Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Март 2014 г.
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2014 г.
Российская наука и мир
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    New York Times / March 3, 2014
    Out of Siberian Ice, a Virus Revived
    • Carl Zimmer
    Сотрудники лаборатории криологии почв Института физико-химических и биологических проблем почвоведения (Пущино) Елизавета Ривкина и Любовь Шмакова вместе с французскими коллегами из Марсельского института микробиологии обнаружили в пробах льда возрастом 32 тыс. лет образцы так называемого сибирского питовируса (Pithovirus sibericum), относящегося к роду гигантских вирусов. Как оказалось, вирус полностью сохранил жизнеспособность. Есть опасение, что из-за потепления климата другие подобные микроорганизмы могут попасть из вечной мерзлоты в окружающую среду, и какие будут последствия - пока неизвестно.
    Статья "Thirty-thousand-year-old distant relative of giant icosahedral DNA viruses with a pandoravirus morphology" опубликована в журнале PNAS.

Siberia fills the heads of scientists with dreams of resurrection. For millions of years, its tundra has gradually turned to permafrost, entombing animals and other organisms in ice. Some of their remains are exquisitely well preserved - so well, in fact, that some scientists have nibbled on the meat of woolly mammoths.
Some researchers even hope to find viable mammoth cells that they can use to clone the animals back from extinction. And in 2012, Russian scientists reported coaxing a seed buried in the permafrost for 32,000 years to sprout into a flower.
Now a team of French and Russian researchers has performed a resurrection of a more sinister nature. From Siberian permafrost more than 30,000 years old, they have revived a virus that's new to science.
"To pull out a virus that's 30,000 years old and actually grow it, that's pretty impressive," said Scott O. Rogers of Bowling Green State University who was not involved in the research. "This goes well beyond what anyone else has done."
The thawed virus, which infects amoebae, is not a threat to humans. But if the new study holds up to scrutiny, it raises the possibility that disease-causing viruses may also be lurking in the permafrost.
The new virus was discovered by a group of researchers led by Chantal Abergel and Jean-Michel Claverie, a wife-and-husband team at Aix-Marseille University in France. Dr. Abergel and Dr. Claverie are veteran virus hunters, specializing in finding new species of so-called giant viruses.
Familiar viruses are tiny and have few genes. The influenza virus, for example, has 13 genes and is about 100 nanometers across. But giant viruses, which typically infect amoebae, can be 1,000 times bigger and have more than 2,500 genes.
Researchers at the Russian Academy of Sciences sent Dr. Abergel and Dr. Claverie small pieces of permafrost extracted from a Siberian riverbank in 2000.
To search for giant viruses in the samples, the French researchers added bits of the permafrost to colonies of amoebae to see if any viruses in the permafrost could infect them. The amoebae began to die - a sign that something in the permafrost was killing them. When the scientists examined the colonies, they discovered that giant viruses were multiplying inside the amoebae.
Measuring 1.5 micrometers long, the viruses are 25 percent bigger than any virus previously found. Their oddly long, narrow shape inspired the scientists to call them pithoviruses - "pithos" referring to ancient Greek earthenware jars.
"Sixty percent of its gene content doesn't resemble anything on earth," Dr. Abergel said. She and her colleagues suspect that pithoviruses may be parasitic survivors of life forms that were very common early in the history of life.
The scientists describe the pithoviruses this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Its potential implications for evolutionary theory and health are quite astonishing," said Eske Willerslev, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Copenhagen. Nonetheless, he said he didn't think the scientists had fully ruled out the possibility that their samples had been contaminated with young viruses. "Without it, such claims remain nothing but biological curiosities," Dr. Willerslev said.
Dr. Abergel and Dr. Claverie acknowledged the possibility of contamination. But they noted that they had performed the experiment three times and obtained the same virus from the permafrost each time.
It's even possible that some of those viruses could infect humans instead of amoebae. Dr. Abergel and Dr. Claverie consider it a worrying possibility.
Dr. Rogers considered the risk of an outbreak of resurrected viruses to be "extremely low," pointing out that scientists have been excavating permafrost and ice for decades without any known infections.
"But there's always the first instance, right?" he added.

© 2014 The New York Times Company.

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    Xinhua / 2014-03-04
    New Zealand, Russian scientists studying causes of world's biggest mass extinction
    Российские ученые из Северо-Восточного комплексного научно-исследовательского института ДВО РАН посетили новозеландский Королевский исследовательский институт, где хранится лучшая в Южном полушарии коллекция окаменелых двустворчатых моллюсков, вымерших на границе пермского и триасового периодов 252 млн лет назад (так называемое «пермское вымирание»). Исследователи собираются подробно изучить новозеландские образцы и сравнить их с российскими.

WELLINGTON, March 4 (Xinhua) - Russian and New Zealand scientists are working together to find the cause of the Earth's biggest ever mass extinction, which wiped out 96 percent of marine species and 70 percent inland animals in an unknown event 252 million years ago.
Two scientists from the Far East branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences had arrived in New Zealand to study what is claimed to be the Southern Hemisphere's best collection of fossilized bivalves clams and mussels for clues to the cause of the Permian-Triassic extinction event, New Zealand's Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS Science) said Tuesday.
Bivalve molluscs rose to prominence as a hugely successful group of marine organisms in the Permian era, and limestone formations in the South Island up to 500 meters thick were comprised almost entirely of shell remains of mussels known as Atomodesma, said a statement from GNS Science.
The Russian scientists would compare the New Zealand fossils with Russian collections found in similar Permian limestone formations.
"What's amazing is that we have many genera in common with Russia, which underlines the fact that they were a dominant bipolar group of clams in the Permian era," GNS senior paleontologist Hamish Campbell said in the statement.
Distinctive Permian bivalves, including Atomodesma, became extinct in the Permian-Triassic extinction event, but the cause of the mass extinction remained uncertain.
Scientists had been exploring the possibility of a volcanic event, but lacked convincing evidence.
An extra-terrestrial cause seemed more probable, but a meteorite appeared unlikely and a comet strike was difficult to prove.
The Russian scientists would collect New Zealand Permian rocks and fossils to take back to Russia for comparative research and further collaboration.

© 2013 Xinhua, english.news.cn. All rights reserved.

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    Space Daily / Mar 03, 2014
    Russia to Build Equipment for European Jupiter Probe
    В Московском физико-техническом институте создадут терагерцовый гетеродинный детектор для изучения свойств атмосферы Юпитера и состава океанов его спутников. Прибор войдет в состав миссии JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer) Европейского космического агентства и станет первым российским научным прибором, который отправится к планетам-гигантам.

Russian scientists will construct equipment for a European Space Agency probe to Jupiter, the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology said Wednesday.
Along with observing the solar system's largest planet, the Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer is to visit three of the four Jovian moons discovered by Galileo: Callisto, Ganymede and Europa.
The spacecraft is planned to carry 11 scientific instruments, one of which will include a radiation detector built by Russia.
The detector would be the first Russian device to visit the outer solar system and will help scientists characterize wind patterns on Jupiter as well as analyze gases escaping from Europa.
According to the institute, the head of the Russian effort, Alexander Rodin, said that German scientists approached their Russian counterparts to develop equipment necessary to detect and analyze tetrahertz-band radiation.
Such a detector would be sensitive enough to observe volatile compounds as they leak out of cracks in the ice covering Europa, possibly revealing details about the water oceans that most planetary scientists believe exist beneath the moon's surface.
In January, the head of the ESA told reporters that further cooperation with Russia could follow last year's agreement to jointly develop the ExoMars mission to search for signs of life on the Red Planet.
The mission would be the third in the history of spaceflight to orbit the solar system's largest planet and is scheduled for launch in 2022.
It will arrive at the gas giant after a voyage of eight years.

Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network.

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    Maxisciences / le 06 mars 2014
    Des chercheurs autopsient un bison mort il y a 9 000 ans
    • Par Morgane Henry
    Группа ученых впервые в мире препарировала тушу бизона, обитавшего на территории Якутии 9 тысяч лет назад. Это первый экземпляр бизона такой хорошей сохранности, что позволило исследователям подробно описать внутренние органы животного и взять пробы для различных анализов.
    В операции принимали участие палеонтологи Академии наук Якутии, сотрудники Института геологии алмаза и благородных металлов СО РАН, Якутского НИИ сельского хозяйства, Якутской сельхозакадемии, Объединенного музея истории и культуры народов Севера имени Ем.Ярославского, Палеонтологического института РАН (Москва), а также Центра мамонтовых исследований (Хот Спрингс, США).

Une équipe de scientifiques a réalisé une autopsie complète d'un bison, vieux de 9.000 ans. Découvert en 2011 dans une région de la Russie où plusieurs mammouths ont été découverts, les organes de l'animal ont été retirés avant qu'il ne subisse des tests génétiques et microbiologiques.
Il est peut-être vieux de 9.000 ans, mais ce bison aurait aussi très bien pu mourir il y a juste quelques semaines. Découvert en 2011 dans une région très isolée de la Russie, cet ancien animal subit désormais une autopsie en règle. Grâce à cet examen poussé, les scientifiques espèrent en savoir un peu plus sur l'extinction de certaines espèces de bisons, il y a des milliers d'années.
L'autopsie de l'animal est également une première mondiale : c'est la première fois au monde qu'une telle opération est réalisée sur un bison aussi vieux. Cela pourrait ainsi permettre aux chercheurs de rechercher des parasites qui auraient pu infester les animaux de cette espèce.
Un vieux bison préservé
Le bison a été découvert en parfait état de conservation en juillet 2011, sur les rives d'un lac de la République de Sakha, aussi connue sous le nom de Yakoutie. C'est également dans cette région que des restes de mammouths ont été auparavant découverts.
Après un effondrement de la rive dans l'eau, les chercheurs ont rapidement aperçu le corps du bison. "Cette découverte est exceptionnelle pour les scientifiques puisque c'est le bison le mieux conservé jamais retrouvé", s'enthousiasme Albert Protopopov, chef du Mammoth Fauna Research Department à l'Académie des Sciences de Yakoutie.
"Nous avons estimé que le bison avait vécu il y a 9.000 ans, au tout début de l'Holocène et qu'il était mort âgé d'environ quatre ans. À cette époque, de nombreux mammouths étaient morts dans la région, mais le bison était toujours vivant", explique Albert Protopopov au Siberian Times. Le bison aurait donc vécu à cette période où la Terre commençait à se réchauffer, transformant la toundra en forêt.
Les très grands animaux adaptés au froid extrême s'étaient déjà éteints alors que les hommes commençaient à chasser des petits animaux. Appartenant probablement à l'espèce du bison priscus, celui-ci aurait vécu en Europe, en Asie centrale et en Amérique du Nord avant de s'éteindre pour une raison inconnue.
Une autopsie complète
Les chercheurs de différentes institutions russes et américaines, notamment l'Académie des Sciences de Yakoutie, l'Académie des Sciences de Russie et le Centre de Recherche sur les Mammouths, ont réalisé une autopsie complète du bison découvert. Ils ont ainsi retiré et décrit chaque organe tout en effectuant des tests génétiques et microbiologiques et des recherches de parasites.
"L'examen prudent et rigoureux que nous avons commencé devrait nous apporter des réponses à nos nombreuses questions, notamment pourquoi ces bisons ont disparu", détaille le chercheur, repris par le DailyMail. Cet examen minutieux a été mené par Innokenty Pavlov, un taxidermiste du Joint Museum of History and Culture of the Peoples of the North, assisté par des chercheurs américains et russes.
En effet, depuis un certain temps déjà, les Américains sont habitués à l'étude des bisons ayant vécu au Nord du pays, où ils étaient assez nombreux. Ils espèrent ainsi pouvoir comparer les animaux d'Amérique du Nord et leurs congénères de Yakoutie.
Pourquoi une telle extinction ?
Grâce à cette autopsie, les chercheurs envisagent de créer la carte d'anciens pâturages en étudiant les restes de nourriture présents dans les différentes organes digestifs du bison. "C'est la toute première étude d'un ancien mammifère depuis au moins 20 ans. Nous avons une équipe d'experts de différents horizons. Tous les organes internes seront prélevés et pesés. N'importe quelle étude de la morphologie est liée à l'étude de l'adaptation de l'animal à son environnement", précise Yevgeny Maschenko, chercheur au Mammals Laboratory.
"Dans ce cas, l'étude de l'écologie de l'époque serait très intéressante", ajoute t-il. Selon lui, les échantillons de l'anatomie microscopique des cellules et des tissus seront les plus intéressants. En effet, ils représenteront le premier outil grâce auquel les scientifiques pourront étudier les parasites de l'ancien bison.
"Ils n'ont peut-être pas été préservés, mais nous devrions trouver leur ADN et des traces de leur activité. Grâce aux tests biochimiques et en les comparant à ceux pratiqués sur des vers vivants, nous devrions découvrir quels parasites vivaient il y a 9.000 ans", détaille-t-il.

Copyright © Gentside Découverte.

* * *

    BarentsObserver / March 12, 2014
    Snow crabs have found niche in Barents Sea ecosystem
    • By Trude Pettersen
    С 2004 г. российские и норвежские ученые проводят мониторинг популяции снежного краба в Баренцевом море. Первые несколько представителей были обнаружены там в 1996 г. (до сих пор непонятно, каким путем они туда попали), и с тех пор популяция разрослась настолько, что уже позволяет вести промысел. При этом снежный краб не стал конкурентом другим видам, а нашел собственную нишу в экосистеме.

TROMSØ: Since the first five specimens of snow crab were found in the Barents Sea in 1996, the population has exploded. There is now ten times as much snow crab than king crab in the area, and scientists are just starting to find out how this new species has adopted to life in the Barents Sea.
Norwegian and Russian scientists have been monitoring the population of snow crab in the Barents Sea since 2004. They have found that the snow crab is no competitor to the king crab.
"It seems like the snow crab has occupied a niche in the ecosystem where there probably used to be several different species," says Jan Henry Sundet, Senior Researcher at the Institute of Marine Research.
During the latest resource mission to the Barents Sea in 2013-2014, the scientists found large amounts of young crabs, which implies that the recruitment to the population is very good.
Uncertain origin
The first crabs in the Barents Sea were found on the Goose Bank west of Novaya Zemlya in 1996. The scientists are not sure where the crabs come from - they can have migrated here naturally, or they can have been brought here in ballast water.
The original native areas for the snow crab are the Bering Strait and the coasts of eastern Canada and western Greenland. Russian scientists have found crabs in the Chukchi Sea, Eastern Siberian Sea, Laptev Sea and Kara Sea.
Scientists have compared DNA from the snow crab in the Barents Sea with snow crabs from Canada and Greenland and concluded that they do not come from that area. There has not yet been made any comparison between crabs from the Barents Sea and the Bering Strait, but the scientist says it's "probable, but not certain," that they come from there.
"The snow crab shows a classical development of an alien, invasive species", Sundet says. "After the first specimens have been found, you have a long period where very little is happening and then you get an explosion in the population". In the Barents Sea the explosion in the population came in 2012.
Occupying a new niche in the ecosystem
The growth in the population of snow crab is enormous and will probably be an important part of the ecosystem in the Barents Sea. "Based on the experience we have form the king crab, we know that the snow crab can have a large impact on the bottom fauna. We hope to get more research on this field during this year's missions", Sundet says.
The snow crab is a much more Arctic species than the king crab. They prefer much colder waters and have not spread to the southern parts of the Barents Sea where the king crabs have settled.
The scientists have found that the crabs have a very varied diet - they eat clams, worms and other smaller animals and plants found on the sea bottom. Another thing the snow crab seems to been craving is garbage. In 20 percent of the examined crabs the scientists found plastic. "This tells something about the enormous problem littering of the oceans is".
The scientists have also found that the snow crab does not compete about food with fish in the same way as the king crab does. The king crab also feeds on capelin roe and lumpfish roe, something the snow crab does not seem to be doing. "On the contrary, the snow crab is actually food for cod", Sundet says.
Huge commercial potential
The snow crab poses a hug commercial potential, which Norway and Russia are just about to start exploring.
"We who live by the Barents Sea are very lucky that the alien, invasive species that have settled here are of the valuable sort", says Konstantin Sokolov of the Russian research institute PINRO. "Other places, like for example the Black Sea, have had invasions of species like jellyfish". "And if we see that the population of crabs becomes too large, we have the possibility to increase fishing to bring it down," Sokolov says.
There is already a market for snow crab in the world. Both in Canada and Alaska the snow crab is regarded as a valuable resource. Canada last year caught more than 100,000 tons of crab.
The snow crab is such a new species that no regulations of commercial fishing have yet been established, neither in Russian nor in Norwegian waters. In 2013 a few vessels started fishing snow crab in the international waters of the Barents Sea. The Norwegian vessel "Arctic Wolf" caught 60 tons of crab during two trips in April 2012, Kyst og Fjord reported.
According to Konstantin Sokolov, Russia plans to open up for snow crab fishing in Russian Economic Zone in 2014.

© 2012 BarentsObserver.

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    io9 / 3/14/14
    Russian scientists: We have a "high chance" of cloning a wooly mammoth
    • George Dvorsky
    Российские ученые считают, что с имеющимся ископаемым материалом шансы клонировать мамонта довольно высоки. Вопрос в том, надо ли вообще это делать.

An exquisitely preserved wooly mammoth is currently undergoing an autopsy in Siberia. Some experts believe they'll be able to extract high quality DNA and cells from the remains which could conceivably be used to clone the extinct mammal. The question now is, should we?
Back in May of last year, Russian scientists discovered the remains of the mammoth partially embedded in a chunk of ice at an excavation site on Lyakhovsky Island, the southernmost group of the New Siberian Islands in the Arctic seas of northeastern Russia.
The samples were so amazingly well-preserved that fresh flowing blood was found within muscle tissue. Now, some 10 months later, an international team of biologists are conducting a thorough autopsy in Yakutsk, capital of the Sakha Republic (also called Yakutia). The team is comprised of scientists from Russia, the UK, the USA, Denmark, South Korea, and Moldova.
An Incredible Find
As reported by the Siberian Times, the scientists have dissected the mammoth, revealing 43,000-year-old soft tissue that's better preserved than those of a human buried for six months.
Viktoria Egorova, chief of the Research and Clinical Diagnostic Laboratory of the Medical Clinic of North-Eastern Federal University, told Siberian Times that:
The tissue cut clearly shows blood vessels with strong walls. Inside the vessels there is haemolysed blood, where for the first time we have found erythrocytes. Muscle and adipose tissues are well preserved. We have also obtained very well visualised migrating cells of the lymphoid tissue, which is another great discovery. The upper part of the carcass has been eaten by animals, yet the lower part with the legs and, astonishingly, the trunk are very well preserved.
We also have the mammoth's liver - very well preserved, too, and looks like with some solid fragments inside it. We haven't managed to study them yet, but the first suggestion is that possibly these are kidney stones. Another discovery was intestines with remains of the vegetation the mammoth ate before its death, and a multi-chambered stomach what we've been working with today, collecting tissue samples. There is a lot more material that will have to go through laboratory research.

A full report is expected in several months.
Radik Khayrullin, the vice-president of the Russian Association of Medical Anthropologists, was quoted as saying "The data we are about to receive will give us a high chance to clone the mammoth," adding that "we must have a reason to do this, as it is one thing to clone it for scientific purpose, and another to clone for the sake of curiosity."
How to Clone a Mammoth
Despite the optimistic words, the scientists have yet to uncover the most critical element to cloning: actual living cells. If they can find some - and that's still a big if at this point - they'd have to inscribe them with the mammoth's genome. And indeed, the biologists are currently searching for the least damaged snippets of DNA, and most especially nuclear DNA, to create a "working" wooly mammoth genome.
Assuming both these elements can be found, molecular biologists could begin the arduous task of of trying to culture germ cells from a wooly mammoth. Once this is done, they would begin to manipulate the genetic code in a kind of "cut-and-paste" process, replacing segments of elephant DNA with synthesized segments of wooly mammoth DNA until the cell's genome matches the working mammoth genome. They'd likely use George Church's MAGE (Multiplex Automated Genome Engineering) technique to do it. This would likely be a protracted process given that the evolutionary path of wooly mammoths and elephants diverged a long time ago.
Following that, the next step would involve a relatively well-established process. Scientists would splice these living cells into an elephant embryo, thus creating a chimera. A female elephant would be implanted with the resulting embryo, eventually giving birth to a veritable wooly mammoth.
It's worth noting that failure to find a living cell would not necessarily be a deal breaker. Eventually, biotechnologists may be able to create such cells from artificial DNA - but that could be decades off.
Sure, But Should We Do It?
This is not an easy question to answer as there are many factors to consider.
There's no doubt that the scientific insights gleaned from such a project would be tremendous. It's already offering scientists the opportunity to completely decode the DNA of the mammoth and decipher its DNA, which packs a lot of information.
Assuming we could clone a wooly mammoth (or any extinct animal for that matter), the process would not only help us refine our cloning and reproductive technologies, it would offer us an unprecedented glimpse into the finer workings of an animal that's been extinct for 10,000 years - both from a genomic and morphological perspective. We would be able to study a living, breathing wooly mammoth. Scientists could study how it develops and how its behavior might differ from that of extant elephants.
That said, a cloned wooly mammoth would (1) not be "socialized" in the same way its ancestors were, and (2) it would not physically (and even epigenetically) develop the same way it ancestors did given its likely environment - a laboratory setting.
As for the whole de-extinction idea, I'm quite skeptical. Most, if not all extinct animals, are gone for a reason. Many predators have been hunted to extinction, a problem still faced by today's dwindling number of large carnivores. But in most cases, now-extinct animals were victims of habitat loss - a severe problem that's confronting many of today's extant animals. Given that wooly mammoths were ice age creatures, would there even be a natural home for them in this era of global warming?
Futurist Steward Brand disagrees with this sentiment, arguing that:
We protect endangered species, conservationists retort (and most of the public agrees), in order to preserve the richest biodiversity we can, to retain creatures that have important ecological roles, or that people love, or as emblems to protect whole endangered ecosystems. We protect them to learn the science to protect them better. We protect them to undo harm that humans have caused.
But according to population biologist Paul Ehrlich, this would be a tremendous waste of resources - and with little payoff:
It is much more sensible to put all the limited resources for science and conservation into preventing extinctions, by tackling the causes of demise: habitat destruction, climate disruption, pollution, overharvesting, and so on. Spending millions of dollars trying to de-extinct a few species will not compensate for the thousands of populations and species that have been lost due to human activities, to say nothing of restoring the natural functions of their former habitats.
Lastly, there's the plight of the individual animal itself. A cloned wooly mammoth would not only be a scientific curiosity, it would be a cultural one as well. It would be poked, prodded, and gawked at for its entire existence. Its quality of life could not be assured.
Be sure to read the entire account of the mammoth autopsy in Siberian Times.

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    University World News / 19 March 2014
    Vladimir Putin continues sweeping science reforms
    • Eugene Vorotnikov
    В пакет мер, призванных улучшить состояние высшего образования и науки, входят новая система грантов, увеличение финансирования и зарплат ученых, а также определение приоритетных направлений исследований и географическая диверсификация науки с целью обеспечить ее развитие во всех регионах страны.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has finally approved a package of measures aimed at improving the national higher education and science system. Among them are introducing a new competitive research grants system, and boosting funding and researcher salaries.
The measures were proposed recently by the Presidential Council for Science and Education.
According to the Kremlin press service, one of the main measures to be implemented will be ending the current practice of funding fundamental and exploratory research - conducted in both universities and research institutes - from the federal budget.
Instead, a grant scheme will be created. According to the government, this will significantly reduce the bureaucratic burden on scientists and science organisations.
It is planned that the grants will be disbursed by specially established endowment funds, after consideration of applications by the Presidential Council for Science and Education and other state commissions in the field of science. There is a possibility that some of the funds will be set up within the structures of Russia's leading universities.
Part of the funding for developing fundamental science will be from the Russian Scientific Fund, with the budget estimated to be RUB48 billion (US$1.5 billion). Funding of the existing Russian Fund for Basic Research and Russian Humanitarian Scientific Foundation will be trebled by 2020.
Struggle to shift to innovation
Andrei Fursenko, assistant to the president and former minister of education and science, will be in charge of implementing the plans. He said that despite considerable efforts, Russia had been unable to shift to an innovation economy.
"There is still a gap between science and the economy, which resulted in weak impact of scientific and technological developments on the socio-economic development of the country, which in turn led to a drop in interest in science among business and the public."
Fursenko said that the government had actually invested too much money from the federal budget, not only in basic science but also in research and development activities.
"The achieved results were inadequate to the invested efforts and funds, which means that there is a need to design new ways and schemes for funding Russian science and the national system of higher education."
Putin has also ordered the government, together with the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Russian Rectors' Union, to improve the mechanism for setting priorities for basic research, taking into account Russia's competitive advantages in various scientific fields and in accordance with issues of national security.
It is proposed that the priorities be approved by the Presidential Council for Science.
According to Fursenko, there are plans to set three priority directions for the development of fundamental research in Russian universities and the national Academy of Sciences, among which are expected to be nuclear energy, space and plasma physics.
All researchers will be expected to play a key role in Russia's economic development, creating new competitive products and knowledge in areas such as high-quality medicine, construction, communication, healthy food and preserving the environment.
Another priority will be acceleration of research and development activities in the field of national security.
Russian science will become more geographically diversified, to ensure its development in all regions of the country and not only Moscow and St Petersburg. Fursenko believes that the concentration of science in two cities is unacceptable - and even dangerous - for the country.
Among other new measures are simplification of the procedures for setting state targets in scientific fields, an increase in the salaries of certain categories of university professors and scientists who achieve good results, and more support for Russian academic journals.
Regarding talented young scientists, there are also plans to create additional jobs that will be offered after graduation with salaries comparable to those in Western countries.
The proposals also state that the heads of Russia's universities and scientific organisations should not be older than 65 years.
According to a representative of the Ministry of Education and Science, the current average age of leaders is rather high, and because of this, career development has been difficult. However, the government believes that imposing age restrictions should take place gradually.

Copyright University World News 2007-2012.

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    Pour la Science / 26/03/2014
    Yakov Sinaï, prix Abel 2014
    Le prix Abel, qui est avec la médaille Fields l'une des plus prestigieuses récompenses dans le domaine des mathématiques, a été attribué cette année au mathématicien russe Yakov Sinaï.
    • Sean Bailly
    Российский математик Яков Григорьевич Синай стал лауреатом Абелевской премии - аналога Нобелевской премии для математиков - за фундаментальный вклад в изучение динамических систем, эргодическую теорию и математическую физику.
    Одна из самых престижных наград в области математики, Абелевская премия учреждена правительством Норвегии в 2002 г. в честь 200-летия со дня рождения выдающегося норвежского математика Нильса Хенрика Абеля (1802-1829) и призвана отмечать заслуги выдающихся математиков, а также популяризировать науку, в том числе среди молодежи.

Le prix Abel est un prix annuel pour les mathématiques créé par l'Académie norvégienne des sciences et des lettres. Le premier a été attribué en 2003 au Français Jean-Pierre Serre. L'année dernière, en 2013, ce prix récompensait le mathématicien belge Pierre Deligne. La cuvée 2014 vient d'être annoncée (le 26 mars) : il s'agit de Yakov G. Sinaï, mathématicien russe travaillant à l'Université de Princeton, aux États-Unis, et à l'Institut Landau de physique théorique de l'Académie russe des sciences. Il est récompensé pour ses « contributions fondamentales » à la théorie des systèmes dynamiques, à la théorie ergodique et à la physique mathématique.
Le comité Abel souligne que « ses travaux ont eu et continuent d'avoir une vaste portée et un profond retentissement sur les mathématiques et la physique, ainsi que sur l'interaction toujours fructueuse de ces deux domaines ».
En effet, de nombreux résultats en mathématiques ayant des applications en physique portent son nom : l'entropie de Kolmogorov-Sinaï, le billard de Sinaï, les marches aléatoires de Sinaï, les mesures de Sinaï-Ruelle-Bowen ou encore la théorie de Pirogov-Sinaï.
Y. Sinaï est ainsi considéré comme le principal architecte des ponts entre les systèmes dynamiques, entre les systèmes déterministes d'une part et les systèmes probabilistes d'autre part. Un système dynamique désigne simplement un système qui évolue au cours du temps selon certaines règles. Il est considéré comme déterministe quand la connaissance des conditions du système à un instant donné et les lois qui le régissent suffisent, mathématiquement, pour calculer comment il va évoluer. Si des phénomènes ou des lois de nature aléatoire interviennent, on a alors un système probabiliste ou stochastique, tel un dé qu'on lance sans pouvoir prévoir le résultat, si ce n'est par le calcul des probabilités associées à chaque face du dé. Les systèmes dynamiques déterministes peuvent être imprévisibles en pratique, quand leur évolution temporelle est très sensible aux conditions initiales ; ils sont dits chaotiques. Y. Sinaï s'est beaucoup intéressé aux liens qui existent entre ces différents systèmes, comment il est possible de trouver des comportements chaotiques dans des systèmes déterministes et comment, inversement, l'analyse statistique permet de faire des prévisions précises dans les systèmes chaotiques.
La physique, la météorologie, le mouvement des courants océaniques ou des planètes, les cycles physiologiques, la dynamique des populations, etc. : on trouve dans les différentes sciences une multitude d'exemples de systèmes dynamiques. Une question qui s'est posée à la fin des années 1950 était, compte tenu de la diversité des situations, si l'on pouvait définir des similarités entre les systèmes dynamiques, des grandeurs qui caractérisent tous ces systèmes. Y. Sinaï s'y est intéressé et a développé le concept d'entropie des systèmes dynamiques. Il a ainsi généralisé une notion proposée en 1948 par Claude Shannon, qui a définit la notion d'entropie en théorie de l'information. Cette grandeur permet de quantifier la densité d'information que contient un message. En effet, un message peut être plus ou moins long et transmettre exactement la même information.
Concrètement, cela signifie que dans la version courte, chaque caractère du message porte une grande part d'information et, inversement pour le message long, chaque caractère apporte peu d'information. Si l'on essaye de prévoir quel va être le prochain caractère d'un message, la prévision est plus difficile dans un message dense en information. L'entropie est considérée élevée quand la densité d'information est grande. Y. Sinaï a repris cette idée pour évaluer l'imprévisibilité d'un système dynamique.
Dans un système physique, il est possible, en général, d'avoir une bonne estimation de son évolution à court terme. Mais à plus longue échéance, cela devient plus complexe, comme c'est le cas pour les prévisions météorologiques. Y. Sinaï a quantifié la complexité d'un système dynamique avec l'entropie de Kolmogorov-Sinaï. De façon similaire à l'entropie de Shannon, l'entropie définie par Y. Sinaï mesure la difficulté qu'il y a à calculer l'évolution d'un système dynamique. Cette grandeur a permis de progresser dans la classification des systèmes dynamiques.
Dans les systèmes présentant du chaos déterministe, l'évolution est décrite par des lois bien connues, mais elle est très sensible aux conditions initiales. Ainsi, deux systèmes identiques mais dont les conditions initiales sont légèrement différentes ont, passé un certain temps, des évolutions très différentes. Y. Sinaï a, par exemple, étudié ces systèmes avec le billard qui porte son nom. Il s'agit d'un billard carré dont le centre est occupé par un disque. Une bille de masse négligeable est lancée dans le billard et rebondit contre les parois du carré et du disque comme le ferait une vraie boule de billard. Y. Sinaï a développé ce modèle pour étudier la dynamique des gaz, où les molécules sont représentées par des petites billes qui entrent fréquemment en collision. Il a montré que ce système est chaotique car la différence des conditions initiales conduit à une déviation de la trajectoire qui augmente de façon exponentielle avec le temps (dans le cas d'un billard normal, la divergence est proportionnelle au temps écoulé).
Y. Sinaï, âgé aujourd'hui de 78 ans, a eu un rôle important dans bien d'autres domaines à la frontière entre les mathématiques et la physique. Il a aussi exercé une grande influence sur les chercheurs qui l'ont côtoyé, notamment ses doctorants, dont il a formé plus d'une cinquantaine au cours de sa carrière.

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    bulletins-electroniques.com / 28/03/2014
    La science russe entre dans l'ère du crowdfunding
    О роли краудфандинга ('народного финансирования') в научных исследованиях - на примере проекта Aquatilis Expedition, научно-популярной экспедиции с целью поиска, изучения и съёмки необычных планктонных организмов Мирового океана, организованной сотрудником МГУ, морским биологом Александром Семёновым.

La communauté scientifique russe est entrée dans l'ère du crowdfunding. Si certains chercheurs occidentaux ont déjà recours à la finance participative, cette pratique de financement, pourtant courante en Russie dans le domaine de l'innovation et des IT, est entièrement nouvelle dans le monde académique.
Pour son nouveau programme de recherche sur la vie marine appelé "Aquatilis", le professeur Alexander Semenov a décidé de recourir au crowdfunding. Alexander Semenov est un chercheur chevronné qui travaille depuis 7 ans à la station biologique de la mer Blanche, qui dépend de l'Université d'Etat de Moscou, l'une des meilleurs du pays. Il s'est également fait connaître auprès du grand public pour ses collaborations régulières avec le magazine National Geographic, la BBC et la chaine de télévision spécialisée Discovery. Pour son nouveau projet, A. Semenov s'est entouré d'Elizabeth Ierchova, doctorante à l'Institut d'océanologie de l'Académie des sciences de Russie, qui a déjà participé à cinq expéditions et dont le terrain scientifique est plutôt l'Alaska et de la zoologue Tatiana Anokhina, qui participe à des expéditions scientifiques depuis 2003, et qui a travaillé sur la mer des Tchouktches, au nord du détroit de Béring, la mer de Barents ainsi que les eaux côtières du Vietnam.
L'objectif d'Aquatilis est d'élargir notre connaissance sur le plancton océanique. Elle devrait débuter en 2015 en Méditerranée, pour se poursuivre vers d'autres horizons. L'expédition sera divisée en plusieurs missions de 2 à 5 mois chacune. D'ici là, l'équipe prépara son bateau et l'équipement, notamment un robot sous-marin. Le coût total de leur projet avoisine les 120 millions de roubles soit quelques 2,5 millions d'euros. Aucune des grandes agences publiques de financements de la recherche en Russie ne proposent de telles enveloppes budgétaires. Le professeur Alexander Semenov et son équipe se sont donc tournés vers des financements alternatifs et innovants.
Le professeur Semenov, qui se compare volontiers au commandant Cousteau, vend son expédition auprès de ses potentiels contributeurs financiers, comme un moyen de faire découvrir au monde entier les fonds sous-marins. A la manière du pasha de la Calypso, le chef de l'expédition Aquatilis sait utiliser les nouvelles technologies pour explorer et faire connaître les océans et s'adapter aux pratiques de communication de son temps pour financer ses aventures scientifiques.

bulletins-electroniques.com tous droits réservés.

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