Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Февраль 2013 г.
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2013 г.
Российская наука и мир
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январь февраль март апрель май июнь июль август сентябрь октябрь ноябрь декабрь

    Zee News / Friday, February 01, 2013
    Astronomical battle in US over Venus discovery
    Летом прошлого года российские ученые повторили опыт Михаила Ломоносова, доказав, что он действительно мог видеть атмосферу Венеры во время ее прохождения по диску Солнца 26-27 мая (по старому стилю) 1761 г. Возражения скептиков строились в основном на том, что в телескоп образца XVIII века можно было увидеть разве что оптическую иллюзию. Участники эксперимента нашли четыре старинных телескопа: три того же типа и возраста, что и ломоносовский двухлинзовый ахромат-рефрактор Dollond, и четвертый - C.West, изготовленный в начале XIX в. Наблюдения проводились в Калифорнии, Иллинойсе, Колорадо и Новосибирске, их результаты подтвердили, что технических возможностей XVIII века было вполне достаточно для сделанного Ломоносовым открытия.
    Статья "Replicating the discovery of Venus's atmosphere" опубликована в февральском номере журнала Physics Today.

Washington: In an academic dustup of astronomical importance, a team of Russian and American scientists have replicated an experiment by 18th-century Russian scientific and literary luminary Mikhail Lomonosov in a quest to demolish sceptics' doubts that he discovered Venus' atmosphere.
Using a rudimentary telescope from his St. Petersburg observatory in 1761, Lomonosov claimed to have witnessed evidence of Venus' atmosphere in the form of a "luminous arc" jutting out from the planet as it made its rare transit between earth and the sun, authors Vladimir Shiltsev, Igor Nesterenko and Randall Rosenfeld note in the February issue of Physics Today.
But some sceptics in the academic community have called into question Lomonosov's claim, saying he likely saw an illusion due to the primitive telescope he used but claimed it was Venus' atmosphere because, like his contemporaries, he thought that all planets had atmospheres.
Shiltsev, the Russian-born director of the accelerator physics center at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory outside Chicago, said Thursday that he set out to prove that Lomonosov's discovery was valid because he considered the criticism of the legendary Russian's research shaky at best.
"It's not because Lomonosov was Russian," Shiltsev, 47, told RIA Novosti by telephone.
"The biggest driver for me was that I felt pissed off about the unscientific approach to such an important issue."
Together with his team, Shiltsev scrupulously recreated the conditions of Lomonosov's discovery-including deploying antique telescopes similar to the 1.37-meter one used by Lomonosov-to observe Venus' transit last June. For Shiltsev, it was a last-in-a-lifetime chance to vindicate the great Russian scientist: The next transits will be in December 2117 and December 2125.
"I don't expect to live that long," Shiltsev said Wednesday evening at an awards ceremony in Washington, where he and his colleagues were honored for encouraging US-Russian cooperation in the field of science and education.
The results were a smashing success, according to the research team, whose members are scattered across the US, Canada and Russia. Using the antique telescopes, two members of the four-man crew observed the same celestial phenomenon that Lomonosov witnessed, the authors write in Physics Today.
A more detailed and technical account of the experiment is slated for publication later this year in Solar System Research, the English-language version of the Russian academic journal "Astronomichesky Vestnik". The sceptics remain unconvinced, however.
Jay Pasachoff, a prominent astronomer and a professor at Williams College in Massachusetts, told RIA Novosti in emailed comments Thursday that while Lomonosov was a "great scientist" who correctly predicted what Venus' atmosphere would do to sunlight, "there is no evidence that he actually saw the atmosphere".
"He was expecting an atmosphere, he saw something strange, and he said that it was the atmosphere," said Pasachoff, who has sparred with Shiltsev on the issue in the letters pages of academic publications. Lomonosov's description of Venus' atmosphere does not match "what we now know Venus' atmosphere looks like at the beginning and at the end of a transit," Pasachoff asserted.
"Whether or not he could have seen the atmosphere with his instrument, he apparently did not see it," Pasachoff added. Shiltsev accuses Pasachoff and his fellow sceptics of cherry-picking parts of Lomonosov's research to support their thesis while ignoring evidence that he indeed witnessed Venus' atmosphere.
They both agree, however, that Lomonosov prepared meticulously to observe firsthand the phenomenon - something Shiltsev says came as a surprise to him.
Lomonosov appears to have been the only one of the 18th-century observers "to discover the Venusian atmosphere not by accident, but by designing an experimental protocol that made it possible", Shiltsev and his co-authors conclude in Physics Today.
Until Shiltsev embarked on the replication project, he thought Lomonosov just got lucky.
"I didn't really understand that it wasn't by accident," he said. "It's an insight into genius."

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    SolarServer / 2013-02-08
    University of Delaware names Russian scientists as winners of PV award
    Делавэрский университет (США) присудил академику Жоресу Алферову и профессору Вячеславу Андрееву почетную медаль имени Карла Бера за "новаторскую разработку новых солнечных элементов и концентраторных фотоэнергоустановок".
    Медаль и премия в размере 50 тыс. долларов вручаются раз в два года (с 1993 г.) за выдающийся вклад в развитие солнечной энергетики.

On February 5th, 2013, University of Delaware (Newark, Delaware, U.S.) announced Zhores I. Alferov and Viacheslav M. Andreev as winners of the 2013 Karl Böer Solar Energy Medal of Merit. Alferov, Nobel Laureate, is professor and president of the St. Petersburg Academic University of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Andreev is professor and head of the laboratory of the A.F. Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute in St. Petersburg.
Pioneering contributions to the promotion of PV
The medal and a cash award of USD 50,000, funded by the Karl W. Böer Solar Energy Medal of Merit Trust, is given every two years to an individual who has made significant pioneering contributions to the promotion of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy as an alternate source of energy through research, development or economic enterprise or to an individual who has made extraordinarily valuable and enduring contributions to the field of solar energy in other ways.
CPV modules with superior efficiencies, increased lifetime
The award is given to Alferov and Andreev "for their pioneering work in the design of new solar cells and concentrator modules (CPV) based on III-V semiconductor compounds with superior efficiencies and increased lifetime," explained George C. Hadjipanayis, executive director of the Karl W. Böer Solar Energy Medal of Merit Trust and the Richard B. Murray, professor of physics and astronomy.
The scientific activity of Alferov and Andreev has been focused for more than 40 years on research and development of III-V semiconductor heterostructures - combining group III elements such as aluminum, gallium and indium with group V elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus and arsenic specifically to improve solar cells.
The award ceremony will be held on April 26th, 2013.

2010 © Heindl Server GmbH.
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    io9 / Feb 6, 2013
    Did the very first science fiction magazine appear in Russia in 1894?
    • Anindita Banerjee
    О научно-популярных и научно-фантастических журналах, выходивших в России на рубеже XIX-XX вв. Отрывок из книги профессора Корнелльского университета (США) Аниндиты Банерджи "We Modern People: Science Fiction and the Making of Russian Modernity", в которой она выдвигает неожиданную гипотезу: в модернизации России в начале XX в. не последнюю роль сыграл литературный жанр научной фантастики.

We tend to think science fiction magazines started when Hugo Gernsback introduced the concept of "scientificion." But for the quarter-century leading up to the Russian Revolution, the Russians were massive consumers of "scientific fantasy," and they had a popular magazine called Nature and People, full of science-fictional speculations.
Cornell University Professor Anindita Banerjee uncovers the secret history of early Russian science fiction, and how SF tied in with Russians' obsessions with modernity, in her new book "We Modern People: Science Fiction and the Making of Russian Modernity". We're lucky enough to feature this exclusive excerpt, dealing with the founding of Nature and People and early writers such as Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Yevgeny Zamyatin.
Introduction: Science Fiction and the Making of Russian Modernity
Science and technology are defining modern reality by transforming not just everyday life, but the very ways in which we think and imagine. A new kind of writing called nauchnaia fantastika, scientific fantasy, is playing a not inconsequential role in this process. Is it not in the imagination where bold theories and amazing machines are first born? Along with news of the latest scientific and technological developments, therefore, our magazine will continue to present a rich panorama of meditations on their potentials that will seem anything but fantastic to those of our times.
Opening the fifth-anniversary issue of Nature and People (Priroda i liudi) in 1894, this editorial note redefines the narrative parameters of a pioneering popular science journal in Russia.
Three decades later in 1923, Yevgeny Zamyatin - author of the landmark dystopian novel We (My), which George Orwell acknowledged as an inspiration for 1984 - designated nauchnaia fantastika, or scientific fantasy, "the kind of literature that best commands the attention and wins the belief of us modern people." Consequently, he proposed it as the foundational template for a "New Russian Prose" of the twentieth century:
Modern life has lost its plane reality. It is projected not along the old fixed points, but dynamic coordinates of Einstein, of the airplane. In this new projection, the best-known formulas and objects become displaced, fantastic, the familiar - unfamiliar. . . . And these new beacons clearly stand before the new literature: from "daily life" to "realities of being," from physics to philosophy, from analysis to synthesis.
The striking continuity between the two passages reveals that a distinctive category of writing called nauchnaia fantastika, which I have translated as "scientific fantasy," began to be recognized, produced, and consumed in Russia long before the American editor Hugo Gernsback introduced the term science fiction to the English-speaking world in 1926. Its defining features, furthermore, corresponded closely with what Darko Suvin would theorize as estrangement and cognition, the "necessary and sufficient conditions" of science fiction. While the 1894 editorial stressed that it required a modern, techno-scientific sensibility on the part of both writers and readers, Zamyatin celebrated its unprecedented potentials of defamiliarization.
Even more remarkable, however, is the fact that long before science fiction came to be called a genre in the West and merited with due critical attention, its Russian equivalent seems to have metamorphosed from a novelty of popular culture to an integral part of intellectual debates about the best way to engage with the new realities of the unfolding twentieth century. What accounts for the emergence of science fiction avant la lettre in Russia? Why and how did it proliferate so rapidly and acquire such prestige in a context whose actual state of modernization was famously described by Leon Trotsky as "combined and uneven development"? The answer may be found in a unique symbiotic link between genre and time repeatedly invoked by the passages cited above. For editors, practitioners, and critics alike, the new category of writing was inextricably bound with the concept of modernity, or sovremennost'. Science fiction in the Russian context, therefore, connotes much more than a by-product of the consciousness that science and technology had become the primary driving forces of modern life. As both Zamyatin and the editors of Nature and People take pains to emphasize, it evolved into an important participant in the formation of that consciousness.
By privileging science fiction as a crucible of actual techno-scientific innovation and equating news reportage with speculative extrapolation, Nature and People blurs the boundaries between the representation of modernity and the realities of modernization. Zamyatin goes one step further: He compares the effects of this new kind of writing to the cognitive revolution brought about by actual developments such as the theory of relativity and the technology of aviation. His prescription for a new model of national literature, therefore, invests science fiction with the radical function of modernizing not just Russian life but also the Russian mind. For Zamyatin, its poetics of estrangement transform science itself into a new metaphysics, and elevates technology far above the level of novel artifacts. What were previously perceived to be mere analysis and mechanics become portals for entering a higher state of existence, a "reality of being" (bytie) quite different from mundane "daily life" (byt). Science fiction thus provides the road map for a new class of subjects, whom Nature and People calls "those of our times" and Zamyatin designates "we modern people," to reinvent their lives, realities, and even beliefs.
This book is devoted to the tumultuous decades between the 1890s and the 1920s, spanning the fin de siecle and the early Bolshevik period, when it first acquired tremendous ideological currency and cultural prestige. It was also during this time, bracketed by the Nature and People editorial and Zamyatin's manifesto for a new literature, that science fiction began to be written, read, disseminated, and discussed not just in literary circles and popular media, but also by scientists and engineers, philosophers and policy makers. Zamyatin, a professional engineer, cultural theorist, and prominent member of the literary avant-garde, represents the confluence of Russian scientists, social visionaries, and modernists who experimented with the emerging contours of science fiction.
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a mathematician and philosopher who began writing science fiction in the 1890s, was also an exemplary figure of this kind. Tsiolkovsky defended his choice of writing in the speculative mode as "the most effective way of conveying the ambitious yet esoteric horizons of my world-view" - a view that extended to the farthest frontiers of the universe, resulted in his posthumous lionization as the father of the Soviet space program, and immortalized him as the founder of a millenarian movement called Cosmism. Instead of academic journals, he chose Aviation Herald (Vestnik vozdukhoplavaniia), a magazine whose audience included both professional airmen and lay enthusiasts, as the first venue for publishing his futuristic hypotheses about venturing into outer space. Tsiolkovsky was convinced that its "astonishingly diverse body of readers, open to the true potentials of science and technology in the modern age, would not immediately dismiss my thoughts as mere flights of fancy."
This statement, like the Nature and People editorial and Zamyatin's manifesto, invokes a privileged relationship between science fiction and the consciousness of being, or wanting to be, modern. In order to understand this relationship and delineate its contours, this book expands the scope of examining both science fiction and modernity in the Russian context. Instead of reconstructing a literary history of the genre, as is the norm, I attempt a genealogy of the most distinctive feature of Russian science fiction: its symbiotic emergence with a uniquely Russian vision of modernity.
It was at the turn of the twentieth century that science and technology truly began to dominate Russian discussions about the phenomenological, epistemological, institutional, and cultural parameters of modernity. In Reasons for the Decline and Rise of New Trends in Modern Russian Literature (O prichinakh upadka i o novykh techniiakh v sovremennoi russkoi literature), the founding document of Russian modernism issued in 1893, Dmitri Merezhkovsky noted, "We are present at a great, highly significant struggle between two views of life, two diametrically opposed world-views: the latest demands of religious experience are colliding with the latest conclusions of scientific knowledge."
"In the age of weakening not only of the old religious faith but also the humanistic faith of the nineteenth century, the sole remaining strong belief is the belief in technology," declared the philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev. Outlining the "immediate tasks of the Soviet Government" in 1918, Lenin advocated that Russia "must adopt all that is valuable in the achievements of science and technology from the West," even though "like all capitalist progress they stand for the refined brutality of bourgeois exploitation." Behind such landmark statements, however, lies a vast unexamined arena in which science and technology also became democratized for the first time as accessible metonyms of modernity for a large number of Russians.
The scientific and technological revolution in the West coincided with a veritable explosion of popular print culture in Russia. From the late 1880s, which Jeffrey Brooks, in his seminal study of media and literacy, calls the "peak period of periodical publication," science and technology began to emerge as the primary indices of a rapidly changing world that Russian newspapers and magazines hastened to bring home to their audience. Reports about groundbreaking techno-scientific advancements occupied dramatically increasing space in large-circulation and limited-edition journals alike. In the illustrated weekly The Field (Niva), which Brooks notes "was read by an audience that extended from primary schoolteachers, rural parish priests, and the urban middle class to the gentry," coverage of science and technology increased from about 10 percent in the mid-1880s to more than 50 percent in 1900. The European Herald (Evropeiskii vestnik), a bastion of progressive thought previously devoted to philosophy and literature, also began to carry long features about the latest discoveries and inventions. From 1891 onward, The Field began to offer a special supplement on popular science every month.
The strongest indicator of this trend was the appearance of magazines such as Nature and People, which programmatically devoted themselves to making the esoteric fields of science and technology accessible to the lay reader. Nature and People was followed not only by Around the World (Vokrug sveta), which continued publication through the Soviet period and is still read in Russia today, but also numerous other periodicals such as Argus, Scientific Review (Nauchnoe obozrenie) and The Journal of the Latest Discoveries and Inventions (Zhurnal noveishchikh otkrytii i izobretenii). Publications dedicated to specific subjects that particularly excited the public imagination, such as physics, astronomy, paleontology, electricity, medicine, and flight, occupied a special niche in the new market of popular science magazines. Aviation Herald, which carried Tsiolkovsky's science fiction, began circulating soon after the Wright brothers' first flight and targeted aspiring professionals as well as amateurs. As proudly noted by the editors of Nature and People, most of these publications freely conflated journalism and speculative writing.
A shared lexicon of science and technology created an unprecedented bridge between cosmopolitan intellectuals and the burgeoning middle classes, Petersburg and the provinces, urban consumers and "rural primary schoolteachers and parish priests," professional scientists and amateur enthusiasts, and most significantly, writers and their public. This heterogeneous collective constituted the first implied and real audience of science fiction in Russia. They devoured translations of Jules Verne, Camille Flammarion, and H. G. Wells, serialized alongside Russian science fiction writers on the pages of the same periodicals that also carried news about the latest techno-scientific developments, speculated about their implications, advertised technological trinkets, and announced demonstrations of scientific marvels. Despite, or perhaps because of, the uneven manifestations of technological modernization in everyday Russian life, science fiction became the self-identified narrative of a new imagined community that Zamyatin called "we modern people."
The conjuncture between the scientific and technological revolution in the West and the rise of mass media in Russia reveals the intertextual, intergeneric, and indeed intermedial dialogue through which science fiction emerged and engaged with its remarkably diverse audience. Consequently, this book does not limit its purview to the handful of early science fiction writers who have been canonized as bona fide precursors of the Sputnik era, such as the symbolist Valery Bryusov, the radical Bolshevik Alexander Bogdanov, and Zamyatin himself. Instead, I situate so-called literary and popular works, including little-examined experiments by prominent representatives of modernist movements and proponents of major intellectual trends, in a much larger continuum. Overtly fictional texts penned by both famous and obscure authors are examined in close conjunction with a rich archive of newspaper and magazine articles; advertisements; research papers; philosophical treatises; visual culture; and, last but not least, official and independent manifestoes on how to make Russia modern.

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    Lalibre.be / le 15/02/2013
    Russie: une météorite explose au-dessus de l'Oural, un millier de blessés
    15 февраля в окрестностях Челябинска на высоте 15-50 км (по разным оценкам) взорвался метеорит - болид диметром около 17 м и весом около 10 тыс. тонн. Это самое большое из вошедших в земную атмосферу небесных тел со времен Тунгусского метеорита.

Une météorite a explosé vendredi au-dessus de la métropole russe de Tcheliabinsk, projetant des éclairs incandescents dans le ciel et blessant près d'un millier de personnes, un événement rarissime qui a semé la panique dans cette région de l'Oural.
Ce phénomène inédit par l'ampleur de son bilan humain est survenu alors que tous les services d'astronomie du monde guettaient le passage de l'astéroïde 2012 DA14 qui devrait frôler la Terre vendredi soir, mais plusieurs experts interrogés par l'AFP ont assuré que les deux événements ne pouvaient être liés. "Le nombre de blessés est d'environ 950", a déclaré le gouverneur de la région de Tcheliabinsk, Mikhaïl Iourevitch, cité par Ria Novosti. Un précédent bilan faisait état de plus de 500 victimes. Selon l'administration de cette ville d'un million d'habitants, le bilan pour cette seule cité industrielle serait de 725 blessés, dont 159 enfants.
Selon le gouverneur, les deux tiers des blessures sont légères, dues à des éclats de verre. Seules deux personnes sont dans un état grave.
"Je me creuse les méninges pour trouver dans l'histoire un quelconque événement au cours duquel un si grand nombre de personnes ont été blessées par un tel objet... C'est très, très rare d'avoir des victimes humaines", a commenté Robert Massey, directeur adjoint de la Royal Astronomical Society britannique.
Une boule incandescente et une vive lumière blanche
Une boule incandescente accompagnée d'une très vive lumière blanche, se déplaçant à très grande vitesse, est apparue à 09H20 locales (03H20 GMT) dans le ciel de Tcheliabinsk, ont rapporté les autorités.
Selon l'antenne locale du ministère russe des Situations d'urgence, la météorite, qui pesait, selon les experts russes, entre dix et plusieurs dizaines de tonnes, avait brûlé partiellement en entrant dans les couches basses de l'atmosphère avant de se désintégrer.
Ses fragments incandescents ont à leur tour poursuivi leur course pour atteindre la Terre, laissant derrière eux des traînées de fumée. De fortes explosions ont alors retenti.
"C'est un bolide (météorite ayant traversé l'atmosphère, ndlr) qui a explosé au-dessus de Tcheliabinsk, et l'onde de choc a soufflé les fenêtres des immeubles et détruit en partie les murs d'une usine", a indiqué l'antenne locale du ministère des Situations d'urgence.
"Des fragments ont atteint la Terre et sont tombés dans des zones peu habitées de la région", a ajouté la même source.
Des vidéos postées sur internet ont montré des images d'apocalypse : des rues de Tcheliabinsk brusquement illuminées d'une aveuglante lumière blanche, des boules de feu traversant le ciel dans une traînée de fumée, des fenêtres et portes soufflées par l'onde de choc de violentes explosions.
"J'ai d'abord cru à un avion qui s'écrasait"
"J'ai d'abord cru que c'était un avion qui s'écrasait, mais il n'y avait aucun bruit de moteur. Ensuite, il y a eu une violente explosion. Dans beaucoup d'immeubles de notre rue les fenêtres ont été soufflées", a raconté Denis Laskov, un habitant de Tcheliabinsk, à la télévision publique.
L'Académie des sciences russe a estimé que la météorite initiale, qui se serait désintégrée à une altitude de 30 à 50 kilomètres, faisait plusieurs mètres de diamètre, et pesait environ 10 tonnes.
L'agence Ria Novosti a cité de son côté une source militaire indiquant qu'elle s'était désintégrée à 5.000 mètres d'altitude seulement.
Un porte-parole de la région militaire de l'Oural a indiqué qu'un groupe de reconnaissance avait retrouvé le lieu d'impact d'un fragment, au bord du lac de Tchebarkoul. "Il y a un cratère de 6 mètres", a précisé ce responsable, le colonel Iaroslav Poschioupkine, cité par Ria.
Des images diffusées par la télévision publique montraient un large trou dans la surface gelée d'un lac.
La chaîne de télévision Rossia a également montré le bâtiment d'une usine de la ville partiellement détruit, un mur et le toit effondrés, et des jeunes gens de l'université de Tcheliabinsk ensanglantés, apparemment blessés par des éclats de verre.
Le gouverneur de cette région a d'ores et déjà déjà estimé le coût des dégâts à un milliard de roubles (25 millions d'euros).
L'université et les écoles de la région ont été fermées. Le ministère des Situations d'urgence a annoncé avoir mobilisé 20.000 hommes.
Le président russe, Vladimir Poutine, a demandé de faire le maximum pour venir en aide à la population, alors que les autorités locales appelaient à ne pas céder à la panique.
L'agence russe de l'énergie atomique a souligné que ses installations dans la région n'avaient pas été touchées par le phénomène, qui a également été observé dans plusieurs régions voisines et au Kazakhstan.
Un précédent célèbre, la "météorite de Tougounska", avait frappé la Sibérie en 1908 : plus probablement un astéroïde ou un noyau de comète dont l'impact avait été ressenti à des centaines de kilomètres, soufflant les arbres dans un rayon d'au moins 20 kilomètres.
Ce précédent a servi de référence pour évoquer les conséquences qu'aurait l'impact sur la surface terrestre de l'astéroïde 2012 DA 14, dont le passage est attendu ce vendredi vers 19H30 GMT à seulement 27.600 kilomètres de la Terre.
Cette masse de 45 mètres et 135.000 tonnes est le plus gros astéroïde jamais détecté à passer aussi près de la Terre, a souligné la Nasa, l'agence spatiale américaine.

© 2013 AFP. Tous droits de reproduction et de représentation réservés.
© La Libre Belgique 2001-2013.
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    Los Angeles Times / February 16, 2013
    Russia scientists call for prevention after space rock blast
    As officials hunt for pieces of the rock, scientists say the event over Chelyabinsk is a warning to implement a monitoring system to better detect celestial objects and avert catastrophes
    • By Sergei L. Loiko, Los Angeles Times
    Взрыв метеорита над Челябинском показал необходимость создания в России системы мониторинга космических угроз, их предупреждения и даже предотвращения, считают ученые. Для этого необходим комплекс мощных наземных телескопов, поскольку имеющаяся на данный момент аппаратура не видит астероиды и метеороиды диаметром менее 100 метров.

MOSCOW - As Russian authorities searched Saturday for remnants of the space object that startled residents of the southern Ural Mountain region a day earlier, scientists called its shock wave a loud warning that they hoped would inspire action to prevent potential catastrophes.
"When a small piece of rock would fall on the Earth 100 years ago, it could have caused minimal damage and would have stayed largely undetected, but Friday's accident fully demonstrated how vulnerable the technological civilization of today has become," Vladimir Lipunov, head of the Space Monitoring Laboratory with Moscow State University, said in an interview.
"It is high time for Russia to start heavily investing in building an advanced space danger monitoring and warning system, and above that, a system capable of destroying such super bombs falling on us from the skies," he said.
The scientist's remarks echoed concern displayed by government officials.
"Today neither Russia nor the United States is capable of shooting down objects from outer space," tweeted Dmitry Rogozin, vice premier in charge of the nation's defense industry.
What NASA described as a "tiny asteroid" wreaked havoc in the densely populated and highly industrialized Chelyabinsk region early Friday, its shock wave resulting in injuries to more than 1,100 people and causing millions of dollars in damage to buildings and disrupted phone and Internet communications.
The massive sonic boom damaged 3,000 houses, 34 hospitals and clinics, and 360 schools, as well as several businesses, officials said. At least three hockey games were canceled because of damage to the local rink. Regional Gov. Mikhail Yurevich told reporters Saturday that damage exceeded $33 million but that 30% of the windows broken by the shock wave had already been replaced. About 20,000 municipal employees, emergency workers and volunteers worked around the clock to fix the windows in a region where the overnight temperature fell to minus-4 degrees.
Police have collected several small pieces of a black rock-like substance believed to be from the space object that broke apart as it exploded over the area, Interfax reported. Divers finished their initial inspection of Chebarkul Lake, about 40 miles west of Chelyabinsk, but found no traces of the object, a big chunk of which was believed to have fallen into the lake, breaking the thick ice.
The Chelyabinsk region has long been one of the most important military industrial regions of Russia, where you "can't drive a mile without passing a defense or a nuclear industry installation," Lipunov said.
"We should be thankful to fate that this meteor, in fact, was a blessing in disguise, and instead of destroying a significant part of Russia with quite dire consequences to the rest of the world, it sent us a clear warning signal by simply blowing up a bunch of windows and lightly injuring over 1,000 people," the scientist said.
Rogozin said that on Monday he would provide Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev with proposals on possible ways to detect space objects approaching Earth and reduce the danger.
Lipunov said his monitoring system of four 15.7-inch telescopes deployed across Russia was able to produce a high-quality two-hour video of the 2012 DA14 asteroid, a much larger space rock that coincidentally passed close to Earth on Friday. But he said his lab could not discern smaller asteroids and meteors, which can also pose a grave risk.
Many Russian experts say that government funding for a monitoring system should be reinstated and that it should be equipped with 59-inch telescopes like those in the United States.
"Americans can, for example, detect a dangerous object and calculate that it can fall somewhere in the Urals, but that doesn't concern them," Alexander Bagrov, a senior researcher with the Astronomy Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Russia-24, a government news television network.
Bagrov spoke in favor of creating an early warning system of satellites monitoring space for signs of approaching danger, but Lipunov countered that a space-based system would be more expensive and could take a decade to install, and even then it would not be as reliable as an Earth-based system equipped with powerful telescopes.
In the meantime, residents of the region relived Friday's momentary panic and congratulated one another for surviving what they termed "the apocalypse."
"I am being bombed from outer space by some superior force," one user posted on his social media account, recalling his immediate reaction.
"It was a fantastic feeling how we were all united by our common [doom], as everybody was sharing with everybody else how scared he was," another user wrote.
"As these people were united in their horror and their panic on Friday in the Chelyabinsk region," said Lipunov, "so the governments of the most developed countries should unite in creating a system of warning and global protection from surprise attack from space."

Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times.
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    Le Figaro / le 19/02/2013
    Des fragments de la météorite russe examinés en détail
    • Par Tristan Vey, Judith Duportail
    Фрагменты небесного тела, обнаруженные учеными Уральского университета на озере Чебаркуль, доказывают, что огненный шар и ударная волна действительно были следствием падения метеорита, и опровергают успевшие расцвести буйным цветом теории заговора и версии про испытания новейшего оружия.

Les scientifiques russes ont trouvé une cinquantaine de morceaux de 1 à 10 mm. Les ingénieurs de la Nasa cherchent quant à eux toujours à déterminer plus précisément la taille du bolide dévastateur.
La boule de feu et l'énorme onde de choc enregistrées vendredi matin au-dessus de Tcheliabinsk, en Russie, n'étaient ni une nouvelle arme testée par les Américains ni une intervention divine, mais bel et bien une météorite. Des scientifiques de l'université de l'Oural en ont retrouvé dimanche des fragments aux environs d'un trou de huit mètres de large découvert vendredi dans le lac gelé de Tchebarkoul, à 70 kilomètres au sud-ouest de la ville ouvrière. Les 53 morceaux de roche brûlée font entre 1 mm et 1 cm de large et attestent de la nature extraterrestre du bolide, selon Viktor Grokhovski, chef de l'expédition et membre de l'Académie des sciences russe.
Il s'agit plus précisément de chondrites, à savoir de la pierre brûlée contenant moins d'un tiers de métal. "C'est le cas de neuf météorites sur dix", rappelle Mathieu Gounelle, cosmochimiste au Muséum d'histoire naturelle. "Ces fragments-ci contiendraient environ 10% de fer selon les premières estimations des scientifiques russes", précise-t-il.
"Il va falloir les ouvrir et procéder à des analyses chimiques plus détaillées pour en savoir un peu plus. Cela devrait prendre quelques jours." En fonction de leur composition, elles seront plus ou moins intéressantes sur le plan scientifique. "Certaines comme les chondrites carbonées sont par exemple des vestiges très instructifs des premiers instants de notre Système solaire", explique le chercheur.
"Pas de modèle fiable pour prévoir la désintégration d'une météorite"
La découverte de ces fragments permet d'ores et déjà de couper court aux diverses théories du complot qui commençaient à fleurir et à se répandre via les médias sociaux russes. Les recherches infructueuses menées samedi au fond du lac perforé avaient alimenté l'incrédulité du public russe qui ne comprenait pas qu'une météorite d'une dizaine de mètres puisse intégralement s'évaporer. "Cela n'aurait pourtant pas été impossible", note Patrick Michel, astrophysicien spécialiste des collisions cosmiques à l'Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur à Nice. "Nous n'avons jamais retrouvé le moindre morceau de la météorite de Toungouska de 1908 qui faisait pourtant entre 30 et 50 mètres", rappelle-t-il. "Il faut bien avoir à l'esprit que nous n'avons aucun modèle physique très fiable pour comprendre ce qui se passe lorsqu'un objet de ce type arrive à toute vitesse dans l'atmosphère."
Il n'est d'ailleurs pas facile de dresser le portrait-robot de la météorite. Les scientifiques de la Nasa ne connaissent aujourd'hui avec précision que sa trajectoire, qui a laissé une traînée visible pendant plusieurs heures sur les satellites météo, et sa vitesse d'entrée faramineuse: 65.000 km/h. Tout le reste n'est que spéculation. La simple détermination de la taille et du poids de l'objet est sujette à discussion.
20 à 40 fois la puissance de la bombe d'Hiroshima
Les scientifiques utilisent pour cela les relevés des sismographes de la région. La désintégration de la météorite à 37 km d'altitude a en effet produit des enregistrements similaires à ceux relevés lors de séismes. "L'analyse de la périodicité des ondes permet d'évaluer empiriquement l'énergie dégagée", explique Patrick Michel. Les estimations varient entre 300 et 600 kilotonnes de TNT, soit plus de 20 à 40 fois la puissance de la bombe d'Hiroshima. Cette donnée permet d'évaluer l'énergie cinétique du bolide, et donc sa masse: entre 7000 et 10.000 tonnes pour la Nasa. Si l'objet est sphérique et en faisant l'hypothèse que sa densité, uniforme, et égale à celle de chondrites classiques, alors on obtient un diamètre de 15 à 17 mètres. "En résumé, tout ce que l'on peut dire, c'est que la météorite faisait vraisemblablement plus de dix mètres", conclut Patrick Michel.
La chute d'un tel objet sur Terre ne se produirait qu'une fois par siècle, selon les spécialistes.
L'objet devrait porter le nom de "météorite de Tchebarkoul" du nom du lac dans lequel repose probablement le fragment principal, selon Viktor Grokhovski. En dépit du trou de huit mètres retrouvé dans la glace, ce "morceau de ciel" ne ferait qu'une dizaine de centimètres de diamètre, selon les simulateurs d'impact disponibles sur Internet. Suffisant pour attirer les convoitises puisqu'une roche aussi symbolique pourrait certainement se vendre plusieurs dizaines de milliers d'euros.

* * *
    The New Indian Express / 25th February 2013
    Chennai doctors, Russian scientists to find cure for heart disease
    Клиника Frontier Lifeline Hospital (Индия), Институт патологии и патофизиологии РАМН и НИИ атеросклероза проведут совместные исследования в области сердечно-сосудистых заболеваний.

It seems that Indians and Russians have more in common than just their love for vodka, and all things made of potatoes. More people die of heart disease and stroke in these two countries, than anywhere else in the world. And researchers in Chennai will now team up with their counterparts in Moscow, to find the killer gene common to both races, in order to find a genetic cure for heart disease. Once a common risk factor for CVD or a common gene is found between Indians and Russians, researchers will try to manipulate it to find an effective way to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
"Heart disease is the biggest killer in India, and the first stage that can be diagnosed is the narrowing of the blood vessels, called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs when deposits of cholesterol get accumulated inside blood vessels, becoming hard deposits of fat and calcium over time, and blocking blood flow," explains Dr Sanjay Cherian, VP, Frontier Lifeline Hospital here. Doctors from Frontier Lifeline will recruit 500 patients in Chennai for the study, to be conducted in the hospitals' research facility Frontier Medville. Simultaneously, Dr Igor A Sobenin, a researcher at the Institute of Pathology and Pathophysiology, Russia and Dr Ekaterina V Chernova, project director for Research at the Institute of Atherosclerosis in Moscow, will study 500 Russian patients.
"In Russia, 56 per cent of the population dies of cardiovascular disease. Like Indians, Russians are also genetically pre-disposed to this problem. The life expectancy of a Russian man today is just 62 years," explained Dr Igor Sobenin, who is visiting Chennai to sign an MoU for collaborative research with FLL. "We will perform ultrasound scans to measure the thickness of the blood vessels in the neck, because ultrasounds are cheap, safe and non-invasive. We will also be collecting blood samples to conduct genetic evaluation of the patients, who may or may not have heart disease," explained Dr Igor.

Copyright © 2012 The New Indian Express. All rights reserved.
* * *
    ScienceInsider / 26 February 2013
    Scandals Envelop Two Russian Science Officials
    • By Vladimir Pokrovsky
    В конце января комиссия сообщила о результатах проверки докторских и кандидатских диссертаций, защищенных в Московском педагогическом госуниверситете. Из 25 случайно выбранных работ 24 содержали поддельные ссылки, еще 80 диссертаций под подозрением. Один из членов комиссии, доктор биологических наук Михаил Гельфанд, считает, что в будущем ВАКу следует добиться максимальной прозрачности процедур оценки диссертационных работ и присуждения ученых степеней.

The recent departure of two senior Russian research officials is putting a spotlight on ethical issues. Earlier this month, Andrei Andriyanov resigned as head of the Kolmogorov Special Educational and Scientific Center (SESC) of Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU), a special high school for budding scientists, after an investigation concluded that he had included fake references in his doctoral thesis. Meanwhile, Russian law enforcement officials have leveled unrelated fraud charges against the head of the government commission that approved Andriyanov's degree, calling renewed attention to allegations that the body was involved in a larger scheme to approve falsified dissertations.
SESC was founded in 1988 to train especially gifted teenagers in a broad range of disciplines, including chemistry, economics, and biology. Andriyanov started his scientific career studying chemistry at SESC and then at MSU. He became an activist in MSU's proadministration and progovernment student association, which later became part of then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Popular Front political movement. Andriyanov eventually wrote a doctoral thesis on student movements in Moscow between 1991 and 2008, and he defended it in 2011 at Moscow State Pedagogical University.
In 2012, MSU Rector Viktor Sadovnichy appointed Andriyanov to lead SESC, prompting protests from the school's alumni. A graduates club of former SESC students appealed to Russia's Higher Attestation Commission (HAC), which approves all advanced degrees, claiming that Andriyanov's thesis included references to nonexistent works. HAC appointed Igor Fedyukin, Russia's deputy minister of science and education, to lead a special panel to investigate the claims. Late last year, MSU's Sadovnichy said that it was up to the panel "to find out if there were violations [of the regulations]. [The thesis] was written and defended outside the university and the university has nothing to do with it. The only thing I know is that Andriyanov has written more than 20 works on the student movement in 10 years. He is a professional."
Earlier this year, the panel issued a report that concluded that Andriyanov's thesis did contain false references and that it was just one example of a broader scheme to produce and gain approval for forged dissertations. The panel examined 25 theses completed at Moscow State Pedagogical University in recent years, including Andriyanov's, and found that 24 contained fake references. "Not only do these guys refer to nonexistent publications, there are multiple references to the same pages for different articles," says biologist Mikhail Gelfand, a member of the panel, which also identified 80 other academic works that seemed suspicious. "The scandal caused a storm of letters about forged theses including Andriyanov's work," Gelfand says.
The Fedyukin panel recommended that Andriyanov be stripped of his degree. He disputed the allegations, but resigned from his post on 4 February, and last week HAC stripped him of his degree (along with 10 other Ph.D.s in whose works it had found fraud).
HAC needs to introduce greater transparency in its evaluation and approval of theses and scientific degrees, Gelfand says, as well as in its appeals process. He suggests that the HAC charter include "a simple and strict rule stating that all appeals are open and HAC must give well-founded answers to every point." HAC's current practice in appeals, he adds, is to investigate and then reply: "No reason was found to retract the dissertation."
HAC is also confronting a criminal scandal with the 7 February arrest of its leader, Felix Shamkhalov, on charges of financial fraud. A corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in the economics section since 2003, Shamkhalov was appointed head of the HAC Academic Council in 2007. He became HAC chair in August 2012.
Shamkhalov soon faced allegations that he was allowing HAC to approve falsified theses and confirm scientific degrees for people with no connection to research. In August 2012, a deputy in the Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, sent an official request to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to investigate Shamkhalov's activities, but no formal charges were filed.
Now, however, Shamkhalov faces fraud charges relating to a loan of about $180 million that Vnesheconombank provided for the construction of housing. Officials allege that the houses were never built, the development company went bankrupt, and the money was never repaid.
Despite the problems at HAC, Gelfand does not think the role of approving degrees should be transferred to another body, such as the Russian Academy of Sciences. "It is not that simple," he says. "If this function is given to the academy, there would be little change, if any. Remember that Shamkhalov is an academy member, elected by his peers, so he could easily head a [degree-awarding] commission there as well. The main point is to achieve transparency in the appeal process. The whole situation that is developing now, when researchers' appeals based on new facts are being considered, is a good example of what must happen always in such a case."

© 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.
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