Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Февраль 2015 г.
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Февраль
2015 г.
Российская наука и мир
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    bulletins-electroniques / 2/02/2015
    L'année scientifique en Russie
    Самые заметные события российской науки в 2014 году.

Une fin de l'année est toujours propice au bilan. Le journal "Niezavissimaya gazeta" (NG) a publié une chronologie des évènements scientifiques importants de l'Académie des sciences de Russie (RAN) en 2014. Au-delà des conférences internationales organisées en Russie, comme le COSPAR ou ICAS, et des récompenses les plus prestigieuses reçues par les chercheurs russes, notamment le prix Abel au mathématicien Yakov Sinaï, NG revient sur les réalisations les plus significatives de l'année écoulée des organismes relevant de la tutelle de la RAN, de son point de vue.
Les voici, par ordre chronologique :
- Une équipe de l'Observatoire d'astrophysique de la branche d'Extrême-Orient découvre un astéroïde. Cet observatoire, situé à Oussouriisk dans la région de Vladivostok, est le plus grand de cette partie de Russie.
- Des chercheurs de l'Institut de géographie, ont découvert des glaciers sur la côte du lac Baïkal, recouvrant entre 130 et 60 milles mètres carrés et dont l'âge est estimé à 4 ou 5 milles ans.
- Des scientifiques de la Branche ouralienne de la RAN ont modélisé le cœur humain, qui permettrait ainsi de perfectionner diagnostic et traitement des pathologies cardiaques. Ce système aiderait par exemple à déterminer comment stimuler le cœur. Cette modélisation mathématique se base sur la géométrie fonctionnelle de ce muscle vital. Le projet a été réalisé en collaboration avec les universités d'Oxford et de Gand.
- Les collaborateurs de l'Institut Budker de physique nucléaire ont terminé leurs travaux sur le booster du synchrotron. La création du synchrotron d'un périmètre de 158 mètres est très attendue parmi de très nombreuses communautés de chercheurs, notamment en physique, biologie, médecine ou chimie.
- Les chercheurs de l'université fédérale de Kazan en collaboration avec des scientifiques de l'Observatoire spécial d'astrophysique ont créé un télescope robotique multicanal, capable de détecter les phénomènes astrophysiques ultrarapides et les objets non stationnaires.
A noter également que la bibliothèque de l'Académie des sciences de Russie a fêté en 2014 ses 300 ans, tout comme le Cabinet de curiosité créé par Pierre 1er à Saint-Pétersbourg, plus ancien musée du pays et aujourd'hui musée d'anthropologie de d'ethnologie de la RAN.
Du côté des grandes instruments de recherche, on relèvera principalement l'invitation de la Russie à rejoindre le projet d'interféromètre SKA, réseau d'une surface collectrice d'un kilomètre carré, qui sera installé en Australie et Afrique du Sud et qui opèrera dans une gamme de longue d'ondes de 3 cm à 4 m et qui est présenté comme l'instrument d'observation radioastronomique le plus performant.
L'année écoulée a souligné la place de choix qu'occupe la branche sibérienne de la RAN dans le paysage scientifique russe, tant pour le référence dans les grandes bases de citation internationale des périodiques scientifiques qu'elle édite que pour son portail d'informations, l'un des plus visités du pays.
Coup de projecteur sur la Sibérie
A cet égard, la communauté scientifique de Sibérie s'est aussi organisée pour attirer l'attention sur les découvertes et grands évènements qui ont rythmé l'année passée dans cette grande région scientifique de Russie. La Sibérie peut compter sur au moins trois grands foyers de production scientifique : Novossibirsk, Krasnoïarsk et Tomsk. Les réalisations de 2014 mises en avant prennent des formes très diverses et portent sur un grand nombre de sujets et disciplines. Toutefois on notera la forte représentation de la médecine et les sciences de la vie, qui figurent aujourd'hui en première ligne dans la politique scientifique du gouvernement. Le BE Russie vous propose de revenir sur ces réussites scientifiques par domaines.
Médecine et biologie
L'Institut de biologie chimique et de médecine fondamentale (ICBFM), situé à Akademgorodok à Novossibirsk, est très souvent cité dans les réalisations de l'année 2014. Cet institut fait partie des protagonistes du pays dans son domaine. Il collabore d'ailleurs étroitement avec la France depuis de très nombreuses années.
L'ICBFM a reçu cette année un important financement du Fonds russe pour la science, la nouvelle et principale agence de moyens du pays, pour mener des recherches sur un système de réparation de l'ADN de l'homme et d'autres mammifères. Un tel système permettrait de lutter efficacement contre le cancer. Plus précisément, le but de ce projet est de comparer le système de réparation de l'ADN chez le rat et chez l'homme. Les processus sont proches par certains aspects, comme l'action des enzymes, et probablement éloigné dans le rôle des protéines.
L'ICBFM collabore aussi avec l'Institut de biophysique de Krasnoïarsk (IBP). Les équipes de ces deux institutions ont conjointement présenté un système de diagnostic rapide de l'encéphalite à tiques. En seulement vingt minutes, il est possible de mettre en évidence le virus, ce qui prenait avant jusqu'à trois jours. L'encéphalite à tiques est un problème de santé publique majeur en Sibérie. Elle sévit particulièrement du printemps jusqu'à l'automne et son virus peut entrainer des conséquences fatales sur la santé du patient. Ce système permet également de détecter d'autres maladies vectorielles transmises par les tiques, comme la maladie de Lyme. Un brevet est en cours de dépôt.
Parmi les autres projets, on compte des recherches cliniques en coopération avec des organismes médicaux de Novossibirsk pour tester des traitements sur la base de bactériophages ou encore un projet issu d'une coopération avec l'Institut des pathologies de la circulation sanguine sur la création de prothèses pouvant remplacer des vaisseaux coronaires. Cette dernière technologie pourrait également permettre la création de cartilage artificiel ou stimuler la croissance de cellules.
Enfin, une autre organisation de recherche a fait la une des journaux l'an passé. Le Laboratoire de microbiologie et virologie de l'université d'Etat de Novossibirsk, une des plus prestigieuses du pays, s'est distingué pour ses recherches pour l'élaboration d'un vaccin contre le virus Ebola.
Physique et chimie
L'institut Budker de physique nucléaire, l'un des centres de recherche les plus réputés du pays dans son domaine lance un nouveau projet d'envergure à horizon de cinq ans. Son but est de construire un prototype de réacteur thermonucléaire à taille réelle, c'est-à-dire long de soixante mètres. Pour la réalisation de cette installation, le Budker recevra plusieurs financements fédéraux importants d'un montant total d'un demi-milliard de roubles, soit environ sept millions d'euros.
Des chercheurs du centre "Sygma" de recherche en nanosciences ont trouvé un moyen d'augmenter la plasticité et la résistance mécanique de l'aluminium d'au moins 30% en modifiant la structure du matériau grâce à des nanotubes de carbone. Même si ce nouveau matériau est plus cher de 5% maximum que l'aluminium ordinaire, les propriétés mécaniques du métal sont, quant à elles, améliorées d'un tiers. Les applications semblent nombreuses, notamment dans l'industrie aéronautique, l'automobile ou l'électronique. Le produit est actuellement en phase d'essai pré-production.
Géologie et paléontologie
Les scientifiques de l'Institut Trofimuk de géologie des hydrocarbures et de géophysique ont étudié les cratères de la péninsule de Yamal, évènement géologique survenu pendant l'année qui restait encore inexpliqué (cf annotation n°14 pour voir des photos). Les équipes du Trofimuk ont mis en évidence ce phénomène, qui s'explique par l'effet des hydrates localisés dans différentes couches en profondeur et en surface, la différence de température entre été et hiver et l'emplacement entre les plaques tectoniques.
A noter également que les géologues sibériens, notamment du Trofimuk, ont été associés, avec d'autres experts de l'ensemble de la Russie, à l'élaboration de l'argumentaire scientifique des revendications russes à élargir sa zone économique dans l'océan arctique.
Du côté de la paléontologie, l'attention s'est portée sur des travaux sur des ossements et une momie. Une équipe de l'Institut Sobolev de géologie et de minéralogie a travaillé sur des restes d'un fémur gauche découvert en 2008 à côté du petit village d'Oust-Ichim au bord d'un court d'eau, dans la région d'Omsk, en Sibérie. Ces restes sont les plus anciens ayant livré un génome complet. Les chercheurs ont réussi à reconstruire son ADN et à formuler une hypothèse robuste sur sa descendance.
Enfin, les efforts conjoints d'équipes de chercheurs relevant de trois instituts, le Centre international de tomographie, l'Institut de physiologie et l'Institut d'archéologie et d'ethnographie, ont permis de retracer la vie et de comprendre les causes de la mort d'une momie, découverte en 1993 sur le plateau Ukok dans l'Altai, à la frontière mongole. En utilisant l'imagerie par résonance magnétique, les scientifiques ont identifié les causes du décès, l'historique médical et des traumatismes de la momie, baptisée "princesse de l'Ukok".

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    Luke - Natural Resources Institute Finland / 02.02.2015
    What is the future of bioeconomy in Russia?
    • Eugene Lopatin
    Об опыте некоторых регионов России по использованию в качестве экологически чистого топлива для котельных и электростанций древесной стружки и гранул - вместо угля и нефти.

There is a demand for wood utilisation technologies in Russia, mainly from private investors. In spite of the relatively high costs of the Finnish equipment and know-how on biomass utilisation due to weak rouble, the efficiency and reliability of Finnish solutions are valued by the potential investors. From my point of view, the necessity to reduce energy costs will be the driving force in the development of the bioeconomy in Russia. But there are still open questions on what kind of cooperation Finland can offer in the long-term and short-term perspectives.
In October 2014, a new law allowing biodiesel and bioethanol to be used for transportation was approved in Russia. Oil price reduction, the costs of the Crimean crisis and the large outflow of capital have caused a reduction in the 2015 Russian state budget. In contrast, companies exporting wood-based products had large revenues due to weak rouble. Their costs inside the country were almost the same as before but the value of sales doubled. In the forestry sector, sawmilling and production of pellets for export gained highest revenues. The owners of companies in these industries are still surprised by the high revenues and are crazy about deciding whether to buy a second helicopter.
During September to December 2014, I visited north-west Russia for the project "Utilisation of Finnish forest energy know-how and technology in Russia", to meet with key decision makers. In the Republic of Karelia, there are plans to reconstruct several boiler houses. I noticed that sources of energy other than coal were not even considered for those plans.
However, one private investor from Moscow is finalising a boiler house in Suojärvi that uses peat and wood chips, utilising Finnish technology. The export of wood chips as a fuel from the Republic of Karelia to Finland is still very profitable.
Also in the Arkhangelsk region, many boiler houses have switched from coal and oil to wood pellets and chips. The costs for wood-based local fuels in this region were 23% lower than for coal and oil, which are not available locally. Instead of dumping waste wood in illegal sites, the government provided subsidies for collection areas for waste wood.
Considerable possibilities for cooperation
The positive experience of the Arkhangelsk region was copied by the Komi Republic. The government paid the costs for planning and constructing collection areas for waste wood. In 2014, the direct costs of production of pellets and fuel briquettes were compensated from the regional budget. Due to the availability of coal and oil in the region, there is a clear understanding that wood-based energy production is feasible in areas more than 100 km from a railway.
There has been significant interest in developing forest-based energy after the governor of Komi visited Metla with a group of ministers in 2012. One power plant that uses bark and wood residuals has been bought from Finland and just started operating on 21 January 2015, providing green heat and electricity for Syktyvkar, the capital of Komi.
During my meetings with decision makers I recognized the considerable interest for cooperation, especially now that budgets are reduced. The lack of technology and know-how is limiting the development of bioeconomy in the regions of Russia. For example, in Komi, they think that wood chips are a very unreliable energy source due to high moisture content and high price. The experience in Finland is totally different.
More use for low-quality wood
If the price of oil remains around the current low level, local economic problems will force a switch to renewable sources of energy, especially in areas where oil and gas are not available. Russia has 83 billion m3 of wood resources, but wood harvesting in 2013 was only 0.23% of the total amount of resources. Most wood resources in Russia are inaccessible, and the forest inventory is out of date for 74% of the territory. Our studies using remote sensing and modelling showed that it will be impossible to avoid a deficit of high-quality wood in several regions by reducing the harvesting age. To develop the forestry sector, low-quality wood must be utilised.
There is a demand for wood utilisation technologies in Russia, mainly from private investors. In spite of the relatively high costs of the Finnish equipment and know-how on biomass utilisation due to weak rouble, the efficiency and reliability of Finnish solutions are valued by the potential investors. From my point of view, the necessity to reduce energy costs will be the driving force in the development of the bioeconomy in Russia. But there are still open questions on what kind of cooperation Finland can offer in the long-term and short-term perspectives.
The author
Eugene Lopatin is a Senior Researcher on international forestry. His work relates to forestry in Russia and Eastern European countries with economies in transition. He holds a PhD in Forest Management from the University of Joensuu, Finland and PhD in Forest Inventory from St. Petersburg State Forestry University, Russia. He has been involved in various development projects related to business environment in forestry and forestry industry in Russia. He has forestry project experience also in Ukraine, Belarus, Czech Republic and Vietnam.

© Natural Resources Institute Finland.
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    New Scientist / 03 February 2015
    Subglacial Lake Vostok cracked for a second time
    • By Catherine Brahic
    Российские полярники во второй раз пробурили скважину к водам реликтового озера Восток. На этот раз бурить пришлось не все 4 километра льда, а лишь последние несколько сотен метров, прошедшие параллельно первой скважине, в которую попала техническая жидкость.

They've cracked it - again! A Russian team of ice explorers has broken through to a lake buried beneath nearly 4 kilometres of Antarctic ice. The lake has been isolated from the surface for 15 million years and could hold extreme forms of life never seen before, perhaps even offering clues as to what life on other planets might look like.
Lake Vostok is Antarctica's largest subglacial lake. It was reached once before in 2012, when a Russian team finished drilling a hole some 3770 metres down to its surface. They claimed that water samples they obtained from this borehole contained DNA that was unlike known bacteria, suggesting they may have found an unusual native species. But the find is controversial, not least because the samples were contaminated with fluid used to aid drilling.
The second attempt reached the lake surface at 5.12 pm on 25 January. The team used the same borehole down to 3400 metres below the surface, after which the holes diverge. This time, the team says they proceeded with extreme caution and are confident that the new samples they retrieved are pristine lake water.
Using information on the lake's pressure and depth, collected in 2012, they calculated how slowly they needed to raise the drill to avoid a piston effect, whereby lake water suddenly surges upwards and mixes with drilling fluids, which is what happened last time.
The team was led by Vladimir Lipenkov of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute and Nikolay Vasiliev of the National Mineral Resources University, both in St Petersberg. They say that after penetrating the surface of the lake, the team let water rise in the borehole, where it froze. They then removed a core of this frozen lake water. "We hope to get these samples for analysis by the middle of May," says Lipenkov's colleague Irina Alekhina.

© Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.
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    Le Monde / 05.02.2015
    Un reptile marin vieux de 70 millions d'années identifié en Russie
    Изучение окаменевших останков возрастом около 70 млн лет, найденных на юге Урала в 2012 г., позволило установить, что принадлежат они неизвестному ранее науке виду плезиозавра рода Polycotylus.

L'examen d'ossements fossilisés, découverts en Russie dans le sud de l'Oural, a permis l'identification d'une nouvelle espèce de reptile marin vieille de 70 millions d'années, a annoncé jeudi 5 février un paléontologue russe. " Cette découverte est primordiale car les ossements, nombreux et en relativement bon état, indiquent qu'il s'agit d'un spécimen unique ", a précisé Vladimir Efimov, président de la Société russe de paléontologie pour la région d'Oulianovsk.
Menées dans la région d'Orenbourg, les fouilles ont permis " la découverte d'une nouvelle espèce (…) encore inconnue de la science ", s'est félicité Julien Benoit, chercheur à l'université de Montpellier-II, spécialisée en paléontologie.
LES OSSEMENTS DÉCOUVERTS EN 2012
Les restes fossilisés du reptile marin ont été découverts en 2012 par des enfants membres d'un club de jeunes géologues de la région d'Orenbourg, qui ont acheminé eux-mêmes une partie des ossements, avant que ne soit dépêchée sur les lieux une équipe de chercheurs.
L'étude de ces ossements pourrait conduire à des découvertes sur l'évolution de l'espèce et son environnement à la période du crétacé (de - 145 millions d'annés à - 65 millions d'années), selon M. Efimov. Les scientifiques russes comptent baptiser cette nouvelle espèce Polycotylus sopotsko, du nom de la directrice du club des jeunes géologues.

© Le Monde.fr.
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    Slate.fr / le 08.02.2015
    L'Allemagne, terreau des sciences humaines russes
    Études de cas visant à montrer le rôle de "réceptacle" de la Russie dans le domaine des sciences humaines.
    • Par Myriam Truel
    Вышедшая летом 2014 г. книга историка культуры и германиста, одного из создателей теории "культурного трансфера" Мишеля Эспаня "L'ambre et le fossile. Transferts germano-russes dans les sciences humaines XIXe-XXe" посвящена циркуляции научных знаний между Россией и Германией.

Les élites russes apprenaient dès l'enfance les langues avec des précepteurs étrangers, étudiaient et voyageaient en Europe, et la présence française dans la culture russe ne peut échapper à l'observateur, qui s'amuse de trouver de très nombreux passages en français dans Guerre et paix de L. Tolstoï. Si la France était surtout associée à une culture mondaine et artistique, ce sont des Allemands - Gerhard Friedrich Müller, August Ludwig von Schlözer - qui furent les premiers historiens de la Russie à l'Académie des sciences fondée par Pierre le Grand en 1724.
Le germaniste Michel Espagne, directeur de recherches au CNRS et responsable du labex transferS à l'ENS-Ulm, s'est intéressé aux "transferts germano-russes dans les sciences humaines" aux XIXe et XXe siècles. L'ouvrage, constitué à partir d'articles de l'auteur parus depuis 1999, comporte des chapitres consacrés à des parcours personnels, à des lieux d'échange ainsi qu'à la constitution de notions, courants de pensée ou méthodes.
L'auteur rappelle en introduction que la présence allemande en Russie remonte au Moyen Âge et s'observe aussi bien dans les milieux paysans qu'aristocratiques, alors que la présence française est "moins profonde, plus élitiste".
Il a choisi de se concentrer sur les transferts dans le domaine des sciences humaines car ceux-ci sont souvent omis dans les historiographies nationales, qui tendent à masquer les emprunts: "Ces outils [l'histoire de la littérature et l'historiographie] de construction d'une identité tendent toujours à refouler, à réinterpréter les pierres de constructions importées d'un contexte à l'autre". Pourtant, les sciences humaines russes se construisirent grandement à partir des sciences allemandes.
Ainsi, Propp, auteur de la célèbre Morphologie du conte, a des origines allemandes que les circonstances (la Seconde Guerre mondiale) l'amènent à refouler; sa réflexion se nourrit de lectures allemandes, et M. Espagne affirme que "c'est la réflexion de Goethe sur les plantes qui fournit le système de concepts à partir duquel Propp va étudier les contes russes".
M. Espagne souligne que certains penseurs allemands aujourd'hui oubliés ont eu une postérité en Russie: "Ce que la Russie retient d'impulsions empruntées à la science allemande n'est pas toujours ce que la mémoire allemande a elle-même conservé d'étapes antérieures de sa propre histoire. Il existe des philosophes, des théoriciens, des historiens qui ont perdu toute importance dans leur contexte allemand d'origine mais en ont trouvé une dans le contexte russe […]. L'intérêt de l'observateur se porte sur l'écart entre le sens d'un objet culturel dans son contexte originel et dans son nouveau contexte d'accueil ainsi que sur les méditations diverses, sociologiques, institutionnelles, religieuses, qui expliquent le décalage.". Le chapitre consacré au formaliste Jirmounski s'intitule d'ailleurs "Synthèse et sauvetage des sciences allemandes". C'est cet aspect qui explique le titre de l'ouvrage, L'ambre et le fossile: "On trouverait ainsi dans les stratifications géologiques de l'espace culturel russe les strates fossiles d'une Allemagne oubliée". Si le titre du livre et sa justification peuvent sembler très germano-centrés, les analyses apportent une véritable contribution à la compréhension des sciences humaines russes.
La France est bien loin d'être absente de ces échanges, "l'espace francophone appara[î]t souvent en tiers". Michel Espagne donne ainsi l'exemple de l'orientalisme russe, qui a des origines franco-allemandes; il étudie le parcours de deux orientalistes français invités à occuper les premiers postes dans cette discipline en Russie.
La plupart des transferts étudiés se font de l'Allemagne (ou de la France) vers la Russie plutôt que le contraire, quoique le formalisme russe connaisse une postérité importante en France et en Allemagne. Dans les études de sociologie de la traduction, cet état des choses a valu à la Russie un statut de "périphérie"[1]. Cependant, Michel Espagne préfère à cette notion celle de "réceptacle" qui implique création et productivité: "Les multiples pénétrations des sciences humaines russes du premier XXe siècle par des modèles allemands ou français tendent à faire des sciences humaines russes non pas une périphérie indépendante, mais au contraire le réceptacle de tendances des sciences humaines européennes, un lieu où elles se conservent au-delà de leur gloire dans le pays d'origine et surtout, un contexte où elles peuvent donner lieu à une réinterprétation et à des innovations radicales". Dans certains cas, c'est même la Russie qui sert de médiateur: Michel Espagne évoque la dette de Lévi-Strauss envers Jakobson lui-même héritier de la linguistique allemande. L'auteur insiste donc sur la nécessité de prendre en compte le moment russe dans l'étude de l'histoire transnationale des sciences humaines.
1. Johan Heilbron et Gisèle Sapiro, "Pour une sociologie de la traduction?: bilan et perspectives", in La Traduction comme vecteur des échanges culturels internationaux. Circulation des livres de littérature et de sciences sociales et évolution de la place de la France sur le marché mondial de l'édition (1980-2002), rapport de recherche, Centre de sociologie européenne, 2007.

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    Russia and India Report / February 11, 2015
    "Metal of the future" will be produced in Siberia
    • Darya Kezina
    Ученые Томского политехнического университета произвели первый лабораторный образец бериллия, редкого металла, имеющего широкий спектр применения - от металлургии до аэрокосмической промышленности. Несмотря на наличие месторождений бериллиевых руд в России, до сих пор бериллий в страну импортировался. Исследования проводились совместно с Сибирским химическим комбинатом.

Siberian scientists have produced Russia's first sample of a strategically important metal - beryllium. Production technology remains classified, however, RIR has managed to unearth a few details.
New beryllium production technology will alleviate Russia's need to import this rare and valuable metal, according to scientists from Tomsk Polytechnic University and the Siberian Chemical Plant. In late January 2015 they jointly produced the first laboratory sample of 100 grams.
The next step for scientists is to produce 1-2 kilograms of metal beryllium. Industrial production of beryllium in Russia could start as early as 2020. Investments for the plant are estimated at $30 million, with expectations being that the project will be implemented over five years.
"Our proposed technology is characterized by the closed technological cycle technique and the ability to extract not only metallic beryllium, but also accompanying commercial products - synthetic calcium fluoride and silicon oxide," said Alexander Dyachenko, vice rector for Research and Innovation at Tomsk Polytechnic University.
New technology also helps to preserve other valuable minerals such as fluorite. "Substantial chemical enrichment and de-siliconization of fluorite occurs in the process," Dyachenko said. Fluorite is used in optics, chemicals, metallurgy and other industries.
Scientists propose using a bertrandite-phenacite-fluorite concentrate from industrial Yermakovskoye mine deposits as a raw material.
Space age metal
Beryllium is one of the world's most precious metals. Defense ministries across the globe treat it as a "strategic and critical material," as it is used in the nuclear and aerospace industries. Without this ingredient it is impossible to create nuclear weapons, fly an airplane, perform an x-ray or explore space. Scientists call beryllium a "space age metal" or a "metal of the future."
The price of pure beryllium, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, is $500 per kilogram. Incidentally, the cost of beryllium has grown by about half over the last decade mainly due to its demand in the world market and its limited scope of primary production.
According to statistics from the U.S. Geological Survey for 2012, the volume of production of beryllium in the world amounted to 230 tons, of which 200 tons came from the U.S., 25 from China, and several tons from Kazakhstan. Until recently, the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Kazakhstan, Brush Wellman in the U.S. and the Chinese company SKS were the only ones to possess the technology to produce beryllium.
Strategic reserves are running out
It is difficult to say yet whether the new technology developed by scientists will be able to change the balance of power in the world market. The mining infrastructure of the Yermakovskoye deposit is in a poor state, says Mikhail Popov, an associate professor at the Ural State Mining University. "We need to re-evaluate the reserves," he said.
"It will be interesting to see how beryllium ores from the Mariinsky deposit in the Urals - represented by another silicate of beryllium, beryl - will react to the new technology," Popov said. He says that in the Soviet era this deposit was the main source of beryllium ores, which still has considerable reserves.
Additionally, beryllium is a toxic metal, which increases the cost of production. "The production of beryllium on outdated technology pollutes groundwater and the environment, and therefore requires an exclusion zone of at least 200 kilometers," Popov said.
Whether the new technology developed in Tomsk will make the process more environmentally friendly will be clear when scientists produce the second laboratory-extracted sample of beryllium.

© 2007-2015 Russia Beyond The Headlines.
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    Undercurrent News / February 11, 2015
    Russian pollock catchers launch sea bird, mammal by-catch research program
    Ассоциация добытчиков минтая и Камчатский филиал Тихоокеанского института географии ДВО РАН запустили совместную научно-исследовательскую программу по мониторингу характера взаимодействия с орудиями лова и случайного прилова морских млекопитающих и птиц на траловом промысле минтая в Охотском море. Собранные данные позволят понять, оказывает ли влияние траловый промысел на животных и птиц (в том числе включенных в Красную книгу), оценить степень риска их травмирования и гибели.

The Russian Pollock Catchers Association (PCA) and Kamchatka office of Pacific Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Science have launched a research program on monitoring of interaction and occasional by-catch of sea mammals and birds in the mid-water trawl pollock fishery in the Sea of Okhotsk.
This scientific and research program is being conducted according to the PCA's action plan for the Sea of Okhotsk pollock fishery that was designed to meet the condition of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification obtained in 2013. The Bering Sea and Navarinsky pollock fisheries withdrew from full MSC assessment after failing to submit a public comment draft report.
These two units make up over 40% of the total volume of 1.63 million metric tons (for 2014) of Russian pollock quota.
"Better understanding of Sea of Okhotsk pollock fishery impact on sea birds and mammals is an important element of the large scale research work on ecosystem impact supported by the PCA. This program is a part of PCA's commitment for further sustainability progress," said PCA executive director Alexey Buglak.
Data collected during dedicated direct observation and obtained from vessels will allow for an analysis of the character of interaction of marine birds and mammals - in particular, the red book Steller sea lion and short-tailed albatross - with vessels and fishing gear, as well as make estimations of their occasional mortality.
"Such kind of dedicated research is funded by the Russian fishermen for the first time and I hope this work will elucidate if Sea of Okhotsk mid-water trawl pollock fishery has impact on marine mammals and birds or not. If there is any risk, we will learn which fishing gear, or types of fishing vessels, and what time and which areas of the Sea of Okhotsk such interactions occur, and how the trawl fishery impacts on the animals," said Buglak.
One of the main objectives of the research is to develop recommendations for the fishery how to implement a marine mammal and bird by-catch monitoring program and calculate annual levels of injury and mortality the Steller sea lion and other marine mammals and birds in the trawl pollock fishery in the Sea of Okhotsk.
"This is especially important for the rare species listed in the Russian Red Book and IUCN [International Union for Conservation of Nature] endangered species list. This work is also very useful for implementation of several international treaties on animal conservation in Russia" said Vladimir Burkanov. senior scientist in the Kamchatka office of the Pacific Institute of Geography of Russian Academy of Science, an expert in the IUCN.
At the moment, two scientists from the Kamchatka office of the Pacific Institute of Geography are working on vessels owned by Okeanrybflot and collecting and analyzing information on by-catch and interaction of sea birds and mammals.
One more scientist is to be deployed to the fishery in the middle of February.
The scientists will spend more than 220 vessel days for the program in the Sea of Okhotsk pollock fishery. Additionally, 25 PCA member vessels are engaged in the collection of extra data on sea birds and mammals interaction with the fishery according to the dedicated internal logbooks.

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    EurekAlert / 11-FEB-2015
    Florida State-Russian research team explores vision complications for astronauts
    Исследование мышей, побывавших в космосе в рамках проекта "Бион-М1", позволило ученым из Института медико-биологических проблем РАН и Флоридского университета (США) выяснить, почему у космонавтов бывают проблемы со зрением в космосе. Оказалось, что в невесомости перестают работать некоторые клеточные механизмы, отвечающие за сужение и расширение сосудов. Из-за отсутствия гравитации кровь приливает к мозгу, но сосуды остаются узкими, из-за чего в них резко повышается давление.
    Статья "Spaceflight on the Bion-M1 Biosatellite Alters Cerebral Artery Vasomotor and Mechanical Properties in Mice" опубликована в журнале Journal of Applied Physiology.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - An international partnership between Florida State University and a team from the Russian Academy of Sciences has found that space travel may severely impair the body's ability to regulate blood rushing to the brain, which could contribute to the temporary or permanent vision problems experienced by astronauts.
In a new paper published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Florida State Professor Michael Delp and Russian colleagues Olga Tarasova and Olga Vinogradova delve into the complications that occur when humans travel to space and spend weeks to months in a weightless environment.
In recent years, NASA has become interested in investigating vision problems observed in astronauts returning from space. On shorter trips, astronauts have often experienced minor vision changes that eventually self-correct. But longer visits to space have caused more substantial issues.
"What has happened is we've become much more aware of medical problems humans can face when staying in space for extended periods of time," said Delp, who also serves as dean of the College of Human Sciences. "Astronauts are willing to make sacrifices of their body in order to go into space, but few are willing to compromise their vision."
For NASA, the issue is a top research priority, and a number of scientists around the world are working to solve the problem. Delp, a physiologist who studies the effects of microgravity on the cardiovascular system, began working on the issue of what happens to the body when people travel to space several years ago. To further the work, he and a group of researchers at the Russian Academy of Sciences who were studying similar issues formed a partnership.
The Russian Federal Space Agency, with the help of NASA, assembled an international team of researchers to study mice sent into space for 30 days on a Russian satellite, the Bion-M1.
When the satellite returned to Earth, the mice were whisked by ambulance to laboratories at the Institute for Biomedical Problems in Moscow, where the research team hunkered down for hours, investigating arteries that control blood flow to muscle, skin and the brain of the small creatures.
They soon discovered that the brain held the most interesting responses to the spaceflight.
"Without gravity pulling body fluids down toward the feet, fluid will rise toward the brain," Delp said. "When spaceflight alters the function of arteries that precisely regulate blood flow to the brain, it could severely affect many things, including vision."
The issue remains how to solve that problem.
Delp and his Russian colleagues are already setting the stage for future experiments that may yield more answers and possible solutions. In May, another group of mice will be sent to the International Space Station for observation. "It's truly been a remarkable collaboration," Delp said. "The Russian scientists are unbelievable partners."

Copyright © 2015 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
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    Technische Universität Wien / 2015-02-18
    Igniting the Air for Atmospheric Research
    • Florian Aigner
    Ученые из МГУ, Российского квантового центра, Института проблем лазерных и информационных технологий РАН, Венского технического университета и Техасского университета A&M создали высокоэнергетический лазер средней инфракрасной области спектра, способный локализоваться на большой дистанции, не теряя интенсивности.
    Статья "Mid-infrared laser filaments in the atmosphere" опубликована в журнале Nature Scientific Reports.

Scientists from Vienna and Moscow have created a high-energy mid-infrared laser powerful enough to create shining filaments in the air. Such devices could be used to detect chemical substances in the atmosphere.
It looks a bit like a lightsaber from Star Wars: when an extremely intense laser pulse is sent through the air, it can focus itself, creating a narrow filament of light. By shooting such filaments into the sky and analysing back-scattered light, it would be possible to trace pollutants in the atmosphere. To achieve this, lasers with mid-infrared wavelengths are required. However, reaching the critical power to produce such a filament with mid-infrared laser beams is very difficult. At these wavelengths, laser filaments have only been produced in high pressure gas tubes. Now, an Austro-Russian research team has succeeded in building a new kind of mid-infrared laser which is so intense that it ignites laser filaments in the air at normal atmospheric pressure.
Air that Acts Like a Lens
Normally, a beam of light is diffracted and diverges as it propagates. In order to focus the beam, some sort of lens is needed. "An intense laser pulse can create such a lens in the air by itself", says Audrius Pugzlys (Photonics Institute, Vienna University of Technology). The refractive index of air depends on the intensity of the beam. This intensity is not uniform, it is highest in the centre of the beam. This creates a focusing lens in the air.
"This laser-pulse-initiated lens acts back on the parent laser beam by focusing it and creating plasma, which then in turn tends to defocus the beam", says Skirmantas Alisauskas (Vienna University of Technology). The interplay between focusing and defocusing effects creates a narrow filament that can be dozens of centimeters or even a few meters long. By spatial and temporal shaping of the pulses, it is possible to control the position in the sky where the filament is created.
The Most Interesting Wavelengths are Infrared
"Once a shining laser filament is created, it generates broadband mid-infrared light, which can tell us about the chemical composition of the air", says Audrius Pugzlys. Many molecules absorb light in the mid-infrared spectral range in a very characteristic way, so that they can be identified. Therefore, powerful laser beams in the mid-infrared range are needed to ignite the filaments and to make remote atmospheric sensing possible. But for a long time, such mid-infrared lasers generating very short and high-energy pulses have not been available.
A team of scientists at the Photonics Institute of Vienna University of Technology has been working for years on designing a high-energy ultrashort pulse source. "For some time, we have already been able to ignite filaments in high pressure gas tubes filled with nitrogen or oxygen. But now, we have finally succeeded in boosting the pulse energy to such a level that filaments are produced in air at normal pressure", says Skirmantas Alisauskas. The experiment was conducted together with a research team from Russia, using a laser system which was installed in the Russian Quantum Centre in Moscow using the amplification technology developed in Vienna.
Next Step: A Laser in Mid-Air
The next steps are already being planned: In the lab, the team has demonstrated that it is possible to make the mid-infrared laser interact with nitrogen in such a way that it does not only create a shining plasma filament but that it turns the filament into a laser, shining a beam right back towards the infrared laser source.
"If we could obtain this effect in the filament in the atmosphere, we could create a laser in the sky. We would have two laser beams propagating along the same axis in opposite directions - one fired up by our laser source, the other fired back by the air itself", says Audrius Pugzlys. "If the molecules in between are hit by two different lasers at the same time, it is possible to analyse them very accurately via nonlinear scattering processes." The mid-infrared laser filament device could one day be used to measure the concentration of pollutants above a city or to remotely detect harmful substances after a chemical accident.

* * *
    Science Recorder / February 23, 2015
    Conservation efforts paying off for critically endangered big cats
    • Delila James
    Согласно новому докладу Всемирного фонда дикой природы, численность занесенных в Красную книгу дальневосточных леопардов с 2007 года возросла с 30 до 57 особей, то есть почти вдвое. Для сохранения популяции этого недостаточно, но некоторая стабильность уже достигнута.

In 2007, the population of critically endangered Amur leopards numbered a mere 30 individuals. Now, a new report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says that number has increased to 57 - a doubling of the population in less than 10 years.
Amur leopards (Panthera pardus orientalis) are indigenous to southeastern Russia and the mountains of northeastern China. Their numbers have been threatened by poaching, encroachment on their habitat, deforestation, and climate change. Conservationists are encouraged by the new leopard count.
"Such a strong rebound in Amur leopard numbers is further proof that even the most critically endangered big cats can recover if we protect their habitat and work together on conservation efforts," said Barney Long, the WWF's director of species protection and Asian species conservation, in a statement. "There's still a lot of work to be done in order to secure a safe future for the Amur leopard, but these numbers demonstrate that things are moving in the right direction."
To get an accurate count of these rare leopards, wild life officials and experts from the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences set camera traps across their 1,400-square-mile habitat. With the aid of 10,000 snapshots, the team was able to identify each individual leopard by the unique patterns on their spotted fur, the WWF said.
The leopards were counted in the Land of the Leopard National Park, which was established in 2012 along the Russian and Chinese borders in a region known as the Amur-Heilong River Basin. The park was created as part of ongoing efforts to save at-risk species, including Amur leopards and Siberian tigers.
Conservationists also are encouraged by an apparent increase in Siberian tiger numbers. In 2009, there were only 56 of these magnificent animals living in the wild, according to the Siberian Tiger Monitoring Program - a collaborative effort between several Russian organizations and the U.S. Wildlife Conservation Society. Now, some 350 Siberian tigers are believed to inhabit areas of far eastern Russia.
Rare video footage taken last year also shows a family of Siberian tigers frolicking inside northeastern China's Wangqing Nature Reserve. Before this, only an occasional pawprint in the snow provided evidence that these creatures still inhabited some regions of China.
"These images show that Wangqing Nature Reserve has now become a breeding site for Amur tigers," said Wang Fuyou, division head of the Wangqing Nature Reserve conservation department, in a report by Live Science. "Seeing these positive outcomes from our efforts greatly strengthens our confidence that wild Amur tiger populations can be restored."

© KPR Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.
* * *
    PerfScience / Tue, 02/24/2015
    Four New Craters and Several Smaller ones discovered in Siberia
    • By Luis Georg
    В Сибири обнаружены еще несколько разного размера кратеров наподобие ямальского. Основных версий их появления по-прежнему две - взрывы скопившегося под землей метана и таяние подземных ледников.

Four new massive size craters have been discovered in Siberia. Russian scientists have also found many other smaller holes in Siberia in the same region, where other craters were discovered in 2014.
The scientists have raised concerns that owing to global warming, increasing temperatures have started a process of methane gas eruptions that has the potential to cause an environmental disaster. Professor Vasily Bogoyavlensky, deputy director of Russia's Oil and Gas Research Institute, said, "We know now of seven craters in the Arctic area. Five are directly on the Yamal peninsula, one in Yamal Autonomous district, and one is on the north of the Krasnoyarsk region, near the Taimyr Peninsula".
But exact locations are known of just four and the other three were spotted by reindeer herders. As per Vasily, there are more craters on Yamal and more research teams are required to find them.
Two spots near to a previous hole have also been identified by scientists after going through satellite images. Bogoyavlensky said that one of the new discovered holes has been found near Nosok village to the north of Krasnoyarsk region, near Taimyr Peninsula. Another hole was found around 90 kilometers from Antipayuta in the Yamal Peninsular. Residents noticed a bright flash of light in the surrounding area and it further strengthens that the holes are formed due to increasing temperature of global warming, which causes eruptions of underground pockets of gas.
One more hole has been discovered about 10 kilometers south of Bovanenkovo. It is the region, where Gazprom runs gas production plants. This hole was surrounded by at least 20 smaller holes. The lakes have formed lakes, which were not found in older satellite images.
Overall, it can be said there is an increasing concern with regard to geophysical activity involving heating also tectonic fault lines in the Yamal Peninsula could be adding to the process.

© 2013 Perfect Science Online Media. All Rights Reserved.
* * *
    Royal Society of Chemistry / 24 February 2015
    Economic crisis to erode Russia's science base
    • Eugene Gerden
    Экономический кризис в России может подорвать научную базу - в этом году финансирование научных исследований будет сокращено как минимум на 10%.

Russian government funding for scientific research will be cut by at least 10% this year, as part of a crisis plan recently unveiled. The harsh cuts are the result of the economic crisis in Russia and devaluation of the ruble as a result of western sanctions and a fall in the price of oil.
These cuts will go ahead despite recent assurances from Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, to hold research funding at the same level as past years. In December Putin said that research funding over the next several years should reach RUB800 billion (£8 billion), however, these plans are now set to be revised.
As part of these plans the budget of the Russian Federal Agency of Scientific Organizations(Faso), the body recently set up as part of the controversial reforms - now cancelled - for Russia's Academy of Sciences, will be cut. This year Faso's budget is set at RUB92.9 billion (£940 million) and is expected to be revised in the first quarter. In addition, there are also plans to cut funding to the country's leading universities.
Viktor Sadovnichy, rector of Moscow State University, has said that his university has had its budget cut by 10% for this year. "The budget has decreased for all items, and in particular with regard to the purchase of new equipment and repairs, conducting R&D activities and so on. In this regard, the university's administration has already been forced to revise the budget." Other universities are now considering their options.
Leading scientific institutions and branches of the Russian Academy of Sciences are also expected to announce massive cuts to their programmes, as well as making redundancies. Scientists are also bracing themselves for significant cuts to grants.
In the meantime, despite planned cuts, many Russian analysts and top officials remain optimistic. Michael Kotjukov, head of Faso, believes that the cuts will not lead to a crisis in Russian science as, to date, almost 90% of research funding comes from the state - one of the highest figures in the world. A lack of private funds remains the biggest problem Russian science faces, he adds, despite government attempts to attract it.
At the same time, Sergey Glazyev, a Russian politician and adviser to Putin, said the cuts may stop Russia reaching some important science goals the country had set. In particular, increasing the per capita capital costs on scientific R&D activities in Russia, which is currently estimated at only $140 (£91) per capita, compared to around $700 in developed countries. He added that the cuts may also disrupt some science projects such as the recent closure of more than 20 labs at the Russian Hematology Research Center.
The Russian finance ministry has said that, in addition to the current financial crisis, another reason that science funding has been hit is an unprecedented increase in military costs for 2015, which are set for RUB3.3 trillion, which is the highest figure in the history of modern Russia.

© Royal Society of Chemistry 2015.
* * *
    Space Daily / Feb 25, 2015
    Russia to Build Its Own Orbital Station After 2024
    После завершения эксплуатации Международной космической станции в 2024 г. Россия планирует построить собственную орбитальную станцию, используя модули МКС.

Russia will continue using the International Space Station (ISS) until around 2024 and is planning to build its own orbital outpost using the existing ISS modules, Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said Tuesday.
"The configuration of a multi-purpose lab module, a docking module and a scientific-energy module allows us to build an orbital station to ensure Russia's access to outer space," Roscosmos Science and Technology Board said in a statement.
In addition, Russia will actively study the Moon using robotic equipment in the next decade with the goal of sending manned missions to the Earth's satellite around 2030, the board said.
The Science and Technology Board will convene again in March to discuss the development of space vehicles that will be used to put payloads into higher-altitude orbits, as well as help explore the Moon and the outer space.
Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said last May Russia was considering whether to drop out of the international space station program to save funds for more promising space projects.
Media reports about a Russian orbital station started emerging last fall, with sources close to Rosatom citing 2017 as the program's projected launch year.
The plan to build a high-altitude space outpost was eventually confirmed last December by the chief of the state-run space agency, Oleg Ostapenko, who said it could also serve as a base for Russia's lunar program. Reports have it that spacecraft will first be delivered to the new Russian space station, before continuing to the Moon.

Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network.
* * *
    Russia and India Report / February 25, 2015
    Siberian scientists invented a 3D pen using safe ink
    • Darya Kezina
    В Китае началось производство первой в мире 3D-ручки с холодными чернилами, созданной томскими учеными. Безопасные чернила из фотополимерных материалов затвердевают под действием встроенного источника ультрафиолетового излучения, в отличие от термопластической смолы, которую нужно сильно нагревать.

A new CreoPop printing pen is filled with a fundamentally new photopolymer ink that hardens when exposed to ultraviolet light. The device runs on battery power, is non-toxic and avoids limitations inherent in other 3D pens. Roughly 35 countries have already taken interest in the new device, which will hit the market in April 2015.
A team of developers from Tomsk - Siberia's oldest scientific and innovation center - has created a 3D pen that uses photopolymer ink that hardens under the influence of an inbuilt UV source in the form of a bright LED diode.
Developed on the basis of liquid photosensitive resin, the ink allows the pen to avoid the major drawback of its analogs - heat - making it safe for children. Using such a pen, one can draw three-dimensional objects, create magnetic, glow-in-the-dark shapes and use it for 3D design and in metallurgy.
The developers have created more than 50 types of inks, including luminescent, magnetic, rubber, elastic, aromatic, current-conducting and temperature-sensitive inks. Each ink capsule is good for 14 meters of three-millimeter thick strands.
How it developed
"There are 3D pens that use plastic already on the market, but they heat up and melt," Dmitry Starodubtsev, who heads the company that developed the device, told RIR. "We decided to find a technology that would allow us to make a pen that does not get hot. Eventually, our chemists found such an elegant solution."
The device immediately sparked interest among fans of 3D modeling and professionals around the world, with most orders coming from the U.S. and Europe. "Less than one percent of customers come from Russia," Starodubtsev said.
To develop the photopolymer ink technology, the team applied for support in late 2013 from the Tomsk Regional Engineering Center.
"Experts have confirmed that the project is interesting both from a business standpoint and from the point of view of development of the region, and that it is worthy of being funded," Tomsk Regional Engineering Center (TREC) head Mikhail Golovatov told RIR. TREC helped the team to pay 3.1 out of 3.6 million rubles for the engineering service.
International interest
The developers invested $250,000 and also attracted $892,000 from a pool of investors led by 500 Startups, a business incubator in Silicon Valley.
The production of the new-generation pen has been launched in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, where the plant that previously produced alternative pens is located. The plan is to keep the production of ink in Tomsk. Sales of the pen will begin in April 2015 at an expected price of $119.
"The market of gadgets is growing very rapidly right now," Golovatov said. "Significantly, the Tomsk developers used a crowdfunding platform and scored about 200 participants in the first month and about 2,000 participants in the next three months, even though the product was not yet commercially available. This shows there is a good potential for the commercialization of the pen."
According to Golovatov, Russian manufacturers have underestimated the market for gadgets. "They are influenced by a tradition that says that anything serious should be big," he says. "We make missiles, tanks, ships and machine tools. However, it is the small devices for the average user that are widely commercialized in the world today."

© 2007-2015 Russia Beyond The Headlines.
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