Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Март 2015 г.
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2015 г.
Российская наука и мир
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    EurekAlert / 2-MAR-2015
    Researchers identify the mitochondrial "shield" that helps cancer cells survive
    New research in The FASEB Journal shows that intermediate filaments of vimentin protect mitochondria in cancer cells.
    Исследование ученых из Института белка РАН и Медицинского колледжа Файнберга (США) объясняет устойчивость раковых клеток к воздействию лекарств и излучению. Оказывается, белок виментин, в нормальных условиях помогающий сохранить клеткам свою форму, способен иногда создавать «щит» вокруг митохондрий раковых клеток, защищая их от внешних воздействий.
    Статья «Mitochondrial membrane potential is regulated by vimentin intermediate filaments» опубликована в The FASEB Journal.

Scientists have moved closer to understanding why cancer cells can be so resilient, even when faced with the onslaught of nearly toxic drug cocktails, radiation, and even our own immune systems. A new research report appearing in the March 2015 issue of The FASEB Journal, shows that intermediate filaments formed by a protein called "vimentin" or VIF, effectively "insulate" the mitochondria in cancer cells from any attempt to destroy the cell. Under normal circumstances, VIF serves as the "skeleton" for cells by helping them maintain their shapes. In some cancer cells, however, VIF actually help to preserve the cancer cell's center of energy, the mitochondria, either by helping the cell to resist outside assaults or by helping it recover quickly. Because a number of cancer treatments target the mitochondria of cancer cells, this discovery should help researchers develop new drugs that more effectively treat cancer.
"The expression of vimentin in some tumor cells in the process of their malignant transformation was discovered long ago and since that time, this protein has been used as a marker in clinical diagnostics. However, the role of vimentin in the promoting metastases was unknown," said Alexander A. Minin, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Institute of Protein Research, Russian Academy of Sciences, Group of Cell Biology in Moscow, Russia. "Our findings provides a clue to solving this problem. We suggest that the acquisition of a motile phenotype by tumor cells requires enhanced energy production by mitochondria. VIFs fulfil this task by increasing the Mitochondrial Membrane Potential (MMP), a measure of the cell's energy resources"
To make this discovery, Minin and colleagues (which includes Robert Goldman, an associate editor of the journal and Vladimir Gelfand, a member of the journal's editorial board) used fluorescent potential-dependent mitochondrial dyes to analyze MMP in living, cultured cells. These dyes were accumulated in mitochondria proportionally to the level of their MMP. The higher the MMP (the energy level), the brighter the mitochondrial staining. To investigate the role of VIFs in the regulation of MMP, researchers compared the intensity of fluorescence of stained mitochondria in the vimentin-null cells with that in the cells with restored VIFs. In the inverse experiments, the expression of vimentin was suppressed in normal cells containing VIFs by RNA interference. Overall: MMP was increased in the presence of VIF, while their absence caused a decrease of membrane potential.
"We've known for a long time that cancer cells, while destructive to the organism as a whole, are remarkably resilient when compared to their non-cancer counterparts," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "This study may help to explain why. Now that we know that the protein skeleton of cancer cells not only maintains their shape, but also protects the energy reserves required for metastasis, we can begin working on new therapies to target this interaction."

Copyright © 2015 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

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    Press of Atlantic City / Sunday, March 8, 2015
    Wetlands Institute using science to break ice with Russia
    • By Michael Miller
    О российско-американском обмене опытом по сохранению водно-болотных экосистем и развитию экотуризма.

MIDDLE TOWNSHIP - The Wetlands Institute is partnering with scientists in Russia to learn more about conservation in Eastern Europe - and maybe achieve world peace.
Staff members from the nonprofit conservation group will travel to Russia as part of a U.S. State Department program designed to foster better working relationships between the two countries.
Staff from the Wetlands Institute and similar centers in Texas and Iowa will go to Russia next month to learn about its conservation efforts in three regions of Russia. In the fall, Russian scientists from those regions will visit South Jersey, Iowa and Texas to see how America protects its marshes and wildlife and promotes ecotourism. With the two countries seeing increasing political tension, this peer-to-peer science program is timely, said Lenore Tedesco, director of the Wetlands Institute.
"You could ask, 'Is that really what we want to do now?' But I think it's exactly what we need to do," she said.
She and Director of Research Brooke Knapick will visit the lake region of Smolensk outside Moscow, where they will tour the national park and learn about ecotourism. Established in 1992, it's one of the newer parks in Russia and is home to brown bears, moose, lynx and wolves.
Russia has identified more than 25 million acres of valuable wetlands across 35 regions. That covers an area five times the size of New Jersey.
Tedesco said she does not speak Russian. But her Russian counterparts speak English.
"We're getting organized now," she said. "Getting into their national parks will be cool. I'm pretty excited."
The Russian scientists from Smolensk will visit the Wetlands Institute in October, which coincides with the annual fall hawk migration, she said.
"Most of the wetlands centers have important migratory bird areas," she said. "It's a great opportunity to showcase Cape May County's environmental education and ecotourism."
Russia and the United States have seen increasing political anxiety since Russia's annexation of Crimea in Ukraine, said David L. Carr, professor of political science at Stockton University. "Relations with Russia are at their lowest point since the Cold War," Carr said. "Vladimir Putin has gradually reasserted the authority of the Russian state. He sees the breakup of the Soviet Union as the biggest tragedy of the 20th century. He's trying to reassert Russia's authority in a region on its borders."
Carr said programs between professionals in polarized countries can have a profound effect on improving perceptions and breaking down stereotypes, especially during periods of political crisis.
"In times of tension, it's easy to resort to stereotypes in thinking about the motives of other countries. Stereotypes are easier to hold if you have no contact with other people," he said.
Russia is a top-30 trade partner. It hosted a successful Winter Olympics last year in Sochi.
And perhaps the most visible collaboration is aboard the International Space Station, home to three American and three Russian astronauts. Half of them will be returning this month, to be replaced by three others, also a mix of Russians and Americans.
"I know this is part of a larger picture with President Obama and President Putin. But it's important to keep that in the back of our minds. I don't think about the political aspects of this," said John DeFillipo, director of the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center outside Dallas, Texas.
He will visit wetlands in St. Petersburg this summer and will host his Russian counterparts at his 2,000-acre manmade wetland in the fall. The freshwater wetland helps filter drinking water for the growing suburbs and attracts migrating birds and nesting bald eagles.
Like the Wetlands Institute, it provides education and ecotourism to visitors who come to see the wildlife and talk to staff.
DeFillipo said he expects to learn a lot from his Russian counterparts. His center is only 5 years old, so they are just starting to launch their first research projects.
And he said he is keen to introduce his Russian colleagues to Texas, including its diverse culture, ranging from art museums to rodeos.
"If they come here in October, they have to go to the Texas State Fair. You can get anything fried. If you can fry it, you can eat it," he said.

© 2015 pressofAtlanticCity.com. All rights reserved.

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    EurekAlert / 16-MAR-2015
    The devil's helmet for a legendary tiger moth
    Российские ученые Иван Болотов (Институт экологических проблем Севера УрО РАН) и Олег Берлов (Байкало-Ленский государственный природный заповедник) опубликовали в журнале Nota Lepidopterologica отчет о наблюдении гусениц редкой бабочки - медведицы Менетрие (Borearctia menetriesii), получившей название в честь энтомолога Э.П.Менетрие и впервые описанной в 1846 году. С тех пор, несмотря на обширный ареал обитания, бабочка попадалась энтомологам не более десяти раз. Описанная в отчете «встреча» состоялась в Иркутской области.

The Menetries's tiger moth (Borearctia menetriesii) is the most rare and enigmatic representative among the Palearctic Arctiinae. During an expedition in almost inaccessible wild taiga area of Eastern Siberia, Russian scientists had the luck to encounter it. During their studies they also recorded feeding larva of this mysterious species on a native devil's helmet host plant for the first time. The study was published in the open access journal Nota Lepidopterologica.
The Menetries's tiger moth (Borearctia menetriesii) is the most rare and enigmatic representative among the Palearctic Arctiinae. Only single specimens were found in the majority of known localities, and sometimes the records are separated from each other by many decades. For example, there are four records in Finland dating between 1913 and 1943. The moth has not been observed there since 1943 and seemed to be locally extinct, until it was rediscovered in 2003.
Among the entomologists and amateurs, only lucky ones have a chance to meet this wonderful species in its natural environment, but usually this chance comes only once in a lifetime. There are only four people in the World that were happy to twice catch the Menetries's moth, namely Alexey Kurentzov (in 1951 and 1955), Yury Korshunov (in 1964 and 1966) and Andrey Sviridov & Vladimir Murzin (in 1977 and 1979), all of them are the famous Russian lepidopterologists.
The biology of this large and colorful moth is poorly known because of its extremely low abundance throughout its distribution range. During the expedition in almost inaccessible wild taiga area of Eastern Siberia, Russian scientists have recorded feeding larva of this mysterious species on a native host plant for the first time. The study was published in the open access journal Nota Lepidopterologica.
The host plant was the red aconite (Aconitum rubicundum). The various aconite taxa (Aconitumspp.), also known as devil's helmet, wolfsbane, etc., are strongly poisonous for insects because of the high alkaloid content. There are only 18 Lepidoptera species listed as aconite feeders.
The red aconite is a close relative or even subspecies of the northern aconite (Aconitum lycoctonum), which is widespread across Eurasia, but has scattered distribution in Fennoscandia. The majority of moth localities are situated within the distribution range of the northern aconite and other related taxa, which are diverse and widespread in the Eastern Palearctic.
However, only two of the six westernmost Borearctia menetriesii localities in Finland are in accordance with sporadic records of the northern aconite.
Our record confirms that the Menetries's tiger moth is a polyphagous species like most other boreal Arctiinae. In contrast, aconite species might play an important role for this species as suitable source of alkaloids, which could be necessary for the protection of overwintering larvae against fungal and bacterial diseases.
Original source:
Bolotov I, E. Berlov O (2015) Record of Borearctia menetriesii (Eversmann, 1846) (Lepidoptera, Erebidae, Arctiinae) larva on Aconitum rubicundum Fischer (Ranunculaceae) in Eastern Siberia. Nota Lepidopterologica 38(1): 23-27. doi: 10.3897/nl.38.8664.

Copyright © 2015 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

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    EurekAlert / 16-MAR-2015
    New remote control for molecular motors
    It is now theoretically possible to remotely control the direction in which magnetic molecules spin, which opens the door to designing applications based on molecular motors.
    Считается, что контролировать направление вращения магнитных молекул очень трудно. Физики из Института физики микроструктур РАН теоретически доказали, что вращением молекулы можно управлять с помощью изменения поляризации и частоты внешнего магнитного поля.

In the eyes of physicists, magnetic molecules can be considered as nanoscale magnets. Remotely controlling the direction in which they rotate, like spinning tops, may intuitively be difficult to achieve. However, Russian physicists have just demonstrated that it is theoretically possible to do so. They have shown that a change of direction in the circular polarisation of an external magnetic field leads to a change in the direction of the mechanical rotation of the molecule. These findings by Iosif Davidovich Tokman and Vera Il'inichna Pozdnyakova from the Institute for Physics of Microstructures, Russian Academy of Sciences, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, were recently published in EPJ B. Possible applications of the phenomenon include rotating magnetic molecules used as molecular rotors to power molecular motors.
The authors were inspired by recent experimental observations, in which molecules that are not magnetic can freely rotate around a fixed axis on the surface of crystals. Tokman and his colleague had the idea of using magnetic molecule to remotely control their rotation using a circularly polarised magnetic field. The authors then developed a theoretical explanation to this gyromagnetic phenomenon at the nanometric scale, which was already well known at the macroscopic scale. The rotational speed of a molecular magnet around its own axis, they have shown, depends on the polarisation and frequency of an external alternating magnetic field.
To provide a more comprehensive picture of the molecular rotation, they relied on classical equations - used at macroscopic-scale - to explain the motion for spin degrees of freedom, which can be polarised. They then combined them with quantum mechanics - typically used for sub-microscopic-scale entities - to describe the mechanical rotational degrees of freedom and their interaction with the spin polarisation. These findings have yet to be confirmed experimentally.
I.D. Tokman and V. I. Pozdnyakova (2015), Mechanical rotation of nanomagnets through interaction with an electromagnetic wave, Eur. Phys. J. B 88: 51, DOI: 10.1140/epjb/e2015-50438-6

Copyright © 2015 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

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    Great Reporter / 17 March 2015
    Tomsk State University (Russia, Siberia) launches a project for European and American journalists
    Томский государственный университет начал проект Tomsk Uni, направленный на установление прочных связей с мировым научным сообществом и привлечением зарубежных исследователей, преподавателей и студентов.

Tomsk State University (TSU), one of Russia's oldest universities, has launched a project to tell people about the achievements made by Siberian scientists, as well as teachers and students who come to Siberia from across the world.
The project - Tomsk Uni - involves creating the post of permanent TSU representative in Western Europe, and launching English-language TSU accounts in social networks, such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google+.
The University also now has an English-speaking PR team, which is ready to quickly respond to requests from mass media, find a specialist or with material for publication.
TSU is located in the center of Eurasia. A modern classical university with a history stretching back centuries, it has 25,000 students, 23 departments, and several R&D centres. TSU offers students and researchers over 200 areas of specialization and study ranging from opera through robotics to meteorology and space technology. In 2014, TSU was included in the QS Top 100 universities among the BRICS countries.
TSU hopes that the Tomsk Uni project will help establish solid connections with the global scientific community, and attract foreign researchers, teachers and students.
TSU offers total research freedom to foreign scientists, which is rare in science and research.
"TSU is a demanding university. We are focused on high academic results. However, in order to demand such results we need to provide leading foreign researchers with total freedom in their work in Tomsk," says Eduard Galazhinsky, the Rector of TSU.
Tomsk State University (TSU) was founded in 1878. It is located in Tomsk, a unique Russian city with a half-million population, whose life is built around seven major universities, hundreds of innovative enterprises, and a variety of technology parks. TSU is the center of this city - Siberia's research capital.
As a universal institution of higher education, TSU offers students and researchers over 200 areas of specialization and study ranging from opera through robotics to meteorology and space technology. At TSU, traditionally strong schools such as the schools of law, linguistics and management (including MBA) are combined with TSU's areas of particular research excellence including research into new materials, e. g. for medicine and space technology, twin studies, multi-dimentional swamp studies (TSU is situated on the edge of the Vasyugan Swamp, the world's biggest swamp), and botanical studies (TSU's botanic garden is one of the biggest and oldest botanic gardens in Russia).
The TSU campus is home to over 20,000 students including 1,000 students from other countries. TSU attracts many students from Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Mongolia and China. However, if you go the university's 100-year-old library, you will also see students from Western Europe, e. g. Germany and the UK, searching information for their Master's program in the library's collection, which includes about 4 million catalogued items.
TSU is a typical European university, and like other universities, it builds connections with universities in Germany, the UK, Holland, Sweden, France and China. Nevertheless, Tomsk State University, or simply Tomsk Uni, is almost unknown to Europe outside the walls of research centers. However, this is not forever. Like other Russian universities, TSU welcomes Western researchers and students, giving them carte blanche to conduct virtually any research. The absence of strict constraints and the wide array of research areas make TSU a place of research freedom.
TSU believes that after six years one in ten researchers at TSU will be foreigners.

© 2014 Greatreporter.com, a subsidiary of Presswire, Ltd.

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    Le Temps / Mercredi 18 mars 2015
    Il y a 50 ans, le premier piéton de l'espace
    • Olga Yurkina
    50 лет назад человек впервые вышел в открытый космос. Алексей Леонов провел 12 минут на высоте 500 км над Землей.

Le 18 mars 1965, le cosmonaute soviétique Alexeï Leonov était le premier homme à faire une sortie et à flotter dans l'espace. Quatre ans après Gagarine, premier homme envoyé dans l'espace mais resté dans son vaisseau. Dix ans plus tard, en pleine Guerre froide, il accomplit une autre mission historique en serrant la main de l'astronaute américain Thomas Stafford lors du premier rendez-vous spatial entre les deux nations. Il s'est confié au «Temps».
La vie des cosmonautes ne tient parfois qu'à un fil. Un simple fil, tel un cordon ombilical, a sécurisé le cosmonaute soviétique Alexeï Leonov pendant la toute première sortie extravéhiculaire dans l'espace. Le 18 mars 1965, une première dans l'histoire de l'humanité, il flottait à 500 km au-dessus de la Terre, seul face à la profondeur béante du cosmos. Douze longues minutes durant lesquelles ce héros soviétique a dû désobéir au règlement pour sauver sa vie.
«Je ne ressentais aucune peur. Juste de la curiosité. Il paraît que les premiers mots que j'ai prononcés étaient: En effet, la Terre est ronde», raconte cet homme à l'allure de général, âgé aujourd'hui de 80 ans. Il pleut à verse sur la Cité des Etoiles et son centre de préparation des cosmonautes où il nous accueille. C'est ici que l'aventure a débuté pour Alexeï Leonov, jeune et téméraire pilote de l'armée sélectionné dans la première volée des cosmonautes en 1960. C'est ici que ses missions spatiales se termineront trente ans plus tard, quand il devra démissionner de son poste de directeur adjoint.
«Je voyais la mer Noire, plus loin la Roumanie, l'Italie... La Terre était un globe géant, les continents et les rivières étaient bien distincts...» Le regard d'Alexeï Leonov s'éclaircit à l'évocation de ses souvenirs. Lorsqu'il s'extirpe de son vaisseau spatial de la mission Voskhod 2, il commence par tourner, puis s'éloigne. Il peut admirer les illuminations de Rio de Janeiro et le filet scintillant dessiné par les autoroutes autour des villes. Il n'y a pas que la Terre qui captive son regard: le ciel regorge d'étoiles. «Le cosmos était très silencieux. J'entendais mon cœur battre et ma respiration, lourde, fatiguée.» Cette respiration - reprise comme illustration sonore par Stanley Kubrick dans « 2001, L'Odyssée de l'espace » - s'expliquait par les conditions extrêmes de son scaphandre qui ne laissait à disposition que 60 litres d'oxygène contre 300 qui sont la norme aujourd'hui. Mais il réservait aussi une autre surprise qui faillit coûter la vie au premier piéton de l'espace.
«A cause d'un problème inattendu de pression, la combinaison a commencé à se déformer, à se dilater. Mes mains sont sorties des gants et mes pieds des bottes comme si j'avais rétréci. Il n'y avait aucun mécanisme, comme c'est le cas aujourd'hui, pour ajuster le scaphandre. » Que faire? Agir, très vite. Il a encore cinq minutes avant de se retrouver dans l'ombre, la nuit complète, à moins 140 degrés. « Je devais pouvoir utiliser mes doigts pour revenir vers le vaisseau. J'ai entrevu une seule solution.» Sans consulter ses supérieurs, comme le protocole l'aurait voulu, il décide de faire baisser de moitié la pression dans le scaphandre, une manœuvre périlleuse. Première infraction grave. Lorsque la combinaison rétrécit enfin, il peut à nouveau se mouvoir. De retour au vaisseau, à l'entrée du sas, exténué, il n'a plus la force de rentrer les pieds en avant, selon la règle. Il pénètre dans la capsule spatiale la tête la première. Deuxième infraction.
De retour sur Terre, après les fanfares et les parades en son honneur, on lui demandera des explications. Alexeï Leonov semble revivre la scène. «Je leur ai dit: imaginez que je vous aie informé. Vous auriez constitué une commission pour en débattre. Cela aurait pris cinq minutes. Vous auriez ensuite dû choisir le président de la commission. Deux minutes de plus. Vous auriez encore discuté, puis voté pour prendre une décision. Et en fin de compte, vous m'auriez conseillé de faire chuter la pression dans le scaphandre... Mais je n'aurais plus été là pour le faire.» Son supérieur se fendra alors d'un large sourire: «Hm... Alexeï a raison!» Le cosmonaute sera non seulement pardonné, mais il gagnera en estime.
En 1973, on lui confie une seconde mission historique: réaliser la première rencontre spatiale entre des vaisseaux soviétique et américain, Soyouz-Apollo. Le projet, qui doit contribuer à la détente des relations internationales en pleine Guerre froide, semble insensé. «Les quatre personnes à l'origine de ce rendez-vous sont pour moi des citoyens de l'univers: le président Richard Nixon, le ministre Alexeï Kosigyn, le directeur de la NASA James Fletcher, et le physicien de notre centre cosmique Mstislav Keldych. Ils voulaient montrer au monde qu'au-delà des relations exécrables entre nos deux pays, il y avait autre chose de possible, à un plus haut niveau. Ils voulaient éloigner ainsi la menace d'une Troisième Guerre mondiale. Et nous, les cosmonautes, devions servir d'exemple, montrer qu'une collaboration paisible était possible.»
Le départ est programmé au 15 juillet 1975. Selon le scénario, la poignée de main historique entre Alexeï Leonov et le commandant de l'équipage américain, Tom Stafford, devait avoir lieu au-dessus de Moscou. Mais les aléas du cosmos vont modifier la donne. «Une désynchronisation a dû se produire quelque part. Je n'ai jamais compris comment. Mais on s'est finalement serré la main plus tôt que prévu, juste au-dessus de l'Elbe, là où les troupes russes et américaines s'étaient rencontrées en 1945. Tout un symbole. On ne l'avait pas prévu mais le résultat fut plus beau et plus intelligent que le scénario.»
Ce que le trublion Alexeï Leonov avait prévu, en revanche, c'était de dessiner des fausses étiquettes de vodka collées sur les tubes de nourriture remplis... de bortsch pour trinquer à cette collaboration scientifique. La blague fut appréciée des Américains.
La peinture est l'autre passion d'Alexeï Leonov. Inscrit à une Ecole des beaux-arts, il avait bifurqué, peu avant le début des cours et sur un coup de tête, vers une carrière de pilote. Mais il restera fidèle aux pinceaux, s'inspirant de ses vols dans l'espace pour reconstituer les couleurs du cosmos, différentes des terrestres. Ces couleurs spatiales le fascinent. Il invente des instruments pour les étudier et les identifier, faisant ses expériences durant ses heures de repos. « J'ai fait deux observations : quand on passe de la lumière à la pénombre, c'est du Rockwell Kent, les couleurs froides et épurées d'Alaska. Quand on quitte la nuit pour rejoindre le soleil, ce sont les coloris chauds de Nicholas Roerich.»
Il proposera par la suite un projet de globe terrestre avec ses véritables couleurs, telles qu'elles apparaissent depuis l'espace. Il a aussi développé sa méthode pour peindre un ciel étoilé. «Les amas stellaires sont tellement fascinants qu'il n'y a rien à inventer, il suffit de rester fidèle au paysage du ciel nocturne... comme ces aurores polaires, aux strates vert-bleu et rouge écarlate...» Trêve de nostalgie, le général reprend le dessus du peintre. Avant de se quitter, il évoque son entraînement pour une mission sur la Lune. Ce programme fut stoppé. Il n'a jamais réalisé cet autre pas légendaire. Alors il peint la présence humaine sur le satellite terrestre. Sa façon à lui de poursuivre son rêve de cosmos.

© 2015 Le Temps SA.

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    United Press International / March 25, 2015
    Russian official proposes 12,000 mile, intercontinental superhighway
    The highway would follow a similar route to the 6,000-mile-long Trans-Siberian Railway.
    • By Andrew V. Pestano
    На заседании РАН 23 марта президент ОАО «Российские железные дороги» (РЖД) Владимир Якунин представил проект супермагистрали, высокоскоростной железной дороги, которая будет соединять Великобританию с Аляской и проходить через территорию России. Глава РАН Владимир Фортов назвал проект амбициозным и дорогостоящим, но способным при этом решить многие проблемы Сибири и Дальнего Востока.

MOSCOW, March 25 (UPI) - A Russian official has proposed plans for a 12,400-mile, inter-continental superhighway and railway that could connect London to Alaska.
Head of Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin announced the plans at a meeting of the Russian Academy of Science, according to the Siberian Times.
The Trans-Eurasian Belt Development would connect with existing networks across Europe. Although there are roads throughout Russia, the quality decreases when travelling eastward. The highway would follow a similar route to the 6,000-mile-long Trans-Siberian Railway.
"This is an inter-state, inter-civilization, project. It should be an alternative to the current, which has caused a systemic crisis," Yakunin said. "The project should be turned into a world "future zone", and it must be based on leading, not catching, technologies."
The plans could link with the Channel Tunnel, which connects the United Kingdom with France to the highway, and a rail network could be extended across the Bering Strait into Alaska.
Yakunin has been working on the project's development with director of Moscow State University, Viktor Sadovnichiy, and Russian scientist Gennady Osipov.
The plan would also construct a new high-speed railway and new oil and gas pipelines.
Head of Russian Academy of Science, Vladimir Fortov, called the project "very ambitious and expensive," but added that it would "solve many problems in the development of the vast region."
"It is connected with social programs, and new fields, new energy resources, and so on," he said.
"The idea is that basing on the new technology of high-speed rail transport we can build a new railway near the Trans-Siberian Railway with the opportunity to go to Chukotka and Bering Strait and then to the American continent," Fortov added.
Russian officials hope the proposed plans increase tourism and make Russia a global transportation hub.

Copyright © 2015 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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    pv magazine / 25 March 2015
    Russian researchers develop lighter, more flexible solar cells
    • By Linas Jegelevicius
    Сотрудники Томского государственного университета разработали технологию создания гибких солнечных батарей на основе ячеек Гретцеля. На любой гибкий носитель (стекло, ткань, металл, полимеры) наносится специальный раствор и запекается, после чего на поверхности образуется тончайшее композитное покрытие, преобразующее солнечный свет в электроэнергию.

Solar activity is heating up in Russia, where scientists at Tomsk State University are developing a new type of flexible solar cell. At the same time, the first solar plant selected in the country's green capacity tender has passed muster with the Market Council electricity authority.
Scientists from Russia's Tomsk State University (TSU) are working with colleagues from the Russian Academy of Sciences and local solar entrepreneurs on manufacturing flexible solar chargers using Graetzel cells that can be tailored in shape for a variety of uses.
The chargers are expected to be considerably cheaper and lighter than conventional ones. Behind the innovation lie oxide nanomaterials and their compositions. Solutions used to obtain oxide compositions may be applied to any flexible material, like thin glass, cloth, metal and polymer textures, according to the Russian scientists. After exposure to heat, a super thin composite coating forms on the surface, capable of converting sunlight into electricity.
Lyudmila Borilo, head of the university's Polyfunctional Materials laboratory, said the the new technology can be used in such diverse areas as household activities, agriculture and in the defense industry.
Borilo added that the technical complexity of manufacturing such materials stemmed from the necessity of undergoing all of the manufacturing process and relying on very low temperatures until oxide nanoparticles and their compositions are obtained. This allows nanoparticles to adhere to the structure of the texture during exposure to sunlight, she added. Unlike older models, the new TSU-produced cells are much lighter and cheaper.
Flexible solar cells can be rolled and taken on hiking trips, or be used for charging a laptop computer or a cell phone, Borilo said. "Another option is to create cloth capable of generating heat from solar light. It's optimal for people who work in the Arctic or in difficult conditions," the professor added. "Notably, the new solar elements are extremely sensitive to solar irradiation and keep generating electricity in a bad weather, even during cloudy and rainy days," Borilo noted.
Meanwhile, Russia's renewable energy capacity supervisory authority, the Market Council, has qualified the Kosh-Achagatsk solar power plant in the Russian Republic of Altai as a quality electricity generator, a mandatory evaluation for all the projects selected in Russia's annual renewable energy tenders.
Commissioned by Hevel, an affiliate company of energy holdings Renova and Rusnano, the plant became the first generating facility to have passed such a qualification.
Approved for construction in 2013 in the village of Telengit in the Sortoigojsk Kosh-Ackagatsk district, the 5 MW solar facility was launched in November 2014.
Consisting of 20,880 PV modules, the solar power plant has been fully connected into the republic's grid and plays a strategic role in Altai's energy program.
All renewable energy projects selected in federal sustainable capacity tenders must receive Market Council qualification in order to be fully interconnected with the grid and offer a certain volume of electricity on the wholesale power market.
Оther Russian renewable energy developers are also stepping up their talks with local authorities over construction of solar facilities within the sustainable energy tender program.
Stavropol Region authorities have met with Mikhail Molchanov, head of Solar Systems, a Chinese-owned company, which is on track to become Russia's largest renewable energy investor. The company is developing a 75 MW solar plant with necessary infrastructure valued at $120 million that is due in 2019.
Meanwhile, the Belgorodsk Region in Russia is set to bring a 15 MW, $26 million solar plant online at the end of the year. The first-ever Russian solar power plant was notably also built in the region in 2010.

Copyright 2015 © pv magazine.

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    Phys.Org / Mar 26, 2015
    Behind the dogmas of good old hydrodynamics
    Группа физиков-теоретиков под руководством Ольги Виноградовой, профессора МГУ и заведующей лабораторией в Институте физической химии и электрохимии им. А.Н.Фрумкина РАН, разработала новую теорию течений жидкости в микро- и наноканалах под действием электрического поля.

A new theory, which gives insights into the transport of liquid flowing along the surface under an applied electric field, was developed by a group of Russian scientists lead by Olga Vinogradova who is a professor at the M.V.Lomonosov Moscow State University and a laboratory head at the A.N. Frumkin Institute of Physical chemistry and Electrochemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It may be used in the future in research in physics, chemistry and biology and has many applications in medicine and pharmaceuticals. An article describing the theory and simulations is published in Physical Review Letters.
The motion of liquid through the capillaries, porous membranes, or the thin channel under an applied electric field is called an electro-osmotic flow. This effect was discovered in 1807 by a professor of Moscow University, Ferdinand Friedrich Reuss, during a simple experiment. It involves a curved glass tube filled with water; its bend is filled with an insoluble powdered substance such as grated stone or sand, which creates a porous barrier separating both ends of the tube from each other. When a voltage is applied to the water, it begins to seep through the barrier as shown in Figure 1. The motion of dispersed particles relative to a fluid under the influence of the electric field is called electrophoresis.
Behind the apparent simplicity of the effect lies complicated physics. It was understood only a century later, in 1909, when the Polish physicist Marian Smoluchowski succeeded in describing the process of electro-osmotic flow theoretically. Nobody questioned his theory during the 20th century, and it now turns out to be only a special case of a more general theory. Moreover, it is applicable only to cases similar to Smoluchowski's, in which the liquid flows past the wettable hydrophilic surface and no-slip boundary conditions are taken into account. Now it appears that entirely different conditions are needed in cases of hydrophobic, poorly wettable surfaces.
This small "nuance" was a timely discovery, as such sciences as microfluidics and nanofluidics deal with fluid flowing through ultrathin channels. And it is difficult to drive flows mechanically in extremely thin channels, even by applying a pressure drop, which in this case should be enormously high. However, if a conventional pump is replaced by a battery, then it is possible to establish fast electro-osmotic flow in the ultrathin channel.
Sometimes physicists have to leave behind the dogmas of good old hydrodynamics. The co-authors of the article, Salim Maduar and Alexey Belyaev, have shown theoretically and confirmed in computer experiments that in quantitative description of flows in electric fields for hydrophobic surface electro-hydrodynamic slip, a boundary condition should be imposed. The new approach has immediately changed the picture.
The electro-osmotic flow is caused by the cloud of ions with the opposite sign, which forms near the charged surface of the fluid. There are two possible cases. In the first, the surface charges are immobile and able to move along the surface under the electric field applied. In the case of immobile charges, everything is relatively simple, as the speed of electro-osmotic flow increases due to hydrophobic slippage. In case surface charges can react on the applied electric field, as scientists imply, lots of different variants arise, some of which are quite unexpected. For instance, in the article, it is shown that it is possible to induce the electro-osmotic flow even near uncharged surface, or, on the contrary, to suppress such a flow completely in the channels with perfectly slipping charged walls. The lead role in the Smoluchowski theory was given to so-called zeta potential which is a physiochemical parameter calculated with a special formula and reflects the degree of electro-osmotic and electrophoretic mobility. The higher the zeta potential, the faster the flow of a liquid or particle motion. Until recently, zeta potential was considered equal to the surface potential of the solid at its boundary with the liquid. In the new theory, zeta potential also plays the leading role, but its interpretation became much more complicated.
"In the Smoluchowski theory, zeta potential is equal to the potential of the surface itself and is independent of neighbouring surfaces," Olga Vinogradova explains. "These conclusions are the result of the classical no-slip hydrodynamic conditions." Olga Vinorgradova and her colleagues have shown that in the case of hydrophobic surfaces, the hydrophobic surfaces are slippery and ions associated with the slippery surface can respond to an electric field.
So zeta potential appears to be connected with the parameters that characterize the mobility of the surface charge and hydrodynamic slippage on the surface and the dependency of the possible presence of the other surface.
The new theory makes life both more complicated and more coherent as it has immediately resolved a number of paradoxes that were considered for years. For instance, it gave an explanation to the zeta potential measurements of bubbles and drops.
"These measurements have been consistently showing that their zeta potentials are similar to those of the solid body," Olga Vinogradova says. "This was explained in particular by the presence of impurities on the surfaces of bubbles and drops. We have shown that the impurities are irrelevant and that zeta potential in this case is indeed the same as for the solid body, but due to completely different causes." The theory also helped to explain the highly debated electro-osmotic flows in foam films.
According to Olga Vinogradova, the possible practical implementations of the new theory are quite extensive; the concept of zeta potential is widely used in many fields of science and technology, such as medicine, pharmaceuticals, mineral processing, water treatment, removal of pollution from soil and more.
New interpretation of the parameter will lead to better understanding of the results of its experimental measurements and will also enable controlling its value. A particularly promising application of the new theory lies in the field of microfluidics and nanofluidics. It could be used for the creation of Lab-on-a-Chip (LOC) devices and nanofluidic diodes, which are already used for the detection and the separation of biomolecules and for the energy harvesting.
"Without no doubt, the path from the new theory to practical applications is always very long," Olga Vinogradova says, "And I suppose the experimentalists would be the first ones to use our results."

Phys.org 2003-2015, Science X network.

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    (e) Science News / Friday, March 27, 2015
    Unexplained warm layer discovered in Venus' atmosphere
    Исследовательская группа российских, европейских и американских ученых обнаружила странный теплый слой в атмосфере Венеры. Открытие было сделано после составления температурной карты верхней атмосферы ночной стороны планеты на основе данных, собранных зондом Venus Express. На высоте 90-100 км температура оказалась на 20-40 градусов выше, чем ожидалось, а сама верхняя атмосфера утром теплее, чем вечером, хотя должно быть наоборот.
    Статья «Thermal structure of Venus nightside upper atmosphere measured by stellar occultations with SPICAV/Venus Express» опубликована в журнале Planetary and Space Science (doi: 10.1016/j.pss.2014.12.009i).

A group of Russian, European and American scientists have found a warm layer in Venus' atmosphere, the nature of which is still unknown. The researchers made the discovery when compiling a temperature map of the upper atmosphere on the planet's night side based on the data collected by the Venus Express probe. "We measured temperatures at altitudes of 90 to 140 kilometers," says an author of the study, Denis Belyaev of MIPT and the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. "On the night side of the planet, temperatures normally fall with altitude, but we noticed a peak in the chart in the 90 to 100 kilometer range. Here, the atmosphere was 20-40 degrees warmer than we expected. We don't yet understand what causes the warming, but Venus' ozone layer is at this altitude. There may be a connection."
Belyaev, along with his colleagues from MIPT and the Space Research Institute, Anna Fedorova and Oleg Korablev, and researchers from the French laboratory LATMOS, as well as from Belgium, Germany and the U.S. analyzed the data obtained by the SPICAV spectrometer on board Venus Express between June 2006 and February 2013.
The European mission Venus Express was launched from the Baikonur space center in 2005 using the Russian rocket Soyuz-FG. Scientific instruments for the probe were developed by an international team of scientists, including from Russia. The unit was removed from service in February 2015, but scientists continue to analyze the data it obtained throughout its operation.
The SPICAV system (Spectroscopy for the Investigation of the Characteristics of the Atmosphere of Venus) consisted of two spectrometers, an infrared one, created by Russian specialists, and an ultraviolet one, made by French scientists. Atmospheric temperatures were taken in the UV channel using the stellar occultation method, wherein a spectrometer captures the light emitted by a star as it goes behind a planet. The starlight radiates through the planet's atmosphere, whose characteristics can be retrieved based on the spectrum produced.
The scientists selected stars that shine brighter in ultraviolet, that is, from 118 to 320 nanometers, the working range of the spectrometer (there were a total of 50 of them). Each second within the few minutes that the star took to disappear behind the planet's horizon the spectrometer took a shot of its spectrum. Then the scientists divided the "atmospheric" spectrum by the star's "clean" spectrum to determine the gas composition and density of the atmosphere at different altitudes, as well as temperatures. From June 2006 to February 2013 they made 587 "shots" of the atmosphere, which covered almost the entire night hemisphere.
"In almost every session of these seven years we detected a layer at altitudes of 90-100 km that is 20-40 kelvins warmer than it should be," says Belyaev. "The air temperatures at these altitudes are 220-240 kelvins, while they should be under 200."
According to Belyaev, this layer is in the same range of altitudes where the ozone is. "We are carrying out correlation analysis to determine if these are connected or not," Belyaev said. "We can't rule out that this phenomenon may be explained by chemical reactions, namely the decomposition of ozone when it comes in contact with chlorine-based substances - these reactions may result in the release of heat."
The researchers have found yet another peculiarity of Venus' upper atmosphere: early in the morning it is warmer than in the evening, while it should be the other way round.
Venus is a unique planet in that rotates not in the direction of its movement along the circumsolar orbit, but in the opposite direction, because its rotation axis is tilted 177 degrees. And it rotates very slowly - a solar day on the planet lasts 116 days. During the long night the upper atmosphere cools, so at night it should be warmer than in the morning.
"We found that the atmospheric temperature is 20 degrees warmer in the morning than in the evening," Belyaev says. "This is probably due to the global circulation of the atmosphere. The transition of the sub-solar point to the anti-solar point takes place at altitudes of about 100 kilometers. In this area on the night side, the air mass goes down to 70 km, which may lead to the adiabatic heating of the atmosphere."
The researchers continue to study the data collected by Venus Express, hoping to learn new information about the planet.
The work of the Russian scientists was funded through a government megagrant received by MIPT in 2011. The megagrant enabled MIPT to create a laboratory for the infrared spectroscopy of planetary atmospheres in high resolution, headed by Vladimir Krasnopolsky, a research professor at the Catholic University of America.

© 2015 (e) Science News.

* * *

    Science Times / Mar 29, 2015
    US and Russia Begin Planning the Next Space Station
    • Brian Wu
    Руководители Роскосмоса и НАСА договорились о продолжении совместной эксплуатации МКС до 2024 года.

While the United States and Russia relations may be at their lowest point in decades, the space agencies are working together better than they ever have before. NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos today announced plans to continue working together with the International Space Station until new endeavors begin when the ISS is retired in 2024.
"We are pleased Roscomos wants to continue full use of the International Space Station through 2024 - a priority of ours - and expressed interest in continuing international cooperation for human space exploration beyond that" NASA spokesperson, David Weaver says. "The United States is planning to lead a human mission to Mars in the 2030s, and we have advanced that effort farther than at any point in NASA's history."
"We welcome international support for this ambitious undertaking. Today we remain focused on full use of our current science laboratory in orbit and research from the exciting one-year mission astronaut Scott Kelly just began, which will help prepare us for longer duration spaceflight."
This latest announcement marks a change of heart for the Russians as just last year Russia's Deputy Prime Minister said that the Russians would pull out of the station in 2020 and just last month Roscosmos said it had plans of creating a new Russian space station.
News of the agreement followed the successful launch of the manned Soyuz spacecraft, which arrived at the ISS on Saturday.
Russian Mikhail Kornienko and American Scott Kelly will spend a full year on the station while the Russian astronaut Gennady Padalka will return to the surface in six months.
This is the first attempt at a year long mission by NASA, which is twice the length of any standard stay on the International Space Station. Four Russians have spend a year or longer in space aboard the Soviet Union's Mir Space Station.
The purpose of this latest long term mission is to analyze the physical impacts of prolonged weightlessness on the body so scientists can begin to assess how astronauts will handle the long trip to the Red Planet.
At the press conference, Bolden also addressed criticism that NASA is no longer funding many low-orbit missions, saying the agency is resolved to commercializing space travel.
He said there are plans "to attract more private developers to our joint exploration projects of the moon and Mars".

© 2014 Science Times. All rights reserved.

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