Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Январь 2018 г.
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Январь
2018 г.
Российская наука и мир
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)

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    Newsweek / 1/2/18
    Physics: Russia testing first high-frequency generator to build its own atom smasher
    • By Kastalia Medrano
    В Институте ядерной физики СО РАН создали первый в России клистрон - высокочастотный мощный генератор. Он позволяет создавать интенсивное электромагнитное поле, ускоряющее частицы в коллайдерах.

Russian physicists are building their first klystron generator, a critical particle accelerator component for which the country has previously had to rely on external suppliers in Europe or Japan. Now, researchers from the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Science's Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics are testing a model they believe could be up and running within the year.
Klystrons are high-frequency, particularly powerful generators. They allow researchers to create the intense electromagnetic fields that accelerate the particles within the colliders, Yevgeny Levichev, deputy director of the Institute of Nuclear Physics, said, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti. No klystron generator or anything even comparable has been manufactured in Russia before.
Russia's ability to build its own functional klystron generator is crucial to the success of its science "megaproject" - a unique electron-positron collider called the Super Tau Charm Factory, according to international news agency Sputnik.
The Super Tau Charm Factory will study the decay of tau lepton, a particle along the lines of an electron, and the decay of charmed particles, the third-largest of the six categories of quarks. It will facilitate study of matter-antimatter collisions and things that can't be explained by the Standard Model of particle physics, which, according to the European Organization for Nuclear Research (more commonly known as CERN), is a widely used theory developed in the early 1970s that explains the four fundamental forces governing the structure of matter.
This means it will also be searching for new forms of matter, like theoretical particles called "glueballs." Colliders like CERN's Large Hadron Collider - the biggest machine in the world - are used for various pursuits in particle physics, but there's currently no other collider anywhere in the world dedicated predominately to this field of research, RIA Novosti previously reported.
The Russian Scientific Foundation has issued a grant for construction of the klystron generator in recognition of the vital role it will play in building a functional collider. All together, the collider is expected to cost 27 billion rubles (the equivalent of roughly $470 million), according to a previous report by RIA Novosti.
The completion of such a project would put Russia at the forefront of particle physics. Levichev said that Russia's klystron has already been assembled and tested in a "non-generating mode," a trial run to demonstrate that the particle beam is flying the way it's meant to, according to RIA Novosti.
In 2015, Levichev and colleagues won a competition to have the Future Circular Collider - the CERN supercollider that will take over once the Large Hadron Collider reaches the end of its life - constructed based on their designs, according to news agency Russia InfoCentre.

© 2018 NEWSWEEK LLC.
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    THISDAY Newspapers / January 5, 2018
    In Alaska, linguists preserve Russian dialect
    Несколько лет назад в селении Нинильчик на Аляске лингвисты из Института языкознания РАН обнаружили местный диалект русского языка, на котором говорят всего несколько десятков человек. Язык потомков русских переселенцев, обосновавшихся в Нинильчике в 1847 году, представляет собой уникальное сочетание современных и архаичных черт.

The town of Ninilchik seems unremarkable. Located on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula about 185 miles from Anchorage, the sleepy village serves as a pit stop for tourists in need of gas as they head south on the Sterling Highway.
But Ninilchik's unassuming character belies a fascinating cultural history - one that lives on with many of its residents. In Ninilchik, a small population of elderly residents are preservers of a Russian dialect that is practically frozen in time, unchanged since 1847, when the village was founded as part of the Russian Empire. Many of these men and women are Russian-Alaskan natives, descended from Ninilchik's earliest settlers, and speak a form of Russian that dates back to the time of Alexander II, long before Alaska became America's 49th state.
The Ninilchik dialect is a unique blend of modern and archaic Russian and includes vocabulary common 150 years ago. As generations pass and Ninilchik assimilates into the modern world, vestiges of the town's characteristically Russian way of life, including this language, fade.
This problem extends beyond Ninilchik: The UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger reports that nearly half of the world's approximately 7,000 languages are in danger of going extinct, including more than 130 languages across Russia. In the United States, scholars believe that only half of an estimated 300 Native American languages are still spoken and that only 20 will survive into 2050, which would mean a staggering 93 percent loss.
To forestall these predicted losses and rescue languages from obscurity, governments, organizations and ordinary citizens around the world are employing modern technology to bring languages back from the brink. Google has recently instituted the Endangered Languages Project - a site for groups and individuals to share research and collaborate on preserving vulnerable languages. Other efforts are more conventional, but are also helping. On Montana's Fort Peck Indian Reservation, for instance, secondary school students have started a language camp to teach and share Dakota, a language of the Sioux Nation.
In many instances, young people drive the preservation movement. Students are leveraging online tools - websites, Facebook groups, Google Chats and YouTube channels - to collect, store and share valuable knowledge.
In 2013, an online campaign led to the development of a Navajo-dubbed version of the movie Star Wars, a watershed moment that sparked new interest in dying languages among Native American youth.
In Ninilchik, meanwhile, linguists from the Russian Academy of Science's Institute of Linguistics are compiling a dictionary of about 2,500 Ninilchik Russian words and recording the village's speakers, in the hopes of preserving the dialect.
If a new generation does not continue to use the dialect, at least an archive will exist to tell the story of an Alaskan village whose Russian settlers and Native American residents formed a unique society and successful economy.

© Copyright 2016 THISDAY NEWSPAPERS LTD.
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    The National Interest / January 6, 2018
    Russia Has a Plan to Dominate the Arctic
    • Michael Peck
    Россия занимается созданием атомных ледоколов нового поколения, которые предполагается ввести в эксплуатацию в 2019-2025 годах. Это может повлиять на расстановку сил в международном соперничестве за новые арктические морские пути и минеральные ресурсы.

In a move with chilling implications for the international competition for Arctic sea routes and minerals, Russia is building more nuclear-powered icebreakers.
Three more next-generation Lider-class vessels will be constructed in 2023 to 2025, vice-premier Dmitry Rogozin told Russian media. Three more nuclear-powered icebreakers are already under construction.
"Rosatom [state civilian nuclear power corporation] has now been instructed as part of private and state partnership to think over the algorithm of financing three icebreakers rather than one and then we will make navigable the entire Northern Sea Route," Rogozin said in an interview with Russian television.
The three icebreakers will join three current-generation icebreakers - the Arktika, Ural and Sibir - scheduled to be commissioned in 2019-2021, "will help ensure an all-out escort [of vessels] through the ice from Yamal Peninsula towards the West."
Rogozin offered a grand vision of how clearing paths through the ice will enable Russia to dominate Arctic shipping lanes. "We will be able to lead whatever vessels for any customer by transit through the Northern Sea Route: caravans with goods from Asia to Europe and we will be able to export our hydrocarbons in the form of liquefied natural gas not only to Europe but also to Southeast Asia."
To build the next-generation icebreakers, Russia is upgrading the Zvezda shipyard at Bolshoy Kamen in the Russian Far East. "In 2019, we will commission [the shipyard's] dry dock," Rogozin said. "Just imagine the dimensions: 484 meters [529 yards] long and 114 meters [125 feet] wide. Two aircraft carriers can be built there at a time."
Russia's ambitious icebreaker projects come as the frozen wastes of the Arctic begin to sizzle under the covetous gaze of multiple nations. Once a lure for hardy explorers - and a hiding place for ballistic missile submarines - the North Pole is now seen as a new frontier with abundant energy and mineral resources. With polar ice melting, new shipping lanes are opening up that offer the prospect of more direct routes for cargo vessels sailing between North America, Europe and Asia.
However, several countries claim jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic, including Russia, Canada and Denmark. While Russia is building a fleet of new icebreakers, the United States is down to just one heavy icebreaker, and the U.S. Coast Guard reports that the Polar Star - built in 1976 - is barely able to sail. The vessel is not expected to function past 2023, yet a replacement is at least seven years away, the Coast Guard has warned.

© 2018 The National Interest. All rights reserved.
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    National Geographic / January 11, 2018
    1,700-Year-Old Musical Instrument Found, and It Still Works
    The mouth harp was recently discovered in the Altai Mountains region of Russia and still makes music after well over a millennium.
    • By Heather Brady
    Археологи из Института археологии и этнографии СО РАН обнаружили на Алтае пять костяных варганов возрастом около 1700 лет. Один из них настолько хорошо сохранился, что на нем вполне можно играть.

An ancient mouth harp discovered in Russia delighted archaeologists when they confirmed that it could still make a sound.
The instrument was one of five mouth harps discovered by archaeologists at two sites, Chultukov Log 9 and Cheremshanka, in the mountainous Altai Republic region of south-central Russia.
"I myself played on the harp from Cheremshanka," says Andrey Borodovsky, a professor at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He has been researching these instruments for more than 20 years, and says one of the Cheremshanka mouth harps is still capable of making music.
The instruments were likely made by craftsmen from the splintered ribs of cows or horses, and they are thought to date back 1,700 years to the period when the Huns and their descendants controlled much of central Asia. The tribes who populated the region at the time were nomadic, spreading across central Asia through modern-day Mongolia, Kazakhstan, northeast China, and southern Russia. The mouth harp that Borodovsky played is about 4.3 inches long and 3.3 inches wide.
The instruments made by the Altai craftsmen differ from other ancient instruments found in central Asia. Craftsmen in Mongolia and the Tuva region of Russia used different materials, like the horns of deer, to make mouth harps. A piece of a mouth harp made from deer horns was also found in southern Siberia about 40 years ago.
While the mouth harps recently found in Russia were crafted and played well over a millennium ago, they seem quite modern compared to the world's oldest known musical instruments - 43,000-year-old flutes made from bird bone and mammoth ivory that were found in a cave in southern Germany.
After playing the mouth harp, Borodovsky says he thinks it sounds like a flageolet, a Renaissance-era instrument similar to a flute.

Copyright © 2015-2018 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.
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    The Inquisitr / January 12, 2018
    The Oldest Tomb Of A Scythian Prince Has Just Been Discovered By An Archaeologist In Siberia
    The burial site has been dated to the 9th century BC and may hold surprising treasures inside.
    • Kristine Moore
    Группа швейцарских и российских археологов обнаружила в долине реки Уюк (Республика Тыва) курган правителя скифов, относящийся к IX в. до н. э. Первоначально гипотезу о местонахождении кургана выдвинул археолог из Бернского университета Джино Каспари, изучив спутниковые снимки, а специалисты Эрмитажа и Российской академии наук подтвердили его гипотезу. Хорошая сохранность захоронения позволяет надеяться на интересные находки. Масштабные раскопки планируется начать весной 2018 г.

In the south of Siberia, in the Russian republic of Tuva, an archaeologist has discovered the oldest known tomb belonging to an ancient Scythian prince, and this tomb is also reported to be the largest of its kind to be found anywhere.
Even more amazing, this find did not first come about using traditional archaeological methods, such as digging, and is all down to the initial use of a computer that helped to analyze satellite images of an interesting looking structural formation in the shape of a circle beside the Uyuk River.
Once the satellite images were scrutinized by archaeologist Gino Caspari, a dig was conducted last summer in which the Hermitage Museum and the Russian Academy of Sciences worked alongside Caspari to get to the bottom of this mysterious structure in Siberia. The structure turned out to be a Scythian burial mound, or kurgan, in a region that is referred to as the "Siberian Valley of Kings," according to Heritage Daily.
Beams constructed of wood at the Tunnug 1 site were found to date to around the 9th century BCE, and even archaeologists were astonished at having located what is, to date, the oldest tomb of a Scythian prince ever discovered. While there is another Scythian tomb nearby that was investigated during the 1970s, it is clear that this latest find is much older.
Gino Caspari spoke of the remarkable discovery of the Scythian prince tomb and explained that archaeology today is a very different science than it was in the past, especially with the increasing use of technology not previously available to help guide archaeologists to finds such as this one.
"We have a great opportunity here. Archaeological methods have become considerably more sophisticated since the 1970s. Today we have completely different ways of examining material to find out more about the transition from the Late Bronze Age to the Iron Age."
The Scythian prince would have been laid to rest during a time of huge social changes taking place during the later era of the Bronze Age and leading up to the Iron Age. Not much information is available about this stretch of time in this region, owing mainly to the fact that very little artifacts from this period have been discovered. Because of this, Caspari believes that there is a "huge chance" to learn more about the lives of Eurasian people, such as this Scythian prince, as Newsweek report.
It is believed that the pristine condition of this tomb is largely down to the fact that it was found in a swamp. Those throughout history intent on stealing from graves would have had to walk for days to reach this site, as it currently takes five hours by car to reach. Also, the underground area along the Uyuk River is covered by thick amounts of permafrost, perfectly preserving anything below the ground, including this tomb.
As for what could be found inside of the tomb, Gino Caspari is hopeful that the permafrost will allow archaeologists to discover perfectly preserved items inside of it. "If it really turns out to be a permafrost tomb, we can hope for an exceptional preservation of objects that are usually not part of the archaeological record. Anything organic like wood carvings, felt items, clothing just to name a few. This would result in a much more vibrant look into the past than is usually possible."
For those interested in finding out just what may lie in wait inside of this Scythian prince tomb, archaeologists plan to begin the painstaking work of fully excavating the site once the snow has completely melted in the spring.

© 2008-2018 The Inquisitr.
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    3ders.org / Jan 15, 2018
    Russia's Tomsk State University sets 2020 target for ultrasonic levitational 3D printer
    Физики Томского государственного университета разрабатывают новый метод ультразвуковой 3D-печати. С помощью звуковых волн мелкие частицы будут удерживаться в воздухе, а специальное программное обеспечение позволит перемещать и собирать из них трёхмерные объекты. Подобная технология может использоваться для работы с химически агрессивными или сильно нагретыми растворами и веществами.

Physicists at Tomsk State University in Russia are developing a new method of ultrasonic 3D printing that levitates small particles in an acoustic field. The technology, which could be ready by 2020, will be used for hot or chemically aggressive solutions and substances.
Two years is a long time in 3D printing, so when a group of scientists promises to develop a new technology over the course of two years, it's easy to wonder whether the promised goods will ever arrive, and if so, whether they will still be relevant. A new 3D printing technique proposed by scientists specializing in radio physics at Tomsk State University (TSU) in Russia may or may not be the future of additive manufacturing, but it sure sounds interesting - especially for those with an interest in volatile, dangerous materials.
The Russian physicists are developing a new kind of ultrasonic 3D printing that uses levitation to lift small particles of foam plastic. They say the technique could eventually be used to 3D print hot or chemically aggressive solutions and substances, precisely controlling and organizing the levitated particles to form 3D printed shapes, handling them safely in mid-air.
Although the technology is still in its very early stages, the system will purportedly use an anechoic chamber covered with wave absorbers and emitters. A stream of acoustic waves (40 kHz) will serve to suspend the foam plastic particles in mid-air, while power levels will be able to be adjusted to increase the "number and size" of the particles. Tailor-made software will be used to move the levitated particles from side to side.
"The first stage is a controlled levitation of particles," explains Professor Dmitry Sukhanov, who has been tasked with overseeing the ambitious additive manufacturing project at TSU. "Based on this we will create a method of manipulating a group of particles to collect three-dimensional objects from them. Upon entering the sound field and during the precipitation, the particles of the powdery substance will be rearranged, fall along the required trajectories, and settle into a definite pattern. Layer after layer, particles will be deposited in any shape."
It sounds radical, but it won't be the first practical use of levitation for manufacturing purposes. Sukhanov says variations on this kind of technology already exist in several parts of the world, with the most advanced levitation research taking place in Japan and the UK. But the TSU researchers don't just want to perfect the art of levitation. Rather, they have some particular 3D printing applications in mind for their new technology: the installation of components on printed circuit boards, the handling of dangerous chemical substances, and potentially other uses too.
"We will use our own lattices of ultrasonic radiators and develop a system for parallel control of emitters and software," Sukhanov adds. "To achieve this goal, we need a combination of digital technologies for the transmission and processing of large amounts of data, technologies for synchronous generation and amplification of multiple signals, and solutions for acoustic and aerodynamic tasks."
The physicists have already assembled a scale model of their levitational 3D printer, but there's much more work to be done if the team is to meet its 2020 target. As part of the research, the physicists will need to call on the expertise of TSU chemists in order to select the optimal substances and temperature settings for fusing particles to a three-dimensional object. It's a big task, but they will be helped along by a generous grant from the Russian Science Foundation - to the tune of 15 million rubles ($266,000).

Copyright © 2011-2018. www.3Ders.org. All Rights Reserved.
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    Colombo Page / Wed, Jan 17, 2018
    Sri Lanka, Russia to strengthen cooperation in education, science & technology, energy
    Россия и Шри-Ланка обсудили укрепление сотрудничества в сферах образования, энергетики, науки и технологий.

Jan 17, Colombo: A Russian delegation arrived in Sri Lanka has expressed interest in strengthening the cooperation between the two countries in various sectors including education, energy, and science & technology.
A five-member delegation of the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) called on President Maithripala Sirisena at the Official Residence of the President, on Wednesday. The delegation including the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of ROSATOM for International Relations Nikolay Spasskiy discussed the areas of interest during the meeting with the President. They have indicated their interests in granting scholarships to uplift science, technology and research streams in Sri Lanka as well as to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in power and energy, industrial and agriculture sectors.
Further discussions were focused on implementing long and short term projects in cooperation with the Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy and Ministry of Higher Education and Highways.
President Sirisena noting the long term diplomatic relations between the two countries, appreciated the friendly support always given by Russia. The President expressed his heartfelt gratitude to Russia on successfully negotiating to remove the Russian tea import ban by clarifying the issue. He asked the delegation to convey his special thanks to President Vladimir Putin in this regard. Science & Technology Minister Susil Premajayantha and Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Sri Lanka and Maldives Yury Materiy, were also present on this occasion.

Copyright © 2000, 2016 by LankaPage.com (LLC).
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    Science Daily / January 17, 2018
    Canine distemper confirmed in Far Eastern leopard, world's most endangered big cat
    Canine distemper virus discovered in two-year-old female Amur leopard found in Russia's Land of Leopard National Park.
    В Приморье впервые зарегистрирован и подтвержден случай заболевания собачьей чумкой среди дальневосточных леопардов, и без того находящихся на грани вымирания - их осталось около 60 особей. Обычно считается, что чума плотоядных поражает псовых и куньих, но в последние годы отмечаются случаи заболевания среди всё новых видов животных.
    Результаты исследования опубликованы в журнале Journal of Wildlife Diseases.

The Far Eastern or Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is already among the rarest of the world's big cats, but new research reveals that it faces yet another threat: infection with canine distemper virus (CDV). A new study published in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases describes the first documented case of CDV in a wild Far Eastern leopard.
The case involved a two-year-old female leopard that was found along a road that crosses the Land of the Leopard National Park, in the Russian territory of Primorskii Krai.
"The leopard was extremely sick when she was brought in, and had severe neurological disease" said Ekaterina Blidchenko, veterinarian with the National Park and the TRNGO Animal Rehabilitation Center. "Despite hand-feeding and veterinary attention, her condition worsened, and a decision was made to euthanize her for humane reasons."
Although CDV is well known in domestic dogs, it also infects a wide range of carnivore species, including big cats. In 1994, a CDV outbreak in Tanzania killed over 1,000 lions in the Serengeti National Park.
Said Nadezhda Sulikhan, a scientific staff member of Land of the Leopard National Park and Ph.D. candidate at the Federal Scientific Center of East Asia Terrestrial Biodiversity (part of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences): "The leopard virus was genetically similar to infections we've diagnosed in wild Amur tigers. But we think these infections have spilled over from a disease reservoir among domestic dogs, or common wild carnivores like badgers and foxes."
Unlike the situation for a social species like lions, outbreaks of CDV are likely to spread more slowly among more solitary cats like leopards and tigers. However, even infrequent transmission can have profound consequences for the species concerned. Research has estimated that extinction of small populations of tigers is 65 percent more likely when they're exposed to CDV.
Globally, carnivore populations are being pushed into smaller and more fragmented islands of habitat. If these trends continue, infectious diseases are likely to become a greater threat to carnivore survival in the future.
Said Dr. Martin Gilbert, Wildlife Health Cornell Carnivore Specialist with Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine: "As carnivore numbers decline, they face a greater risk from chance events like outbreaks of disease. With such a limited breeding population, even a small number of deaths from disease can be the difference between the survival of a population or extinction."
The combined pressures of habitat degradation, hunting and prey depletion have already marginalized this subspecies to a single population of approximately 80 individuals along the border of the Russian Far East and neighboring northeast China. Conservationists now need to understand the severity of this new-found threat, and also where it is coming from, as this information is critical for developing measures that counter the disease's impact.
Said Dr. Sulikhan: "Until we know where the virus is coming from, it is impossible to target vaccinations or other interventions to prevent infections in leopards. We are now working to unlock this riddle, and understand the importance of domestic dogs versus wild sources of the virus."
For now, the most effective way to combat this new disease threat is through traditional carnivore conservation approaches; reducing hunting and protecting habitat.
Dr. Dale Miquelle, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Russia Program and co-author of the paper, said: "By increasing the size and connectivity of leopard populations, they become more able to cope with losses from infectious disease, vastly reducing the risk of extinction"
Said Tatiana Baranowska, Director the Land of the Leopard National Park which holds the majority of Far Eastern leopards left in the world: "We are doing our utmost, in concert with our Chinese colleagues, to improve and expand leopard habitat to enlarge the existing population. Although disease and other threats are looming, we have great hope that our current and planned efforts will secure a future for this unique big cat."

Copyright 2017 ScienceDaily.
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    Le Courrier de Russie / 18/01/2018
    Fraudes scientifiques : les universités « anti-classées » par des experts indépendants
    Эксперты «Диссернета» составили антирейтинг вузов и диссертационных советов - рекордсменов по количеству диссертаций с признаками плагиата. На первом месте - Московский педагогический государственный университет (232 диссертации). При этом авторы доклада подчеркивают, что не все вузы, попавшие в рейтинг, являются «фабриками плагиата» - в некоторых случаях «заслуга» принадлежит отдельным диссертационным советам и профессорам.

La communauté d'experts Dissernet, qui traque le plagiat scientifique, a publié un anti-classement des établissements d'enseignement supérieur russes, chercheurs et conseils de thèses présentant le plus de travaux frauduleux, rapporte le quotidien RBC.
Par « plagiat », les experts indépendants de Dissernet entendent les thèses présentant de nombreux éléments issus d'autres travaux scientifiques ou rédigées par quelqu'un d'autre que leur auteur formel, parfois avec la complicité des directeurs de thèses, voire de membres des jurys. Les disciplines les plus concernées sont l'économie, la pédagogie et la jurisprudence.
En tête de liste, l'Université d'État pédagogique de Moscou (MGPU), où 232 thèses frauduleuses ont été soutenues. Suivent l'Académie russe du service public (RAGS) avec 182 travaux contestés, l'Université d'État Derjavine de Tambov (126), l'Université sociale d'État (111), l'Université d'État d'ingénierie et d'économie de Saint-Pétersbourg (107), l'Université russe de l'Amitié des peuples (104), à égalité avec l'Université d'État technique d'Orel (104), l'Université d'État de Moscou Lomonossov (94) et l'Université d'État russe des humanités (93).
Les auteurs de l'étude précisent que les plus importantes universités du classement ne sont pas toutes des « fabriques à plagiat », une partie des travaux frauduleux émanant de conseils de thèses et de professeurs. Rappelons que le ministère russe de l'éducation et des sciences a préparé en décembre 2017 un projet de loi interdisant le commerce de travaux universitaires et obligeant les établissements à publier leurs thèses.

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    The Inquirer / 24 January 2018
    Russian and German scientists create 'world's first' quantum metamaterials
    Quantum metamaterials could be used as a control element in superconducting electrical circuits.
    • Lee Bell
    Российские и немецкие ученые создали первый в мире квантовый метаматериал - вещество, свойства которого определяются не атомами, из которых оно состоит, а структурой, в которую эти атомы собраны. Метаматериал можно использовать в качестве элемента управления в сверхпроводящих электрических схемах.

A team of Russian and German scientists have joined forces to create what they are calling "the world's first quantum metamaterials", which can be used as a control element in superconducting electrical circuits.
The breakthrough arrives in the form of "the creation of seemingly impossible materials" called 'metamaterials', which are apparently substances whose properties are determined not by the atoms they consist of, but by the atoms' structural arrangement.
"Each structure is hundreds of nanometers, and has its own set of properties that disappear when scientists try to separate the material into its components," the research paper explains.
"That is why such a structure is called a meta-atom (not to be confused with the common atoms of Mendeleev's Periodic Table) and any substance consisting of meta-atoms is called a meta-material."
Led by Professor Alexey Ustinov, head of the National University of Science and Technology's MISIS Laboratory of Superconducting Metamaterials, the study saw the creation came from what they call twin "qubits", that is, metamaterials consisting of meta-atoms whose state could be described quantum-mechanically.
For example, a conventional qubit consists of a scheme that includes three Josephson junctions, that is, a thin layer of a non-superconducting material between two layers of superconducting material. The twin qubit, however, is composed of five junctions that are symmetric to the central axis.
What this means is that the system can be used as a quantum simulator, for example, a device that can predict or simulate properties of a certain real process or material.
Kirill Shulga, the first author of the project, explained: "The logic here is quite simple: a more complex system, with a large number of degrees of freedom, has a higher number of factors that can influence its properties," he said.
"When changing some external properties of the environment where our metamaterial is located, we can turn these properties on and off by turning the twin qubit from one state with certain properties to another with other properties."
This became apparent during the experiment, as the whole metamaterial consisting of twin qubits switched over between two different modes. As the researchers note, they had to sort out lots of theories to correctly describe the processes that occurs in quantum meta-materials.

© 2017 Incisive Business Media (IP) Limited.
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    EurekAlert / 24-Jan-2018
    Physicists have learned to change the wavelength of Tamm plasmons
    Физики из Сибирского федерального университета и Института физики им. Л.В.Киренского СО РАН исследовали гибридные таммовские плазмоны (особые квазичастицы света) и предложили способ управлять длиной их волны.

Scientists from Siberian Federal University (SFU) and the L. V. Kirensky Institute of Physics (SB RAS) conducted theoretical studies of hybrid Tamm plasmons. Using numerical calculations, they were able to predict the structure in which it is possible to control the wavelength of these quasiparticles by means of an external electric field or heating. The study is presented in the Journal of the Optical Society of America B.
School physics teaches that the basis of an ordinary mirror is a thin aluminum or silver foil. Glass, which is in fact a large transparent piece of ordinary silica sand, just does not allow the foil to bend and rust. However, glass also reflects light, so a dozen layers of ordinary glass and flintg lass (a special high-reflective glass) are more expensive and high-quality analogue of a metal mirror. Such a structure is also called a one-dimensional photonic crystal. It means that the refractive index changes periodically in one direction, in this case perpendicular to the layers.
What happens if such a multilayered mirror is covered with silver? It looks like Napoleon cake, where instead of cakes - glass and flintglass, instead of top-cream, silver, and the thickness of this cake is slightly larger than a micron. In such a device, light can be locked between two mirrors - metal and multilayer. The energy of light accumulates on the boundary between the metallic and multilayer mirrors and begins to leak through the multilayer mirror. So a double mirror can pass, and not reflect light.
In such a situation, a special quasiparticle of light is formed between the mirrors - not a photon, but a Tamm plasmon. "The appearance of such a quasiparticle is possible only when the metal is coated with a multilayer mirror. In this case, it is possible to obtain a light trapped between mirrors, and one of the reflecting surfaces must necessarily be metallic. Unlike the ordinary plasmon, which is a traveling wave, Tamm plasmon represents a standing wave, that is, it does not lead to energy transfer, "the first author of the paper, Pavel Pankin of the Siberian Federal University, explains.
For many practical applications, it is very important to control the wavelength of a Tamm plasmon, its color. For example, this allows you to make a laser with a tunable frequency of radiation, rather than with a fixed frequency. For this purpose, Russian physicists proposed to connect the plasmon with a microcavity. This was achieved by including a layer of a liquid crystal in a multilayer mirror in the model. As a result, light began to accumulate not only on the border of two mirrors, but also in this layer, - so the hybrid structure was achieved. Earlier, in order to change the color of a Tamm plasmon, scientists had to make a new structure. Now it is sufficient to heat or electrify the liquid crystal, and the connection will cause Tamm plasmon to change color.
The Tamm plasmon allows to create lasers, optical filters, single photon sources, thermal emitters and absorbers of a new type. The authors hope that their work will expand the range of possible applications.

Copyright © 2018 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
* * *
    National Geographic / January 24, 2018
    Extinct Woolly Rhino Reconstructed From Mummified Remains
    Named "Sasha," the remains were first found in 2015, but only recently brought back to life.
    • By Sarah Gibbens
    На прошедшей в Москве выставке «Тепло вечной мерзлоты» ученые из Палеонтологического института РАН и Академии наук Республики Саха впервые показали найденного в Якутии в 2015 году детеныша шерстистого носорога, единственного в мире хорошо сохранившегося представителя этих ископаемых животных - у него уцелели мягкие ткани и шерсть.

It's named Sasha after the hunter who found it.
Russian scientists aren't quite sure if their 10,000-year-old Sasha was male or female, but the name, they say, universally applies. That any of Sasha, the Ice Age woolly rhino, is intact at all has been a surprising find for the researchers who study this bygone period. Unlike woolly mammoths, which also lived during the Ice Age, woolly rhino remains are rare to find. Their place on the evolutionary timeline is less clear. And their lifestyles - what they ate and how long they lived - is hazy.
Rebuilding Sasha
Last December, a team of scientists from the Paleontological Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Sakha Academy of Sciences in northeastern Russia took the small, slumped remains of Sasha and brought them back to life. The remains, gray when they were first found, were cleaned. Scientists were surprised to see the young rhino was originally a light strawberry blond color. An analysis of Sasha's teeth revealed the animal was about seven months old when it died.
That it was so young was a surprise to scientists, reports the Siberian Times. Sasha is big for seven months old. It measures almost five feet long and stands about two and a half feet tall. Modern rhinos in Africa typically don't reach that size until 18 months of age.
Olga Potapova is a scientist at The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs South Dakota, a preservation and research organization. Her work has focused on large extinct mammals of the Ice Age, and she's currently conducting research on Sasha, though she says she can't yet reveal too much. Sasha is currently being studied by a team of international scientists led by the Russian Academy of Sciences. What she can discuss is how important the find is for scientists' understanding of this time period. Other bits and pieces of woolly rhinos like teeth bones have been found, but Sasha is the only intact baby rhino mummy of this species, Coelodonta antiquitatis.
"This find will allow scientists to shed light on different sides of the woolly rhino biology and morphology," she says. Meaning they'll be able to learn how it developed, what it ate, and how it differed from modern rhinos. How Sasha died, and was so well preserved, is also still a mystery.
"We [paleontology and geology scientists] think we know a lot about the last Ice Age in general and about animals inhabiting it, but in reality, we just scratched the surface of this past world," Potapova says.
The remains were first found in 2015 in the permafrost lining a Siberian riverbank. Permafrost, as the name might indicate, refers to ground that's permanently frozen for more than two consecutive years, but in Siberia, it often refers to ground that has been frozen for thousands.
The region is the only known habitat of the woolly rhino. One of the greatest mysteries surrounding the species is why it didn't cross the Bering Bridge, says Potapova. She's referring to a land bridge that may have once connected northeastern Russia and Alaska. Woolly mammoths, steppe bison, reindeer, and other species are thought to have crossed it during the Pleistocene. But what particular adaptations woolly rhinos had to survive in this climate are also unclear.
A Mysterious End
Scientist have a few theories as to why the woolly rhino went extinct but no solid explanation.
One study published in August of last year suggested they may have gone extinct from a genetic abnormality. A look at their fossilized remains found many contain a cervical neck rib, a condition associated with birth defects. The study suggested that inbreeding could have therefore factored into their decline. For her part, Potapova referred to two theories as to why the species went extinct. The first is that climactic changes impacted the feeding habitats of herbivores, which in turn led to the extinction of larger carnivores like cave lions and saber-tooth cats. The second theory is that they were killed off by people.
"Recent research of the ancient DNA of many extinct herbivores showed that populations declined and their genetic pool degenerated well before human appearances on these two continents," she says, suggesting the former theory is more likely. Sasha's remains alone can't tell scientists why the species went extinct, but Potapova says it's an important piece to the larger puzzle of this species.

Copyright © 2015-2018 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.
* * *
    Ars Technica / 1/27/2018
    Russia's Proton rocket falls on hard times
    After 53 years in service, the main Russian launcher is running out of customers.
    • Anatoly Zak
    Единственной российской тяжелой ракете-носителю «Протон» приходится прилагать огромные усилия, чтобы оставаться конкурентоспособным игроком на мировом рынке коммерческих запусков. После пика в 2010 г. количество пусков неуклонно снижается, а в этом году «Протон» рискует установить антирекорд, стартовав всего два раза.

The Proton rocket, Russia's primary commercial launch vehicle, faces a life-and-death struggle to remain a competitive player on the international launch market, industry sources say. The veteran Soviet space rocket has spent nearly a quarter of a century as the vehicle of choice for operators of communications satellites all over the world. But it has fallen to near-irrelevance in just a matter of two years. After reaching a peak of 12 launches in 2010, the Proton is now staring at a real possibility of flying just a couple of missions this year and not delivering a single commercial payload.
What could cause Proton's dramatic fall from grace? It looks like a convergence of multiple factors has created a perfect storm for the Russian workhorse rocket.
The 700-ton Proton traces its roots to the Moon Race between the United States and the USSR, and the design became the locomotive of the Soviet space program. Then came the 1990s, when the Russian rocket industry faced the chaos of the post-Soviet economic transition, combined with falling oil prices and the shrinking military budget. These factors left the rocket at the brink of collapse. However, the leadership at GKNPTs Khrunichev in Moscow (where Proton is manufactured) worked tirelessly with the newly created Russian space agency to establish a leading position for Russian rockets in the hyper-competitive Western launch market. Along with numerous other joint space projects with the West, the Proton became a major moneymaker for the Russian space industry by the end of the 1990s.
The first decade of the 21st century saw skyrocketing oil prices, which gave the Kremlin plenty of cash to invest in the military and space industry. Ironically, it was during this time that the first seeds of trouble for the Russian space program were sown. Resting on the laurels of the Soviet legacy and hard-won achievements of their cash-strapped predecessors, a string of ineffective space bosses spent time lining their pockets and giving their friends and relatives lucrative, high-paid positions throughout the industry.
Meanwhile, professional competence and quality control eroded behind a glitzy façade of Roskosmos. In the case of Proton, the lack of technical oversight began manifesting itself in an increasing rate of failures, some of which looked remarkably embarrassing. At the end of 2010, one Proton plunged into the ocean because too much propellant had been mistakenly loaded into its upper stage. In 2013, another vehicle performed a fiery salto mortale seconds after liftoff because flight control sensors were hammered into the rocket's compartment upside down.
Rogozin factor
As the technical problems with Proton and other Russian launchers were piling up, the Kremlin was adopting more aggressive anti-Western policies on the international stage.
Enter Dmitry "Twitter" Rogozin. The deputy prime minister was appointed in 2011 to oversee the Russian defense and space industry, and he distinguished himself with bombastic nationalist and racist messages on social media long before the rise of Trumpism. During a period of US-Russian tensions, Rogozin famously advised NASA to use a trampoline to send its astronauts to the International Space Station. This messaging came as the US agency had been paying millions to Moscow to access the orbital outpost - stemming from a deal hard won by Rogozin's predecessors back in the 1990s.
In the end, Rogozin's anti-Western escapades symbolized the political risk associated with launching commercial payloads from Russia.
The perfect storm
In 2017, Proton spent the first half of the year grounded by massive quality control problems with its engines.
The rocket returned to flight successfully in June and completed four seemingly flawless missions since then, but insurance rates for the Proton flights skyrocketed. That ate up the rocket's price advantage over its main competitors in the launch business: Arianespace and the rapidly expanding SpaceX. The cost of transporting satellites to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where Proton is based, also reportedly doubled in the past two years.
The Proton's developer has also been slow to provide a wider 5-meter payload shroud, which has become a requirement for the hardware of many of the Proton's customers. Developer GKNPTs Khrunichev is currently working on several new flavors of Proton rockets, including some with wider fairings, but the originally promised wide configuration was changed several times and has yet to be introduced.
All these technical, political, and financial problems combined to leave GKNPTs Khrunichev deeply in debt and triggered the exodus of customers last year - as many as five deals were reportedly lost in the second half of 2017.
Anti-record of 2018
Out of several Proton missions planned for 2018, only one is currently dedicated to the launch of foreign commercial payloads. In a January 17 interview with the Izvestiya daily, Director General at GKNPTs Khrunichev Aleksei Varochko said that a pair of communications satellites - Eutelsat-5 West B and MEV - would be launched on a single Proton in the summer. However, sources familiar with the matter said that the assembly of the satellites at the US company Orbital ATK would not be completed until at least the fourth quarter of 2018 (or, more likely, the first quarter of 2019). European satellite operator Eutelsat pre-paid for two other Proton missions, but it has yet to decide what and when to launch.
With its international customers vanishing, the Russian government has tried to give the beleaguered vehicle some federal payloads, but these are also hard to come by.
Currently, the Blagovest-12L communications satellite developed for the Russian Ministry of Defense is scheduled for launch on Proton on March 22, making it the only sure bet for a Proton flight this year. Another classified military payload might also fly this year, apparently on an as-needed basis.
Roskosmos also assigned Proton to carry the Elektro-L No. 3 weather satellite and the Spektr-RG X-ray observatory, but both of these were designed for the smaller Zenit rocket. Launching them on Proton essentially wastes the rocket's lifting capacity, as well as time and money needed for the reconfiguration of both spacecraft. As a result, Spektr-RG no longer has a real chance to fly this year; Elektro-L is currently scheduled for launch in October, but that might also slip into 2019.
The only other Russian payload on the 2018 manifest that would truly need Proton is the 20-ton MLM Nauka module, with its launch to the International Space Station officially slated for December. "Officially" is the key word, because experts involved in the project say that the launch date had been chosen for political purposes to keep the mission in 2018 and that this deadline will be very difficult to meet.
All this means that after 53 years in service, the venerable Proton rocket might set an anti-record in 2018 by flying only a couple of missions. And, for the first time since its entrance onto the world market at the end of the Cold War, it may not bring any money to its cash-strapped developer.

CNMN Collection. WIRED Media Group.
* * *
    ZME Science / January 31st, 2018
    Cosmonaut blood reveals that our immune systems grind to a halt in space
    Миллионы лет эволюции привели к тому, что человечество рискует оказаться запертым на Земле. К такому выводу пришла группа российских и канадских ученых, изучив влияние низкой гравитации и полной невесомости на иммунную систему человека. Она слабеет настолько, что не способна бороться даже с простейшими вирусами, что может сильно осложнить жизнь потенциальным колонистам других планет.

Millions of years of evolution may have rendered us Earth-locked, a Canadian-Russian research team reports. Zero- and microgravity conditions seem to severely impair our immune systems' ability to function, so much so that they'd struggle to deal with even minor viruses like that of the common cold.
A team of Russian and Canadian researchers have analyzed the protein make-up in the blood of 18 Russian cosmonauts to get an idea of their immune system health. They report that the crew, who spent six months aboard the International Space Station, showed signs of significantly weakened immune systems that would struggle to deal even with minor pathogens.
No gravity, no service
"The results showed that in weightlessness, the immune system acts like it does when the body is infected because the human body doesn't know what to do and tries to turn on all possible defense systems," said Professor Evgeny Nikolaev of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, and paper corresponding author.
Our bodies, like those of all other organisms on Earth, have been tailored by evolution to adapt to specific conditions. It makes perfect evolutionary sense to adapt to the place you're living in, but humans are now trying to do something that no life before us ever tried - we want to leave the planet. That's quite problematic since it takes us out of the set of conditions we're designed to function in.
Environmental factors associated with spaceflight, most notably microgravity and radiation exposure, tend to mess up our bodies' inner workings. Our metabolism, heat regulation systems, heart rhythm, muscle tone, bone density, vision, our respiratory systems, they all go a bit haywire once you take us off the planet.
It all adds up to take a toll. Astronauts who went on deep space or lunar missions were five times more likely to die from cardiovascular diseases than their counterparts who stayed in low orbit, or people who never left Earth (around 43% compared to under 10% for the latter). And that's considering that astronauts are way fitter than the average Joe and have access to the best medical care available.
To get a better idea of how space travel impacts human physiology, the team looked at the level of 125 proteins in the blood of astronauts who spent six months aboard the ISS. Proteins underpin virtually all complex tasks inside the body, so by looking at their state in the blood researchers could infer the state of the crew's immune systems. Samples were first taken from the cosmonauts 30 days before they left for the ISS to establish a baseline. To track changes in their immune systems, the team also took blood samples immediately after the cosmonauts returned to Earth, and seven days later. Individual proteins were counted using a mass spectrometer.
The results aren't very encouraging at all
"When we examined the cosmonauts after their being in space for half a year, their immune system was weakened," said Dr Irina Larina, the first author of the paper, a member of Laboratory of Ion and Molecular Physics of Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.
"They were not protected from the simplest viruses. We need new measures of disorder prevention during a long flight.
It doesn't bode well for future explorers, as our immune system is what's literally keeping us alive all day, every day. The effects were manageable, although severe, after only six months. But future missions are likely going to take much longer. A one-way trip to Mars, our closest viable candidate for a colony, would take around six to eight months - and colonists wouldn't have the medical means and infrastructure available on Earth, meaning they'll have to rely on their now weakened immune systems much more than the cosmonauts. So it can become a problem.
However, we can get to work on understanding and then address these changes before we start poking around the final frontier.
"We must understand the mechanism that causes disorders. If we find the pathways that are affected by the weightlessness, we will be able to find the target for the remedy and we'll be able to offer new pharmaceutical products that will prevent these negative processes."

© 2007-2017 ZME Science. All Rights Reserved.
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