Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Май 2008 г.
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2008 г.
Российская наука и мир
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январь февраль март апрель май июнь июль август сентябрь октябрь ноябрь декабрь
    The Weekly Standard / 05/13/2008
    The End of History
    Russia threatens to take China to court over a violation of intellectual property rights

    • By Reuben F. Johnson
    Россия грозится подать в суд на Китай за нарушение прав интеллектуальной собственности. По мнению российской стороны, китайский истребитель "J-11B" является полной копией российского "Су-27СК". Несколько лет назад Китай подписал контракт с "Росвооружением" на производство по лицензии на Шеньянском авиационном заводе 200 истребителей "Су-27СК", но прекратил лицензированное производство на половине партии, после чего всеобщему вниманию был представлен "только что разработанный "J-11B".

RUSSIA AND THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC of China are about to go head-to-head on issue of significant national security and strategic importance to both nations. Believe it or not, it is not about the placement of a gas pipeline, nuclear weapons development, or the rapidly rising price per barrel of Russian oil. What it concerns is the age-old Chinese penchant for making illegal copies of almost anything imaginable.
"You wouldn't steal a car!" is the warning that flashes across the screen almost every time you put a movie in your DVD player. What usually follows is a series of messages about the evils of pirating movies, including the obligatory warning from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation about how video piracy is punishable by up to 5 years in a federal penitentiary and/or $250,000 in fines.
One country where these warnings have had little or no effect is the People's Republic of China, no matter where you are in this vast country. As you move through various regions of the country one, the people look different, the food tastes different, the Putonghua (Mandarin) Chinese that is spoken in Beijing and other parts of northern and southwestern China is replaced by Guangdonghua (Standard Cantonese) or other local dialects.
What does not change in any city is that almost every DVD and CD shop has a secret room behind a hidden panel or bookcase that contains a mammoth selection of pirated films and music - all of which are supposedly illegal. The last such hideaway room I visited this past month was offering 10 DVDs for 100 Chinese Yuan (RMB), with an 11th disk thrown in for free, which works out to about $1.30 per disk. This may be one of the few places in the world where the US dollar still buys something. (I do not want to say which city, lest the local gendarmeries decide they need to make a symbolic crackdown on these entrepreneurs to create some positive pre-Olympic games publicity and take everyone's attention off the debacle of the torch relay and the recent exposure of a secret Chinese Navy submarine base).
But, Hollywood and the trade associations that represent the famous entertainers trying to stamp out video and music pirating have comparatively little to complain about when you look at the situation that Russia's military aircraft industry finds itself in. As the Russian newspaper Pravda reports, "Chinese pirates have entered a new level of activity."
In the early 1980s and before the collapse of the USSR, Soviet aircraft industry turned out two extremely capable, twin-engined, twin-tailed fighter designs: The Mikoyan MiG-29 and the Sukhoi Su-27. The latter aircraft was considerably larger than the smaller and more nimble MiG. It was in the same weight class as the Boeing F-15, and like its US analogue it was designed to be a long-range interceptor that could give its operators the long reach needed by nations with a plethora of air space to defend.
In the early 1990s, the PRC was desperate for just such an airplane. Chinese industry had tried to produce one for years, but had seen its efforts at design innovation stalled for more than a decade. At the same time orders and funding to Russian industry from its own military had dropped to nothing. The only way the makers of Russian weapon systems were going to survive was from export sales to China, India, and other nations.
Several years after their first purchase of Su-27SK export variants, China signed an agreement with Russia's state arms export agency, Rosvooruzheniye, for the licensed production at the Shenyang Aircraft Works of 200 additional Su-27SKs, as well as subsequent orders of Su-30MKK two-seat, multirole versions of the aircraft. Russian industry breathed a sigh of relief as billions of Chinese dollars began to fill their coffers.
But, in 2004 China's military told Moscow that the airplanes it was licence-producing were no longer needed because - according to the Chinese military - "the combat performance of these aircraft is far too limited." The 200-aircraft production run was truncated at 95 units of the J-11, which was the designation given by Shenyang for the Su-27SKs assembled in China, with only 180 of the twin-engined aircraft's Saturn/Lyulka AL-31F jet engines delivered as well.
Three years later in 2007, it was easy to see why the Shenyang plant had cut off the licensed production of the Su-27SK at the halfway mark. Chinese industry had learned all it needed to know in order to copy this airplane and soon presented their "indigenously developed" J-11B fighter, which from all external appearances appeared to be an analogue of the Su-27SK. Russian officials were less than diplomatic in their reaction. Another Moscow paper, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, reports Russian sources stating "the J-11B is an absolute imitation of the Su-27SK."
Beijing making its own copies of Sukhoi airplanes, or "Sushki" as they are sometimes referred to in Russian slang, has Moscow worried. A copy of the Su-27SK has the potential to do to Russia's defense market abroad what Chinese industry has done to the US consumer electronics industry. Just as Wal-Mart contains almost an entirely Chinese-made selection of products, the future world fighter market could be crowded with cheap, Chinese copies of the Su-27. Some of the more dire Russian predictions are that the Shenyang plant could flood the export market with as many as 5000 J-11Bs, which would eliminate many of the Western and even Russian alternative choices for numerous nations looking to upgrade their air forces.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports that as a consequence, "Russia has officially informed China that it considers the J-11B to be an absolute copy of the Su-27SK and that this is a direct violation of the two nations' contractual agreement. Moscow has further promised that it will initiate legal proceedings in order to protect its intellectual property rights."
However, it is hard to see in what legal forum Moscow can address these grievances. China belongs to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), but Russia does not. Even if there was a clear-cut path to make a legal case against China they would be on questionable legal grounds - pirating of software and other copyrighted products in Russia is as widespread as anywhere in the world.
But the larger problem that Moscow has is its dependence on China for export orders of other defense products. Currently most of the military jet engines produced in Russia are exported to China. Beijing is also one of the only prospective customers for a slew of new-generation Russian weapon systems. Taking legal action against their Asian fellow travellers can only mean that that the drop in defense exports to China, which has fallen by more than 60 percent in recent years, will become even more pronounced.
During a lending crisis one will hear that "if you borrow $5,000 the bank owns you, but if you borrow $5 million you own the bank." Transposed to the situation in Russia's defense industry, this means that there is little Moscow can do to reverse the situation it now finds itself in. Having invested so much in its defense business with China, Moscow would find it almost impossible to cut these ties and give up this market entirely.
At the same time, the price for staying in the Chinese market is like a high-stakes poker game. Giving up what you have already thrown into the pot on the bet that you can get Beijing to finance a next generation of military technology. The risks are high for Russian industry - and even higher for the rest of the world. The question now is where will the market for Russian weaponry on the international market end - and that for products made in China (based on what they have learned from Russia) begin? The answer will depend on who is more clever - the Russians or the pirates - in this next round.

© Copyright 2008, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.
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    Соединенные Штаты и Россия подписали соглашение о сотрудничестве в области ядерной энергетики, планировавшееся в течение двух лет. Помимо всего прочего, договор обещает облегчить сотрудничество между российским и американским ядерными секторами.

MOSCOW, May 6 - The United States and Russia signed a long-sought agreement Tuesday on civilian nuclear cooperation, which officials said would offer Russia lucrative new business while limiting the risk of material being used for weapons.
President Bush had announced his intent to pursue such a deal almost two years ago, but it was delayed by debate within the administration and in Congress over Moscow's policies, particularly toward Iran.
The framework agreement could open the way for Russia to import, store and reprocess thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel that had been supplied by the United States for reactors around the world, a business potentially worth billions of dollars.
The agreement would also reduce the risk of countries developing their own nuclear fuel facilities that could divert material into weapons programs, according to U.S. officials. And it would facilitate joint ventures between the U.S. and Russian nuclear industries, the officials said.
"The U.S. and Russia were once nuclear rivals," said U.S. Ambassador William J. Burns, who signed the pact in Moscow with Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Russia's state-owned nuclear company, Rosatom. "Today, we are nuclear partners with unique capabilities and unique responsibilities for global nuclear leadership."
Kiriyenko said the deal would help "to eliminate the legacy of the Cold War."
But the agreement is likely to draw opposition in both and the United States and Russia. It does not require congressional approval but could be blocked by majority votes in the House and Senate.
"It would be a mistake for the United States to provide Russia an important civilian nuclear benefit while Moscow itself continues to assist Iran's nuclear and missile programs," Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote in a May 1 letter to Bush.
Environmentalists in Russia have expressed concern about the country's ability to transport and safeguard spent nuclear fuel. Russia passed a law in 2001 allowing the reprocessing of nuclear fuel from other counties.
"There were very sharp debates about this at the start of the decade, and there are both environmental questions and concerns about Russia's capacity," said Alexander Pikayev, a disarmament specialist at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations in Moscow.
Opinion polls show that most Russians oppose the government's plans. But the ability of grass-roots organizations to protest is limited in a country where the Kremlin tolerates little dissent.
The deal must be ratified by Russia's lower house of parliament, but that chamber is dominated by the United Russia party, which generally rubber-stamps Kremlin decisions.
Russia is planning to build a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility in eastern Siberia. An agreement with Washington is key to the plant's viability, as the United States controls the vast majority of the world's spent fuel through agreements with third countries that it supplies with nuclear material.
The agreement signed Tuesday, the last full day of Vladimir Putin's presidency, is a rare instance of open cooperation in a relationship that has frayed over a host of issues, from the expansion of the NATO military alliance to Russia's stance on Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"A lot of this was done out of a sense of legacy and obligation because nothing in it needs to be done now or done at all," said Henry D. Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center in Washington. "On Iran, Russia's support has not been zero, but to say Moscow has been very helpful is a stretch. You have to argue that there has been a very stiff turnaround" inside the Bush administration.
An agreement was initialed just before a Bush-Putin summit last summer, but some officials in Washington appeared to balk, suspicious about Russia's continuing cooperation with Iran. Russia is helping Iran build a nuclear power plant and is a major arms supplier. International attention has focused on Iran's controversial program to produce enriched uranium, which can be used either as reactor fuel or in making weapons.
"Two years ago, no one would have believed that Russia would support three consecutive U.N. Security Council resolutions against Iran," Pikayev said. "It appears to have helped to turn the debates inside the American administration in favor of this agreement."

© Copyright 1996-2008 The Washington Post Company.
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    27 апреля 2008 года в Брюсселе состоялась церемония вручения "Европейской премии за вклад в экономические исследования и международное научное сотрудничество". Лауреатами премии 2008 года стали известный ирландский экономист Киллиан Райан (Cillian Ryan) и российские ученые - член-корреспондент РАН Руслан Гринберг и профессор Александр Рубинштейн из Института экономики РАН.

European Prize for Contribution to Economic Research and International Scientific Cooperation went to two Russian scientists.
The economists received this high award for the monograph "Economic Sociodynamics", which describes a new theoretical approach to problems of economic growth and socially oriented state economic policy.
Mentioned annual prize is awarded by the international jury of European Institute of International Economic Relations for scientific research in field of economics, acknowledged in European Union.

Garant-InfoCentre, 2004-2008.
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    Science News / May 15th, 2008
    Boreal forests shift north
    Advancing greenery could further heat the already warming climate

    • By Janet Raloff
    Потепление климата приводит к тому, что сибирские хвойные леса продвигаются все дальше на север. А это, в свою очередь, вызывает дальнейшее потепление за счет снижения альбедо (отражательной способности) арктических областей.

For the Arctic, green is the new black.
People frequently say "green" to mean "environmentally friendly." But conifer forests - really big greens - encroaching on Arctic tundra threaten to further accelerate warming in the far North.
Temperatures at these high latitudes already are climbing "at about twice the global average," notes F. Stuart Chapin of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.
The newest data on the advance of northern, or boreal, forests come from the eastern slopes of Siberia's Ural Mountains. Along mountain slopes north of the Arctic Circle, relatively flat mats of compressed, frozen plant matter - tundra - are the norm. This ecosystem hosts a cover of reflective snow most of the year, a feature that helps maintain the region's chilly temperatures. Throughout the past century, however, the leading edges of conifer forests have creeped some 20 to 60 meters up the mountains and begun overrunning tundra, scientists report in an upcoming Global Change Biology, now available online.
Conifers now reside where no living tree has grown in some 1,000 years, points out ecologist Frank Hagedorn of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research in Birmensdorf.
Ecologists and climatologists are concerned because the emerging forest data suggest that the albedo, or reflectivity, of large regions across the Arctic could change. Most sunlight hitting snow and ice bounces back into space. But convert a white landscape to open sea water or boreal forest, and the surface suddenly becomes a great collector of solar energy.
Sea-surface ice already is melting in the Arctic and polar ice sheets are thinning. Warming threatens to further degrade these solar reflectors. So does the advance of boreal forests, Chapin says.
"The effects of vegetative changes will be felt first and most strongly locally - in the Arctic," he says. If the albedo there drops broadly, this could further aggravate warming there and underway elsewhere across the planet.
Tree rings show that since the 15th century, many of the primary tree species - Siberian larch (Larix sibirica Ledeb.) - have grown in a stunted, shrubby form, sporting multiple spindly trunks. This adaptation to harsh conditions helps the trees weather wind and snow. But the trees invest so many calories into making multi-stem clusters, Hagedorn says, that they end up puny and unable to make seeds. The inability to reproduce has inhibited the stand's spread.
After about 1900, the local Siberian larch began to switch from their creeping, multi-stem form to tall trees with a more upright posture, though sometimes with up to 20 stems, Hagedorn and teams of Russian and Swiss collaborators found. Over time, new trees emerged with a single, upright trunk, at the same time bulking up with more biomass than shrubby, same-age kin. Overall, 70 percent of upright larches are no more than 80 years old. Since 1950, 90 percent of local upright larches have been single-stemmed. This forest's movement into former tundra coincided with a nearly 1 degree Celsius increase in summer temperature and a doubling of winter precipitation.
"That's a good cocktail for growth," says arctic plant ecologist Serge Payette of Laval University in Quebec. Whether a tree grows up versus out depends on survival of its uppermost, or apical, buds. Good snow cover will protect those buds from winter damage, he says. Only if they are destroyed will the surviving lateral buds push growth horizontally, he explains.
Spruce are North America's more common boreal species at polar tree lines, Payette says. Some of these also assume a shrubby form, creating what he calls "pygmy forests" perhaps a meter high. But he has witnessed some of these trees assuming new, upright postures as areas warm and get wetter.
This process can create the "mirage" of tree line advance, he says. In fact, the trees may not move at all; in-place populations may simply recover from chronic stress and resume growth until they reach their normal height and mass.
Ecologist Andrea Lloyd of Middlebury College in Vermont has been studying the health of boreal tree lines throughout the warming Arctic.
As in the Urals, warmth seemed to spur American larches to grow faster. "I've also seen spruce advancing upwards," she says, climbing up mountains to form dense stands.
But that's only part of the story, she finds. Even where stands are advancing, "if you look at individual trees, some are starting to decline."
They're growing increasingly slowly. Sometimes, as growth slows, tree numbers within a stand may be increasing. "It's a paradox," she acknowledges.
Forest ecologist Glenn Juday of Alaska-Fairbanks and his student Martin Wilmking have recorded similarly perplexing data from tree rings in 2,600 trees along two mountain ranges in polar Alaska. As the environment warmed, 42 percent of the trees grew more slowly and 38 grew more quickly.
Too little water seems a bigger factor affecting tree growth than temperature, although warming can foster drought, Juday reports. Indeed, as the Arctic warms, it will likely become drier, he says. "So we can expect that at least in the western North American Arctic, there are going to be sites that eventually will get too dry to grow trees."
But their loss isn't likely to compensate for the tundra lost to trees, at least in Arctic-warming potential. Indeed, the loss could further perturb the global climate because boreal forests currently store huge amounts of carbon once emitted as carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. As the trees die, their carbon could be released into the air. Meanwhile, until they fall over and decompose, they'll continue to serve as low-albedo solar collectors.
The threat of tundra displacement by trees has largely escaped notice, Juday says. One reason: Seeds don't normally travel far in the Arctic, and even when they land on tundra, the dense mats normally resist implantation.
However, a dry summer and warm September last year allowed a fire to ignite 100,000 hectares (about 250,000 acres) of Alaskan tundra.
The huge footprint of disturbed land is now ripe for seed implantation. Fortunately, Juday says, seed-bearing boreal forests are on the other side of a mountain range from the scarred landscape.
Warming has changed the climate of a huge and growing span of tundra so it now hosts a temperature and moisture level that would support forests, if the seeds ever arrived, Juday notes. "Today, if you planted a tree - in some cases very far up from the current tree line - it would survive in many parts of the tundra." Just 40 years ago, he says, it wouldn't.

© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2008 All rights reserved.
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