|Российская наука и мир|
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)
The Guardian / Wednesday 8 July 2015
Russian science foundation shuts down after being branded "foreign agent"
Dynasty Foundation, which gave grants to young scientists, announces it is liquidating all activities after it was sanctioned under controversial Kremlin law.
На заседании Совета фонда Дмитрия Зимина «Династия», состоявшемся 5 июля, принято решение закрыть фонд.
A Russian foundation that gave grants to young scientists and mathematicians has been forced to close down after it was branded a "foreign agent", under a controversial Kremlin law.
In a one-line statement on its website the Dynasty Foundation in Moscow announced on Monday that it was "liquidating" all of its activities. The foundation had been operating since 2002 and had sponsored numerous scientific grants and prizes.
Its 82-year-old founder Dmitry Zimin - a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist who founded Beeline, one of Russia's biggest mobile networks - left the country last month and is now in exile abroad, according to media reports in Russia.
The foundation is the latest victim of a 2012 law, which requires all non-governmental organisations that receive western funding to register as foreign agents - a term that implies the organisations are involved in spying. Russia's justice ministry says the non-profit foundation falls under the definition because Zimin's bank accounts, which support Dynasty, are kept abroad. Zimin's supporters point out that his fortune is entirely self-made. They add that the money - $8m (£5.2m) this year - has been used for patriotic purposes and for the benefit of Russian science, following years of degradation, brain drain and budget cuts.
Outcry over branding of philanthropist as a "foreign agent" as scientists say cuts and mismanagement are threatening the field.
The ministry later broadened its attack by pointing to Dynasty's funding of Liberal Mission, an organisation run by the former economy minister Yevgeny Yasin, which aims to spread liberal values in Russia. Yasin said that Zimin had now quit Russia for an indefinite period.
The decision to close the foundation was made on Monday. It follows an emotional meeting by the board last month which decided to explore alternative sources of funding, with a view to carrying on. Scientists have reacted angrily to the assault on Dynasty. More than 3,000 researchers, writers, publishers, and students have signed an open letter calling on the justice ministry to reverse the decision, which they called "not an ordinary example of mindless bureaucratic zeal but a direct blow to the pride, prestige, fame, and future of the country".
Separately on Wednesday, Russia's upper chamber called on authorities to blacklist 12 foreign NGOs - including US-based Freedom House, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the Ukrainian World Congress - as "undesirable".
© 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
* * *
Royal Society of Chemistry / 10 July 2015
Funding changes worry Russian scientists
Предложение Минобрнауки РФ сделать основным конкурсное финансирование науки, а базовое - лишь дополнительным, вызвало неодобрение.
Russia's prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, has announced that RUB350 billion (£3.95 billion) will be set aside for scientific research this year. Medvedev said that, despite massive cuts to state spending this year, the government will keep funding national science at the same level as 2014. But changes in the way that the funding will be distributed has caused alarm among the country's scientists.
Around RUB115 billion will go to basic science, while the remainder will be for applied research. Unlike previous years, however, the majority of the money will be meted out competitively in a similar way to the handling of research funding in Europe and the US. Under the terms of the new scheme, a special state commission will select the best and most promising projects.
Russian scientists have been quick to criticise this decision though. Alexander Kuleshov, a mathematical modeller and member of the Russian Academy of Science (RAS), says: "The use of a model of competitive financing is good news; however, such a scheme should be implemented only in conjunction with a state funding model. Lack of state funding will result in the fact that much scientific research in Russia will not receive funding, will be suspended or entirely frozen."
The same opinion is shared by physicist Eugene Onishchenko, another member of the RAS. He warns that most the funding will end up with those with the best connections to the Russian science and education ministry, rather than the best science.
Valery Rubakov, a physicist and member of the RAS, warns that distributing funding in this way may also lead to the closure of labs and research facilities. This is because if a lab fails to secure funding through the competitive bidding process it could be left without any financial support at all. He also adds that the funding process lacks transparency. The RAS has said that adoption of the new scheme will result in a significant increase in costs, with money likely to be distributed among a small group of scientists.
Russian scientists have also been critical of the increasingly hostile media climate for foreign scientists working in the country. Kendrick White, a US citizen, was recently fired from his post as vice-rector of Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod after state television accused him of undermining Russia. In another example of hostility to foreign influence in the country, the Dynasty Foundation, a Russian organisation which handed out grants to promising young scientists, closed its doors after being branded a "foreign agent" under a new Russian law. The organisation receives some funding from western sources. Russian scientists have warned that such actions will deter top scientists from around the world from working in the country.
© Royal Society of Chemistry 2015.
* * *
Bellona / July 14, 2015
No radioactive contamination from sunken subs in Barents Sea, say experts, but conditions must be monitored
- Anna Kireeva, Charles Digges
О совместной работе российских и норвежских ученых по мониторингу радиационной обстановки в Баренцевом море.
MURMANSK - Russian and Norwegian scientists have tallied up 20 years of radiation studies in the Barents Sea, Kola Bay, as well as results of algae, sediments and other biological samples taken from the Novaya Zemlya Peninsula, Sayda Bay and Andreyeva Bay.
The work has put a special focus on the K-27 nuclear submarine, which the Soviet Navy sank in the shallows of Novaya Zemlya 34 years ago. The K-27 has been in the spotlight ever since Russian naval sources revealed to Bellona in 2012 a catalogue of radioactive waste dumped at sea over the course of decades. Aside from the K-27, the Russian sources said, the Soviet Navy scuttled some 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships containing radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors, including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel, and 735 other pieces of radioactively contaminated heavy machinery, in the Kara Sea, which neighbors the Barents Sea to the east.
For more than two decades, Russian and Norwegian scientists have been studying the consequences of nuclear weapons testing on the Arctic Novaya Zemlya Peninsula, as well as potential threats from the sunken nuclear submarines other radioactive litter, and have been trying to determine what threats it all poses to the ocean and biological resources of the Barents Sea.
Gennady Matishov, director of the Murmansk Marine Biology Institute, neither accidents on nuclear submarines, nor nuclear testing on Novaya Zemlya haven't negatively impacted the sea. He told Bellona that this year, scientists took new samples to compare to those take 20 years ago, and added that, "that questions remain only in specific areas, specific bays, that we will have to pay attention to." But he complained that the local government was unwilling to support the studies.
"We need to school our own governors, they are completely illiterate in this issue," he said. "I personally invited representatives of the local ministry of ecology to a conference but nobody showed up. It would be good if a few of these people understood the issue and showed support for our work."
Salve Dahle of the Norwegian aquaculture and environmental consulting firm Akvaplan-Niva said international cooperation in these studies is critical. "We share the Barents Sea [with Russia], which possesses one of the world's biggest harvests of commercial fishing, the volumes of which are high and inspire optimism - the fish here are among the best in the world."
Sunken nuclear submarines
In 2012 and 2014 Russian and Norwegian scientists conducted a joint expedition to sunken nuclear submarines and containers of nuclear waste in the Kara Sea and along the eastern coast of Novaya Zemlya, particularly Abrosimova and Stepnogo Bays.
In 2012, Justin Gwynn, an expert with the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) said the K-27 was lying on the bottom of the sea. He added no corrosion to the hull was discovered, though several parts of the outer hull were missing.
"We observed a slightly elevated level of cesium 137 near the reactor chamber, and cesium-137 and cobalt 60 were present in direct proximity to the containers of sunken radioactive waste", he told Bellona. "But at a distance of 10 meters from the containers we found no elevated radionuclide levels."
Gwynn also said that the levels of radionuclides in the waters were significantly lower than they were 20 years ago.
In 1968, the K-27, which ran on a liquid metal cooled reactor, suffered an accident. In 1981, its reactor was packed with a special preservative, and was towed to Novaya Zemlya and sunk in 33 meters of water. In 2014, a joint expedition investigated the ill-fated derelict submarine, the K-159, which in 2003 sank during an accident while under tow from the Gremikha naval installation to the Nerpa shipyard for dismantlement. It went down in 238 meters of water, taking with it the lives of nine of the 10 sailors who were aboard to pump water out of its rusted hull. It also sank with 800 kilograms of spent nuclear fuel in its two reactors.
"There are a number of questions about this submarine," said Andrei Zolotkov, director of Bellona-Murmansk. He raised concerns that the already weak hull of the decrepit submarine might have experienced further damage when it hit the seafloor after sinking, increasing the possibility of further corrosion of it's hull and radiation released into the sea.
"There is no data on how hermetically sealed its reactors where [prior to the accident], though no real measures were taken in this respect, or if they were, no one mentioned them," said Zolotkov. "It wouldn't be desirable to hear about any clear leakages of radiation into the sea from this sub."
What should happen to the subs?
Norwegian and Russian scientists have long discussed the fate of these sunken subs. NRPA's Inger Eikelmann says his agency is working out a number of scenarios addressing what to do with the K-27. One is simply leaving it alone. Another is attempting to raise it, and then transport it to Kola Bay.
But the Norwegians are limited to suggesting options - the Russian government has to make the decision, and a number of Russian research centers are examining various methods of raising them.
"Finally, the Russian government has turned to face the problem of raising sunken nuclear subs," said Vladimir Khandobin, a representative of RosRAO, Russia's agency charged with handling nuclear waste. "At present, the Krylov institute is designing equipment that's capable of working at depths of up to 2000 meters.
In Zolotkov's opinion, the lack of radioactive leakage from the K-27's still solid hull doesn't mean it shouldn't be retrieved from its shallow grave.
"Monitoring radiation conditions around the sub is all well and good, but shouldn't be the end goal of this particular situation," he said. He suggested that "one could continue the monitoring for a few decades more and write a dissertation." Instead, Zolotkov said, "A decision needs to be taken about raising it, and that's it, and added, "You don't want to wait until raising it will be complicated; It's one thing to raise a submarine whose hull is still solid - but it's another matter entirely to raise the reactors in a hulls that's rusty and falling apart."
© The Bellona Foundation.
* * *
Бактерия Thermoanaerobacter siderophilus, изученная сотрудниками Института микробиологии РАН и Института медико-биологических проблем РАН, побывала в космосе (на поверхности спутника Фотон-М), пережила обратный вход в атмосферу и благополучно размножилась после возвращения. Это говорит о том, что жизнь на Землю действительно могли занести метеориты.
Статья «Spore-Forming Thermophilic Bacterium within Artificial Meteorite Survives Entry into the Earth's Atmosphere on FOTON-M4 Satellite Landing Module» опубликована в журнале PLoS ONE.
Lithopanspermia. The word is a mouthful but represents one of the most intriguing theories about the origin of life on Earth. Quite literally, it means life began from an extraterrestrial source and brought here by hitching a ride on a rock, more specifically, a meteorite. The idea the entirety of biological life coming from afar makes for fantastic sci-fi fodder but the story proving it as possible fact has been even more entertaining.
The initial idea of panspermia began in Ancient Greece but wasn't fully accepted until the early 1900s when German physicist Svante Arrhenius outlined just how this could happen. In the vastness of space, dormant seeds and spores resistant to the harsh conditions hitch a ride onto particles and travel the universe. Some eventually are drawn in by the gravity of a planet and end up on the surface. If the conditions are right, they can rise from their slumber and start growing, thriving, and evolving. The idea is hard to believe and for over a Century, there was little evidence to prove the postulate. Yet by the turn of the 21st Century, some of the clues began to fall into place.
First, spores were indeed able to survive in space as long as they were protected from cosmic rays. When tested in the matrix of a meteorite, the survival increased to levels capable of initiating life on another planet. Over the years, other microbes were added to list suggesting part of the theory was indeed plausible.
Of course, survivability in space does not a terrestrial microbe make. Depending on the timing of entry, the Earth would not be the inviting environment it is today. Several factors would be extreme, including temperature, atmosphere, and nutrient supply. But amid the myriad of species on Earth, several are capable of surviving the harshest of conditions. Aptly named extremophiles, these species could indeed survive the conditions of pre-historic times and thrive.
Even with the ability to survive in space and on land, there is still a gap in the ability to turn fantasy into plausible reality. The microbe has to survive the stress of atmospheric entry. The heat could potentially kill the hardiest of spores and leave nothing more than a lifeless organic husk - or ash - on the soil. Proper shielding could offer hope but the evidence was scarce at best. One particular study in 2010 managed to send a species of algae through the entire entry process but it did not survive. In 2014, another study revealed DNA could survive the journey but this could not be extrapolated to life itself.
Last week, the theory received a boost thanks to a study by a team of Russian scientists. They found fully formed bacteria shielded by a meteorite could survive the entry process and initiate growth. The results may help to spark a new wave of tests to determine which species could actually represent the origin of life on Earth.
The group worked with a thermal-resistant extremophile known as Thermoanaerobacter siderophilus. It was discovered in 1999 in vents proximal to the Karymsky volcano in Russia. The bacterium is capable of not only surviving high temperatures, but also can grow in the presence of iron and form endospores in stressful environment. This made it the perfect candidate for testing. The species was grown up, dried and placed into an artificial meteorite. The test object was 2ѕ inches in diameter and comprised of a compound considered to be excellent for mimicking meteorites, basalt.
The meteorite/bacteria combination was placed onto the outside surface of the FOTON-M4 satellite and then sent up into orbit. After 45 days, the satellite returned to Earth exposing the meteorite to the extreme conditions of entry including a stretch where the temperature was over 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the ordeal was complete, a parachute brought the satellite to Earth allowing for testing to be completed.
Back at the lab, the bacteria were put into media for any signs of growth. To be sure no contamination was possible, strict aseptic technique was performed and sterility controls were used. With no extraneous growth detected, the researchers knew any signs of life would be solely from the samples.
It took five days but eventually, there was growth. Not all of the samples survived (4 of 24) but those that did grow as if nothing had happened. For the researchers, this was an incredible observation. Although it didn't help to answer the greater questions on the origins of life - T. siderophilus is most likely not our original life form - the results did reveal lithopanspermia is entirely possible.
This study was the first documented case of microbial survival but the researchers suggested this is only the beginning. Future tests can now be performed on other microbial species using T. siderophilus as a positive control. This will allow for more scientifically valid experiments as well as open the door to testing a wider variety of species. Though the journey may be slow, the path towards finding the truth behind lithopanspermia is now clear and may offer hope to finally figuring out how life began on this pale blue dot we call home.
Copyright © 2015 Popular Science.
* * *
Prensa Latina / 15 Jul 2015
Ocean Warming Leads to Stronger Precipitation Extremes
С начала 1980-х гг. температура воды в Черном море и восточной части Средиземного поднялась на 2 градуса. Российские и немецкие ученые проанализировали, как могло сказаться потепление на гидрологическом цикле в этом регионе. Расчеты показали нестабильность нижней атмосферы и возможное увеличение интенсивности осадков на 300%.
That the temperatures on our planet are rising is clear. In particular, the increasing emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide continue to warm the atmosphere. The effects of global warming on the hydrological cycle, however, are still not fully understood. Particularly uncertain is how the strength of extreme summertime thunderstorms have changed, and how it may change in the future.
In coastal regions neighboring warm seas, the sea surface temperature can play a crucial role in the intensity of convective storms. The Black Sea and eastern Mediterranean have warmed by about 2 C since the early 1980s. Russian and German scientists investigated what impact this warming may have had on extreme precipitation in the region.
"Our showcase example was a heavy precipitation event from July 2012 that took place in Krymsk (Russia), near the Black Sea coast, resulting in a catastrophic flash food with 172 deaths", said Edmund Meredith, lead author of the study.
"We carried out a number of very-high-resolution simulations with an atmospheric model to investigate the impact of rising sea surface temperatures on the formation of intense convective storms, which are often associated with extreme rainfall", Meredith continued.
Simulations of the event with observed sea surface temperatures showed an increase in precipitation intensity of over 300 percent, compared to comparable simulations using sea surface temperatures representative of the early 1980s.
"We were able to identify a very distinct change, which demonstrates that convective precipitation responds with a strong, non-linear signal to the temperature forcing", Prof. Douglas Maraun, co-author of the study added.
At the end of June 2015, the nearby Olympic city of Sochi experienced an unusually intense precipitation event. Over 175 mm of rain was recorded in 12 hours, showing the relevance of the scientists work.
"Due to ocean warming, the lower atmosphere has become more unstable over the Black Sea and eastern Mediterranean. We therefore expect that events like those in Krymsk or Sochi will become more frequent in the future", added the Kiel-based climate scientist.
Copyright 2014 Prensa Latina. Todos los derechos reservados.
* * *
Microfinance Monitor / July 19, 2015
Forget Global Warming, Earth May Witness "Little Ice Age" from 2030 to 2040: Russian, UK Scientists
В 2030-2040 гг. начнется минимум солнечной активности, что может сказаться на климате планеты. Предыдущий минимум - минимум Маундера - наблюдавшийся в 1645-1715 гг. совпал с наиболее холодной фазой малого ледникового периода, имевшего место в XIV-XIX вв. Если теории о влиянии солнечной активности на климат верны, то через 15 лет вполне возможен «рецидив» глобального похолодания, хотя и не такой длительный, как в прошлый раз.
Доклад с результатами многолетних исследований ученых из НИИЯФ МГУ, Нортумбрийского университета, университета Бредфорда и Халлского университета был представлен на конференции Королевского астрономического общества в Лландидно (Уэльс).
The recurrence of the intense cold period similar to the one that raged the Earth during the "Little Ice Age" freezing the world in the 17th and early 18th centuries may occur again from 2030 to 2040, said scientists in their conclusions at the the National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno in Wales.
The alarming findings were presented by Prof. V.Zharkova of Northumbria University at the meeting of the international group of scientists, which included Dr Helen Popova of the Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics and of the Faculty of Physics of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, professor Simon Shepherd of Bradford University (UK) and Dr Sergei Zharkov of Hull University (UK).
Since the Sun's magnetic field's amplitude and spatial configuration vary with time, the reduction in the number of solar spots can cause decay of electromagnetic radiation from the Sun, which in turn results in cold or "Little Ice Age", explain the scientists. The Sun's surface undergoes structural change every 11 years and 90-years causing reduction in the number of solar spots that is associated with periodic reduction in the Earth's temperature.
Records show that in the 17th century, there was a prolonged solar activity called the Maunder minimum, which lasted roughly from 1645 to 1700. During this period, there were only about 50 sunspots instead of the usual 40,000-50,000 sunspots, said scientists in their three peer-reviewed papers.
Analyzing three cycles of solar activity by applying the so-called "principal component analysis", the authors extrapolated the prediction of the magnetic waves to the next cycles and discovered that the waves become fully separated into the opposite hemispheres after sometime, producing fewer sunspots. Hence, there will be a decline in solar activity during the years 2030-2040, they predicted warning a severe cooling of Earth by 2030 and causing very severe winters and cold summers.
"Several studies have shown that the Maunder Minimum coincided with the coldest phase of global cooling, which was called "the Little Ice Age". During this period there were very cold winters in Europe and North America. In the days of the Maunder minimum the water in the river Thames and the Danube River froze, the Moscow River was covered by ice every six months, snow lay on some plains year round and Greenland was covered by glaciers," said Russian scientist Dr Helen Popova, who developed a unique physical-mathematical model.
Dr Popova said, if the existing theories about the impact of solar activity on the climate are true, then a significant cooling, similar to the one occurred during the Maunder minimum, will be visible within the next 5 to 15 years.
"Given that our future minimum will last for at least three solar cycles, which is about 30 years, it is possible, that the lowering of the temperature will not be as deep as during the Maunder minimum. But we will have to examine it in detail. We keep in touch with climatologists from different countries. We plan to work in this direction", said Dr Helen Popova.
According to the study of deuterium in the Antarctic, there were 5 global warmings and 4 Ice Ages in the past 400,000 years. Human race is believed to have appeared on the Earth about 60,000 years ago.
"However, even if human activities influence the climate, we can say, that the Sun with the new minimum gives humanity more time or a second chance to reduce their industrial emissions and to prepare, when the Sun will return to normal activity," said Helen Popova.
MF Monitor Copyright 2015 All Rights Reserved.
* * *
У российских ученых стали возникать проблемы с западными компаниями, поставляющими высокотехнологичное оборудование и материалы.
NOVOSIBIRSK, Russia (AP) - Hundreds of Russian scientists say companies abroad are refusing to sell them scientific equipment they need to do their work and Western publications are curtly turning down their research papers.
The reason, they believe, is a combination of sanctions against Russia over its involvement in Ukraine and rising hostility to Russia in the West seeping into the scientific community.
Since Russia annexed Crimea last year, it has become almost impossible for scientists in Russia to buy anything in the United States or Japan that has a dual purpose, said physicist Alexander Shilov, who works in the Institute of Laser Physics in Russia's scientific hub of Akademgorodok, or Academy Town - part of Russia's third-largest city of Novosibirsk.
"Due to the sanctions" or "the conflict in Ukraine" are the most common explanations Shilov hears for refusing orders from Russia. "When they sell a piece of glass, how do they know whether we will use it in a military laser or a medical one?" he said.
The U.S. and EU sanctions were designed to halt exports to the Russian defense sector. When announcing a new round of sanctions in July 2014, the European Union noted specifically that they "should not affect the exports of dual-use goods and technology" to Russia for "non-military use." In reality, many Western companies were so spooked by the sanctions and the penalties they could face for violating them that the door was shut completely, the scientists say.
An American scholar who works with Russian universities - and asked to be unnamed because he was not authorized to speak on his university's behalf - confirmed that his Russian counterparts are having difficulties with Western companies. In some cases, he said, companies are saying they fear that the equipment might get slapped with sanctions while it is being delivered, or that they no longer have support staff in Russia to service it.
What's more, foreign-made equipment is now less affordable for Russian scientists because of the depreciation in the Russian ruble, which lost nearly half of its value since the Crimean annexation.
The scientists' plight has been compounded by the Kremlin's own crackdown on Russian private funding of science, stemming from suspicions of Western influence. The government this year labeled the Dynasty foundation, Russia's largest source of private funding for science, a "foreign agent" - which makes the group vulnerable to an array of surprise checks and audits. It is a Cold War term that carries connotations of spying. The foundation fell afoul of the officialdom because its Russian founder funds the organization from money transferred from his foreign bank accounts.
"If Dynasty was named a foreign agent, then everyone who had contracts with Dynasty is an accomplice of a foreign agent," said Shilov. "We are all spies now."
The government has become increasingly suspicious of foreign-funded non-governmental organizations, seeing them as potential agents of a hostile West. Russia has brushed off the sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union, saying that Russia has plenty of resources to replace banned imports with its own production.
The Russian government denied the scandal involving Dynasty is aimed at persecuting Russian scientists. Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said Dynasty was receiving funds from abroad and therefore should be listed as a foreign agent.
But the sanctions have taken a toll, especially on scientists whose research hinges on access to Western-made materials and high-tech equipment. And several scientists told The Associated Press that since the March 2014 annexation of Crimea, publication of their articles in Western journals either has been delayed or turned down, with no explanation.
Editors and publishers at several U.S.-based scientific journals told The AP that they assess articles without any bias related to the geographic location of authors, or geopolitical concerns. They added that they have seen no evidence among their editors or reviewers to support the Russian scientists' claims.
"All papers are treated the same regardless of the nation they were submitted from", said William Kearney at the Washington-based National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which publishes the PNAS journal.
Scientists who have lived or worked in Akademgorodok for more than 15 years are particularly distressed because life had been getting better for them recently, after years struggling with almost no funding after the chaotic 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. They recall how the cash-strapped Russian government in the 1990s largely left its world-class scientists to their own devices: Some packed their bags for university jobs abroad, and some had to sell goods at the market or grow their vegetables to survive the long Siberian winter, with wages regularly delayed for months.
Young men fled Akademgorodok for better paid jobs elsewhere, leaving the scientific hub in the hands of scientists close to retirement age who had few prospects of alternative employment.
"When I graduated 10 years ago, a significant number of my classmates went abroad, a significant number opened their own businesses and about 20 percent of graduates, at best, stayed to work in research," said Shilov.
Gone are the days when the scientists of Akademgorodok, which was built in a Siberian forest clearing in 1957, were forced to take jobs as bus drivers or market sellers to eke out a living. Over the past 15 years, Russia's federal spending on scientific research increased 20-fold to 350 billion rubles ($6.3 billion) this year. Artur Bilsky, 38, who has worked as a researcher at the Institute of Thermophysics since 1997, has witnessed the transformation.
"If you stand at the entrance here and see who comes in and comes out, you'll see there will be a lot of young employees. Many young scientists can afford a car and vacation," he said.
The average monthly salary of scientists across Russia rose from 2,700 rubles in 2000 to 32,600 rubles last year, now worth about $600 after the sharp fall of the ruble. The relative rise in fortunes has turned Akademgorodok into a charming suburb filled with 30-somethings, where young women push children in prams and smart coffee houses cater to a younger generation.
Now politics is again clouding the scientific horizon. Dynasty was planning to distribute nearly $8 million this year in grants and scholarships. But after the Justice Ministry ordered it to register as a foreign agent, founder Dmitry Zimin and its board decided this month to shut it down in protest over the stigma.
President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said he was sorry to hear that the foundation was closing down but insisted that no one forced it to do so.
The onslaught on the foundation has enraged many in Akademgorodok who have relied on its funding. Andrei Shchetnikov, who coaches the national youth physics team, said Dynasty has been covering half of the 1 million ruble budget for the annual Tournament of Young Physicists in Novosibirsk.
"For the projects that Dynasty supported, it was often the only steady financing they were getting," Shchetnikov said.
While confident that he'll find other sources of funding, he said more than money was at stake.
"What Dynasty has been doing ought to make the country proud," Shchetnikov said. "We have citizens who have made a fortune and understand that you need to support education projects - and that it's the future of Russia."
© 2015 Associated Press.
* * *
International Business Times UK / July 22, 2015
Russian scientists close to finding full remains of largest ever mammoth
Несколько лет назад в Оханском районе Пермского края были обнаружены останки степного мамонта (он же - трогонтериевый слон, крупнейший представитель отряда хоботных, до 5 метров в высоту, весом до 10 тонн) возрастом около 200 тысяч лет. Работы по извлечению ведутся до сих пор, поскольку кости очень хрупкие. Полных скелетов степных мамонтов в России всего три, поэтому ученые возлагают большие надежды на новую находку.
Russian paleontologists believe they are close to unearthing the first full skeleton of the biggest mammoth that ever lived 200,000 years ago. A new expedition to excavate the remains of the steppe mammoth in Okhansky district of Perm region expects to speed up the process that began in 2013 and was halted due to bad weather. It is expected to take another year by when the remains of the "giant elephant" are expected to be found.
Already the Perm Local History Museum team has found parts of the tusks, occipital bones, hyoid bone fragments, fragment of the right scapula, ribs, vertebrae, jaw, teeth and more.
"At the moment, we have more than 50 steppe mammoth bones and hope to obtain a fairly full skeleton after we finish the excavations," said Tatiana Vostrikova, head of the expedition and deputy director of Perm Local History Museum.
Earlier finds of the steppe mammoth in Serbia and England were able to recover only 80-90% of the skeleton, reports the Siberian Times.
The steppe mammoth is an extinct species that inhabited northern Eurasia during the Middle Pleistocene period 600,000-150,000 years ago. With a body height at shoulders reaching four metres in the latest fossil specimen, the steppe mammoth is believed to be the largest elephant that ever lived on earth. Its weight could reach almost 10 tonnes. The species is thought to be the first stage in the evolution of the steppe and tundra elephants and an ancestor of the woolly mammoth of later glacial periods.
Evgeny Mashchenko, senior researcher at the Paleontological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and scientific adviser to the expedition, said the latest discovery is "of great scientific interest". He assesses the age of the Perm male mammoth when it perished to be about 45. The animals could live to around 60.
© Copyright 2015 IBTimes Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
* * *
InvestorIntel / July 29, 2015
Russian scientists plans to present the world's first artificial human kidney and thyroid gland by 2018
Российским ученым из Лаборатории биотехнологических исследований «3D Bioprinting Solutions» (Сколково) удалось на первом отечественном биопринтере FABION напечатать щитовидную железу мыши - целиком. До сих пор удавалось воссоздать лишь фрагменты.
К 2018 г. планируется создать с помощью биопринтинга и человеческий вариант.
3D Bioprinting Solutions, one of Russia's leading biotechnological laboratories, has officially announced the design of the world's first organ construct of thyroid gland, which took place with use of FABION, Russia's first bioprinter.
According to Vladimir Mironov, head of the laboratory, the new construct is comprised of several types of tissue and has its own vascularization. He has also added that the new development is designed for the implantation to test animals, however by 2018 scientists hope to complete the design of its analogue, that will be suitable for human transplantation.
The new technology was developed by scientists of 3D Bioprinting Solutions and is considered as one of the alternatives to stem cells. According to scientists, its use should help to solve a problem of a shortage of donor organs for transplantation in due course.
According to Vladimir Mironov, the new technology is produced by a new bioprinter, which is a robotic device, that allows to accurately allocate biomaterial, including living cells in layers in three-dimensional space. It was jointly designed by Russian scientists and scientists from the University of Vienna.
Mironov has also added that the new technology is based on the use of tissue spheroids (which are produced on the basis of microfluidics technology) as building blocks.
According to scientists of 3D Bioprinting Solutions, at present there are about 12 commercial bioprinters available globally, however the Russian model is probably the world's most currently advanced, which is mainly due to its multifunctionality.
As part of the plans of 3D Bioprinting Solutions, is the production of human kidney, the most demanded organ for transplantation by 2018.
Scientists of the laboratory believe that they will be able to complete kidney design already during the next three years, despite the predictions of some Western scientists, according to which the production of the world's first human kidney on the basis of bioprinter will take place no sooner than by 2030.
In the meantime, Russia's leading doctors and scientists in the field of medicine believe that the technology will be suitable for the use in clinical practice.
According to Andrey Polyakov, head of department of neck tumors and microsurgery of the Moscow Medical Radiological Research Center, the produced artificial thyroid gland has its own vessels, both arterial and venous, which can provide blood flow and nutrition, as well as transportation of produced hormones for the body.
This is not the first successful development of Russian scientists in the field of tissue engineering, in 2013, in accordance with an initiative of Peter Glybochko, head of I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, (Russia's oldest and the largest national medical higher educational institution), a group of the university's scientists had successfully created and transplanted a fragment of bioengineering urethra to a patient suffered from ankylurethria.
Copyright © 2015 ProEdge Media Corp. All Rights Reserved.
* * *