Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Октябрь 2008 г.
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Российская наука и мир
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    Xinhua, China / 2008-10-15
    Russian scientist: Russian-Czech space co-op to improve in future
    В Праге прошел семинар, посвященный сотрудничеству России и Чехии в области космических исследований.

PRAGUE, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) - Vladimir Nazarov from the Russian Academy of Sciences Space Research Institute expected future years to be marked by better Czech-Russian and international cooperation in space research, the Czech news agency CTK said on Tuesday.
At a seminar on Russian-Czech cooperation in space research during the two-day European Inter-Parliamentary Space Conference (EISC) meeting, Nazarov voiced regret over the weakening of such cooperation in the past two decades.
However, this cooperation experiences renaissance at present and today's seminar witnessed it, he said.
According to Nazarov, Russia was cooperating with the ESA and the United States in space research and that the International Space Station (ISS) to which Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts recently flew aboard a Russian spacecraft could serve as an example of such cooperation.
Around 25 scientists attended the seminar organized in Prague by the Czech Space Office and the Russian Center of Science and Culture in cooperation with the Czech Technical University (CVUT) Faculty of Nuclear Science and Physical Engineering.
Czech deputy Pavel Hojda, chairman of the Prague conference, stressed at the close of the two-day conference that the significance of this year's participation of Russian parliament's representatives and expressed regret over the absence of representatives of Japan, China, India, Canada and the United States.
He said he hoped that space cooperation would also develop with these countries. He also voiced the hope that Slovakia, Bulgaria and Lithuania would soon become members of the conference.
At the close of the EISC meeting that ended in Prague, the delegates stressed the interest of all member states in strengthening the role of the EU in the development of space technologies and in the research and use of space.
Participants also stressed the need for international cooperation in space research.

Copyright © 2003 Xinhua News Agency. All rights reserved.
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    Hindu, India / Tuesday, Oct 14, 2008
    A Russian scientist's discovery?
    • Vladimir Radyuhin
    Ректор МГУ Виктор Садовничий считает, что работы одного из трех лауреатов Нобелевской премии по физике 2008 года, японца Йоитиро Намбу (нарушения симметрии, физика элементарных частиц), основаны на трудах российского математика и физика-теоретика, академика Николая Боголюбова, умершего в 1992 году. По словам ректора МГУ, в сентябре 1960 года Боголюбов прочитал выдающуюся лекцию в Соединенных Штатах, на основе которой и была написана работа Намбу.

MOSCOW: American physicist of Japanese origin Yoichiro Nambu received the 2008 Nobel Prize for a discovery made by a Russian scientist, rector of Russia's top university claimed.
The Nobel Foundation credited Mr. Nambu with "the discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics". The discovery "gives us a deeper understanding of what happens far inside the tiniest building blocks of matter".
However, Viktor Sadovnichy, rector of Moscow State University (MGU), says the discovery belongs to eminent Soviet theoretical physicist and mathematician Nikolai Bogolyubov, who died in 1992 (his name is often spelt in the West as Nicolai Bogoliubov).
Mr. Sadovnichy said Mr. Nambu borrowed Bogolyubov's ideas when he attended his lectures at MGU and in the U.S. in 1960.
Later the same year, Mr. Nambu read his own paper on the subject, with Bogolyubov making corrections and suggestions. Shortly afterwards, he published his paper but made no acknowledgement to Bogolyubov, said Mr. Sadovnichy.
After winning the Nobel Prize, Mr. Nambu again failed to mention Bogolyubov's contribution, saying he had found the concept of spontaneous symmetry breaking while studying superconductivity in the early 1960s.
Dr. N.N.Achasov, a leading Russian expert in light hadron physics, called Bogolyubov "the pioneer of spontaneous breaking of symmetry in quantum physics". Bogolyubov, who created and headed a theoretical physics laboratory at the famed Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, missed a chance to win a Nobel Prize during his lifetime. He was struck off the 1974 nomination list after the Soviet Communist Party mouthpiece, Pravda, carried a letter denouncing academician Andrei Sakharov as a "traitor". Bogolyubov's name was among signatories, though his son says he never signed it.
In 2004, the Nobel Prize in Physics went to three U.S. scientists "for the discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction".
The theory was first developed by Bogolyobov and two other Soviet physicists, but their work was under a secret military programme and could not be nominated for the Prize, said Bogolyubov's son.

Copyright © 2008, The Hindu.
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    Nouvelleurope - Colombes, Hauts de Seine, France / 05-10-2008
    Que devient la Charte européenne de l'énergie ?
    • Écrit par Mirabela Lupaescu
    Европейская энергетическая хартия была подписана в 1991 году и была направлена на поддержание и укрепление сотрудничества в области энергетики между Западом и Востоком, в частности, между, Евросоюзом и постсоветским пространством. Россия подписала Хартию и Договор к Энергетической Хартии (ДЭХ), однако до сих пор не ратифицировала последний. Если Хартия свидетельствовала о политических намерениях укреплять международные связи в энергетике, то Договор является юридически обязательным многосторонним соглашением. Это единственное в своем роде соглашение, касающееся межправительственного сотрудничества в энергетическом секторе, охватывающее всю энергетическую производственно-сбытовую цепочку (от разведки до конечного использования) и все энергетические продукты и связанное с энергетикой оборудование.

Signée en 1991 alors qu'Eltsine croyait encore au rêve gorbatchévien de "Maison commune de l'Europe", la Charte européenne de l'énergie avait pour objectif d'établir un cadre juridique stable de coopération énergétique entre l'UE et l'ancien espace soviétique. Étonnement, la Russie ne fait toujours pas partie de cet accord. Pour quelles raisons la Russie refuse-t-elle toujours la ratification de la Charte ? L'Europe parviendra-t-elle à construire un véritable dialogue énergétique avec la Russie ?
Une Charte énergétique dans la "Maison de l'Europe"
En juin 1990, au lendemain de la Chute du Mur de Berlin et en pleine transformation de l'Union soviétique, le Premier ministre des Pays-Bas de l'époque, Rudolf Lubbers, suggère d'instaurer une coopération dans le secteur de l'énergie avec les pays d'Europe de l'Est et de l'ancienne Union soviétique dans la perspective d'améliorer la sécurité d'approvisionnement de la Communauté.
Stratégiquement, ce projet était ancré dans les réalités du moment. La toute jeune Fédération de Russie avait effectivement hérité d'immenses gisements de pétrole et gaz et le projet de la Charte offrait la possiblité de "dépasser les divergences économiques précédentes". De l'autre côté, la Russie ne détenait plus le contrôle de l'acheminement de ses hydrocarbures qui se trouvaient désormais sur les territoires ukrainien et biélorusse. D'ailleurs cette configuration rend, aujourd'hui encore, la Russie tributaire de ses anciennes républiques !
Un autre avantage d'une telle coopération pour la CEE de l'époque était la possibilité d'affranchir l'Europe de la dépendance du pétrole en provenance de l'OPEP et d'éviter une nouvelle crise pétrolière semblable à celle des années 1970. Invitée par le Conseil d'étudier les meilleures possibilités de mettre en place une telle coopération, la Commission européenne propose l'idée d'une Charte européenne de l'énergie. Les négociations sur le texte sont engagées dès juillet 1991. Un accord est conclu en décembre de la même année à La Haye et signé par tous les pays d'Europe mais également par la Fédération de Russie, ainsi que le Japon, l'Australie, les États-Unis et le Canada.
Afin de donner une valeur juridique contraignante à l'accord le 17 décembre 1994, tous les États signataires de l'accord, sauf les États-Unis et le Canada, ont signé le Traité sur la Charte de l'énergie et le protocole sur l'efficacité énergétique et les aspects environnementaux connexes. En avril 1998, la Charte de l'énergie et le Protocole entre en vigueur ayant été ratifiées par 30 des États signataires. Aujourd'hui la Charte compte cinquante trois États membres dont la Communauté européenne et, avant 2007, Euratom. Seuls la Biélorussie, la Russie, la Norvège et l'Islande ont refusé de ratifier ce traité.
Les principales dispositions du Traité concernent la protection des investissements, l'application des règles de l'OMC pour le commerce des matières et produits énergétiques, en d'autres termes la libéralisation des prix, l'interdiction d'interrompre ou d'interdire le flux de matières premières ou de transit en cas de litige, ainsi que des procédures très rigoureuses de règlement de conflits entre États membres.
Des clauses "inacceptables" pour la Russie de Poutine
Bien qu'elle ait signé le Traité sur la Charte dès 1994, la Russie n'a jamais voulu ratifier l'accord, ce qui a empêché la réalisation de l'objectif initial de celui-ci, à savoir réguler la commercialisation des énergies entre les pays européens et l'ex-URSS. Car la Russie fournit 21% du pétrole et 41% du gaz européen. Mais les clauses du Traité, surtout en matière de transit de libéralisation et d'investissements, sont contraires à l'empire "gazpromien" mis en place par Vladimir Poutine depuis sa venue au pouvoir en 1999.
Le principal contentieux entre les Européens et les Russes ont été les clauses de libéralisation des prix de l'énergie russe ou de la libéralisation du marché de l'énergie et le découplage entre les fonctions de production et de transport. En effet, Gazprom vend le gaz à la consommation interne à un prix considérablement inférieur à celui du marché mondial. L'Union européenne considère que ces prix bas favorisent les industries russes à l'export et créent ainsi une concurrence déloyale. Dans le cadre des négociations russes pour adhérer à l'OMC, cette question a empêché l'adhésion de la Russie jusqu'à présent.
Mais les prix de commercialisation du pétrole et du gaz russe sont différents aussi à l'exportation. Comme pendant l'empire soviétique, la Russie pratique des prix différents à l'exportation. Ainsi, le prix de vente pour les pays de l'ex-URSS est de 3 à 4 fois inférieurs au prix mondial. En contrepartie, des pays comme la Biélorussie ou l'Ukraine permettent le passage des hydrocarbures à destination de l'Europe sur son territoire. Ces accords sont pourtant contraires aux règles commerciales de l'OMC.
Le Traité sur la Charte européenne de l'énergie a ainsi été rejeté par les autorités russes à des multiples reprises. Car, d'un côté cela remettrait en question le monopole de Gazprom sur le marché intérieur et, de l'autre côté, cela amoindrirait considérablement les leviers de la Russie sur ses anciennes républiques. Pour les autorités russes, "ce texte avait été élaboré en prenant en compte uniquement les intérêts des pays consommateurs et non ceux des pays producteurs".
Le"dialogue énergétique" - maigre substitut du Traité
L'Union européenne est le plus important investisseur étranger de la Russie et son premier partenaire commercial vers lequel elle déverse 50% de ses exportations énergétiques. N'ayant pas encore l'infrastructure nécessaire pour exporter ses hydrocarbures vers le marché asiatique, la Russie est dépendante de l'Union européenne pour assurer l'entrée des devises dans le pays (le secteur énergétique représente 20% du PIB russe).
La rencontre entre les intérêts européens d'augmenter leurs importations d'hydrocarbures et le besoin russe d'accroître ses entrées en devises et en nouvelles technologies a fait naître le 30 octobre 2000 au Sommet de Paris le "dialogue énergétique". Le partenariat est censé "fournir l'opportunité d'aborder les questions d'intérêt commun concernant le secteur, y compris l'introduction de la coopération sur l'efficacité énergétique, la rationalisation des infrastructures de production et de transport, les possibilités d'investissements européens et les relations entre les pays producteurs et consommateurs. La ratification prévue du Traité sur la Charte de l'énergie par la Russie et l'amélioration du climat d'investissement seront des aspects importants dans ce contexte".
En d'autres termes, la forte interdépendance entre la Russie - pays fournisseurs d'énergie et l'Union européenne - consommatrice d'énergie ont motivé la création d'un cadre de dialogue sur les sujets de la Charte de l'énergie : investissements, transport, efficacité énergétique et coopération technique sans qu'il y ait de clause contraignante en ce sens.
Pour l'amélioration du dialogue entre les deux parties, deux interlocuteurs uniques ont été désignés de chaque côté : Victor Khristenko pour les Russes et François Lamoureux, puis Andris Piebalgs pour les Européens. Le dialogue énergétique entre la Russie et l'UE se déroule autour des trois thèmes, débattus au sein de groupes thématiques : efficacité énergétique, stratégies énergétiques et prévisions et marchés énergétiques. Un Centre technologique a été créé à Saint Petersbourg pour favoriser la coopération des chercheurs russes et européens dans le secteur.
Huit ans après sa mise en place, le dialogue énergétique a permis le dialogue sur un certain nombre de problèmes, mais sans forcément apporter de solutions pratiques sur la sécurité de l'approvisionnement, notamment dans un contexte de volatilité du marché du pétrole. Des officiels russes et européens ont ainsi avancé l'idée d'un nouveau traité qui établisse des règles claires d'approvisionnement, compétition, coopération technologique et liberté de circulation.
Un traité énergétique UE-Russie possible ?
Pour faire progresser le dialogue énergétique il est nécessaire de combler le manque de confiance entre les parties par des règles claires inscrites dans un traité. Le renouvellement du partenariat stratégique entre l'UE et la Russie qui est arrivé à expiration en 2007 paraît être l'opportunité idéale pour mettre les bases d'un accord sur l'énergie.
Le 26-27 juin 2008, les négociations entre les 27 et la Russie ont été lancées à Khanti-Mansiisk, en Sibérie, cité de 60 000 habitants au cœur de l'industrie pétrolière russe. Le choix du site marque l'importance des questions énergétiques dans le nouveau partenariat stratégique. Les négociations à proprement parler ont débuté le 4 juillet à Bruxelles, mais la crise géorgienne a suspendu les pourparlers jusqu'à ce que la Russie ait retiré ses troupes sur les positions antérieures au conflit.
Après la visite à Moscou le 8 septembre, du Président français et du Président de la Commission européenne, les négociations sont censées reprendre début octobre. La Présidence française s'y sent particulièrement attachée car elle voulait éventuellement parvenir à un accord avant la fin décembre.
L'objectif sera dur à atteindre après la crise géorgienne.
Cependant, Nicolas Sarkozy souhaite pousser plus loin l'accord entre la Russie et l'Europe et selon son discours à l'ouverture de l'Assemblée générale des Nations unies le 23 septembre à New York de créer "un espace économique commun" entre les deux entités. "L'espace économique commun va au-delà du partenariat stratégique tel que nous l'évoquions jusqu'à présent, mais il reste en-deçà d'un marché commun", d'après Nicolas Sarkozy et les actuelles tensions au Caucase ne semblent pas être perçues comme un empêchement du côté du Président français : "C'est parce qu'elle veut la paix que l'Europe dit à la Russie qu'elle veut avoir avec elle des liens de solidarité, (...) un avenir partagé " et qu'elle souhaite "être son partenaire".
Au-delà du langage, il reste à voir la volonté russe de s'investir dans un éventuel traité contraignant ou dans une coopération économique renforcée. D'après les experts, les Européens et les Russes ont des attentes différentes quant au type d'accord à être conclu. Les Européens veulent un texte exhaustif avec des obligations contraignantes, tandis que les Russes veulent un document de principe général qui montre une vraie "égalité" entre les deux partenaires. Reste à voir si d'ici la fin de l'année, la Présidence française du Conseil européen avancera sur ce dossier.

© Association Nouvelle Europe.
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    Los Angeles Times / October 19, 2008
    Migrating Alaskan pollock are creating the potential for a new dispute with Russia
    • By Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
    Глобальное потепление заставляет минтай и другую рыбу Берингова моря по мере таяния льдов продвигаться на север. Таким образом, минтай с Аляски становится российским минтаем. По данным исследования, в Северном полушарии рыба продвигается по направлению к Северному полюсу в два-три раза быстрее, чем животные на суше. Эксперты по рыбной ловле опасаются, что такие перемещения могут привести к новому всплеску противоречий, напоминающих "тресковые войны" 1950-х и 1970-х годов.

DUTCH HARBOR, ALASKA - America's biggest catch lands here and at nearby ports every year: more than 2 billion pounds of Alaskan pollock to feed a global appetite for fish sticks, fast-food sandwiches and imitation crabmeat.
The tightly managed Alaskan pollock fishery has been a rare success story in the U.S., which has seen the collapse of species such as New England cod and now imports 80% of its seafood.
Yet the careful management that helped make Alaskan pollock a billion-dollar industry could unravel as the planet warms. Pollock and other fish in the Bering Sea are moving to higher latitudes as winter ice retreats and water temperatures rise.
Alaskan pollock are becoming Russian pollock, swimming across an international boundary in search of food and setting off what could become a geopolitical dispute.
Andrew Rosenberg, former deputy director of the National Marine Fisheries Service, expects the pollock to be a test case in an emerging pattern of fish driven by climate change across jurisdictional boundaries.
"It will be a food security issue and has an enormous potential for political upheaval," said Rosenberg, now a professor at the University of New Hampshire. "We aren't getting along that well with the Russians now."
A warming trend in the Bering Sea has forced fishermen like Jim Summers to motor 360 miles in his 191-foot trawler, the Aurora, to reach profitable fishing grounds. Docked here recently, he gingerly worked a hydraulic lever, unleashing 30,000 pounds of the mottled, pale-bellied pollock onto the deck.
"It feels like every year we're going farther and farther north," Summers said. "It used to be that most of our trips found fish near Dutch Harbor, with an occasional run up toward Russia. Now it has flipped."
While Summers repositioned the net, a pair of 12-inch-diameter hoses vacuumed more than 1 million pounds of fish from the hold of the ship into a dockside processing plant. Once there, the fish coursed through a labyrinth of tanks, conveyor belts, and automated slicing, dicing and washing machines that turned the fish into fillets or fish paste.
This flow of white flesh was then frozen in blocks and stacked in containers on freighters, destined to be breaded and fried at McDonald's and other fast-food restaurants, or shipped to Europe for fish-and-chips platters or to Japan for surimi, the fake crab at the heart of California rolls in sushi bars.
At a fueling dock nearby, Steve Olsen, captain of a stern trawler, pored over the GPS tracks of his trawls in recent years. The lines on the screen moved ever closer to Russian waters. "When you are towing [the net] and you stop finding fish, you typically turn northwest and you'll find them again," Olsen said.
His finger traced the squiggling line of a successful trawl that took his 112-foot ship, the Western Dawn, next to the border. "We could see the Russian guys fishing the other side," he said. "We see them right on the line. If we see them right on the line, we'll check it too."
Pollock spawn each winter near the Aleutian Islands and then follow their food north as waters warm in the spring. But the food has shifted farther north with receding sea ice, and now pollock, which follow the northwesterly contour of the continental shelf, are shifting their range ever closer to Russian waters.
Scientists who help manage the fishery are confirming what fishermen report: The fish disappear from the Aleutians area each summer and can mostly be found near Russia.
Every June and July, federal scientists trawl a grid pattern in the Bering Sea in an area about the size of California. Counting the fish caught in these trawls and matching them against sonar readings, they estimate the size of fish stocks. These assessments help set limits on the next year's catch to safeguard spawning stock.
An analysis of 25 years of surveys showed that the ranges of most fish are shifting north as the ice and cool water have retreated, said Franz J. Mueter, a fisheries oceanographer at the University of Alaska.
"What we found confirmed the obvious," Mueter said. "As waters warm, a lot of fish on the eastern Bering Sea shelf are moving north."
Not all scientists agree. Some suggest that other factors need further study, including different migration patterns of older and younger fish, whether trawl data provide a complete picture of fish populations, and whether these waters are becoming overfished despite the Marine Stewardship Council's eco-label certifying that the pollock fishery is managed sustainably.
Federal scientists pointed out last week that their sampling showed the Bering waters were colder the last three summers. And yet pollock continue to appear mostly at the northwestern edge of their range.
Mueter's study, published in the journal Ecological Applications, jibes with phenomena other scientists are finding in the Arctic, a region warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe. Their studies have chronicled bizarre subarctic blooms of tiny phytoplankton; massive seabird die-offs; and skinny, malnourished gray whales migrating deep into Arctic waters in search of food.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the range of fish appears to be shifting toward the North Pole two or three times faster than the range of animals on land, studies show.
Salmon have begun to colonize new rivers on Alaska's north coast. The ranges of squid, mackerel and other baitfish are moving poleward, in some cases devastating nesting colonies of seabirds that depend on nearby fish to feed their young.
Some nations may gain a fishery while others will lose one. Norway may benefit from fish in the Atlantic moving away from more southerly waters controlled by Britain and other European nations. Fisheries experts wonder whether such shifts will spark another round of fighting akin to the Icelandic cod wars of the 1950s and 1970s, when fishermen rammed boats, cut nets and exchanged gunfire.
The potential for conflict could be realized in the Bering Sea, which is nicknamed America's fish basket because more than half of all U.S. fish and shellfish are pulled from these waters. Together the U.S. and Russian pollock catches make up the largest human-food fishery in the world.
Already, suspicions are mounting. Russia this summer announced that its pollock catch was up and its stocks were in "good shape," justifying a higher catch in 2009. Meanwhile, U.S. fisheries managers have scaled back on the catch in recent years. This summer's survey, released Oct. 8, showed a drop in pollock stocks, prompting calls for further cutbacks.
Russia has allowed U.S. scientists to extend their annual surveys across the border only occasionally, resulting in uncertainty about how many Alaskan pollock are now in Russian waters.
"We think, depending on the year and conditions, that roughly 10 to 20% of the stock goes over to the Russian side," said James N. Ianelli, a National Marine Fisheries Service scientist in charge of the annual assessment. An independent review suggested the spillover might be as high as 30%.
U.S. scientists can't be sure how many fish the Russians are catching. They worry about lax enforcement and poaching, given reports of Russian mafia involvement in the fish trade.
Russian officials have been less than reassuring, said Keith Criddle, a marine policy professor at the University of Alaska.
Criddle was shocked at a Russian response when he suggested conducting an academic study of this shared fishery and applying game theory to determine whether the two nations should collaborate or compete.
"This deputy director first said, "Well, we've never fished up there," which is patently untrue," Criddle said. Then the Moscow official launched into a lecture about climate change and oceanic conditions, and flatly rejected any notion that the Russian catch could affect the health of the fishery.
"It was weird, weird," Criddle said. "Did I wander into the Twilight Zone or stick my foot into a sensitive international issue?"
If Russians take 20% of the catch, he asked, "do we eat it and reduce our catches to manage conservatively? If we get to the position where Russians are taking 50% of the catch, what are we going to do?"
Such questions are more than academic among fishermen who have been chasing these fish across the Bering Sea in recent years. Some question the restraint that fed their families and much of the world.
"I've heard this time and again," said Summers, the captain of the Aurora. "If we don't catch them, then the Russians are going to catch them."

© Copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times.
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    Science Daily / Oct. 16, 2008
    Gene With Probable Role In Human Susceptibility To Pulmonary Tuberculosis Identified
    Международная группа ученых (Сингапур, Нидерланды, Индонезия, Великобритания, Россия) обнаружила ген, отвечающий за возникновение туберкулеза легких.

A new gene that may confer susceptibility to pulmonary tuberculosis has been identified by Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) researchers and their collaborators in The Netherlands, Indonesia, United Kingdom, and the Russian Federation.
In the current issue of the journal PLoS Genetics, the scientists report that the gene, named Toll-like receptor 8 (TLR8), which had been previously shown to recognize some factors from viruses such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), also has a probable role in human susceptibility to Mycobacterium tuberculosis infections.
The study also found that males are more susceptible than females.
"We are really excited about this discovery as it is the first time TLR8 has been implicated in bacteria infections," said Dr. Sonia Davila, GIS Research Scientist and first author of the article.
"Our analysis of the results from cohort studies in Indonesia and Russia suggested that susceptibility was attributed to genetic variants of TLR8, which is located at the X chromosome.
"Males carrying only one copy of the gene could have a higher chance of suffering from the disease," Dr. Davila added. "These findings open up a whole new area of research and we hope that it will increase our understanding of the disease process of pulmonary tuberculosis."
GIS Senior Group Leader and Associate Director of Infectious Diseases, Dr. Martin Hibberd noted, "This project is a great example of international teams coming together to solve a difficult problem, with groups from Indonesia, Singapore, UK, Russia and the Netherlands playing important roles. We hope that this work can initiate further research that will make a difference to people suffering from TB".
"The team from the Genome Institute led by Drs. Davila, Seielstad and Hibberd has made an important new discovery of an alternative cellular receptor for one of the world's most important infectious agents, M. tuberculosis, the causative agent of TB," said Dr. Paul MacAry, Assistant Professor at National University of Singapore Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering.
"The identification of a role for TLR8 in TB infection has the potential to open up new areas of exploration in TB host/pathogen interactions and provide researchers and clinician scientists with novel targets for therapeutic intervention," Dr. MacAry added. "This is extremely important given the emergence of multi-drug resistant strains of M.tuberculosis that are refractive to current treatment regimes."
Pulmonary tuberculosis is a contagious lung disease caused by a bacterium known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis). Although a third of the world population is infected with M. tuberculosis, only 5 to 10% of them will ever develop tuberculosis, giving rise to a proposition that there may be a difference in genetic variants within the genes involved in host immune response.
Journal reference:
Davila et al. Genetic Association and Expression Studies Indicate a Role of Toll-Like Receptor 8 in Pulmonary Tuberculosis. PLoS Genetics, October 8, 2008

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    The New York Times / October 5, 2008
    One Way Up: U.S. Space Plan Relies on Russia
    • By JOHN SCHWARTZ
    В 2010 году NASA прекращает эксплуатацию шаттлов, следующее же поколение американских космических кораблей появится не ранее 2015 года. Таким образом, в доставке астронавтов на МКС США будет зависеть от России. Хотя у двух стран натянутые отношения по ряду вопросов торгового и политического характера, Роскосмос заявил, что намерен соблюдать свои обязательства по доставке экипажей на станцию.

STAR CITY, Russia - This place was once no place, a secret military base northeast of Moscow that did not show up on maps. The Soviet Union trained its astronauts here to fight on the highest battlefield of the cold war: space.
Yet these days, Star City is the place for America's hard-won orbital partnership with Russia, where astronauts train to fly aboard Soyuz spacecraft. And in two years Star City will be the only place to send astronauts from any nation to the International Space Station.
The gap is coming: from 2010, when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shuts down the space shuttle program, to 2015, when the next generation of American spacecraft is scheduled to arrive, NASA expects to have no human flight capacity and will depend on Russia to get to the $100 billion station, buying seats on Soyuz craft as space tourists do.
As NASA celebrates its 50th anniversary this month, the time lag in the Bush administration's plan to retire the nation's three space shuttles and work on a return to the Moon has thrust the United States space program squarely into national politics and geopolitical controversy.
Senators John McCain and Barack Obama have denounced the gap and promoted their commitment to the space program while on trips to Florida, where thousands of workers will lose their jobs when the shuttle program ends. And antagonism between the United States and Russia, over the conflict in Georgia and other issues, is clouding the future of a 15-year partnership in space, precisely when NASA will be more reliant on Russia than ever before.
The administrator of NASA, Michael D. Griffin, has called the situation "unseemly in the extreme." In an e-mail message he sent to his top advisers in August, Dr. Griffin wrote that "events have unfolded in a way that makes it clear how unwise it was for the U.S. to adopt a policy of deliberate dependence on another power."
Dr. Griffin is worried enough that he ordered his staff to explore flying the aging shuttles past 2010. He did so, he said in an interview last month, "about five minutes after the Russians invaded Georgia, because I could see this coming." But he warned that any extension would be costly and could further delay NASA's return to the Moon and threaten America's role as the leading space power.
China's Gains
Last month, China made the third successful launching of its Shenzhou VII spacecraft and the first spacewalk by one of its astronauts. The Chinese government has said it hopes to establish a space station and eventually make a Moon landing. The United States plans to return to the Moon by 2020 at the earliest; some observers believe China might get there first.
The interruption in American-controlled access to space rankles some in Washington, including Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, a leading proponent of the space program. In an interview, Mr. Nelson said it was "inexcusable" for the country's space program to be put in a position of dependence on such a politically volatile partner. "We've got a Russian prime minister who believes he's czar," he said of Vladimir Putin, referring to Russia's military action in Georgia.
The United States has had periods in which its astronauts could not reach space: from the end of the Apollo program in 1975 to the beginning of shuttle flights in 1981, and for more than two years after the loss of the shuttles Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003. But the coming interval could be the longest if the rollout of NASA's new rockets is significantly delayed.
Even though the outlines of the gap have been known since soon after Dr. Griffin began running the agency in 2005, Cmdr. Scott J. Kelly of the Navy, an astronaut who has made two trips to orbit, warned in April that the prospect of a United States that could not send humans into space on its own rockets would come as a shock. "A large part of the American public is going to be surprised," he said, adding that people would cry, "Who let that happen?"
The Politics
The Bush administration chose to give up the nation's own access to space for five years and move to the next phase of space travel. The administration decided to retire the shuttles and in January 2004 announced a sweeping "vision for space exploration."
Under the plan, NASA would stop using the aging and risky shuttle fleet and move to a new launching program, Constellation, built around Ares rockets and Orion capsules that are designed to return astronauts to the Moon and even to explore near-Earth asteroids and Mars.
To get from one program to the other without inflating NASA's $17 billion annual budget, the administration decided to wind down the shuttle program and ramp up Constellation. The decision has always been portrayed as difficult, but in recent months, criticism has flared. The Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, for example, have pledged to keep America flying.
"As president, I will act to ensure our astronauts will continue to explore space, and not just by hitching a ride with someone else," Mr. McCain said in a statement this year. Mr. Obama has criticized what he has called the "poor planning and inadequate funding" that have led to the situation.
Both candidates say NASA should explore the continuation of the shuttle program for at least one additional flight and try to speed up the development of Constellation with more financing.
Any new money, though, would come too late to greatly shorten the development time for the new craft. "It is essentially unfixable now," Dr. Griffin said. His growing frustration was clear in his e-mail message to aides on Aug. 18, which included the order to study the additional flights.
"In a rational world, we would have been allowed to pick a shuttle retirement date to be consistent with Ares/Orion availability," Dr. Griffin wrote. Within the administration, he wrote, "retiring the shuttle is a jihad rather than an engineering and program management decision."
After the message was published by The Orlando Sentinel, Dr. Griffin issued a statement saying his message had failed "to provide the contextual framework for my remarks, and my support for the administration's policies."
At the time, legislation vital to NASA's gap plans - permission by Congress to buy Soyuz seats after 2011 - was stalled by the furor over the Russian action in Georgia. That problem was resolved last month when Congress quietly granted approval, but the broader issues presented by the gap remain. And Dr. Griffin's concerns do not end with Russia and Washington politics. He has repeatedly warned that China's space program is moving forward rapidly.
In testimony to the Senate last year, Dr. Griffin said it was likely that "China will be able to put people on the Moon before we will be able to get back." That prospect concerns Representative Tom Feeney, Republican of Florida. A fellow congressman recently suggested naming the first new lunar base after Neil Armstrong. Mr. Feeney recalled responding, "What makes you think the Chinese are going to give us permission to name their base after one of our astronauts?"
The Partnership
The growing tension with Russia complicates a longstanding international alliance in space that helped defuse the cold war, especially among those who had served at the front lines.
William M. Shepherd, the first commander of the station and a former member of the Navy Seals, recalled that when he and his crewmate Yuri Gidzenko first orbited the Earth, the two cold warriors pointed to bases where, years before, they had trained and waited on alert.
"I realized at that moment we were not an American and a Russian any more," Mr. Shepherd said." "It was about something that transcended that whole canvas."
The partnership began in the 1990s, as the Soviet Union and its economy collapsed and Russian knowledge about carrying people into orbit - or bombs to distant destinations - was at risk of falling into the hands of hostile nations. In paying to help keep the Russian space program going, the logic went, the United States would limit arms proliferation. By the mid-1990s Americans began serving aboard the Mir space station as the United States and Russia planned what would become the International Space Station.
The early days were marked by wariness. Mark Bowman, an early contract employee in Russia who is now back in Moscow as a NASA representative, said that Korolev, where mission control is, "was a closed city" when he arrived in 1993. "Foreigners were not allowed here," Mr. Bowman said.
These days, teams of NASA workers live year round in Russia and dozens of others come through for training runs, launchings and landings. "I'd venture to say the people who work at NASA know the Russians better than any other branch of our government," Commander Kelly, the astronaut, said.
Susan Eisenhower, an expert on United States-Russia relations and the space programs, said the Russians proved after the loss of the shuttle Columbia that they would hold up their end of the bargain by continuing to take Americans to the station. "When we had no choice because of the shuttle failure the Russian could have blackmailed us around this tragedy and did not do so," Ms. Eisenhower said.
Vitaly Davidov, the deputy director of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, said in an interview at mission control that Russia would honor its commitments to fly crews to the station.
That does not mean the going will be easy. The United States and Russia are at loggerheads over many trade and political issues. But Michael Krepon, who helped found the Henry L. Stimson Center, a policy institute, said that while the Russian space monopoly created risk, "there is a longstanding etiquette: you do not mess with the safety of humans in space."
"I don't think this is going to get very ugly if the gap problem continues," Mr. Krepon said. "But it will become expensive."

Copyright © 2008 The New York Times Company.
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    ScienceBlog.com, CA / 2008-10-24
    Sapphire Capillaries Help People
    Ученые из Института физики твердого тела РАН (Черноголовка) разработали технологию выращивания кристаллов сапфира заданного профиля, то есть любой формы и любого размера, в том числе тончайшие трубочки с внутренним диаметром меньше миллиметра. Это очень важно для медиков, поскольку подобные капилляры и световоды используются в диагностике и терапии онкологических заболеваний. До сих пор в медицине применяли кварцевые и полимерные световоды, имеющие ряд недостатков.

Russian scientists developed a unique technology for growing profiled sapphire crystals. Profiled crystal has predetermined properties - size and shape, for instance. Such crystals have great value for medicine and oncology, in particular, since sapphire capillaries and light guides will make laser therapy and diagnostics less traumatic and painful than in case of quartz and polymer light guides. Innovative technology, which is being patented right now, allows growing almost ideally straight solid sapphire tubes (capillaries) from the melt. Such capillaries are up to 30 cm long, their inner diameter is less than 1 mm, and outer diameter doesn't exceed 1.2 mm - perfectly fitting needs of medics.
When a tumor is located inside a body, a thin light guide can reach it. Laser generates radiation with some certain wavelength, which is delivered to the tumor via the light guide. Then there are two ways: observing the tumor by collecting reflected light or treating it with more or less powerful radiation. This radiation will either kill (burn) tumor tissue or "switch on" some substance, introduced into the tumor, thus causing its decay with heat emission. Latter effect is called "photodynamic therapy" or PDT.
Today most popular material for light guides is quartz; sometimes polymer light guides are use, but their life is too short. Quartz also has drawbacks - it is able to react with biological tissue and blood, which is also considered to be a tissue. The result is sad - burns of healthy tissues and distortion of radiation parameters, while PDT requires precise intensity and wavelength of light.

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