outside of Baikal's watershed, according to environmental organizations.
Shuvalov, of Greenpeace, called it "a victory of common sense."
The reversal underscored Putin's highly centralized power and his penchant for dramatic gestures. Wielding a pen in front of an oversized map of the Baikal region, he swept aside the decisions of several government agencies, as well as those of Transneft, which had warned that finding another route would be prohibitively expensive.
Vainshtok and other officials from Transneft could not immediately be reached for comment. They have previously said that the planned route would be safe and that moving it could add nearly a billion dollars to the cost of the pipeline.
When Vainshtok, in the televised exchange, suggested the pipeline would have to move "much father north," Putin responded curtly.
"If there is at least a tiny chance of polluting Baikal," Putin said, "we, thinking of future generations, must do everything not only to minimize this threat, but to exclude it."
Many details remain unclear. Natalya Podkovyrzina, a leader of Baikal Wave, an environmental group in Irkutsk, said it was not yet clear whether the pipeline could easily be built in the region Putin discussed. "Forty kilometers to the north is a mountainous area, highlands and impassable taiga," she said by phone.
Putin's decision came as Russia, along with Ukraine and Belarus, commemorated the 20th anniversary of the nuclear accident at Chernobyl.
In a sign that public protests have their limits, the authorities broke up a demonstration against nuclear energy in Moscow, briefly detaining a dozen Greenpeace activists who had chained themselves to a fence in front of St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square.

Copyright © 2006 The International Herald Tribune. All rights reserved.

* * *
    Российские ученые разработали небольшой, но эффективный и универсальный термограф. Он позволяет подробно измерить температуру на разных участках поверхности за считанные секунды, независимо от того, трубопровод перед вами или человек. Прибор может измерять самые разные температуры - от минус 40 до плюс 2000 градусов с точностью до одного градуса. Кроме того, термограф способен собрать цельную картинку из отдельных кадров, что позволяет исследовать объекты практически любого размера, измеряя температуру их поверхности с высокой точностью и пространственным разрешением.

A small but surprisingly efficient and multi-purpose thermograph has been developed by Russian scientists. It helps to measure within seconds the temperature of surface in the most detailed way. It also assists in diagnosing - be it a pipeline or a human being. It is able of diagnosing any object if the processes taking place in it somehow affect the temperature of its different parts.
"Naturally, there are a lot of various thermovisors now in general, i.e. the devices which allow to visualize thermal field - says Mikhail Utkin, one of the authors of the development who represents it at the exhibition. - But the distinction of our device from its analogues lies in the fact that it is not simply a thermovisor but a thermograph. This is a device that allows to measure to high precision the temperature of object's surface. A small infrared-camera of our device (the size of a amateurish camera-recorder) is a precision mechano-optical scanner with an infrared-receiver. A number of know-hows applied to its construction allow to achieve high precision and sensitivity, and I would say photorealism of obtained thermal images."
The developers did manage to produce a really multi-purpose device. On the one hand, it can measure different temperatures varying from minus 40 through plus 2,000 degrees C to within no worse than one degree. When temperatures which are close the human being's body temperature are measured, the precision of temperature measurement is within hundredth fractions of a degree. On the other hand - such a thermograph is able to precisely collect a whole picture from individual snapshots. Therefore, it allows to investigate objects of practically any size, measuring the temperature of their surface with high precision and spatial resolution.
At the recent exhibition of inventions and innovations in Sokolniki "Archimedes-2006", some visitors walked away from this stand confused and perplexed, and sometimes even frightened. Not all of them, of course. The majority of idle public was delighted and surprised at tremendous capabilities of the device, but the specialists were "engaged" in contact with the devisers. However, one could understand the feeling of the sad ones. It is not frightful that your tooth is just about to ache - with a hole like that in the tooth you should have visited the doctor long ago but lack of time and laziness impeded it or you simply have no nerve to do that. It is far more unpleasant to learn casually, without any moral preparation, for example that it is better to urgently turn to an endocrinologist - as an object has appeared in the thyroid gland which strenuously furnishes circulation.
However, when it conies down to health of a human being or machinery, objective, precise and timely information is particularly necessary. Such information is provided by a device developed by specialists of the Moscow company "IRTIS", the abbreviation standing for the English "InfraRed Thermal Imaging Systems", simply speaking - IR-thermovisors.
Along with that, the subject of inquiry may be whatever. In a transformer, the device would instantly discover the sections of local overheating hidden from eyes, in a building - panels with disrupted heat insulation, in helicopter blades - microcracks, in the construction of railway bridge - loosened screws that rub against each other when a train passes along the bridge, and so on and so forth ad infinitum.
As per a medical room, or which is more valuable, the work of filed physician teams, the new thermograph will help to find the sections of irregular (inadequate or too strong) blood supply. Such checkup will take several minutes and would allow to diagnose more precisely, to discover the disease earlier and to thus provide the patient with more opportunities for a long and certainly happy, painless life.

* * *
    Providence Journal - Providence, RI, USA / Monday, May 1, 2006
    Yury Zaitsev: Earth can prevent an asteroid strike
    Астероид поперечником около километра способен уничтожить земную цивилизацию. С точки зрения ученых, самый разумный путь разрешения астероидной проблемы - строгий и непрерывный учет и контроль всех потенциально опасных для Земли летающих объектов. Дальше объект должен быть либо своевременно разрушен, либо уведен с траектории сближения с Землей.

COL. GEN. VLADIMIR POPOVKIN, commander of the Russian Space Force, recently said at a news conference that the national satellite cluster lacked a spacecraft capable of preventing an asteroid strike. He said, however, that chances of such a collision were infinitely small, so it was inexpedient to spend huge sums on neutralizing the unlikely threat. But it seems that the general may be underestimating the asteroid threat.
Over the last few decades, there has been much debate about the degree of danger posed by impacts on Earth from asteroids and comets, but it seems that the world should take the threat of asteroid strikes much more seriously.
Astronomers have already sported about 800 asteroids - solid rocky celestial bodies - with a diameter in excess of 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) moving along circumsolar elliptical orbits. And there may be as many as 2,000 large asteroids, aswell as 135,000 rocks with a diameter of 100 meters and more.
It should be noted that asteroid orbits are unstable; they change under the influence of gravitational fields of the terrestrial-group planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. An asteroid that flashed past our planet at a distance of about 5 million kilometers (about 3 million miles) in November 1996 returned in September 2004 and flew by just 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. In March 1989, a 300-meter-wide asteroid crossed the terrestrial orbit and missed Earth by just six hours. Astronomers spotted the rock only when it was receding into space.
An asteroid more than 1,000 meters wide is potentially capable of destroying human civilization. The chances of such a major asteroid impact in the 21st Century are a mere 0.0002 percent, but there is a 2-percent probability of Earth's colliding with a 100-meter asteroid before 2100. The blast would kill millions of people if it hit an industrial region with many hazardous enterprises.
Moreover, scientists are quite alarmed because they register additional asteroids buzzing Earth. Spaceguard Survey, an international service to detect and track potentially dangerous space objects, has therefore been established.
Russia has established the Space Shield Foundation, east of the Ural Mountains. The organization involves scientists from the Snezhinsk (Chelyabinsk-70) nuclear center and the Makeev State Rocket Center (Miass), and the foundation has set up subsidiaries in Novosibirsk and Korolev, outside Moscow. Meanwhile, the Planetary Defense Center, established in Russia three years ago, comprises the best defense-industry facilities and aerospace enterprises, as well as academic research.
Scientists say that the most effective way to cope with the asteroid problem is to register and observe all potentially dangerous space objects. It is not enough simply to spot asteroids, because of their often unstable orbits - such asteroids may disappear later on. Every terrestrial hemisphere should therefore have three or four telescopes with primary mirrors 4 to 5 meters wide for observing asteroids round the clock. Such observations would make it possible to catalogue asteroids with a diameter of less than 1,000 meters.
Many observatories, Russian ones included, are now working on an asteroid catalogue. Scientists say that if 90 percent of asteroids are registered, it will be possible to warn about asteroid strikes 80 to 100 years in advance. Yet long-term asteroid protection is still in the realm of science fiction.
There are two scenarios for shielding the planet from a dangerous space object. First, any "hostile" object can be shattered in deep space, before it reaches Earth. Second, the object's orbit can be changed, steering the object clear of our planet.
Some scientists say that a nuclear device could be detonated either on an asteroid's surface or near it. On its surface, the detonation could shatter the asteroid, but its fragments could still threaten Earth. Alternatively, a nuclear explosion near the asteroid could heat up one side of the asteroid and vaporize large segments of it, thereby changing the asteroid's flight path. A powerful nuclear explosion could change the asteroid's orbit several months before it affected Earth.
Meanwhile, Russian scientists suggest using the kinetic energy of asteroids to destroy them. This could be done by creating a dust cloud in the asteroid's path: the dust particles would gouge craters on the asteroid's surface, causing the asteroid eventually to disintegrate (because the mass of the crater particles would be directly proportional to the kinetic energy of the colliding bodies). The United States demonstrated this on July 4, 2005, when part of the Deep Impact spacecraft - a copper ball 65 centimeters (26 inches) wide and weighing 140 kilograms (308 pounds) - hit the comet Tempel 1, with a radius of 3 kilometers, and carved in it a 200-meter crater.
It would be much harder to build (with robots) a catapult on an asteroid's surface, to launch rocks from the asteroid into space and thus reverse the asteroid's trajectory. A jet engine on the asteroid's surface could also change its flight path, but a spacecraft would have trouble maneuvering near the asteroid to place the engine on its surface. Yet another method involves using laser or solar beams to heat part of the asteroid's surface and thus propel die asteroid in the required direction. But it would be hard to deliver a laser unit or mirror lens to the asteroid and ensure the required long-term control.
Because an asteroid patrol would prove quite expensive, it is expedient to streamline its elements during current space programs, and that is currently being done. The Deep Impact project shows that scientists are working in the right direction.
In addition, Russia's Lavochkin NPO has suggested the demonstration project Space Patrol for perfecting various asteroid-protection methods and systems. A small spacecraft (with a mass of 200 kilograms) is now being developed within this project's framework, to act as navigator or pilot and lift off atop converted ballistic missiles, such as the Strela and the Rokot.
Meanwhile, the European Space Agency is working on its Don Quixote mission to study deflection of a dangerous asteroid once it's been spotted. A Russian Soyuz-Fregat launch vehicle would launch the Sancho and Hidalgo spacecraft, to reach the asteroid within six or seven months. The Sancho would arrive at the asteroid first, and it would revolve around it; the Hidalgo would later slam into the asteroid, at 10 kilometers per second. The Sancho would then inspect the damaged asteroid and assess its changed trajectory.
The unlucky asteroid is to be selected in 2007, and the Sancho and Hidalgo would lift off between 2010 and 2015.

© 2006, Published by The Providence Journal Co.

    AlphaGalileo / 24 April 2006
    Tiny fateful RNA
    Доктор биологических наук Евгений Рогаев выдвинул гипотезу, согласно которой микроРНК, специальный тип РНК, обнаруженный в клетках мозга, играет важную роль в развитии человеческого мозга и возникновении различных заболеваний.

Micro-RNA, a special type of RNA found in brain cells, plays an important role in the mechanisms of human brain development and in the emergence of certain mental diseases. This hypothesis was put forward by Evgeny Rogaev, a Russian neuroscientist. It is based on the data from publications and his own research conducted in Russia and the USA. Micro-RNA is a special class of regulatory RNA just 19-22 nucleotides in length. Such micro-RNAs are the products of operation of short genes that do not encode proteins. Micro-RNA was found both in plants and in animals. Scientists assume that mammals have hundreds or, possibly, thousands of various sequences of micro-RNAs in their genome. Specialists are unable to give a more precise figure yet but they have already performed certain research that gives grounds to believe that micro-RNAs may participate in the pathogenesis of mental diseases.
Micro-RNAs are common in brain cells, and some of these molecules are mostly found just there. Experiments on Danio rerio, Caenorhabditis elegans and rats give evidence that normal development of the nervous system is impossible without micro-RNAs. Composition of micro-RNA in the neural tissue changes depending on the stage of the nervous system's embryonal development.
Human brain diseases related to impairment of consciousness, intellect, mood and memory can be subdivided into two groups. They are diseases of nervous system's development such as mental deficiency, autism, schizophrenia, and the group of neurodegenerative diseases (involving disintegration of nerve cells), for example, senile dementia and Parkinson's disease.
Using computer algorithms, scientists demonstrated that potential micro-RNA targets include genes related to the nervous system's development developmental lagging, contact formation between neurons, and Alzheimer's disease.
However, the list of target genes depends on the computer program used to prepare the forecast, and its accuracy can only be verified experimentally.
Preliminary research conducted by Evgeny Rogaev and his colleagues demonstrated that such verification is feasible. Advanced research methods allow finding and identifying tiny micro-RNAs in the brain tissues of the deceased normal and mentally sick people and comparing them. A lot of mental diseases are, undoubtedly, inherited, but when comparing the sequences of genes that encode proteins, the scientists do not find significant differences between normal and sick people. Evgeny Rogaev believes that they should look for differences in the regulation of operation of genes encoding proteins rather than in their sequences. It is highly possible that micro-RNAs are exactly such regulators which define nervous system's development and functioning.

© AlphaGalileo Foundation 2003.

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