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Novinite.com / December 14, 2010, Tuesday
Russian Nobel Prize Winner Backs Bulgarian Scientists
Лауреат Нобелевской премии, вице-президент РАН Жорес Алферов поддержал протест болгарских коллег против планируемой правительством реформы Болгарской академии наук, в частности, против катастрофического сокращения бюджета.
In an open letter to the Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov, Russian Nobel Prize-winning physicist Zhores Alferov has backed his Bulgarian colleagues in their protest against the government's plans to reform the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
The Voice of Russia has reported that according to Alferov, the planned reforms of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) is tantamount to irreversible destruction.
A draft bill on BAS has been tables to the Bulgarian Parliament and is currently under review. It amends the previous Law on BAS.
The bill involves the removal of the central governing body of BAS and the splitting of its many institutes into "independent" units, which are envisioned to be placed under the auspices of the Bulgarian Education Ministry.
The funding of those institutes and other bodies deriving from the former Academy is to be also set by the ministry, and is not decided upon by the Parliament as part of the official Bulgarian state budget.
The decision for the reform of BAS was met with numerous protests from Bulgarian scientists.
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The New York Times / December 9, 2010
Pact Lifts Limits on Civilian Nuclear Projects With Russia
Российско-американское гражданское ядерное соглашение снимает долговременные ограничения и разрешает интенсивную коммерческую торговлю в ядерной сфере, передачу технологий и совместные исследования России и Соединенных Штатов.
WASHINGTON - While President Obama presses the Senate to embrace a new arms control treaty with Russia, another nuclear pact with Moscow cleared its final hurdle on Thursday after more than four years with virtually no notice but potentially significant impact.
An agreement opening the door to greater civilian nuclear cooperation between the two countries cleared its final hurdle in Congress and will now take force in what Mr. Obama hopes will be another step toward strengthening the Russian-American rapprochement that has been one of his signature foreign policy goals.
The civilian nuclear agreement lifts longstanding limitations to allow extensive commercial nuclear trade, technology transfers and joint research between Russia and the United States. It does not permit the transfer of restricted data, but it eliminates a significant barrier to Russia's importing, storing and possibly reprocessing spent nuclear fuel from American-supplied reactors around the world.
The agreement was a top priority of Mr. Obama's predecessor, President George W. Bush, who sealed a deal with the Kremlin in May 2008. But he withdrew it from Congress four months later in protest of Russia's war with its tiny neighbor, Georgia. Mr. Obama resubmitted it last May, saying that Georgia "need no longer be considered an obstacle" and citing recent Russian cooperation in trying to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
"The agreement represents a major step forward in U.S.-Russian civil nuclear cooperation," Daniel Poneman, the deputy energy secretary, said by telephone from Moscow. "It enhances cooperation on nonproliferation" and "creates new commercial opportunities for Russian and American industry."
Matt Rojansky, a Russia scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the agreement "is potentially far more significant" for nuclear security and for Mr. Obama's reset policy with Russia than the so-called New Start arms treaty. "It delivers on the promise of reset because it taps into fundamentally shared interests, benefits both sides and enables the U.S. and Russia to lead together on nuclear security," he said.
Critics said Russia should not be rewarded, given its history of assistance to Iran. "The Obama administration did no better a job than the Bush administration in reviewing Russia's nonproliferation behavior," said Henry D. Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Education Center. "As a result, it's likely that there will be a political price to pay for Obama pushing the deal past Congress."
Representative Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who tried to block the pact, said he was disappointed. "Russia continues to train Iranian nuclear physicists, supply sensitive nuclear technology to Iran, and give secret instruction on Russian soil to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard," he said through a spokeswoman.
The agreement and the New Start treaty are at the heart of Mr. Obama's effort to rebuild the relationship with Moscow after it deteriorated to a post-cold-war low following the Georgia war. In response to Mr. Obama's outreach, Russia has supported tougher sanctions on Iran and canceled its sale of S-300 antiaircraft missiles to Iran; allowed American troops and weapons to fly through Russian territory to Afghanistan; and agreed to further study cooperation on missile defense.
Skeptics have expressed concern that the price of the new relations may be too high if it effectively means toning down American criticism of Russian authoritarianism at home and pressure on neighbors abroad. The White House says it still cares about such issues.
The agreement did not require legislative approval, but Congress had 90 legislative days to reject it. Two resolutions of disapproval were introduced but not approved, clearing the way for the agreement to take effect when the 90 days expired as of Thursday.
The pact resembles similar deals with nearly 50 countries, including China and more recently India. Russia's help in building a nuclear power plant in Iran prevented broader cooperation for years until the Kremlin toughened its stance and forced Tehran to agree to return spent fuel from the plant to Russia to keep it from being used for weapons.
The United States and Russia have mutual interest in greater cooperation. Russia supplies more uranium for nuclear power plants than any other country in the world, while the United States produces domestically only about 20 percent of its reactor fuel needs.
Experts said the agreement could pave the way for American-built reactors in the United States and countries like Japan and South Korea to eventually send spent fuel to Russia for storage or reprocessing. Officials, however, said that would require further approvals and that neither side had any plans to pursue it.
If Russia develops a broader fuel repository under the agreement, it could bolster American and European offers to Iran to provide fuel for a research reactor in Tehran, rather than let it enrich its own uranium. Russia would have a credible fuel exchange business ready to serve Iran's needs.
Russia may also be interested in expanding uranium enrichment in the United States and cooperating with American corporations like General Electric and Westinghouse. For American firms to do business in Russia, though, Moscow would need to either ratify international accords or pass domestic laws that would protect American companies operating in Russia in case of accidents, experts said.
© Copyright 2010. The New York Times Company.
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TopNews / Mon, 12/20/2010
Indian, Russian scientists discuss rocket launch delay
Запуск геосинхронного спутника, запланированный на 20 декабря (совместный проект Индии и России), был отложен из-за обнаруженной утечки в криогенном двигателе ракеты-носителя.
Chennai, Dec 20: Indian and Russian space scientists are discussing the remedial measures that need to be taken after a leak was detected in the cryogenic engine of a rocket that was to place an advanced communications satellite into orbit Monday.
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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Sunday decided to postpone the rocket's launch after it detected the leak in one of the valves of the Russian-made cryogenic engine during the pre-countdown mandatory tests even as the 51-metre tall rocket was on the launch pad.
The rocket, called the geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV) was to carry GSAT-5P, an advanced communications satellite meant to retire an earlier one sent up in 1999 and ensure continuity of telecom, TV and weather services.
S. Satish, a director at ISRO, said: "There is a small team of Russian experts at the rocket port whenever a rocket is flown with their cryogenic engine."
He said the Russians had supplied seven cryogenic engines, of which five were used in the earlier GSLV rockets.
The 29-hour countdown, planned to commence at 11.01 a. m. Sunday, was not authorised by the Launch Authorisation Board. The board met Sunday forenoon at the Sriharikota rocket launch centre to review the results of pre-countdown checks and decided against proceeding with the mission.
According to ISRO officials, the GSLV rocket has three stages. The first stage is fired by solid fuel and hugged by four strap-on motors fired by liquid fuel. The strap-on motors give additional thrust during the lift off and the initial phase of the rocket's flight.
The second stage/engine is fired by liquid fuel and the third and complex stage is the cryogenic engine powered by liquid hydrogen as fuel and liquid oxygen as oxidizer.
The solid fuel is cast ready while the liquid fuel is filled hours before the rocket's blast-off.
Sources close to ISRO told IANS that there are standard leak rates for valves. Only when this exceeds the minimum level are alarm bells sounded.
ISRO officials said that since the cryogenic engine is supplied by Russia, their expertise and consent will be obtained on how to plug the leak.
If at all the valve has to be replaced, then it has to be supplied by the Russians, the sources said.
"The components of Indian cryogenic engine are of varied specifications and will not fit the Russian made one. The Russians had supplied the seven cryogenic engines long ago," the source told IANS.
According to officials, dismantling of the cryogenic engine with the faulty valve and fitting the rocket with another one will take time.
"The new engine's systems have to be checked and it will take over a month to make it flight ready," a source said.
According to ISRO officials, a delay in the GSAT-5P launch will not affect any of its customers as the earlier satellite INSAT-2E is still operational.
The Hindu / December 19, 2010
Medvedev in favour of "modernisation partnership" with India
Начался официальный визит в Индию президента РФ Дмитрия Медведева, в ходе которого будет подписано не менее полутора десятка соглашений.
Среди основных тем 11-го российско-индийского саммита - сотрудничество в гражданской ядерной энергетике, науке, военно-технической и торгово-экономической сферах. В частности, будет подписан контракт на проектирование истребителя пятого поколения.
Over 100 business leaders, including over 30 Russian blue-chip firms' CEOs, are expected to hold talks with their Indian counterparts in New Delhi tomorrow ahead of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit for the 11th Indo-Russian Annual Summit on Tuesday (December 21).
Addressing the concerns expressed by both sides over the low level of economic exchange under the two-decades-old strategic bilateral partnership between India and Russia is high on the agenda for the summit.
According to diplomatic sources, business leaders in both countries have exhibited heightened interest in each others' economies in light of success stories such as ONGC Videsh Ltd's investment in the Sakhalin-1 and Imperial Energy projects in Russia and Russia's Sistema entry into the Indian mobile communications space under the MTS brand in consortium with an Indian company, Shyam Teleservices.
The Joint Venture Agreement inked recently between Russia's Severstal and India's National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) for setting up a USD 5 billion steel plant in Karnataka and Reliance Industries' JV agreement with Russian petrochemicals giant SIBUR for manufacturing synthetic rubber also demonstrate the growing interest of firms from both sides to take up long-term projects in either country.
In his November 30 State of the Nation Address to Parliament, Medvedev underscored that Russia's foreign policy should not be "limited to missiles".
"We have to develop our economic diplomacy, evaluating its results based on practical benefits it produces for modernisation, first and foremost - creating joint ventures in Russia, supplying high-quality, inexpensive goods to the Russian market," Medvedev said, underscoring Moscow's priorities in economic partnerships with countries like India.
Medvedev sees a "great potential for expanding the innovation aspect" in bilateral cooperation with India and was in favour of a "modernisation partnership" in five priority areas identified by his government, including energy efficiency, nuclear energy and pharmaceuticals and both ground-and space-based IT and IT-enabled services.
These are the sectors where India can contribute know-how, as well as learn from Russia.
In this regard, the governments of both countries have ratified the extension of the Indo-Russian Integrated Long-Term Programme (ILTP) of Scientific and Technological Cooperation for another 10 years in a new avatar - the Innovation Led Technology Programme - which will be signed on December 21 during Medvedev's New Delhi visit.
Officials on both sides noted that the ILTP signed in the 1980s by then-Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is the only bilateral programme that has survived and continued to develop even after fragmentation of the USSR, because it was based on direct personal contacts between scientists and labs of the two countries.
Copyright © 2010, The Hindu.
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Le Figaro / 16/12/2010
Une éruption volcanique en Sibérie a failli détruire la vie
Il y a 250 millions d'années, la lave a recouvert un territoire grand comme quatre fois la France.
250 млн лет назад (граница пермского и триасового периодов) на территории современной Сибири в результате вулканической деятельности территория в 2 млн квадратных километров оказалась покрыта слоем лавы толщиной от 1,5 до 4 километров, а в атмосферу было выброшено огромное количество фтора, хлора и серы. Это могло стать причиной так называемой пермской катастрофы, когда вымерло 96% морских живых существ и 70% сухопутных.
Le nord de la Sibérie centrale est la plus vaste zone volcanique de la Terre. Il y a 250 millions d'années, d'immenses quantités de laves basaltiques se sont écoulées dans cette région sur plus de 2 millions de kilomètres carrés et sur une épaisseur moyenne de 2 km. Des couches de 4 km ont été mesurées dans le Nord sibérien, leur épaisseur diminuant vers le sud-est autour de 1,5 km. Depuis une trentaine d'années, plusieurs scientifiques ont émis l'hypothèse que ces gigantesques éruptions pourraient être à l'origine de l'extinction survenue à la fin du Permien, il y a 250 millions d'années, de près de 90% des espèces vivantes.
Cette hypothèse est renforcée aujourd'hui par les analyses chimiques des laves sibériennes effectuées par une équipe du Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). L'été dernier, ils sont allés sur place pour collecter de petites bulles enfermées dans le basalte. Les taux de sulfure, de fluor et de chlore qu'ils ont mesurés sont nettement supérieurs à ceux que l'on retrouve généralement dans les autres grands traps basaltiques de la planète, au Deccan (Inde), en Colombie ou dans l'État de Washington et de l'Oregon. Les résultats de leurs travaux ont été présentés lundi au cours d'une réunion de l'American Geophysical Union (AGU).
Des chiffres effarants
L'équipe de Lindy Elkins-Tanton avance des chiffres effarants: 9000 milliards de tonnes (Mt) de sulfure, 8500 Mt de fluor et 5000 Mt de chlore, se seraient échappées dans l'atmosphère au cours de cette méga-éruption. Ces gaz toxiques pourraient donc avoir été beaucoup plus abondants et meurtriers qu'on ne le pensait jusqu'alors.
Les traps sibériens sont déjà connus des géophysiciens russes, américains et européens.
Leur cartographie est désormais bien établie ainsi que leur datation. "On ne sait pas trop comment s'est produit cet énorme événement volcanique, admet toutefois Jean-Pierre Burg, de l'Institut de géologie de l'université de Zurich. C'est son énormité qui le rend difficile à expliquer." Il est communément admis que cette ou plutôt ces éruptions pourraient avoir été provoquées par des remontées du manteau terrestre d'une ampleur exceptionnelle: plus de 2000 km3 de lave, selon certains modèles. "Ces remontées sont liées, selon Jean-Pierre Burg, à la vie de la terre interne profonde. C'est le même phénomène qui se produit actuellement à Hawaï et la Réunion, mais à une échelle réduite."
La question la plus importante dans cette affaire reste toutefois de savoir si les gaz et les vapeurs ont été émis lors d'un laps de temps suffisamment court pour déséquilibrer la composition atmosphérique et provoquer une extinction massive de toute vie, souligne le géophysicien suisse. On en saura sans doute plus lorsque les chercheurs américains publieront leur étude.
© le figaro.fr.
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The Voice of Russia / Dec 19, 2010
50th Anniversary of the Laser
Научная сессия Общего собрания РАН "Лазеры: 50 лет в науке, технологиях, медицине" была посвящена 50-летнему юбилею этого изобретения.
В 1958 году физики Николай Басов и Александр Прохоров в СССР и Чарльз Таунс в США выдвинули идею оптического квантового устройства, испускающего видимое излучение. Спустя два года был создан первый лазер - действующая установка на искусственном кристалле рубина.
In 1958, physicists Nikolai Basov and Alexander Prokhorov in the Soviet Union and Charles Townes in the United States invented an optical quantum amplifier emitting visible light, which led to the creation of the first laser two years later. It was dubbed "ruby laser" because it used a synthetic ruby crystal.
Numerous modifications of that very first laser have been made over past half a century. We now have gas lasers, solid-state and semiconductor-based lasers, free-electron and cascade lasers, and so on. Initially designed for military needs, they later began to be used in many other areas such as environmental probing, optical communications, machine building, thermonuclear physics, medicine, and lots of others.
A conference, "Lasers: 50 Years in Science, Technology and Medicine", took place at the Russian Academy of Sciences earlier this week.
Academician Zhores Alferov, who was awarded the Nobel Physics prize for his research in the laser field, pointed out:
"Lasers will be applied on an even broader scale in medicine quite soon. For example, the so-called cascade lasers are widely applied for detecting and analyzing gases, including the air we breath out, and therefore can be used to diagnose respiratory and lung diseases. Quantum dot lasers, which we created in the 1990s and which have been further developed, can be very useful for medical tests: implanted as a microchip in a human body, they can permanently test our blood."
The use of laser helped Russian medics in the late 1970s to treat blood coagulation disorders and thus save hundreds of lives. Laser treatment for eye diseases marked a real breakthrough in ophthalmology.
Mr. Alferov thinks that lasers are playing a very important part in the development of nano-tech industry.
"Many achievements in nano-tech industry have root in semiconducting laser technology. So-called quantum-changing structures are first of all varieties of semiconducting lasers."
Present-day telecommunication systems also rely on a laser ray distributed through optical fiber. Actually, this is where the Internet comes from. And isn't this enough to consider laser technology as a truly revolutionary thing? However, there is still much room for improvement. Telecommunications industry will see even more achievements after scientists unveil methods of laser space communications. Like the World Wide Web has shrouded the Earth, laser has become an invention that affects every aspect of life.
© 2005-2010 Voice of Russia.
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