Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Ноябрь 2017 г.

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Российская наука и мир
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    Newsweek / 11/2/17
    Animals in space: how Russian dog Laika became the world's first astronaut
    • By Damien Sharkov
    3 ноября 1957 года, через месяц после запуска первого искусственного спутника Земли, на орбиту отправилось первое живое существо - собака Лайка. Животное погибло от перегрева через несколько часов, но этот опыт показал, что живые существа способны пережить пребывание в космосе.

A month after the Soviet Union made one of its greatest political and scientific coups with the launch of Earth's first manmade satellite in 1957, Moscow planned to be the first to send a living creature into space. Though they managed to make cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin the first human in outer space four years later, he was not the first living creature to make the journey.
Before Gagarin's flight came mongrel pup Laika, whose journey into orbit took place exactly 60 years ago on Friday.
Kicking off the space race with the U.S. with an early triumph in October 1957, when the rotund Sputnik satellite began its orbit of the Earth, the Kremlin was keen to maintain momentum. While the small, antennae covered ball was little more than a honing beacon, designed to survive in Earth's orbit, its successor, Sputnik 2, had to do all that and accommodate a living creature inside it.
Soviet scientists had already flown dogs into space, launching Tsygan and Dezik in August 1951, and both returned alive. However, the pair flew suborbital, making the repetition of Sputnik's flight into orbit with another canine onboard a new challenge altogether. Testing space travel capabilities was becoming commonplace at the time, with the U.S. having already opted for using monkey test subjects, while France subsequently sent a cat and China launched rats into space.
Time was also pressing as Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had set a November deadline for the launch of Sputnik 2. Eager to make the most of the first satellite's breakthrough in October, Khruschev wanted scientists to ensure that by the Soviet Union's state holiday marking the Bolshevik Revolution, the Kremlin had another new accomplishment to celebrate, Russia's Argumenti i Fakty newspaper recalls.
Sputnik 2 was considerably larger than its 141 pound-predecessor, weighing in at nearly half a ton (1,120lbs). The space inside was also very tight, with engineers estimating that the spacecraft's only crew member could not be heavier than 7 kilograms (15lbs.), according to Russia's online space encyclopedia Astronaut.
Around 10 dogs were handpicked after fitting the size requirement, and Laika was among the three deemed calmest and most suitable for the mission. Part of the training involved testing the dogs' readiness to stay still in increasingly confined cages over the course of two weeks.
The casting was not solely scientific, as Laika beat out her nearest rival, Mukha, thanks to being more "photogenic," Argumenti i Fakty reported. Mukha instead became the test subject of Laika's life support during ground tests.
However, the Soviet leadership's desire for a speedy achievement meant Laika's return journey was doomed from the start. Scientists were already breaking new ground in building systems to support life onboard Sputnik 2. Provisions to ensure the dog made it back home safe would take much longer and could end up wasting a great deal of money if it turned out Sputnik could not even keep Laika alive in orbit.
On November 3, Soviet scientists announced that Sputnik 2 had launched and Laika was alive in orbit. Shortly after they announced to the public something which was apparent to Moscow from the start - Laika would not be returning to Earth but would be regarded as a Soviet state hero. The dog completed her week-long mission and died in space when Sputnik's transmitters failed, the official record showed.
In reality, Laika survived very briefly in orbit according to reports from 2002, which showed that the dog suffered greater stress during launch and the start of weightlessness than she did during ground simulations of the flight. Telemetry from the capsule indicated rising temperature humidity after the start of the mission and Laika's heart rate took longer to return to normal than during tests.
Mission control stopped receiving lifesigns from Laika after after five to seven hours into the flight, according to the BBC. Laika had apparently died from overheating and stress, by Sputnik 2's fourth orbit of the Earth.
Of the 2,570 orbits Sputnik 2 performed, Laika survived only a few hours, but her journey paved the way for Gagarin's successful mission in 1961.

© 2016 2017 NEWSWEEK LLC.
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    Photonics / Nov. 3, 2017
    Additive Manufacturing of Titanium Aircraft Parts
    Томский политехнический университет получил грант РНФ на создание водородостойких деталей для самолетов из титановых сплавов методом 3D печати. Титановые сплавы плохо поддаются обработке обычными способами, а аддитивные технологии позволяют получать изделия любой формы при меньшем расходе материала.

An additive manufacturing technology that uses direct metal laser sintering enables the printing of titanium aircraft parts with a modified surface layer.
Physicists from Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) are currently working to create hydrogen-resistant products out of titanium alloys. The production of metal products via additive manufacturing ensures less material consumption as well as possibilities to develop complex geometric products. The Russian Science Foundation has given TPU a three-year grant for the creation of hydrogen-resistant products from titanium alloys Ti-6Al-4V, Ti-6.5Al-3.5Mo-1.5Zr-0.3Si.
Titanium products are widely used in aircraft construction due to their strength, and account for 15 to 20 percent of a modern civil aircraft. Today, these parts are produced with traditional foundry though.
"In Russia it is a fairly new technology. To introduce it, special 3D-printing equipment and powder production installation should be developed. Thus, there is a great scope for research," said Natalia Pushilina, associate professor at TPU's Department of General Physics. "This equipment is increasingly in high demand as evidenced by the great number of scientific publications devoted to additive manufacturing technology in the field of metal processing. Over the past few years, their number has significantly increased in leading scientific publication databases, which signifies a great interest in the international community.'
Pushilina and her team plan to print aircraft parts out of BT6 and BT9 titanium alloys. BT6 is a widespread material being produced in Russia, while BT9 will be obtained by TPU out of crystalline titanium.
"For the research, we chose these two materials, as they have been applied in aircraft construction due to their properties," said Pushilina. "BT6 is used to manufacture turbine parts subject to high temperatures, corrosive media and saturation with atmospheric hydrogen during operation."
According to the researchers, 3D-printing with titanium alloys differs from traditional processes in that it relies on laser-based additive manufacturing technology that makes it possible to make parts of any configuration. It also uses much less materials.
"With 3D technology you can print any part. This goes beyond mass production supported by plants that daily cast a great deal of products," said engineer Viktor Kudiyarov. "Our goal is to develop a technology for printing individual complex parts out of titanium."
TPU scientists are determined to reveal patterns between various print parameters and characteristics of manufactured items. So far, they have identified over 10 parameters. By varying them, it is possible to create products with different specified properties and products with gradient surface layers.
Currently, such modification of products requires an additional production process. First, a homogeneous part is made, then an additional coating is applied. The technology developed by TPU scientists combines the two processes. Products are printed immediately with a modified layer.
TPU physicists are committed to showing the advantages of titanium parts produced by using advanced additive technology.

© 2017 Photonics Media.
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    Phys.Org / November 3, 2017
    Science can align common interests among the world's leading superpowers
    Специалисты в области научной дипломатии из Университета Тафтса (США) опубликовали в журнале Science статью, в которой рассмотрели историю международного научного сотрудничества в Арктике, начиная с 1950-х гг., и пришли к выводу, что продолжение сотрудничества может помочь сбалансировать интересы разных стран (в первую очередь России и США), независимо от политических сдвигов.

International scientific collaboration in the Arctic can help align common interests among countries experiencing geopolitical conflict, including the United States and Russia, according to a team of scientists and educators led by a professor at The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University.
Published in Science, the article's strategic policy assessments build upon the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation that was signed in May 2017 by the foreign ministers of the eight Arctic States, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, despite deteriorating relations between their two nations. The Agreement, also known as the Arctic Science Agreement, minimizes the risks that short-term domestic policy shifts will impact relations within the Arctic by cementing a consensus among the countries that will last beyond political cycles, according to lead author Paul Arthur Berkman, who is a professor of practice in science diplomacy at The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts and the director of the Science Diplomacy Center at The Fletcher School.
He added that the Agreement enhances the stability of research platforms across nations to interpret and disseminate previously inaccessible data, and will generate continuous data to interpret marine, terrestrial, atmospheric, and human-centered changes. In effect, the Arctic Science Agreement enhances the capacity of all nations to integrate diverse data into evidence and options that contribute to informed decision-making for Arctic sustainability.
"Governments respond to security issues that involve the risks of political, economic, and cultural instabilities," said Berkman. "In a global context, unlike any time in human history, there also is urgency to address issues, impacts, and resources involving present and future generations, recognizing that children born today will be living in the 22nd century."
The authors examined the history of international Arctic collaboration that began in the 1950s and has grown ever since, illustrating how science diplomacy has already promoted cooperation and prevented conflict in the Arctic, most notably between the United States and Russia. However, the authors provided several concrete opportunities for improvements needed for the Agreement to be truly successful, such as:

  • Establishing procedures to expedite the granting of visas and permits for international scientists accessing field sites;
  • Digitizing historic and other data from hard-copy formats and creating shared platforms for data that can be accessed throughout the world;
  • Increasing support for field and summer schools and related means for training the next generation of Arctic scientists;
  • Promoting well-formulated comparative studies designed to examine common issues at multiple locations across the Arctic;
  • Maximizing the use of icebreakers (ships designed to move and navigate through ice-covered waters) and other forms of infrastructure for scientific purposes; and
  • Creating innovative venues that integrate natural and social sciences along with indigenous knowledge to address common concerns.
    In addition, the authors explicitly call for scientific partnerships with Russia, considering the country's sovereign rights extend over nearly half of the Arctic. "Research partnerships with Russian scientists are critical for Arctic science and diplomatic progress," according to the article.
    Ultimately, the authors concluded that the Arctic Science Agreement should be used as a tool to facilitate research and build upon partnerships to conduct fieldwork, access data, and begin to answer previously unanswerable scientific questions, especially within pan-Arctic dimensions.
    "Effective implementation of the Arctic Science Agreement will strengthen research and education across borders in the Arctic, highlighting the role of science diplomacy to help balance national interests and common interests for the lasting benefit of all on Earth with hope and inspiration across generations," said Berkman.
    © Phys.org 2003-2017, Science X network.
    * * *
      EurekAlert / 3-Nov-2017
      Chemists have created compounds that can treat glaucoma
      Российские и итальянские химики разработали новые вещества, способные эффективно снижать внутриглазное давление, избирательно «выключая» определенные изоферменты карбоангидразы человека. Это может помочь при лечении некоторых глазных заболеваний (например, глаукомы), а также снижает вероятность побочных действий.

    Glaucoma is a serious disease associated with increased intraocular pressure which often leads to blindness. One of the ways to treat glaucoma is to reduce aqueous humour secretion in the ciliary body of the eye by suppressing (inhibiting) activity of special enzymes - carbonic anhydrases. Russian scientists from RUDN University have designed new compounds that can effectively reduce intraocular pressure by isoform selective inhibiting human carbonic anhydrase. The results of the study were published in the prestigious Bioorganic Chemistry journal.
    The study is focused on benzenesulfonamide derivatives containing a 1,2,4-oxadiazole moiety. "It was the first time that these compounds were considered as potential inhibitors of human carbonic anhydrase. Managing the enzyme's activity in ciliary processes using this compoundswe can normalize the intraocular pressure," says Anton Shetnev, one of the authors of the paper from RUDN University.
    Carbonic anhydrases comprise a family of widespread enzymes that facilitate CO2-bicarbonate interconversion in all tissues of human body. Their function is to catalyze the reversible hydration of carbon dioxide, which produces bicarbonate anion and a proton. This simple biochemical reaction is central to regulating pH in the intra- and extracellular space in various tissues and organs. It should be noted that carbonic anhydrase in performed by 15 isoforms (isoenzymes) localized in various tissues and slightly differing in the active site architecture. Sulfonamide-based inhibitors bind to the prosthetic zinc-ion in the catalytic cavity, thus suppressing activity of the enzyme which can be described as a "key-lock" interaction. Most of known carbonic anhydrase inhibitors can be compared to a master key which relatively roughly opens any lock-enzyme (all isoforms) of the corresponding family. Since the affinity is non-selective (that is, there is no key thread exactly entering the grooves), such an agent might cause plenty of undesired effects. When developing a drug candidate, either potency of selectivity of the inhibitor is crucial. The latter could be achieved by designing sulfonamide-incorporating small-molecules bearing appropriate molecular periphery.Our study shows that by attaching substituted oxadiazole ring to the benzenesulfonamide fragment substantional improvement in potency and selectivity of the inhibition can be achieved, thus suggesting this scaffold to be promising for the development of new antiglaucoma drugs.
    "We are now to continue improving the selectivity of our inhibitors on the next stages of our work: we need to conduct research aimed at further modification of the compounds in order tomaximize affinity only to the target isoforms, regulating intraocular pressure, which is a great challenge" Anton Shetnev concludes.

    Copyright © 2017 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
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      The Quebec Times / November 5, 2017
      Scientists discovered in the Altai ancient artifacts: what can you tell us the findings?
      Археологи из Кемеровского государственного университета и Алтайского государственного университета обнаружили на территории археологического памятника Чумыш-Перекат (Алтайский край) несколько захоронений разного времени, самые старые из которых относятся к 6 тысячелетию до н.э.

    Archaeologists from two universities - the Kemerovo and Altai worked on the excavation of the most ancient in the region of the burial ground, called the Chumysh-Roll. At various times it was the burial of people. After examining the remains of the poles and stakes found in the recess on one of the sites of the burial complex, the experts were very surprised. These stakes and poles were used at the burial, and scientists came to the conclusion that the tree from which they are made, about eight thousand years. Of course, to determine more precisely its breed, you will need to do some more research in a lab, but now a Professor at one of the universities Sergey Grushin said that the remains belong to the oldest tree in the area.
    This is not the first excavations, conducted jointly by scientists of the Kemerovo and Altai in this place. Work carried out during five field seasons. During this time it was discovered about twenty ancient graves all over the Altai region. Their age is dated to the sixth Millennium BC. Here were buried several dozen people, they were laid on the back, and when they were certain "elements of support" - bone and stone objects, tools and decorations. The most interesting finds have been made in the last two seasons - besides the already mentioned ancient wood, was found the oldest in the region of sculpture - fragment of a stone fish and the upper part of the dagger into the head of a moose. A fragment of a dagger found in the burial men. A stone fish experts attribute to the Neolithic era when they were common on the TRANS-Baikal and the Baikal territory. Findings are considered unique in the whole of Western Siberia still have not found anything like. Stone fish used in the fishery, they acted as bait, or served as objects of worship, contributing to the Providence. It was considered that the catch will be greater if the fisherman will offer a prayer to various deities.
    The territory of the monument of Chumysh-Roll rich burials, and, judging by the periods, they are not interrelated. The reason is simple - the place itself, situated on a promontory, around which winds the river of Chumysh, people were attracted by its convenience. The burials date from the sixth Millennium BC to the eighth Millennium BC. Due to the fact that in those days the productive economy in the Altai was not, then the bulk of the population was occupied by hunting and fishing. In fact, this theory is confirmed by a huge number of related tools, which were found in burials.
    It is noteworthy that the burial was located just two or three dozen centimeters from the present surface of the earth. Apparently, climatic and other influences, including weathering and shrinkage had done its job, and even if burial was made earlier of a higher depth, then after so many thousands of years the upper layers of soil have disappeared, almost exposing ancient graves. Scientists believe big success is the fact that they all survived.
    By the way, about the 15th century BC there were made two levels of burials. One of the later burials belongs to the fourth century of our era, is by the river Chumysh and has the remains of dozens of people. According to archaeologists, the grave is clearly a culture of nomads and the weapons and the details of the costumes. Altai scientists need the help of an expert in organics, to carry out a detailed study and install as detailed as possible, who was buried here.
    In addition to the unique finds were also discovered: decoration of bone and stone (including drilled animal teeth, which were made pendants and necklace), various bone objects and tools from stone. Scientists emphasize that special attention was paid to the image of a moose hunt which began quite early, and later, in the Neolithic period, the animal was erected in the cult.
    Siberian archeology has restocked the most important materials that were found at the burial ground. Their importance lies in the possibility of determining the territory of the spread of traditions that emerged in the Neolithic period in Siberia. For science and important cultural items that were used in burial practice in the field of culture and art. Professor Grushin assumes that people who inhabited the Altai region, was in contact with other cultures, including Eastern and Central Siberian. Of course, customs and traditions were adopted by different Nations from each other. Including residents of the Baikal and Altai.
    In the plans of the archaeologists included the continuation of excavations in this area next year as soon as weather conditions permit. In General, the researchers found these burials almost by accident - examining last summer, territory, Zarinsk region, through which it will build a pipeline to China. On the Chumysh River, the archaeologists have left in the day, and they were interested in the Cape, located on the opposite Bank. Having started the excavation in this place, they discovered a total of five burial grounds dating back to different eras.
    Overall, the era of the Neolithic in the Altai region has been given a lot of time in the works of different scientists, but it does not mean that it, at the moment, are studied comprehensively. Professionals will have a lot of interesting discoveries that are fraught with this rough and mysterious edge.

    Copyright © 2017 The Quebec Times.
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      Futurism / November 5, 2017
      International Test of Our Ability to Track Dangerous Asteroids
      • Christianna Reedy
      Международная команда астрономов (США, Канада, Россия, Колумбия, Германия, Израиль, Италия, Япония, Нидерланды, ЮАР) во главе с сотрудниками NASA успешно протестировала глобальную систему отслеживания опасных астероидов. Объектом наблюдения послужил астероид 2012 TC4, пролетевший мимо Земли 12 октября.

    A team of astronomers completed the first international exercise testing our ability to track dangerous asteroids. Scientist from around the world collaborated to monitor and analyze asteroid 2012 TC4 as a simulation of a real impact emergency.
    Testing our tracking abilities
    NASA scientists have led a multi-national team of astronomers in the first international exercise testing our ability to track dangerous asteroids. Their goal? To "recover, track, and characterize a real asteroid as a potential impactor," according to a NASA press release.
    Leaders at NASA - as well as many other scientists and intellectuals - have been concerned for some time about the possibility of large dangerous asteroids impacting Earth. While such an occurrence may not wipe out all of humanity, it could certainly cause a great amount of damage and devastation.
    To this end, NASA has developed ways to detect and deflect hazardous asteroids, and train other scientists to do the same. This particular exercise was especially important because it allowed the scientists to test our International Asteroid Warning Network, the responsibility of which is to track dangerous asteroids.
    After months of planning, the exercise launched into high gear in July when astronomers at the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope spotted the asteroid 2012 TC4 - a small, reflective asteroid that was on a path that passed close to Earth. The scientists chose TC4 as their target for the exercise, which was thereafter nicknamed the "TC4 Observation Campaign."
    Better prepared for dangerous asteroids
    As TC4 approached Earth, the scientists worked together to analyze the asteroid's size, composition, and trajectory. Insuring that international communication channels were in place for fast and effective information sharing was a key aspect of the exercise.
    "The 2012 TC4 campaign was a superb opportunity for researchers to demonstrate willingness and readiness to participate in serious international cooperation in addressing the potential hazard to Earth posed by [near-Earth objects]," said Boris Shustov, science director for the Institute of Astronomy at the Russian Academy of Sciences. "I am pleased to see how scientists from different countries effectively and enthusiastically worked together toward a common goal."
    The astronomers' observations allowed them to confirm that TC4 will not impact Earth in any of its future orbits. Additionally, they were able to determine the asteroid's composition as well as its spinning and tumbling behavior, information that will be vital if we ever delve into asteroid mining.
    The exercise's finale occurred in October when TC4 made its closest approach to Earth, passing 43,780 kilometers (27,200 miles) over our heads.
    NASA took this project as an opportunity to test its communication pathways within the U.S. government, sending messages across agencies and even through the executive branch. This simulation of a real impact emergency allowed the astronomy community to become "much better prepared today to deal with the threat of a potentially hazardous asteroid," said Michael Kelley, TC4 exercise lead at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

    Copyright © 2016, Futurism, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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      SciencePost / 6 novembre 2017
      Un béluga apprend à « parler » dauphin pour être accepté dans leur groupe
      • Par Brice Louvet
      В крымском дельфинарии белуха, оказавшись в окружении дельфинов-афалин, начала имитировать характерные для них свистящие звуки. По мнению ученых, подобное явление представляет большой интерес для понимания механизмов межвидовой коммуникации.

    Une femelle béluga, qui évolue aujourd'hui en captivité, a récemment fait preuve d'une capacité d'adaptation tout à fait étonnante en « apprenant » le langage des dauphins dans le but de se faire accepter dans leur groupe. De leur côté, les dauphins n'ont fait aucun effort.
    Une femelle béluga âgée de quatre ans a donc appris à « parler » dauphins en seulement deux mois, peut-on lire une étude parue dans la revue scientifique Animal Cognition. Le jeune cétacé avait commencé, peu après son arrivée, à émettre des sifflements n'appartenant ordinairement qu'au langage des dauphins tursiops. Avant d'être transférée en 2013 au Dolphinarium Koktebel, en Crimée, l'animal était par ailleurs parfaitement sociabilisé avec ses congénères bélugas.
    « La première apparition du béluga dans le delphinarium a causé une frayeur chez les dauphins », détailles les chercheurs Elena Panova et Alexandr Agafonov de l'Académie russe des sciences à Moscou. Il semblerait que cette arrivée « remarquée » ait poussé le cétacé à rapidement s'adapter. Les chercheurs expliquent avoir enregistré 90 heures de vocalises. Les résultats sont stupéfiants : la béluga a commencé par adresser à chacun des dauphins une séquence sonore personnifiée propre aux dauphins, différente pour chacun d'entre eux. Deux mois plus tard, elle parlait « dauphin ».
    Les dauphins, eux, semblent en revanche n'avoir fourni aucun effort pour intégrer leur nouvelle congénère. « L'écoute des enregistrements audio réalisés avant et après l'introduction du béluga a révélé que les imitations de dauphins étaient courantes, mais qu'il n'y avait qu'un seul exemple dans lequel les dauphins ont imité un appel court ressemblant (mais ne présentant pas les mêmes caractéristiques physiques) à ceux des bélugas », notent les chercheurs.
    Bien sûr, ne blâmons pas les dauphins. Le béluga, animal social, était le seul présent de son espèce et devait donc s'adapter pour s'intégrer. Ce n'est d'ailleurs pas la première fois que les bélugas nous impressionnent par leurs vocalises et leur incroyable capacité d'adaptation. Certains individus ont en effet été observés en train de produire des sons semblables à ceux des humains, comme dans le cas de Noc, un béluga étudié par l'US Navy dans les années 1970. Des expériences plus récentes ont également montré que certains bélugas pouvaient même apprendre à imiter des sons artificiels générés par ordinateur.

    © Encelade Media Group - Mentions légales.
    * * *
      Tribune de Genève / 07.11.2017
      Six astronautes simulent un vol vers la Lune
      В Москве стартовал проект «Сириус» - совместный эксперимент Института медико-биологических проблем РАН и NASA по имитации пилотируемого полета на Луну. На первом этапе шестеро участников проведут в изоляции в специальных блоках 17 дней - срок, необходимый для того, чтобы долететь до Луны, облететь вокруг орбиты и вернуться обратно.

    Trois hommes et trois femmes ont été enfermés mardi pour 17 jours dans un module spécial aménagé à Moscou, dans le cadre d'une expérience simulant un vol vers la Lune.
    Baptisé SIRIUS (Scientific International Research In Unique Terrestrial Station), le programme dans lequel s'inscrit cette expérience, effectuée en coopération avec la Nasa, doit durer cinq ans au total.
    «Avant, il s'agissait de conquérir l'espace, maintenant il s'agit d'apprendre à vivre et à travailler dans l'espace et à le rendre exploitable», a expliqué Oleg Orlov, directeur de l'Institut des problèmes médicaux et biologiques de Moscou, qui dirige le projet.
    «C'est un travail méthodique visant à élaborer des technologies qui permettraient d'assurer la vie d'un homme dans l'espace», souligne-t-il. La première étape de 17 jours «représente le temps qu'il faut pour s'envoler vers la Lune, faire le tour de l'orbite lunaire et revenir sur Terre», selon Oleg Orlov.
    Les étapes suivantes prévoient des expériences d'isolement similaires de 4 mois, 8 mois et 12 mois, a-t-il précisé.
    Sélectionné à la suite d'un concours, le nom de l'expérience - SIRIUS - «est aussi le nom de l'étoile la plus brillante du ciel qui symbolise l'envie d'aspirer vers d'autres horizons», souligne Oleg Orlov.
    Officiellement lancé mardi, SIRIUS vise notamment à élaborer un système d'assistance médicale pour les vols interplanétaires, en étudiant à la fois les aspects psychologiques de l'équipage en isolement et les aspects physiologiques, comme les changements du rythme cardiaque.
    «L'un des problèmes principaux des médecins à bord d'un vaisseau spatial est leur autonomie absolue. Il faut qu'ils apprennent à gérer la situation seuls», explique M. Orlov, en rappelant que les signaux envoyés de l'espace sont souvent reçus avec un certain retard à la Terre.
    Equipage mixte
    Un autre sujet important à être étudié soigneusement par la première mission SIRIUS est celui du sexe des participants.
    «C'est la première fois dans l'histoire russe ou soviétique qu'un équipage spatial comprend plus d'une femme», a déclaré un psychologue participant au projet, Vadim Gouchtchine, de l'Institut des problèmes médicaux et biologiques de Moscou.
    Trois femmes - la cosmonaute Anna Kikina (33 ans) et deux chercheuses en physiologie, Elena Loutchitskaïa (37 ans) et Natalia Lyssova (27 ans) - accompagnent dans SIRIUS trois hommes - le cosmonaute Mark Serov, l'ingénieur allemand d'origine russe Viktor Fetter et le médecin Ilia Roukavichnikov, spécialisé dans la médecine spatiale.
    «Avec cet équipage mixte, nous allons étudier ce qui se passe quand le nombre de femmes augmente», explique Vadim Gouchtchine.
    Enfermés dans un module de 250 mètres cubes imitant un vaisseau spatial, les six membres d'équipage ont promis de faire tout leur possible pour réussir leur mission.
    Fin septembre, l'agence spatiale russe Roskosmos a annoncé avoir signé un accord avec la Nasa pour coopérer au projet américain de création d'une station orbitale autour de la Lune dans le cadre du programme «Deep Space Gateway».
    De son côté, la Russie ambitionne d'ouvrir une base scientifique sur la Lune et envisage d'effectuer ses premiers vols lunaires d'ici 2031.
    Six hommes volontaires avaient déjà été enfermés pendant 520 jours dans une réplique de vaisseau spatial à Moscou pour simuler un voyage sur Mars dans le cadre d'une expérience qui s'était achevée en novembre 2011.

    * * *
      Le Figaro / le 07/11/2017
      Israël et la Russie donnent une seconde vie à une collection de manuscrits rares
      Национальная библиотека Израиля и Российская государственная библиотека подписали соглашение об оцифровке хранящегося в РГБ редчайшего собрания еврейских печатных и рукописных текстов - коллекции Гинзбургов. Коллекция насчитывает около 11 000 единиц, самые ранние датируются XII веком. Оцифрованные тексты будут доступны на сайте электронной библиотеки еврейских рукописей Ktiv.

    La Bibliothèque nationale israélienne a signé avec une grande institution russe un accord en vue de numériser et de publier une précieuse collection de manuscrits et de livres hébreux, mettant fin à une querelle d'un siècle sur la propriété du fonds.
    Une querelle séculaire qui se termine bien... La Bibliothèque nationale israélienne a signé, aujourd'hui mardi 7 novembre, avec une grande institution russe un accord en vue de numériser et de publier une précieuse collection de manuscrits et de livres hébreux. La collection Guenzburg contient environ 2.000 manuscrits et 14.000 ouvrages religieux, scientifiques ou artistiques, dont certains ont plusieurs centaines d'années. Parmi eux figurent des travaux sur la Bible, la loi juive, les mathématiques et la philosophie.
    L'histoire tumultueuse d'un fonds exceptionnel
    En 1910, au moment de la mort de son propriétaire, le baron juif russe David Guenzburg, il s'agissait de «l'une des plus grandes et des plus importantes collections privées au monde», indique Aviad Stollman, responsable des collections à la Bibliothèque nationale d'Israël. La veuve de l'orientaliste a vendu l'ensemble en 1917 à des juifs sionistes qui comptaient le transférer à Jérusalem à l'institution qui deviendrait plus tard la Bibliothèque nationale, mais la Première Guerre mondiale a contrecarré leur projet, a dit M. Stollman à l'AFP.
    Avec la Révolution russe, les autorités ont mis la main sur le fonds, ensuite confié à la Bibliothèque d'État de Russie, où il se trouve toujours. En vertu de l'accord qui doit être paraphé mardi soir à Jérusalem, l'institution russe numérisera les œuvres en haute résolution. Les photos seront remises à la bibliothèque israélienne qui les postera sur son site Ktiv (Écriture), une vaste collection numérique de manuscrits hébreux de bibliothèques et collections à travers le monde.
    Des demandes de rétrocession répétées de la part d'Israël
    La collection Guenzburg et les exemplaires uniques qu'elle contient étaient déjà accessibles aux chercheurs à la Bibliothèque d'État de Russie, et la bibliothèque israélienne avait pu créer des microfilms à son usage propre dans les années 1990. Les Israéliens se sont employés pendant des années à essayer de récupérer la collection, mais les documents produits pour soutenir leurs prétentions à la propriété du bien «ne satisfont pas les Russes», selon M. Stollman.
    Des discussions «aux plus hauts niveaux», impliquant jusqu'au Premier ministre israélien Benjamin Netanyahu et au président russe Vladimir Poutine ont permis de parvenir à l'accord signé mardi soir, dit-il. Après cet accord, savoir si des sionistes ont bien acheté la collection il y a cent ans «n'importe pas vraiment», dit-il. «Nous mettons la question de côté et nous allons de l'avant», ajoute-t-il. «Notre objectif est de rendre ces manuscrits accessibles à tous gratuitement et partout à travers le monde», précise-t-il.
    La Bibliothèque d'État de Russie, distincte de la Bibliothèque nationale, est l'une des plus grandes au monde.

    © 2016 Business Wire, Inc.
    * * *
      Smithsonian / November 10, 2017
      Russian Local Discovers Frozen Remains of Extinct Cave Lion Cub
      The lion died up to 50,000 years ago, but was found perfectly preserved in the frosty ground.
      • By Meilan Solly
      Якутские палеонтологи изучают найденные осенью прекрасно сохранившиеся останки детеныша пещерного льва, пролежавшего в вечной мерзлоте около 50 тысяч лет. Это вторая подобная находка с 2015 года.

    On Wednesday, scientists in the frigid Russian republic of Yakutia revealed an impressive find: the remains of an extinct cave lion cub, likely hidden in permafrost, or permanently frozen ground, for thousands of years.
    According to The Siberian Times, a local resident discovered the cub on the banks of the Tirekhtykh River this September. Researchers estimate that the animal was between one-and-a-half to two months old when it perished up to 50,000 years ago.
    This isn't the first time Russia's Siberian heartland has yielded nearly perfectly preserved remains: In 2015, scientists at the Sakha Republic Academy of Sciences announced the discovery of two ancient lion cubs named Uyan and Dina. Initially thought to date back around 12,000 years, the cubs were later dated to between 25,000 and 55,000 years ago.
    As National Geographic's Brian Switek reported at the time, Uyan and Dina were about two to three weeks old when the ceiling of their den collapsed and buried them deep in Yakutia's permafrost. They remained there, preserved in the cold, until summer flooding unearthed their remains thousands of years later.
    Academy paleontologist Albert Protopopov led the team that studied Uyan and Dina, and he will also examine the new cub. Protopopov tells local news outlet Yakutia Media that the baby lion is "perfectly preserved. … It has all the limbs, there are no traces of external injuries on the skin [and] it is even better than the lion found in 2015."
    Many details about the cub - including its cause of death and sex - remain unclear, but Protopopov says scientists will have more definitive findings within the next three years. Compared to Uyan and Dina, the currently unnamed lion is in an exceptional state of preservation, and, The Siberian Times reports, will be easier to date because it was old enough to have teeth at the time of its death.
    Cave lions wandered the European steppe until about 10,000 years ago, writes National Geographic's Sarah Gibbens. Until the discovery of the preserved cubs, most knowledge of the species derived from the study of bones and tracks. Now, Gibbens says, scientists have a better understanding of the prehistoric creatures' significance - and may even use their findings to investigate the possibility of bringing cave lions back to life.
    After Uyan and Dina's discovery, the Academy released a statement saying, "Given that the cubs have well-preserved soft tissues, we believe that they can be cloned. But we can speak about the results of this work in two or three years."
    The idea of de-extinction, or cloning extinct animals, has divided the scientific community for years, but the Russian team is eager to explore it further. As Protopopov tells The Siberian Times, the new discovery has raised hopes that cloning the species will be possible in a not-so-distant future.

    * * *
      Maritime Herald / November 13, 2017
      Mass Death of Seals on Lake Baikal Was Due to Infection
      • Svilen Petrov
      Причиной массовой гибели нерп на Байкале в конце октября стала инфекция, считают экологи. Окончательный ответ даст молекулярно-генетический анализ в Лимнологическом институте СО РАН.

    The anthropogenic cause of the mass death of seals at the end of October on Lake Baikal is completely ruled out, the West-Baikal environmental prosecutor Aleksey Kalinin told Interfax.
    "In the study of dead animals, no elements showing negative anthropogenic impact were detected. All inspections of the Baikal pulp and paper mill, treatment facilities (for leaks - IF) gave a negative result. All water samples (in the Baikal-IF water area) showed no pollution. There is no poisoning, there is an infectious disease," Kalinin said.
    According to Kalinin, it is possible to finally answer the question of which infection caused the seals death, after the molecular-genetic analysis at the Limnological Institute of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (LIN SB RAS).
    A source familiar with the situation told the agency that it could be a gastrointestinal infection.
    Director of LIN Andrey Fedotov told the agency that for carrying out the molecular genetic analysis, the live seal will be delivered to the institute. "So far, no infections have been found, but that does not mean anything. We researchers are a dead organism in which viruses are poorly preserved. We need a living organism to get 100% convincing results, "Fedotov said. In the Angara-Baikal Territorial Administration of Rosrybolovstvo, the agency was told that it was planned to catch two or three seals in Irkutsk on a quota for scientific research.
    Fedotov also said that during the expedition in late October, LIN employees discovered 18 carcasses of seals per 1 km of coastline near the village of Mishikha (Kabansky district of Buryatia). Earlier it was reported that from October 26 to November 2, 141 carcasses of the dead seal were found on the Baikal coast, including 38 in the Slyudyansky District of the Irkutsk Region in the south of the lake, 99 in the Kabansky District of Buryatia in the central part of the lake, four in the Barguzinsky District Buryatia in the north of Lake Baikal. All are adult and well-fed animals, 80% of them are pregnant females.
    It was also reported that the first seals were found on a sand spit near the village of Noviy Enkhaluk (Buryatia) and along the Circum-Baikal railway between the villages of Port Baikal and Kultuk (Irkutsk region).
    According to the environmental prosecutor's office, the animals were not thrown ashore - they died in the water and then their carcasses carried out waves. They did not die at one time - at different times, for two days. All the dead seals in the gastrointestinal tract lacked food.
    According to preliminary data of the Rosselkhoznadzor, the death of the seal was due to cardiac arrest caused by unknown causes. Dangerous diseases, such as carnivorous plague and rabies, have not been detected in dead animals.

    Copyright 2016 by Maritime Herald.
    * * *
      Hastings Tribune / Nov 17, 2017
      HC opens Russian institute
      • Shay Burk
      В штате Небраска открылся Центр русского языка и культуры «Институт Пушкина». Организаторами стали Пятигорский государственный университет и Колледж Хастингса. Главными задачами центра станет обучение русскому языку, а также продвижение образования на русском языке.

    Hastings College solidified an international relationship Tuesday with the opening of the Pushkin Institute for Russian Language and Culture.
    "(It's a) very good relationship which began rather long ago cause it's no less than 20 years," said Alexander Gorbunov, rector or president of Pyatigorsk State University in Russia. Gorbunov was on hand Tuesday for the ribbon cutting of the new Pushkin Institute in Hastings College's McCormick Hall.
    The rector first visited Hastings College in 1997 and believes the relationship between the two educational institutions may have started as much as five years prior to that, making it the longest standing international partnership for Hastings College.
    Gorbunov last visited Hastings about four years ago with Don Jackson, then-Hatings College president, and a delegation from the college going to Russia a short time later.
    Since the fall of 2012, Ron Babcock, Hastings College history professor, has been teaching introductory Russian language and will now serve as director of the Pushkin Institute. Babcock said he believes the addition of this center and other international partnerships is vital for today's college students.
    "I would argue never in the history of the country since the end of the Cold War has it been more important for Americans to understand Russia," he said. "It's a very practical thing - a high functioning citizenry needs to understand, perhaps for different reasons than we needed to understand the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 60s."
    Babcock said it's also important for all young people to have that international knowledge even if they grew up in small town Nebraska and plan to move no farther away than their home state. Hastings College President Travis Feezell echoed those same beliefs, saying that the college is working to develop connections with other countries like France and Spain.
    "I continue to believe in a complex world only growing more complex that the ability for our students to have perspective and to understand other cultures, to understand the world in all of its glory, we need to be providing as many of those opportunities as possible," he told the audience of more than 20 students and faculty.
    At the end of the opening ceremony, Gorbunov presented Feezell with literature about Pyatigorsk and Russian writer Mikhail Lermontov along with a plaque from Russia designating this as an official Pushkin Institute.
    The main Pushkin State Russian Language Institute is in Moscow and specializes in teaching Russian as a foreign language and offers a variety of language courses on all levels. The institute at Hastings College is one of many around the world initiated by the Russian government, the minister of science and education and Russian universities like PSU.
    Gorbunov said this connection now gives Hastings College access to a variety of paper and digital resources. Pyatigorsk State University is also giving the Pushkin Institute a collection of Russian literature. The name Pushkin is special as it is named after Alexander Pushkin, the founder of modern Russian literature.
    "Pushkin was the founder, the creator of real Russian language, literally Russian language because Russian language mostly it is as it was formed by Pushkin," Gorbunov said. "Pushkin did this language really brilliant, very rich, very impressive."
    The Pushkin Institute at Hastings College will sponsor Russian and Eastern European cultural events, including film festivals and guest lectures, Skype conversations between HC and PSU students, educational programs and cultural and international conversations.
    Feezell said there are so many options yet to be discovered.
    "The Pushkin Institute becomes a location for courses on Russian language, courses on Russian culture, other kinds of film series, guest speakers as we try to promote understanding of cultures," he said. "In many ways then we can start to imagine the opportunities for faculty exchange, student exchange and what that might look like, as well."

    * * *
      The Hindu / November 18, 2017
      Scientists discover new parasitic plant in Nagaland
      It has white flowers, but a covetous heart.
      • Shiv Sahay Singh
      Индийские и российские ученые обнаружили неизвестное ранее растение, не имеющее хлорофилла и заимствующее его у другого растения. Произрастающий в Северной Индии корневой голопаразит с белыми цветами получил название Gleadovia konyakianorum, став четвертым представителем рода Gleadovia.

    Scientists have discovered a new species of parasitic flowering plant that has no chlorophyll, and survives by feeding on another species of plant that does (chlorophyll helps a plant make its own food using sunlight).
    The species, named Gleadovia konyakianorum, in honour of the Konyak tribe of Nagas, was identified during a botanical exploration earlier this year near Tobu town of Mon district in eastern Nagaland.
    "It is a holoparasite [complete parasite] that derives its entire nutritional requirement from the host plant, which is a Strobilanthes species. The plant was found in the semi-evergreen forest at an altitude of 1,500-1,600 metres," said Dilip Kumar Roy, a scientist with the Botanical Survey of India (BSI).
    Along with Mr. Roy, two others - N Odoyo, also from the BSI, and a Russian scientist, Leonid V. Averyanov - have published the details of the newly discovered species in the journal Phytotaxa.
    Though it is has no chlorophyll, the plant has a vascular system and extracts its nutrition from the host plant with the help of a haustorium, the scientists said. A haustorium is a specialised structure with which plant parasites attach themselves to the tissue of host plants and derive nutrition.
    Gleadovia konyakianorum is a root parasite that grows up to 10 cm in height, and bears white, tubular flowers. Interestingly, this is only the fourth species from the genus Gleadovia to be found in the world. The other three are Gleadovia banerjiana (discovered in Manipur), Gleadovia mupinense (found in China) and Gleadovia ruborum (discovered in Uttarakhand and also reported from China).
    The white flowering parasite was found in a group of 15-20 plants, and since the species hasn't been reported anywhere else, scientists have described its status as 'data deficient' as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species Criteria.
    "Parasitic plants are often referred to as curious plants as they steal their entire nutritional requirement from the host. Not only are they rare but they are crucial evolutionary links in the plant kingdom that attest to Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest," said Rajib Gogoi, a scientist from BSI's central national herbarium.
    Plant parasites are differentiated as stem and root parasites. Common stem parasites found in India are Loranthus sp, on Mango trees, and Cuscuta reflexa, a climber. Among the root parasites are Sapria himalayana, a rare holoparasitic flowering plant found in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.

    Copyright © 2017, The Hindu.
    * * *
      Motherboard / Nov 20 2017
      Giant Extinct Sea Cow Found Buried Beneath Siberian Beach
      The megafauna's remains tell a grim story about humans and extinction.
      • Sarah Emerson
      Сотрудники Командорского государственного заповедника (Командорские острова) обнаружили почти полный скелет вымершей стеллеровой коровы. Это морское млекопитающее, одно из крупнейших в эпоху голоцена (длиной до 8 метров и весом до 10 тонн), было открыто в 1741 году и полностью истреблено к 1768 году.

    The massive skeleton of an extinct megafauna, the Steller's sea cow, was discovered on a Siberian beach this month. This rare find was made even more special, due to the skeleton's near completeness.
    Steller's sea cows (Hydrodamalis gigas) once flourished in the arctic waters of Russia's Commander Islands, a group of 17 barren islands and islets in the Bering Sea. The species was likely extinct by 1768; a victim of overhunting, it was prized for its meat and hide.
    This particular skeleton was found in the Komandorsky Nature Reserve, an ecological sanctuary that's been submitted for inclusion on the World Heritage List. Russian researcher Marina Shitova, who has studied Komandorsky's northern fur seals, first spotted the animal's rib cage protruding through the soil.
    Eight people exhumed the skeleton over the course of four hours. From end to end, it measured 17 feet, though its skull and several vertebrae were missing. Mature adults could reach lengths of 25 feet, and weighed between eight and ten tons. Apart from cetaceans, the Steller's sea cow was quite possibly the largest mammal of the Holocene, which began roughly 11,700 years ago (and arguably ended at the start of today's Anthropocene).
    The complete skeleton of a nearly 10-foot-long sea cow was also discovered on Bering Island in 1987, the reserve says, but has since been disassembled.
    Most of the Steller's sea cows you'll see in museums are composite skeletons - amalgams of various individuals. Currently, the Finnish Museum of Natural History in Helsinki claims to have the only displayed specimen that's fully intact.
    That the Steller's sea cow survived to the 18th century is unique among megafauna with origins in the Pleistocene, which began 2.6 million years ago, and ended with the arrival of the Holocene. By that time, other Pleistocene species like the moa and ground sloth were long gone. These gentle giants found a niche in the Bering Sea, withstanding freezing temperatures thanks to generous blubber and a thick skin. They fed mostly on kelp, and lived in social family groups. The species was monogamous, according to reports from naturalists who observed them.
    It has been said that Steller's sea cows also mourned their dead, which was described by an explorer in 1751:
    "It is a very curious evidence of their nature and of their conjugal affection that when a female was caught the male, after trying with all his strength, but in vain, to free his captured mate, would follow her quite to the shore, even though we struck him many blows, and that when she was dead he would sometimes come up to her as unexpectedly and as swiftly as an arrow. When we came the next day, early in the morning, to cut up the flesh and take it home, we found the male still waiting near his mate…"
    Much of what we know about the species comes from 18th century manuscripts. The animal received its name from Georg Steller, a German naturalist who described the animal on a Danish-led, Russian Empire-funded expedition in 1741. While his writings have been invaluable to our understanding of the sea cow, Steller, at the time, did not understand the concept of extinction.
    "It seems, therefore, very probable, that though known to be in existence not more than forty years ago, it must now be ranked among the list of beings lost from the animal kingdom," wrote fellow German naturalist Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff in 1812.
    Komandorsky officials intend to display the newly-discovered specimen in the reserve's visitor center. They hope it will tell, and teach, the history of extinction on the Commander Islands to future generations.

    © 2017 VICE MEDIA LLC.
    * * *
      Le Huffington Post / 23/11/2017
      200 ours polaires amassés sur une île arctique russe à cause du réchauffement climatique
      Si un tel spectacle fascine les touristes, pour les scientifiques, il illustre les conséquences du réchauffement climatique.
      На острове Врангеля собралось самое большое количество белых медведей за всю историю изучению чукотско-аляскинской популяции. В ходе 30-дневного мониторинга российско-американская исследовательская экспедиция обнаружила там почти 600 хищников. Из-за потепления климата и таяния льда медведи больше времени проводят на суше.

    Des petits blocs de banquise. Voici ce que des touristes en bateau ont cru voir en s'approchant des paysages glacés de l'Arctique russe. Il s'agissait en réalité de 200 ours polaires en plein festin, affairés sur la carcasse d'une baleine échouée sur la rive.
    "Nous étions tous estomaqués", témoigne Alexandre Grouzdev, le directeur de la réserve naturelle de l'île Wrangel, située dans la mer des Tchouktches dans le nord-est de la Sibérie. Selon lui, cette rencontre est "unique" en son genre.
    Parmi ces dizaines de prédateurs, de nombreuses familles d'ours blancs dont deux mères suivies chacune par quatre oursons, une vision peu fréquente, explique Alexandre Grouzdev à l'AFP. Si un tel spectacle fascine les touristes, pour les scientifiques il illustre les conséquences du réchauffement climatique qui transforme l'habitat naturel des animaux, accroît la concurrence pour la nourriture et les rapproche des zones habitées.
    L'île Wrangel est traditionnellement l'endroit où les ours polaires se reposent entre août et novembre, après la fonte des glaces et avant de pouvoir repartir à la chasse aux phoques. Mais le changement climatique provoque la fonte des glaces plus tôt dans l'année et pousse les populations d'ours polaires de l'Arctique à passer plus de temps sur la terre ferme et à se rapprocher dangereusement des villages.
    Le manque de proies, conséquence directe du réchauffement climatique
    "Une baleine représente un véritable cadeau pour eux: plusieurs dizaines de tonnes" de nourriture, soit assez pour plusieurs mois, explique Alexandre Grouzdev. Les ours polaires sont de plus en plus nombreux à se rendre sur l'île Wrangel et ils y passent aujourd'hui en moyenne un mois de plus qu'il y a 20 ans en raison de la fonte des glaces, selon Eric Regehr, spécialiste de l'Université de Washington.
    Cet automne, les observateurs en ont recensé 589, un nombre "anormalement élevé" et plus du double des estimations précédentes. Selon lui, la population d'ours polaires de la mer des Tchouktches, partagée entre la Russie et les Etats-Unis, reste "en bonne santé".
    Mais cela pourrait changer si le temps passé sur la terre ferme continue de s'allonger. Car malgré l'existence de quelques sources de nourriture comme les bœufs musqués, les rongeurs ou même l'herbe, rien ne remplacera les apports en énergie de la chasse au phoque, essentielle pour la survie des ours polaires. Selon le scientifique, la vision de 200 ours polaires agglutinés autour d'une carcasse de baleine est le signe de ce que nous réserve le futur: plus d'ours passant moins de temps dans la mer. Avec moins de proies marines à la clef.
    Confrontation avec l'homme
    De cette situation de surpeuplement résulte un conflit inévitable entre les ours polaires et les humains de la région.
    Depuis mi-octobre, les ours polaires se rapprochent dangereusement du village de Ryrkaïpi, sur la terre ferme à 200 kilomètres de l'île Wrangel, à proximité d'un site où les morses aiment venir s'échouer.
    "Cette année, des centaines de morses sont morts en s'écrasant les uns sur les autres, il est possible qu'ils aient été dérangés par un prédateur", affirme Viktor Nikiforov, expert et coordinateur du centre russe des mammifères marins. Certaines carcasses de morses ont flotté jusqu'au village et attiré des ours, dont l'un "a cassé la fenêtre d'une maison", raconte Nikiforov.
    Le village de quelques 600 âmes a dû se mettre en alerte, interdisant aux enfants d'aller à l'école à pied et annulant certains événements publics. Les habitants et les scientifiques ont ensuite utilisé des bulldozers pour éloigner les carcasses de morses du village. "La concentration d'êtres humains et d'animaux dans la même zone augmente et il y a des conflits", résume le scientifique.
    "Nous ne pouvons pas stopper le changement climatique, mais nous pouvons (...) rendre la vie des ours polaires plus facile", en instaurant par exemple des patrouilles de surveillance et d'autres mesures de protection, souligne-t-il. "Avec les transformations que subit la nature, nous devons nous en soucier", conclut Viktor Nikiforov.

    © 2017 Le Huffington Post SAS. Tous droits réservés.
    * * *
      Phys.Org / November 25, 2017
      Russia opens commission into 'nuclear incident' report
      В августе-сентябре европейские и российские системы экологического мониторинга обнаружили в атмосфере изотоп рутения-106, а в начале ноября французский Институт ядерной и радиационной безопасности зафиксировал радиоактивное облако над Европой. По оценкам исследователей, предполагаемый источник утечки мог находиться на юге Урала.
      Росатом объявил о создании научной комиссии для расследования инцидента, хотя и отрицает, что на каком-либо российском атомном объекте имела место утечка.

    A Russian scientific commission will investigate reports of radioactive pollution almost 1,000 times above normal levels in the southern Urals, state nuclear company Rosatom said Friday.
    The move comes despite Russia's denial that a nuclear accident had occurred at any of its nuclear facilities.
    "Nuclear scientists have created a commission to discover the origin of ruthenium-106," Rosatom said in a statement, also released by the country's Nuclear Safety Institute. The commission will include representatives of "Russian and European scientific organisations," according to the statement.
    "Rosatom will offer all necessary assistance to this commission and will inform the public of the results."
    On Monday, Russian meteorologists said a station close to the Mayak nuclear facility in the Chelyabinsk region detected "extremely high pollution" of the ruthenium-106 isotope during tests in late September. The radioactive isotope is created by splitting atoms in a reactor and does not occur naturally.
    Rosatom previously said there were "no incidents" at nuclear infrastructure facilities in Russia and that the concentration detected posed little threat. Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia's agricultural safety watchdog, on Friday denied "possible radioactive contamination" of land in the area, in response to concerns.
    The Mayak facility in the southern Urals, which is under Rosatom's umbrella, has said the contamination "has nothing to do with Mayak's activities". The facility, which reprocesses nuclear fuel, said it has not produced Ru-106 for several years. Mayak was the site of one of the worst nuclear disasters in history when a container holding radioactive waste exploded in 1957, prompting the evacuation of nearly 13,000 people from the area.

    © Phys.org 2003-2017, Science X network.
    * * *
      United Press International / Nov. 27, 2017
      New butterfly species with 46 chromosomes discovered in Russia
      • By Brooks Hays
      Российские энтомологи пришли к окончательному выводу, что обнаруженная 20 лет назад на Северном Кавказе бабочка Polyommatus australorossicus - новый вид. От близкородственных видов ее отличает наличие 46 хромосом - как у человека.

    Entomologists in Russia have discovered a new butterfly species with an unusual number of chromosomes. The newly named South Russian blue has 46 chromosomes, the same number as humans.
    When Vladimir Lukhtanov, entomologist and evolutionary biologist at the Zoological Institute in St. Petersburg, first captured and analyzed specimens of the South Russian blue butterfly in 1997, he thought they were Azerbaijani blues.
    However, genetic sequencing proved the specimens were a separate species.
    In the years since the initial discovery, Lukhtanov and research partner Alexander Dantchenko, entomologist and chemist at the Moscow State University, have sequenced the genomes of hundreds of butterfly species in an effort to determine the classification of the specimens first recovered from the Caucasus mountains in southern Russia.
    It took two decades, but the scientists are finally convinced the butterflies' uniqueness warrants a new species designation.
    They described the new species, Polyommatus australorossicus, in the journal Comparative Cytogenetics.
    "This publication is the long-awaited completion of a twenty-year history," Lukhtanov said in a news release.
    Field observations backed up the conclusions of their genetic analysis. South Russian blue caterpillars feed on different plants than their closest relatives.
    Researchers hope their discovery will encourage conservationists to protect the unique species.
    "We are proud of our research," said Lukhtanov. "It contributes greatly to both the study of biodiversity and understanding the mechanisms of biological evolution."

    Copyright © 2017 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
    * * *
      The Hindu / November 28, 2017
      Russia satellite fails to enter orbit
      It is the second failed launch since the Vostochny cosmodrome made its debut.
      Второй старт с нового космодрома Восточный оказался неудачным - спутник «Метеор-М» для гидрометеорологических наблюдений на орбиту не вышел.

    A Russian weather satellite and nearly 20 micro-satellites from various nations failed to enter their designated orbits on Tuesday following the launch from Russia's new cosmodrome, another blow to the nation's space program.
    Russia's Roscosmos space agency said it has failed to establish communications with the Meteor M 2-1 satellite that was launched atop a Soyuz-2 booster rocket on Tuesday from Russia's new Vostochny launch pad in the Far East. The agency says it's trying to determine what happened.
    Russian news agencies reported the likely cause was the failure of the booster's final stage, the Fregat, possibly caused by a software flaw. The booster also carried 18 micro satellites built in Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. It wasn't immediately clear if the Meteor and other satellites fell into the ocean or were stranded in low orbit.
    The glitch follows other failed launches in recent years that tarnished the reputation of Russian space industries. Some of the glitches were traced to manufacturing flaws.
    Asked about the failed launch, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov refrained from immediate comment, saying that the Kremlin was expecting space officials' report on the situation. The failed launch is the second since the Vostochny cosmodrome made its debut in April 2016.

    Copyright © 2017, The Hindu.
    * * *
      Chemistry World / 29 November 2017
      Russia backs new research cluster
      Government touts high-tech science area as Russia's answer to Silicon Valley.
      • By Eugene Gerden
      Российское правительство официально утвердило планы создания нового крупного научно-образовательного и инновационно-производственного кластера в Санкт-Петербурге. В проект нового «Сколково» предполагается вложить 41 млрд рублей.

    The Russian government has officially approved plans for a new large-scale scientific cluster in St. Petersburg. The centre will be modelled on Skolkovo - a high technology business park near Moscow.
    According to Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, investment in the project will amount to RUB41 billion (£530 million). The government predicts the new cluster will provide training for 3600 people, and house 50 international laboratories and at least 10 innovative production facilities. It will create 6000 highly skilled jobs in the initial stages.
    Researchers in the new cluster will design and create real technological solutions, directed towards problems identified by the state and business community. For example, designing an unmanned vehicle that can cope with Russia's winter roads.
    St. Petersburg's National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics (ITMO) will be a key partner in the project. Vladimir Vasilyev, rector of ITMO, says the majority of funds will be provided by Start Development Corporation, owned by the Russian businessman Zakhar Smushkin.
    According to Vasilyev the cluster will be considered as an analogue of Moscow's Skolkovo center, which began construction eight years ago and has been touted as Russia's answer to Silicon Valley. However, leading Russian scientists and businessmen remain skeptical. Alexander Galitsky, head of venture fund Almaz Capital Partners, said in an interview with Russia's RBC newspaper, Russian officials like to compare domestic scientific clusters with Silicon Valley, but they forget that since the early 1970s, the US government and private businesses have invested billions of dollars in that area's development.
    That support - provided through state grants, stimulation of start-ups and support for universities - allowed firms like Intel to grow from small start-ups to modern tech giants, Galitsky added. Moscow's Skolkovo center was first announced as far back as in 2009, and construction officially began in December 2010. By 2020, 2.6 million square metres of accommodation will be built, housing nearly 30,000 people - most of whom will be employed by companies on the park.
    Earlier this year, Anton Yakovenko, chief executive of the agency that manages Skolkovo, said that US$7 billion has already been invested to support the project, and investments will continue in years to come.

    © Chemistry World 2017.
    * * *
      France Culture / 30/11/2017
      La Russie tente de retrouver sa place dans l'espace
      • Lise Verbeke
      Сможет ли Россия вернуть свое место в космической отрасли и достигнутое при СССР влияние?

    La Russie a lancé mardi une deuxième fusée Soyouz depuis son nouveau cosmodrome dans l'Extrême-Orient. Cette base, très coûteuse, est censée marquer la renaissance de l'industrie spatiale russe. 60 ans pile après le lancement de Spoutnik, la Russie peut-elle retrouver son prestige spatial d'antan ?
    Dans l'oblast de l'Amour, tout au sud-est de la Sibérie, le cosmodrome de Vostotchny est flambant neuf, après quatre années de travaux. Il fut "le plus grand chantier du pays", comme l'avait qualifié les médias russes : à plus de 4 milliards d'euros. Mardi, à 14h41 heure locale, le pas de tir a vu partir une fusée Soyouz pour la deuxième fois. Vladimir Poutine n'était pas présent, mais il a suivi ce lancement depuis Moscou. A bord de la fusée, des satellites appartenant à des institutions ou des entreprises canadienne, états-unienne, japonaise, allemande, suédoise ou encore norvégienne. Manque de chance, le contact a été perdu avec le principal satellite, Meteor, qui n'a pas réussi à atteindre l'orbite prévu. Une perte qui embarrasse la Russie, dans sa politique de "renaissance spatiale", pour retrouver la puissance acquise lors de l'Union soviétique.
    L'URSS permet à la planète d'entrer dans un monde nouveau
    Le 4 octobre 1957 marque le début de l'ère spatiale. Une page de l'histoire écrite par les Soviétiques. Sur la base secrète de Baïkonour, dans une tension extrême, les yeux sont rivés sur la fusée R-7, conçue par l'ingénieur Sergueï Korolev. Quelques minutes plus tard, Spoutnik est mis en orbite.
    Les bips émis par le premier satellite artificiel de la Terre sont captés par les radios du monde entier.
    Au lendemain de la seconde guerre mondiale, en pleine guerre froide, les Soviétiques font mouche et acquièrent avec cet exploit "une aura extraordinaire sur le plan extérieur et intérieur", analyse Isabelle Sourbès-Verger, chercheuse au CNRS et spécialiste des politiques spatiales et de l'occupation de l'espace.
    L'Union soviétique va alors se saisir politiquement de l'espace, comme élément idéologique et comme élément d'image sur la scène internationale.
    Après Spoutnik, les premières s'enchaînent : en avril 1961, Youri Gagarine devient le premier homme à avoir effectué un vol dans l'espace, puis Valentina Terechkova sera la première femme dans l'espace, en juin 1963. Les Soviétiques sont également à l'origine des premières photos de la Lune.
    Cette succession de "première", explique la chercheuse, est :
    Un moyen pour les dirigeants soviétiques de démontrer que c'est bien le marxisme, avec la place qu'il donne à la science et à la technologie, et le communisme qui veut créer l'homme nouveau, qui permettent tout cela. Pendant dix ans, jusqu'en 1966, le spatial soviétique est structuré sur cette image d'ouvrir vers un monde nouveau et d'hyper capacité technologique du système soviétique.
    Puis vient la course à la Lune. Course remportée par les Américains, qui décident à ce moment-là d'investir dans l'espace. Face aux budgets américains, les Soviétiques ne font pas le poids et ils perdent leur première place de puissance spatiale. Mais ils continuent tout de même leur conquête spatiale, et "gardent à l'esprit que l'espace habité est un élément important, et créent les stations Saliout, puis Mir, qui font qu'il y a toujours eu des hommes qui ont orbité autour de la Terre, à partir du milieu des années 1970".
    Les Soviétiques, le nez dans les étoiles
    Une part importante de l'industrie spatiale soviétique est alors consacrée aux lancements et aux stations. Le tissu industriel est au temps de l'URSS très dense et très fourni. Selon Isabelle Sourbès-Verger, "jusqu'à un million et demi de personnes ont travaillé dans le domaine spatial dans des villes "spatiales" ou des quartiers, très fermés, où tout est organisé autour de cette activité. Il y a par exemple des fabricants de trains, des écoles où les enfants étudient la littérature spatiale, des hôpitaux, et le spatial fait vivre toute la ville". Il y avait beaucoup de quartiers spatiaux autour de Moscou et de Leningrad à l'époque. Les villes fermées, elles, soumises à un passeport spécial, avec cette culture du secret qui caractérise l'époque communiste, se trouvaient dans l'Oural, le long du Transsibérien, comme Samara.
    Dans l'imaginaire collectif soviétique, le spatial a un rôle très important.
    Surtout chez les 15-25 ans, selon la chercheuse, car ils ont connu toutes les premières fois dans l'espace. Ils ont alors l'impression que l'Union réalise des choses extraordinaires. Ils se disent que tous les sacrifices faits après la Seconde Guerre Mondiale ne sont pas inutiles et ils se sentent alors vraiment portés par une vague d'optimisme qui permettra au pays de rattraper son retard par rapport au monde occidental.
    Boris Eltsine coupe le robinet de l'industrie spatiale
    L'éclatement de l'URSS met un coup d'arrêt aux ambitions spatiales. La Russie s'enfonce dans les difficultés économiques et la conquête de l'espace n'est plus vue comme une fierté, mais comme un gaspillage d'argent. De 1991 à 1999, sous la période Eltsine, "tout est donné à l'économie immédiate, complète la spécialiste des politiques spatiales. L'industrie spatiale sera privatisée de manière anarchique, chaque oligarque devient propriétaire d'une entreprise, et les budgets disparaissent totalement. Le spatial russe ne survit que parce que les Américains, les Européens et les Chinois continuent à acheter les technologies russes, parce qu'elles sont peu chères et fiables".
    Poutine relance la politique spatiale russe
    Quand Vladimir Poutine prend les rênes du pouvoir en 2000, il a un mot à la bouche : la fierté russe. Et cette fierté russe passe notamment par le retour de la Russie en tant que puissance spatiale. Il entame alors une restructuration des industries spatiales.
    Avec trois motivations, selon Laurence Nardon, responsable du programme Espace de l'Ifri, qui les détaille dans une note publiée en avril 2007 : "la sécurité nationale (élément à mettre en perspective avec la politique spatiale américaine actuelle), la croissance économique et, la dimension psychologique, avec l'espace comme symbole de puissance, de prestige international et de souveraineté technologique."
    Une volonté appuyée par les bons résultats économiques, souligne Isabelle Sourbès-Verger : "Poutine, à cette époque, réorganise les systèmes de retraites, de santé et d'éducation, c'est-à-dire qu'il fait à nouveau rentrer de l'argent dans les caisses de l'Etat, et le redistribue dans l'économie. Il reçoit alors une forte adhésion de la population". Il nationalise à nouveau les industries spatiales, et les regroupent sous une entité : "Roskosmos" (qui est, au passage, le nom de l'ancienne agence spatiale russe).
    Manque d'ingénieurs Mais Vladimir Poutine a dû faire face à un problème de taille : (re)trouver des ingénieurs. "Beaucoup de sous-traitants ont disparu pendant la période Eltsine, raconte Isabelle Sourbès-Verger. J'ai connu à l'époque des collègues russes qui travaillaient dans le milieu spatial, ils gagnaient leur vie en étant profs, et ils passaient leurs soirées dans leurs laboratoires où ils n'étaient plus payés, pour essayer de maintenir une activité. J'ai des souvenirs vraiment très poignants, où les couloirs de l'Institut de Moscou, qui est l'équivalent de Polytechnique, que j'avais connu avec des étudiants partout, étaient désespérément déserts. Puis, les gens ont commencé à revenir à partir de 2000-2005, quand il y a eu à nouveau des bourses." La Russie peut tout de même s'appuyer sur deux créneaux d'excellence, hérité de l'époque soviétique : son expertise dans les vols habités, elle est la seule à desservir la station spatiale internationale, et ses lanceurs : depuis 17 ans, elle a mis sur orbites d'avantage de satellites étrangers que de satellites nationaux. En 2005, la Russie a été à l'origine de près de la moitié de tous les lancements dans le monde, contre 22,6?% pour les Etats-Unis et 9,4?% pour l'Europe, selon le quotidien russe Etoile rouge.
    Base de Vostotchny, renaissance du spatial russe ? L'un des grands projets de Vladimir Poutine, lancé dès 2007, a été la construction d'un cosmodrome d'ampleur sur le territoire russe, à Vostotchny dans l'Extrême-Orient. Le premier décollage d'une fusée Soyouz y a eu lieu en avril 2016, après une première tentative, ce qui n'a pas manqué de provoqué l'ire de Vladimir Poutine. Le Président avait fait tomber quelques têtes, notamment l'un des principaux responsables du secteur Léonid Chalimov, dont la holding d'Etat Avtomatika avait été jugée responsable de l'erreur technique. Ce cosmodrome doit à terme remplacer celui de Baïkonour, au Kazakhstan, qui reste le seul moyen pour rejoindre la station spatiale internationale et que la Russie loue depuis la chute de l'URSS 115 millions d'euros par an. Base que le pays devrait continuer d'utiliser jusqu'en 2023. La perte d'un satellite mardi dernier est un échec embarrassant pour la Russie, "car cela remet en cause la fiabilité de ses lanceurs, selon Isabelle Sourbès-Verger, et montre la difficulté de son industrie spatiale à appliquer des contrôles qualité suffisants pour éviter ce type de problème." D'autant que la Russie n'en est pas à son premier échec. En 2015, un vaisseau cargo qui devait ravitailler la station spatiale internationale a été perdu, phénomène qui s'est réitéré l'année suivante. Et puis, en mai 2015, un lanceur Proton a échoué à mettre en orbite un satellite de communication mexicain.
    Concurrence du « new space » Même si depuis plusieurs années, la Russie coopère à des programmes spatiaux internationaux, elle n'arrive pas à pallier son retard, notamment en électronique, alors que le domaine des télécommunications est très porteur dans l'industrie spatiale. Elle doit aussi faire face à une nouvelle concurrence : le "new space". Ce sont des entreprises privées, qui ne sont pas issues du secteur spatial traditionnel, qui contribuent à l'industrie. "Ils fabriquent, entre autres, explique Isabelle Sourbès-Verger, des produits en open source, comme des cubesats, de très petits satellites, qui démocratisent les techniques spatiales".
    Là où la NASA, poussée par Donald Trump, envisage une mission habitée sur Mars en 2030, voire, plus tôt, selon les souhaits du président américain, les Russes ont dû revoir leurs ambitions à la baisse. La mission ExoMars-2018, en coopération avec l'Agence spatiale européenne a été repoussée de deux ans. Reportées également les missions du programme lunaire, un éventuel vol habité n'est pas prévu avant 2030.

    * * *
      Science Codex / November 29, 2017
      Biologists taught infusoria to fight poisons
      Российские ученые обнаружили и изучили новое вещество с антиоксидантными свойствами, способное защищать живые организмы от различных токсичных соединений, а также протестировали его на инфузории-туфельке.

    A team of scientists from the Faculty of Biology of Lomonosov Moscow State University and Laboratory of Aerobic Metabolism in Microorganisms of Skryabin Institute of Biochemistry and Physiology of Microorganisms of the Russian Academy of Sciences found a new substance with anti-oxidant properties able protect living organisms from various toxic compounds. The results of the study were published in Preparative Biochemistry and Biotechnology magazine.
    A group of scientists found and investigated a new property of isocitric acid - an organic compound that plays an important role in the functioning of cells. The researchers produced the acid in the laboratory using a special strain of yeast. This method helps one obtain a safe and puretarget substance compared to chemical synthesis. The purpose of the study was to investigate whether isocitric acid supports resistance against harmful oxidation substances and to what extent. For lab studies the team chose single-cell organisms - infusoria Paramecium caudatum.
    "Infusoria have a quite big surface of contact with the environment compared to their size. They quickly react to toxic substances by exhibiting a range of biological, physiological, and biochemical changes," - explained Anatoliy Inozemtsev, a co-author of the work and lead researcher of the Department of Higher Nervous Activity of the Faculty of Biology, MSU.
    "Moreover, they have a filtration feeding mechanism which increases the chance of toxic substances accumulation and enhances their influence on the body. Therefore, infusoria are a convenient model for biological testing of chemical substances."
    The team conducted a series of experiments subjecting infusoria to different oxidants -- substances that cause harm to living organisms by starting oxidative reactions. In their work the scientists used the most widely spread oxidants, including hydrogen peroxide and salts of heavy metals. The influence of these substances on infusoria caused the microorganisms to die. In a repeated set of experiments the researchers treated infusoria with isocitric acid. For the purpose ofcomparison, the same set of experiments was performed with a classic anti-oxidant, ascorbic acid.
    As a result, the scientists established that isocitric acid increased the survival rate of the cells 25-31 times compared to untreated infusoria. Moreover, the positive effect of isocitric acid surpassed that of ascorbic acid. Another important result of the work is the fact that isocitric acid is easy to produce and integrate in manufacturing processes.
    "The only obstacle for the development of implementation of this simple and affordable compound is the absence of manufacturing facilities in our country. We hope that further studies of the effects of isocitric acid in lab animals (rats) will help us overcome this issue," - added Anatoliy Inozemtsev.

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