Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Ноябрь 2007 г.

Дайджест за другие годы
2007 г.
Российская наука и мир
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)

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

    AlphaGalileo / 22 October 2007
    Eye-ground: The truth in a distorting mirror

    Специалисты Института проблем лазерных и информационных технологий РАН и Московского государственного университета разработали уникальный прибор для исследования глазного дна, который позволит офтальмологам видеть изображение сетчатки совершенно четким, без искажений. Устройство совмещает цифровую фундус-камеру, которая дает изображение сетчатки, и аберрометр (прибор для автоматического измерения полных аберраций человеческого глаза), устраняющий искажения, вызванные оптической средой глаза пациента и до сих пор считавшиеся неизбежными.

Exclusive opportunities are provided to ophthalmologists by the device recently designed by specialists of the Institute of Problems of Laser Technologies (Russian Academy of Sciences) and their colleagues from the Faculty of Physics (Lomonosov Moscow State University). It is the so-called digital fundus-camera equipped with the real-time aberrometer. In fact, two devices are combined in it - one of them enables to see the eye-ground and the other corrects distortions caused by the optical medium of the specific patient's eye.
As a matter of fact, physicians have been using fundus-cameras for a long time, i.e. diagnostic devices for eye-ground investigation (fundus or more precisely fundus oculi - is the eye-ground). The first similar devices appeared back in the middle of the century before last, and constituted the optical system of lenses, mirrors and light bias, with the help of which it was possible to see blowup of the retina and the vessels feeding it. Since that time, fundus-cameras have been repeatedly improved and became digital - like digital cameras, however, the researchers failed to make the picture sufficiently distinct (at micron definition). It is the eye itself that impeded - its optical medium absorbs light, and its component "details" - cornea, lens and so on, including the eyeball per se - repeatedly change light waves' direction, thus "blurring" the final image. Physicists call this phenomenon aberration - imperfection of the optical system.
Moreover, astronomers have long ago learned to successfully overcome this phenomenon, which distorts the light of faraway stars - with the help of, broadly speaking, distorting mirrors. It is necessary to know how the light waves' direction changes on the way from their source through to the observer and how to correct the image - as though to "distort it back". Physicists decided to apply this particular technique to the fundus-camera design: to measure the distortion and to correct it accordingly. An additional infrared laser and a special "ruby" mirror allowed to implement the idea.
So, an ordinary laser (or several lasers, if the image is needed in different spectral regions) illuminates the eye-ground, the light is reflected and when it is going through the optical system of the device it gets onto the camera matrix - this is how the "picture" is obtained, i.e. the image of the retina and the vessels feeding it, which the ophthalmologist needs to see for making a precise diagnosis. A moment prior to the laser starting operation, the aberration correction system is switched on. It means that the infrared laser (which is absolutely safe) will send its ray of light to find out how its intensity and direction will change on the way "down to the bottom and back".
The sensors, having recorded these changes, send a signal to the "distorting mirror", which in response distorts it exactly in such a way that compensates for the changes not for the infrared ray but for visible light - the one that allows to obtain the proper image. Only after the mirror gets "tuned up" accordingly, taking into account individual peculiarities of the eye under investigation, the ordinary laser is switched on and sends an impulse of light, which, having been reflected from the eye-ground and having been "corrected" with the help of the "ruby" mirror, gets onto the digital camera matrix.
As a result, one can get the eye-ground image several times more distinct as compared to the ones provided by ordinary, also digital fundus-cameras: the image at a micron definition. Habitually blurred picture of the retina and vessels on the computer display of the camera acquires unprecedented sharpness, which allows the ophthalmologist to quickly (at the rate of one shot per second) get an excellent image of the object in question, without spoiling his/her eyes in attempt to sort out "shadows and mists" of the pictures obtained with the help of any other fundus-cameras. Ophthalmologists and patients highly appreciate the Russian physicists' invention.

© AlphaGalileo Foundation 2003.

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    The Moscow Times / Wednesday, October 31, 2007. Issue 3776. Page 1.
    Cockroaches Venture to the Final Frontier
    • By Kevin O'Flynn

    Результаты одного из экспериментов, проведенных на российской космической лаборатории "Фотон-М3", которая была запущена на околоземную орбиту с космодрома Байконур 14 сентября.

Just two weeks before celebrating the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, the Earth's first man-made satellite, another space landmark passed almost unnoticed - the first trip into space by a cockroach.
The flight by 54 red cockroaches from Voronezh has led to the birth of the first - as well as the second, third, fourth and so on to the 33rd - creatures conceived in space.
The lucky mother, Nadezhda, gave birth to her brood Sunday, Dmitry Atyakshin, who is in charge of the experiment at the biological department of the Voronezh Medical Academy, said by telephone Wednesday.
"Hope, we called her Hope, brought us ... 33 little red cockroaches," he said, using the term tarakanchiki, the affectionate form of the Russian word for cockroach. Nadezhda is the Russian word for hope.
Nadezhda is currently in isolation in a plastic container in one of the classrooms at the academy. Another mother-to-be is expected to give birth soon. She had not been given a name, Atyakshin said.
Fifty-four cockroaches were sent into space in a box measuring only 150 cubic centimeters in a Foton-M, an unmanned capsule design first used in 1985. Based on the R-7 rocket that took the first man, Yury Gagarin, into space in 1961, the Soyuz rocket was launched from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome on Sept. 14, returning to Earth 12 days later.
The idea came as part of a winning entry from Voronezh students in a competition to design experiments for the space flight held by the Institute of Biomedical Problems, in Moscow. The experiments were to be part of ongoing studies of the physical effects of space flight.
Five experiments, all designed by students, were carried out in connection with the launch, said Sergei Ryazansky, a former cosmonaut who coordinated the project for the institute.
On their return, the cockroaches were sluggish and slow - and would have no doubt fallen easy prey to a slipper, as drawn in a cartoon in RIA-Novosti.
Although the first flight of man's best friend, a dog named Laika in 1957, has become the stuff of space legend, Nadezhda and her 53 pals are not household names - although their relatives may be household pests. The results of the experiment may, however, bear important fruit in the future.
The study of the space cockroaches - or tarakanavty, as they have been dubbed, combining the Russian words for cockroach and cosmonaut - is part of broader scientific study into the effect of space on living organisms. With the arrival of Nadezhda's offspring, the effects of conception and reproduction in space can also be examined.
The idea behind the experiment was to see how cockroaches - which can survive in the harshest conditions, including a month without food and water - would adapt to life in space. The students did, however, leave food for their charges, in the form of some dried fruit in the container for them to gorge themselves on as they orbited the planet.
"What if man flies somewhere very far away?" Atyakshin asked. "Of course, these are cockroaches and not people, but the general picture is still the same. The information can be applied to flights by humans."
"The question is whether life can continue away from the Earth during extended space flight," he said.
Former cosmonaut Ryazansky agreed, saying the experiment would help scientists further understand the physical effects of weightlessness, an understanding that will be vital if man ever decides to embark on space journeys lasting for years.
"They were not planning to get a new generation [of cockroaches]," Ryazansky said. "This is a nice result. ... They will check how well these newborn cockroaches that were formed in stressful conditions - and space flight is a stressful condition - adapt."
When the students received the initial go-ahead for their experiment, they ran into a problem: finding the cockroaches.
Searches of cellars, warehouses and attics proved fruitless. "It became clear that red cockroaches are rare in Voronezh," Atyakshin said.
After three months of looking, the cockroaches were eventually found in a government building. Atyakshin refused to say which building, although he did say that it was not a local tax office.
The students will continue to study the trip's effects on their subjects and their offspring for at least another year.

© Copyright 2006. The Moscow Times. All rights reserved.

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    Informscience / 30.10.2007
    Morphogenesis of a living form

    Российские биологи разработали биомеханическую модель раннего формообразования живых организмов на основе экспериментов со шпорцевыми лягушками. Это дает представление о том, как организмы приобретают определенную форму в ходе эмбрионального развития.

How do living organisms acquire a definite shape in the course of their embyronic growth? Biologists are seeking the answer to this question. Professor Lev Beloussov (Chair of Embryology, Faculty of Biology, Moscow State University) has developed a biomechanical model of early morphogenesis of the Amphibia by analyzing experimental data obtained on a clawed frog. The researcher believes that the driving force of morphogenesis is organized cell movements and mechanical stressed generated by them.
The biomechanical model of early morphogenesis is based on the results of long-term experiments on the clawed frog embryo conducted by the specialists of the laboratory of biophysics of ontogenesis at the Chair of Embryology (Moscow State University) - Professor Lev Beloussov, as well as Natalia Luchinskaia, Alexander Ermakov and Nadezhda Glagoleva. In the course of the experiments, the researchers artificially intensified or weakened mechanical stressed in the frog foetus tissues at early stages of growth. Congenital malformations occurred due to that. Sometimes, these malformations could be corrected by reverse change of stresses.
Lev Beloussov arrived at a conclusion that early morphogenesis of the Amphibia is a sequence of complementary movements of cells and cellular layers, and mechanical stresses generated by them. At that, the processes go with some delay, they strive to compensate each other's action, but they constantly "slip through" the system's point of equilibrium, and therefore, the evolution does not stop.
The obtained effect strives to compensate the impact, but along with that it gives rise to a new effect and so on. This or that cell movement type generates mechanical stresses, which provokes a different type of cell movement and so on. Figuratively speaking, early morphogenesis can be represented as a swinging pendulum, which is balancing near the point of equilibrium but would not stop.
For example, the most important embryological process - gastrulation - occurs as follows. Out of a blastula - a hollow sphere with walls made of cells - there arrives a gastrula - a three-layered bag with a foramen outwards and a new internal cavity. The digestive cavity will develop in the future from this new cavity, the anus will develop from the foramen, and body organs will develop from the external, internal and intermediate cell layers. Along with that, one hemisphere as if is screwing into the other. The process starts with increasing of the turgor osmotic pressure of the sphere cavity on its walls. To compensate for mechanical stresses generated by that, the blastula wall cells begin to rearrange themselves - they are wedge in between other cells. They rearrange themselves so actively that they weaken the stresses, and that, for its part, launches new types of cellular movements.
Embryos of the Amphibia - frogs, toads, tritons, salamanders, axolotls - are the favorite object for embryologists. A lot of fundamental principles of living organisms' evolution were demonstrated on these particular objects. The biomechanical model of early morphogenesis suggested by Professor Lev Beloussov will supply researchers with a new conceptual approach to investigation of mechanisms and principles of living objects morphogenesis. eased heavy metal concentrations.

Copyright © 2000 "InformNauka".

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    Innovations-report / 23.10.2007
    Intelligence plus telephone - auto attendant and others

    Ученые из Института проблем управления им. В.А.Трапезникова РАН разрабатывают компьютерную технологию для распознавания и синтеза речи. Технологию можно использовать в информационно-справочных службах - что-то вроде телефона-автомата, которому можно задать вопрос и получить ответ. Специальное программное обеспечение и соответствующие аппаратные средства позволяют вести диалог между человеком и машиной практически на любые заданные темы.

The system being developed by the Moscow researchers - specialists of the Trapeznikov Institute of Management Problems (Russian Academy of Sciences) - will provide the necessary information on the round-the-clock basis, without days off or holidays.
This is intelligent telephone technology based on speech recognition and synthesis. Simply speaking, this is an automatic telephone, which you can talk to and which can find out answers to your questions and is able not only to listen but also to hear. It is unable to be rude on the phone, to fling the receiver or to neglect its duties in general.
"The core of our technology is the speech recognition system, says Nina Petukhova, senior staff scientist, one of the development authors. In principle, this is a commercially available product already, which we did not create but only used. Our part is the software and appropriate hardware, which would enable to carry on a dialogue between a person and a machine, the dialogue being in the defined area. Certainly, we should provide the machine with a database containing responses to the asked questions or we should teach the machine to obtain the data in the interactive mode. This was not easy, but we have done that for a number of directions, and we still continue working on some projects."
How does such a conversation take place? On the whole, it is like a conversation with a human operator, but with a very patient one. For instance, we need to book a ticket. The automatic machine will ask the caller about the date and time the ticket is needed for, it will ascertain the preferred options, it will offer the available options, if the machine fails to understand - it will repeat the question or phrase the question in other words, it will offer to choose one of available variants and so on. At that, this is not an answering machine, which is operated according to the telephone tone mode searching principle when all responses are recorded in advance. In this case, the automatic machine does recognize speech by revealing key words that contain the information necessary for an adequate answer. Once the machine received the required response (for example, the customer informed about the departure date) - it would pass to the next question - for instance, it would ask about the flight and then find out if the customer wants an aisle or a window seat.
Of course, the question arises - what about the unique individuality of a customer, or more precisely - of his/her voice? One person would speak in a deep voice, another - would squeal, but the third customer would groan like elderly people do. Will such diversity impact the speech recognition capability? It has turned out that it won't. The system does not depend on individual speech peculiarities and it disregards them except for two special cases.
If the speech is totally indistinct, with serious logopaedic problems, the automatic operator may fail in this case and it would offer the customer to contact a human operator. But in the other case, the individuality will on the contrary be strictly accounted for and validated. For example, if the account status is to be cleared up by phone, the individual approach will be needed - first the machine will be taught by giving a reference pattern of your voice to it, and then, after the identification procedure is fulfilled, the machine will talk and answer the questions.
Of course, the authors understand that alternative variants to such "information self-service" are available now - via the Internet and simple "human" enquiry service - which operates and is sometimes very successful. However, the Internet access is not always/everywhere available, and human telephone operators get tired, fall ill and, besides, few enquiry services operate by night and on days off. In this case, speech servers will help, which are being developed by the Institute of Management Problems, Russian Academy of Sciences. Or more precisely, automated queuing systems, which do not force out the existing systems but extend them and consequently - our opportunities as well.

© 2000-2007 by innovations-report.

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    Quesso - Online Health News and Information / October 26, 2007
    Artificial Antioxidants Synthesized in Russia

    Новосибирские ученые искусственно синтезировали антиоксиданты в виде водорастворимых серосодержащих фенольных соединений.

Scientists are in permanent search for new natural antioxidants, which are vitamins, amino-acids, natural phenol compounds. Think tank from Russian city of Novosibirsk has synthesized artificial analogues for said natural substances - water soluble sulphur-containing phenol compounds, which show useful biological properties.
Scientists have proved synthetic compounds showed antioxidant activity - they protected lipds and proteins from oxidation. Such activity is due to peculiar chemical structure of phenol compounds, which contain sulphur atoms together with oxygen atoms. Oxygen atoms neutralize unpaired electrons of free radicals, thus eliminating their maleficent effect on a cell. Sulphur atoms act the same, thus adding even more antioxidant activity to synthetic compounds.
Another significant advantage of these compounds is their solubility in water, which provides fast absorption and transfer of the substance in an organism.
Later scientists have discovered antiinflammatory activity of synthetic phenols, which is due their ability to affect genes, responsible for inflammation processes.

Copyright © 2007 Quesso Com TM.

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    Futura Sciences / Le 30 octobre 2007
    Et revoici la centrale solaire orbitale !
    • Par Jean Etienne, Futura-Sciences

    Россия, США и Япония рассматривают возможность создания солнечной электростанции на геостационарной орбите, которая будет преобразовывать свет в микроволновое излучение и передавать на Землю. В дальнейшем эта энергия преобразуется в электрическую. Первые проекты появились еще тридцать лет назад, но по техническим причинам осуществиться не могли. Теперь интерес к солнечным станциям возник вновь, и каждая страна разрабатывает собственный проект. В России этим занимаются специалисты Исследовательского центра им. М.Келдыша, РКК "Энергия" и ЦНИИмаш. Причем, если со строительством самой станции трудностей не предвидится, то способ передачи энергии на Землю представляет серьезную проблему.

Depuis plus de trente ans, Américains et Russes étudient la faisabilité d'une centrale solaire en orbite géostationnaire qui transmettrait l'énergie vers la Terre au moyen d'un faisceau de micro-ondes. Mais tous les projets ont été successivement abandonnés devant les risques, et surtout le coût astronomique d'une telle structure.
Mais les choses pourraient changer. Le tarissement prévisible des puits de pétrole (la production des pays non-OPEP est en régression depuis décembre 2003) et l'augmentation du prix de l'or noir, certains prévisionnistes prévoyant un doublement tous les cinq ans, remettent sur le tapis des technologies énergétiques abandonnées pour cause de non rentabilité. Les centrales orbitales en font partie...
Aussi, le Secrétariat américain à la Défense a-t-il repris ce projet en mains, avec l'aide de la Nasa. Selon le JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), un tel projet deviendra rentable lorsque le prix du baril atteindra les 150 dollars.
Les projets en lice
L'agence spatiale américaine, qui a déjà consacré 23 millions d'euros au projet pour la seule étude de la mise en orbite des gigantesques panneaux solaires, y croit. Selon les estimations des experts, une telle installation pourrait transmettre vers un récepteur terrestre jusqu'à 10 GW de puissance électrique (soit dix centrales nucléaires de moyenne puissance) sous la forme d'un faisceau de micro-ondes. A 36.000 kilomètres d'altitude, les collecteurs recevraient huit fois plus d'énergie solaire qu'au sol, ce qui justifie amplement l'investissement à moyen terme, selon les ingénieurs.
Les Américains ne sont pas les seuls intéressés, puisque le Japon, totalement dépourvu de ressources fossiles, élabore un tel projet depuis 2001. Le Pays du Soleil Levant prévoir le lancement, avant 2040, d'une centrale de 20.000 tonnes pour 1 GW de puissance équipée de deux panneaux d'un kilomètre. Selon les experts, le coût du kilowatt-heure s'élèverait par ce moyen à 0,23€.
En Russie, le centre de recherches Mstislav Keldych, le constructeur spatial RKK Energia et l'Institut central de constructions mécaniques (Tsniimash) travaillent sur un projet similaire. Mais selon Anatoli Khabarov, responsable de RKK Energia, les principales difficultés ne se situeront pas au niveau de l'assemblage d'un tel complexe, mais plutôt de sa sécurité. Celle-ci est inhérente au mode de transmission de l'énergie sur Terre, qui pourra s'effectuer par faisceau de micro-ondes ou par laser.
"Imaginez qu'une centrale gigantesque perde son orientation et que le rayon tombe au-delà du récepteur", prévient Anatoli Kiriouchkine, responsable du Central Research Institute for Machine Building (TsNIIMASH). "Si un flux énergétique traverse des immeubles d'habitation ou des entreprises industrielles, il brûlera tous les équipements électroniques, mettra hors service tous les transports, alors que les gens risquent de recevoir de graves brûlures. En outre, il faudra fermer de vastes zones du ciel à la navigation aérienne".
Bien entendu, rien n'empêche d'imaginer des systèmes très élaborés et redondants empêchant pareil accident, en coupant automatiquement le faisceau au moindre dysfonctionnement. Mais il y a pire. Une telle centrale, et on peut imaginer qu'il pourrait en exister un grand nombre en orbite d'ici quelques décennies, est aussi une arme potentielle capable d'atteindre de nombreuses cibles au sol, mettant hors service toute l'électronique et provoquant d'énormes dommages, matériels comme humains. Les Américains répondent à cette objection en signalant que le faisceau pourrait être étalé sur une très grande surface ce qui diluerait considérablement ses effets, et que l'antenne pourrait se résumer en un simple grillage de plusieurs dizaines de kilomètres carrés disposé en zone désertique, ou même au-dessus d'une forêt, protégeant intégralement celle-ci.
Embouteillage dans l'espace
L'encombrement de l'orbite géostationnaire a aussi été évoqué. Celle-ci arrive déjà à saturation en certains endroits, et les opérateurs de télécommunications ne voient pas d'un très bon œil l'arrivée de ces monstres de plusieurs kilomètres de diamètre, tous panneaux solaires déployés.
Quant aux autres utilisateurs de satellites, scientifiques entre autres, c'est avec inquiétude qu'ils imaginent leurs coûteux appareils traverser le flux de micro-ondes reliant la centrale à son collecteur d'énergie sur Terre.
Bref, si ces centrales existent bel et bien sur le papier, elles ne paraissent pas prêtes à prendre la route de l'espace…

© 2001-2007 Futura-Sciences. Tous droits réservés.

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    Ambassade de France en Russie / 8-11-2007
    Décoration de Guennadi PAVLIKHINE

    Проректор МГТУ им. Баумана по международным связям Геннадий Павлихин награжден французским правительственным орденом "Академические Пальмы" (присуждается за выдающиеся успехи в области просвещения).

Le 7 novembre 2007, Monsieur Stanislas de LABOULAYE, Ambassadeur de France en Fédération de Russie, a remis les insignes de Chevalier des Palmes Académiques à M. Guennadi PAVLIKHINE, Vice-Recteur de l'Université Bauman, chargé des relations internationales.
Lors de la cérémonie, l'Ambassadeur a mentionné le soutien qu'a apporté M. Pavlikhine à la création par l'Université Bauman et l'Ecole centrale de Lyon du Centre franco-russe de transfert de technologie auquel s'est associé plus récemment l'Ecole centrale de Marseille. Le but de ce centre est la valorisation de la recherche scientifique des partenaires sur le marché international des innovations technologiques. Il a également souligné le rôle-clé qu'a joué M. Pavlikhine lors de l'accueil du Président de la République française à l'Université Bauman, le 10 octobre dernier.
L'Université Bauman a des liens étroits et fructueux avec différents partenaires français, universitaires et industriels : les Ecoles centrales de Lyon, de Marseille et de Paris, l'Ecole polytechnique, l'Institut national polytechnique de Grenoble, l'Ecole nationale supérieure des Mines de Paris, les entreprises SNECMA, Schlumberger, Renault, Danone, et bien d'autres. Depuis 1994, l'université a développé un cursus commun avec l'Ecole centrale de Lyon, permettant chaque année à des étudiants russes et français d'obtenir un double diplôme d'ingénieur.

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Продолжение дайджеста за НОЯБРЬ 2007 г.

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