|Российская наука и мир|
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)
Jerusalem Post / Sep 8, 2008
Russia seeks Israeli know-how on the smallest scale
Россия и Израиль намерены объединить усилия по развитию нанотехнологий.
What does the largest nation on earth, with an abundance of natural resources, need to import from our tiny, crowded state? The answer, to judge from a recent mission by Russian businessmen, is scientific talent.
Leonid Melamed, director general of Rusnano (The Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies), here on a recent trip, said he was ready to invest in original Israeli projects and ideas, on condition that the production be moved to Russia.
Nanotechnology is an emerging field of theoretical and applied research that deals with processes and materials at the sub-microscopic level.
Accompanied by his deputy, Alexander Losykov (who served as Russia's deputy foreign minister until March) and an elite squad of scientists and businessman, Melamed, who has previously been engaged in everything from atomic energy to commerce, strongly believes in Russian-Israeli cooperation in the field of nanotechnologies, and he envisions the wide financial and scientific opportunities that this cooperation could open.
Melamed and his team came here with a concrete mission - locating investment opportunities in Israel and establishing business and scientific ties.
"Israel is a well-known leader in the world of hitech and, in particular, in the sphere of nanotechnologies," Melamed said during a tour of the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology). "One hundred fifty patents in the sphere of nanotechnology were registered in Israel last year; in Russia there were zero. Due to the fact that such a large percentage of Israelis are of Russian origin, our interest in Israel and cooperation with Israeli scientists and business is quite natural."
He stressed the high interest in Israeli innovations and unique investing opportunities.
During the three-day visit, the high-ranking delegation from Rusnano visited leading Israeli universities and met with National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Minister of Science, Culture and Sports Ghaleb Majadle, Deputy Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and many Israeli scientists.
The corporation was founded in July 2007 by then president Vladimir Putin, with an estimated budget between $5 billion and $6b.
Speaking at a business forum held in Tel Aviv last Thursday, Losykov expressed hope for enhanced cooperation between Rusnano and Israeli companies.
According to Prof. Oleg Figovsky, a world-known researcher and inventor in the field of nanotechnologies, the Russian interest at this time is no coincidence. Aside from recognition of Israel's place as a leading global hi-tech center, Russians are drawn to Israel because of the large Russian immigrant population here, which is especially strongly in the business sector. By some estimates, every fifth Israeli speaks Russian.
The cancellation of visa requirements between the two countries has also played a role in increasing cooperation.
Although many of the scientists and businessmen who came to the forum were Russian-speakers, Losykov emphasized that the only criteria for Rusnano was excellent ideas - not one's origins.
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Reuters / Tue Sep 9, 2008
Russia's Lake Baikal threatened by zinc mine
В России решается вопрос о разработке месторождений цинка и свинца, которые находятся в природоохранной зоне Байкала. Минприроды выступает против, а местные власти - активно за. Речь идет о крупнейшем в России Холоднинском месторождении цинка. Экологи считают, что проект его разработки - самый опасный за всю историю хозяйственной деятельности человека на Байкале.
LAKE BAIKAL, Russia (Reuters) - Green trees sway on the hilly Russian horizon, rainbows pierce Lake Baikal's grey waters and waves pound a pathless shore.
The stark beauty of the world's deepest and oldest lake is under threat, ecologists say, because it lies downstream from a rich source of zinc.
The proximity has opened up a debate in this resource-rich nation, pitting industrialists and job-hungry officials in Siberia against ecologists and government agencies in Moscow.
Experts say the Kholodninskoye deposit, which sits in a watershed flowing straight into Baikal, is the planet's third largest lead and zinc field.
Zinc is used in the production of galvanised steel, the automobile industry, household batteries, vitamin supplements, fireworks and as a compound in some cosmetics.
MBC Resources, a subsidiary of Russia's privately owned Metropol group, has a licence to develop Kholodninskoye, which has an estimated 13.3 million tonnes of zinc and 2 million tonnes of lead. It has drafted a plan to develop the field and other metals in the region at an estimated cost of $4 billion (2.2 billion pounds).
But ecologists in Buryatia region in Siberia, where Baikal lies, say development would despoil the biggest freshwater mass on earth - already threatened by tourism and other industries.
"For us right now, this is problem number one," said Sergey Shapkhayev, director of the Buryat/Baikal Land Use Programme in Ulan Ude.
"The geo-hydrological structure there is very complex, lots of underground springs, subsoil water at different temperatures that would increase tailings volumes into the lake," he said.
Tailings are unrecoverable mining waste discharged as slurry.
In July, Russia's Natural Resources Ministry proposed a ban on developing half of the Kholodninskoye deposit, saying mining would damage the lake, considered a national ecological reserve.
The government of Buryatia, which borders some 60 percent of the lake, hopes development will bring investment and jobs to the region, and has strongly opposed the proposed ban.
At its deepest, Baikal is 1,637 metres and it is some 25 million years old. It holds about one fifth of the world's freshwater and is around 9,200 km (5,717 miles) east of Moscow.
The shoreline runs along an ancient rift valley for about 2,100 km (1,305 miles), roughly the distance from Moscow to Dusseldorf, Germany.
Buryatia authorities are keen to promote Baikal, which is home to some of the world's rarest types of fish and plants, as a tourist destination. But it also wants mining development.
Buryatia President Vyacheslav Nagovitsyn, appointed in 2007 by then President Vladimir Putin, served as a crew member on a highly publicised but ultimately unsuccessful submarine dive in July, aimed at reaching the bottom of Baikal.
The dive was financed by Mikhail Slipenchuk, Metropol's general director. He says not developing the zinc and lead deposits would constitute a missed opportunity for Russia, already flush with cash from an energy and commodities boom.
"This is 20 percent of Russia's (zinc) reserves. If we cross it off the list, Russia will be the poorer for it," he said.
However, zinc prices have been sliding on weak demand and global oversupply, with some analysts predicting little relief into 2010.
The metal is one of the worst performers in the metals complex this year. In August, it dropped to its lowest level since November 2005 and is now trading around $1,745 a tonne, down almost 25 percent this year.
Zinc stocks at the London Metal Exchange have jumped 80 percent this year to 160,000 tonnes, and a Reuters survey of analysts showed an expected surplus of about 281,250 tonnes this year, growing to 328,758 tonnes in 2009.
The industry has seen mine closures and output cuts as energy, labour and equipment costs rise - raising questions about the ultimate profitability of the Kholodninskoye project.
Undeterred, MBC recently signed a memorandum with Rusinvestpartner, a joint venture of state conglomerate Russian Technologies and metals-to-oil firm Renova, under which Rusinvestpartner said it intended to buy stakes in projects to develop Kholodninskoye and another lead and zinc deposit nearby.
Even if the ban on development does not proceed, there is clean-up work to be done before any mining gets underway.
Buryatia's Natural Resource Ministry said in July that MBC would have to spend 2 billion roubles ($85 million) on cleanup of tailings plumes caused by Soviet-era prospecting.
Slipenchuk says the company will fund the clean-up but wants this to be written into the licensing agreement.
He said Soviet test shafts sent tailings-laced underground water into the nearby Kholodnaya river which feeds Baikal.
"Either we spend several hundred million dollars setting the Kholodninskoye deposit aside as a nature reserve, or we tighten regulations in the licensing agreement to make the holder responsible for these deficiencies," Slipenchuk said.
Baikal is such a powerful symbol of ecological purity for Russians that in 2006, Putin ordered a giant oil pipeline to be routed away from the lake, citing great risk to the environment.
But in spite of this, ecologist Shapkhayev said unregulated logging and careless tourism construction were already causing damage, that would only be intensified by mining.
"Russian ministries think, mistakenly, that up to 2 million tourists will come here, and that they need to build five-star hotels, mountain ski resorts ... and they dole out a large share of federal money for building the infrastructure," he said.
Shapkhayev said only around 20,000 tourists - half from abroad - come to Baikal annually. Construction firms pop up seasonally to build poorly constructed lodgings with federal money, then disappear without paying their workers.
"Until we come to terms with corruption, those kinds of problems will happen more and more often," he said.
© Thomson Reuters 2008 All rights reserved.
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Collective Bellaciao, France / September Saturday 6 2008
Geomagnetic field: when will compass fail?
По мнению ученых Института земного магнетизма РАН, магнитные полюса Земли постепенно дрейфуют к экватору, и примерно через 2000 лет (а может и раньше) напряженность поля упадет до нуля. Например, за последние 7 лет северный магнитный полюс Земли переместился почти на 300 км. Напряженность магнитного поля планеты последние 20 лет уменьшилась примерно на 1,7%. Последствия этого пойдут по нарастающей - от выхода из строя всех энергозависимых систем до полного исчезновения жизни.
MOSCOW, (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Kislyakov) - The recent trouble with the ISS, caused by simple computer virus capable of stealing logins and passwords for computer games only, was minor compared to possible environmental changes that could make space flights impossible. This could also cripple aviation and television, and even put terrestrial life at risk.
It's about the Earth's geomagnetic field, changing rapidly and frequently. Scientists from the Institute for Geomagnetism at the Russian Academy of Sciences say the Earth's magnet poles are gradually drifting towards the Equator, with the field intensity falling slowly, but steadily.
The latter was considered to reach zero point in about 2,000 years, which would be a disaster for living organisms. The rate of changes happening to the planet's liquid core (movement of the liquid and the solid parts of the Earth's core generate an electric potential, making the planet a sort of an electric generator - A.K.), however, could mean that the polarity shift is going to happen much sooner.
If a hundred years ago somebody said that the South and the North could switch places, he would be definitely taken to a mental hospital.
Nevertheless, as early as 1906, it was revealed that in the past magnetisation of some rocks was opposite to that of the present day, making it clear that some time ago it was different from the modern time.
In 2001, an international polar expedition revealed that in the recent seven years the North magnetic pole shifted around 300 km (186.4 miles). Currently, it is drifting 40 km (24.85 miles) a year from the Canadian Arctic shelf towards Russia's Severnaya Zemlya islands. Scientists predict the North Pole could eventually be found in South Atlantic. An extensive anomaly area with the magnetic field intensity at around 60% of the predicted value shows the forecast is likely to score.
In the recent 20 years, the planet's magnetic field intensity has decreased by 1.7%, and in South Atlantic by 10%. In the last two hundred years, the Earth's magnetic field has seen a 10% decrease in intensity.
What is the danger, after all? Russian scientists say changes in the magnetic field would lead to the anti-radiation protection falling, with space flights becoming impossible and energy-dependent systems, including mobile phones and satellites, failing. Then, solar and space radiation would affect the genome of the organisms inhabiting the Earth, causing some of them to become extinct, and others to have a much larger per cent of mutations. Taking into account the solar flares, accompanied by extremely powerful electrojet currents, life is likely to become impossible on Earth before the full magnetic field collapses.
Sounds terrible. But may be there's no need to dramatise and we will not face giant blood-thirsty killer ants from Hollywood horror movies? May be. Recent reports say that in the last 90 million years, the magnetic poles changed around every 500,000 years, with no total extinction of mass genetical mutations of living organisms taking place and the atmosphere remaining a reliable guarantor of security of the Earth's biosphere.
Equipment, created by the human genius and becoming his incorruptible prison ward, would have it harder.
The above mentioned processes are especially hazardous for computer systems, which are vital for the modern economy. Even today, magnetic storms caused by solar activity inflict huge losses to mankind. A decrease in the Earth's magnetic field intensity would boost the power of magnetic storms and therefore cripple flight connection, with avionics failing.
Besides that, any flight by plane would be dangerous to man. Today, in the low-pressure upper atmosphere, the effect of radiation is becoming more marked. In 2000, a Euro Commission directive relegated pilots and flight attendants to high risk jobs. The geomagnetic field keeps protecting us during flights so far, but what lies ahead?
On the other hand, scientists haven't established so far, if the changes happening to the geomagnetic field are reversible. Nobody has ever found out why the Earth's history has seen times when the magnet poles remained unshifted as long as 50 million years. May be, things will turn out well anyway?
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MINA, Canada / Sep 5, 2008
Russian Physicists create a Stunning Electromagnetic device
Российские ученые создали генератор электромагнитных импульсов, сравнимый по мощности с атомным энергоблоком. При очень небольших размерах прибор способен генерировать миллиарды ватт.
Defense strategists place their stakes on high-tech weapons. Nearly all superpowers of the world conduct their works in the development of such weapons. It transpired recently that Russian scientists developed a generator, the capacity of which is comparable to that of a nuclear unit. It is a genuine scientific breakthrough, and it is already clear that the defense industry will not be the only field where the new super device is going to be used.
An individual, who is miles away from physics and is only familiar with home electricity, will not be able to imagine the power of several billions of watts. It will be even harder to imagine that such power can be generated by a device that is fit to be placed on a table.
"The devices generating such power "billions of watts" used to be very large in size before. This appliance has a very short impulse, which makes it possible to have it on a desk" it is a very compact device, the Director of Lebedev's Institute of Physics, Vice President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Gennady Mesyats said.
Mikhail Yalandin, one of the creators of the miraculous machine, said that the scientists had assembled two of such devices in Yekaterinburg: a bigger and a smaller one.
Never before had a relatively small device ever been able to generate electromagnetic impulses the capacity of which could be comparable to a huge water power plant. It is ten times as much as any foreign-made analogue.
The new device can be used practically anywhere. The invention will let specialists create radar telescopes and radars of new generation. Missile troops and defense departments on the whole will most likely be the first customers to order the appliance. The new generators can also be used to check the stability of large energy objects and systems. The device is capable of imitating the strays which appear as a result of a lightning strike or even a nuclear blast.
It is impossible to take photographs or film a video of the new generator in action because it immediately puts all electronic devices out of order.
The research that was used for the creation of such a device can be applied in the development of electromagnetic weapons.
"No one has ever studied biological effects of such impulses. It is obvious that it affects the electronic equipment near it. Computers or cell phones have to be screened from such radiation," Mikhail Yalandin, a senior specialist of the Institute of Electrophysics said.
The device was called Nika, which means "victory".
© 2008 MINA.
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