|Российская наука и мир|
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)
Popular Mechanics / Jul 7, 2018
Russia's Soyuz Spacecraft Could Find New Life as a Lunar Taxi
Russia might return to its legendary Soyuz spacecraft as the vehicle of choice in the international effort to explore the Moon.
Россия может начать пилотируемые полеты на лунную орбиту до того, как будет закончена разработка нового грузового корабля «Федерация», тем более что потраченные на него 10 лет и 25 миллиардов рублей заметных результатов не дали, а космический бюджет постоянно уменьшается. Гораздо более дешевым транспортным средством может оказаться используемый уже 50 лет корабль «Союз» - после соответствующей модернизации.
On June 28, the new head of the Roscosmos State Corporation Dmitry Rogozin said that Russia could begin human missions to the Moon before completing the development of its next-generation spacecraft Federatsiya (Federation). Instead, Russia will once again rely on its 50-year-old legend.
Rogozin says moonshots could be possible with the existing Soyuz spacecraft, which currently taxis crews to the International Space Station orbiting the Earth. "The Soyuz was originally developed for the (Soviet) lunar program and that means its upgrade (for lunar missions) is quite possible, until we get the new vehicle," Rogozin says.
If that sounds familiar, it's because various schemes to send Soyuz on a long loop behind the Moon have been on the table for years, but never got the green light from the Russian government - until now.
Looking for a Plan B
The continuously delayed Federatsiya spacecraft, originally designed to replace Soyuz, likely prompted Roscosmos to take another look at old proposals to use the veteran spacecraft for lunar missions.
The very latest estimates made inside Roscosmos showed that Soyuz could be modified to actually enter the egg-shaped lunar orbit, as opposed to making a single swing behind the Moon as previously proposed, an industry source told Popular Mechanics.
The capability to orbit the Moon with the crew is very important for Roscosmos because it will make it possible for Soyuz to pay periodic visits to the international gateway planned by NASA and its partners in the lunar vicinity beginning in 2022. Therefore, the hardy spacecraft could be a much cheaper way to fulfill the Russian deep space ambitions and save face for Roscosmos. Otherwise with Federatsiya stalled, Russian cosmonauts would depend on NASA to carry its crews to the near-lunar gateway and beyond.
Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
To reach lunar orbit, the Soyuz would need an additional push with the help of a modified Blok-DM space tug currently used for satellite missions in Earth's orbit. The space tug will be launched separately either on the Proton rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan or on the new Angara-5 rocket from the yet-to-be-built pad in Vostochny. In either case, the Soyuz can then lift off from Baikonur and link up with the Block-DM stage in the low Earth orbit for the subsequent boost in the direction of the Moon.
Prime developers of the Soyuz spacecraft, RKK Energia, tabled plans for flying its historic but venerable three-seater as close as 90 kilometers from the Moon at the turn of the 21st century. Had these plans received the political "go ahead" and government funding, three lucky fliers could see the backside of the Moon with their own eyes as early as 2010 - the first time since the end of the Apollo missions in the early 1970s. Instead, Roscosmos banked on the development of the Federatsiya, which was designed to have at least four seats and be able to take off from Russia's brand-new spaceport of Vostochny. But after spending a decade and up to 25 billion rubles ($338 million) on Federatsiya, Roscosmos has very little to show for it.
Finding the Funding
But the Russian space agency never fully shut down the idea of sending "Soyuz around the Moon," and instead RKK Energia went looking for private investors willing to pay for the necessary upgrades of the existing ship. These investments would earn these donors a seat on an actual lunar flyby mission.
The ticket price was set at $150 million per tourist and - not surprisingly - finding these super-wealthy thrill seekers wasn't easy. Last year the head of RKK Energia Vladimir Solntsev said that his company would be ready to fly the first pair of tourists around the Moon in 2021 or 2022, five or six years after striking a deal with potential clients. But Russian space agency has faced two big problems. The first is serious space tourism competition with Elon Musk's SpaceX, which in early 2017 announced its own plans to send two wealthy tourists around the Moon, and the second is a steadily declining space budget.
Now the first launch of Federatsiya is now pushed back to 2022, and even that four-year deadline might be a bit ambitious. So instead of looking forward, Rogozin is once again calling upon an aging space legend to carry Russia's dream of space exploration into the future.
Let's see if it's up to the task.
© 2018 Hearst Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
* * *
News-Medical.net / July 11, 2018
SUSU scientists develop Russian analog of voice prostheses using 3D printing
В Южно-Уральском государственном университете разрабатывают отечественный аналог голосового протеза для людей, перенесших удаление гортани. Созданный прототип будет проходить клинические испытания в Челябинском областном центре онкологии и ядерной медицины.
People who underwent larynx surgery face a necessity of a voice prosthesis implantation, but such artificial windpipes are only produced abroad. SUSU scientists are developing a Russian analog of such an apparatus which will be several times cheaper than the imported products.
Import Substitution for Vocal Rehabilitation
The problem of vocal rehabilitation after larynx is removed has been an issue ever since the surgery itself was developed - laryngectomy (complete larynx removal). This surgery allows to prolong life of cancer patients, but unfortunately such patients are not able to speak anymore. A surgical method of vocal rehabilitation is by implanting a voice prosthesis.
A student of the SUSU Institute of Sport, Tourism and Service Nikita Dubrovsky is working on development of a Russian voice prosthesis, which will help solve the problem of the absence of audible speech of larynx removal surgery patients. At the SUSU's Research Center for Sport Science developed a project on "Creation of a Russian Analog of a Voice Prosthesis and Tracheostoma". The project's academic advisor is Vitaly Epishev, Director of SUSU Research Center for Sport Science, Associate Professor at the Department of Theory and Methods of Physical Education and Sports.
"Everywhere in the world, the method being chosen for vocal rehabilitation of the patients who underwent laryngectomy is the voice prosthetic care. Most often abroad-manufactured apparatus are used which allow patients to recover their voice. But the big minus here is that such an apparatus is due for replacement after approximately just one year. Imported prostheses are quite expensive, so we decided to come up with our own development, which will feature similar technical characteristics, but will be much cheaper," explains Nikita Dubrovsky.
Creating a Voice Prosthesis by 3D Printing
Voice prosthetic care was invented in 1980 and became a regular practice in all oncological clinics in the developed countries of the world. The method's principle is that a shunt (aperture) is made between trachea and the upper esophagus at the level of tracheostoma, and after that a specially designed valve is implanted. The construction of this valve (voice prosthesis) allows to exhale and forward air from trachea to esophagus, and in this process the walls of esophagus and lower pharynx start vibrating. Thus a loud voice is generated.
"The abroad-manufactured prostheses mostly use plastic, which is very inconvenient because it's hard. We're planning on using food silicones, which will make the prosthesis softer, and patients will less suffer from pain. The forms for drip molding, which we will be filling with silicone, will be manufactured using 3D printing," shares SUSU student.
The 3D computer model of the voice prosthesis has already been created, and it will be possible to use it in 3D printing. Many modern 3D printers use laser technology, and the produced models result to be quite accurate. Within the frameworks of the project 3D models have already been created for the end-products, as well as drip-molding forms for food silicone. Using a stereolithographic 3D printer, scientists of the SUSU Research Center for Sport Science have created a model and a prototype of the apparatus, which will be sent for clinical testing in Chelyabinsk Regional Center for Oncology and Nuclear Medicine.
Work Will Continue under the Master's Program
"Unfortunately, when we were working with 3D printing, we faced damages that occurred in the drip-molding tank in the process of the model creation. Moreover, such process of production may take 12 to 24 hours, which is a very long time. Since 3D printing turned to be not that accurate, we will probably have to give it up in the future and turn to lathe operators instead, as they are in command of high-accuracy equipment. But first we need to improve our computer model," notes Nikita Dubrovksy.
Moreover, the scientists are planning on selecting food silicone of optimum hardness, as this is the main condition of comfortable use of a voice prosthesis. Once an improved model is obtained, testing will be held, what will allow to account for its use in medicine.
This year Nikita Dubrovsky has obtained his Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education and is planning to continue his research work under Master's program of the SUSU Institute of Sport, Tourism and Service. The research results have already been presented at a science-to-practice conference for young scientists on Academic Readings: Fundamental Sciences and Clinical Medicine, as well as allowed student Nikita Dubrovsky become of the winners of an authoritative program UMNIK aimed at supporting commercially oriented scientific and engineering projects of young researchers.
AZoNetwork, © 2000-2018.
* * *
L'Usine Digitale / Le 11 Juillet 2018
Akademgorodok, l'autre Silicon Valley de la Russie
Новосибирский Академгородок как пример научной экосистемы.
Alors que la France vient de se qualifier en finale de la Coupe du Monde de la FIFA 2018 qui se tient en Russie depuis le 14 juin, Pierre-Henri Seynave, expert digital avec une expérience en E-Commerce à Moscou et des reportages sur la Tech russe en Sibérie , fait le point sur Akademgorodok, l'une des Silicon Valley phares de la Sibérie, après Moscou et Saint-Pétersbourg.
* * *
En 1958, sous l'impulsion de Khroutchev, 35.000 jeunes scientifiques venus des quatre coins de l'URSS s'installent en pleine forêt sibérienne. A Akademgorodok, littéralement "village scientifique", à 30 km de Novosibirsk en pleine taïga. La 1ère Silicon Valley russe est née.
Akademgorodok abrite encore aujourd'hui la troisième communauté de scientifiques en Russie, après Moscou et Saint-Pétersbourg. Dans les années 90 quand la Russie s'est ouverte brutalement à l'économie de marché, les chercheurs se retrouvent du jour au lendemain sans salaires et créent leurs sociétés informatiques off-shore, trouvant aussi leur place dans la High Tech mondiale : Sunmicrosystems, Microsoft et Intel qui a même installé une antenne sur place. La ligne de code de la ligne 14 du métro parisien sans chauffeur a d'ailleurs été développée par une de ces sociétés offshore, Unipro.
L'exemple de Valentin K
Valentin K. fait partie de cette communauté de scientifiques. Il a étudié et a démarré comme programmeur à Akademgorodok. Repéré à 15 ans alors qu'il vivait à Tachkent en Ouzbekistan, il a été sélectionné pour intégrer l'internat de FMH, lycée pour les futurs chercheurs. Comme ses camarades de classe venus des quatre coins de l'ex-URSS, il a connu un brillant parcours avec des rebondissements. Après avoir été programmeur à Novosibirsk dans une web agency russo-suisse pour des clients européens, il rejoint Londres et MacDonald au département IT strategy, puis reprend les études à Polytechnique. Depuis 10 ans maintenant, il évolue à la Société Générale à New York.
La success story de 2GIS
S'ils sont nombreux à être partis dans les Universités prestigieuses à l'Ouest, nombreux sont ceux aussi qui restent. Car le marché russe de la High Tech - qui connaît depuis 20 ans une croissance stable - offre des débouchés aux développeurs de la Silicon Taïga.
C'est le cas de 2GIS, qui a développé une application mobile et des devices de géolocalisation permettant de promouvoir les emplacements et de nombreuses informations d'entreprises. La start-up compte aujourd'hui 1500 collaborateurs et est devenue l'un des leader du digital Russe. Un succès qui s'explique notamment par sa solution qui se veut plus fine que Google Map ou Yandex Map (le moteur local russe) car elle inclut le sens de circulation, les obstacles, les voies de transport public, les stops et les directions associées et plus…
En Russie, une telle success story n'étonne pas, puisque les scientifiques n'ont eu de cesse d'entretenir une tradition d'excellence, de Spoutnik au dernier prix Nobel de Physique en 2003. Ainsi, aux programmeurs des toutes jeunes Silicon Valley indiennes et chinoises, Bangalore et Zhongguan Cun, Novossibirsk oppose des générations de chercheurs. Le passage à l'économie de marché a certes réduit de moitié les rangs mais les jeunes sociétés qui sont nées de cette épreuve n'en sont aujourd'hui que plus efficaces.
Une "Silicon taïga" ?
Le succès d'un écosystème de start-up serait-il lié à sa délocalisation en région, loin des grandes métropoles ? Fred Therman, le fondateur de la Silicon Valley de Californie déclarait : "Lorsque l'alternative de créer une communauté de haute technologie dans la vallée de Santa Clara nous a effleuré l'esprit, il y avait peu de choses ici et le reste du monde nous semblait bien immense. Maintenant le reste du monde est ici". Comme la Tech russe, la French Tech essaime aussi en régions. Si la France devait imaginer une Silicon Valley hors de la région parisienne, où serait-elle ?
Express / Tue, Jul 17, 2018
Ancient mammoth remains found in Crimea cave - and they could be 100,000 years old
The remains of an ancient mammoth have been found in the longest cave of Crimea discovered during the construction of a new motorway and they could be 100,000 years old.
В Крыму обнаружена ранее неисследованная карстовая пещера с останками предположительно мамонтов или их предков мастодонтов возрастом 75-100 тысяч лет.
The discovery was made by members of the Russian Academy of Science during construction works of the Tavrida motorway being built to connect the city of Kerch with the city of Sevastapol in the Crimean Peninsula.
The cave was discovered about a month ago and consists of several galleries, which are all interconnected in an underground maze. Local media report that the average height of the caves compartments is 6-8 metres (20-26 feet) and the width is 4-5 metres (13-16 feet).
Archaeologists began to explore inside the cave and have discovered a large number of bones and teeth belonging to ancient animals, including mastodons or mammutidae. The age of the bones is estimated to be between 75,000 and 100,000 years. Mammutidae is an extinct family of proboscideans that lived across various continents as fossils have been found in North America, Africa, and throughout Eurasia.
Head of the Russian Academy of Science, Alexander Sergeev, said: "This is incredibly interesting.
"There were remains of various animals that used to live in different locations. It seems some larger predators dragged their prey into the cave to eat them there."
Gennady Samokhin from the Russian Union of Speleologists said: "These are the first caves in Crimea to be discovered with such morphology, mineralogy and palaeontology. "At the moment it is established that the length of the cave is 1,015 metres (3,330 feet). Prior to this, the largest foothill cave in the Crimea was Taurus in Bakhchisaray district, which measured 500 metres (1,640 feet). And this one is already twice the distance and we haven't even reached the end."
There has also been speculation that the cave could have been inhabited by humans, although this is yet to be confirmed.
The construction of the motorway over the cave have been temporarily suspended to avoid the collapse of the road.
This is not the only discovery made during the construction of the new motorway. Two weeks ago, archaeologists discovered golden laurel leaves, wine jugs and other precious items buried in an ancient cemetery dating back to the second century AD.
Sergey Vnukov from the Russian Academy of Science said: "The story of late Scythians is not only interesting as such, but also because it shows how Antique culture influenced barbarians and how those influenced them in return, and how migration mixed local tribes."
Copyright © 2018 Express Newspapers.
* * *
Space Ref / Tuesday, July 17, 2018
"Partnership beyond the Earth": Russia and Germany have joined their efforts to study organic substance evolution in space
Уральский федеральный университет и Институт внеземной физики Общества Макса Планка в рамках проекта 5-100 создали совместную исследовательскую группу по изучению эволюции органических веществ в космосе.
German and Russian scientists will study the mechanisms of formation and evolution of organic substances in relation to the formation of stars and planetary systems. As part of Project 5-100, Ural Federal University (UrFU) is creating the first research group in partnership with the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, which is currently the first group of this kind in Russia.
Scientists of the Astrochemistry and Extraterrestrial Physics Laboratory, which is being established in Ekaterinburg at UrFU and their counterparts from the Center for Astrochemical Studies of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, will study the impact of various physical processes on the organic substance evolution in space.
The institutions will cooperate in the form of a "partner research group"; its formation has been approved by the Presidium of the Max Planck Society. The German party will allocate about 1.5 million rubles per year for collaborative research in the next three years.
According to Anton Vasyunin, head of the Astrochemistry and Extraterrestrial Physics Laboratory which is being established at the Department of Astronomy, Geodesy and Environmental Monitoring of the Institute of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at UrFU. The group will study how organic substances form and evolve in the areas where stars and planetary systems form, i.e. in extremely low temperature and density. Expert says that the origins of life in the universe is one of the most fundamental issues for interdisciplinary studies in modern science, and astrophysical research aimed at studying molecular composition of the interstellar medium considerably contributes to tackling this issue. Russian specialists will contribute to joint work primarily by conducting theoretical, quantitative and observational research of the evolution of chemical composition of interstellar objects.
"The group will work primarily in the sphere of astrochemistry, which is a relatively new discipline integrating physics, astronomy and chemistry," says Mr. Vasyutin. "The group partnering the Max Planck Society will be the first one of this kind in Russia. Partnership with our German counterparts will encourage research visits and exchange of ideas between the parties. As the relationship takes hold, experts expect that this bilateral activity will increase and strengthen international cooperation in science.
Star formation in general and, specifically, astrochemistry are studied by a small group of scientists in the world, and there are few such specialists in Russia. "We have had a unique chance of creating the "Russian astrochemistry", as, among other things, we teach special courses at UrFU. We hope that we will achieve considerable results studying physical processes which had not been considered, such as small-scale instability in a dusty plasma and interaction of cosmic rays with cosmic dust particles, the chemical evolution of the interstellar medium and formation of organic molecules," said Anna Punanova who works in the laboratory.
Astrochemical studies are a step towards answering one of the fundamental questions of modern science regarding the origins of life in the universe. In Russia, research related to astrochemistry is conducted mainly at the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Faculty of Chemistry at MSU, the Astro Space Center, Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry of Russian Academу of Sciences, the Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IAP RAS) in Nizhny Novgorod, and Boreskov Institute of Catalysis.
Starting from 2013, Russia has been implementing Project 5-100, - a state support program for Russian universities. Its goal is to raise the standing of Russian higher education and have at least five member universities in the top-100 of three respected world rankings. Project 5-100 is enabling 21 Russian universities to move forward in terms of effectively strengthening their education and research, promoting innovations and R&D, facilitating international cooperation, streamlining administration, balancing the authority of the management and academics, nurturing a proactive academic environment, increasing internationalization, providing sufficient incentives for attracting the top professors from around the world and also for the existing faculty's professional growth.
© 2018 SpaceRef Interactive Inc. All right are reserved.
* * *
Popular Mechanics / Jul 24, 2018
Russia's New Rocket Project Might Resurrect a Soviet-Era Colossus
It's first and final flight happened nearly 30 years ago, but Energia could become the cornerstone of Russia's future space ambitions.
Основой для российской сверхтяжелой ракеты нового поколения может стать советская ракета-носитель «Энергия», совершившая всего два полета, последний из которых состоялся в ноябре 1988 года.
On November 15, 1988, the Soviet Union's Buran spaceplane lifted skyward, joining NASA's space shuttle as a new breed of reusable spacecraft. But with the USSR on the brink of collapse, that hopeful first launch would be the orbiter's last.
The future also looked grim for the Energia rocket that propelled Buran into space. However, what seemed like a definitive end may instead have been the beginning of a 30-year-long hiatus. While the Buran spaceplane remains resigned to history, a 21st century update means that the Energia could become the basis for Russia's new super heavy rocket.
A Resurrection of Sorts
Russia wants a super rocket. A few months ago its state space agency, Roscosmos, began a year-long study that will consider three designs, one of them resembling the ill-fated Energia. If this new super-heavy rocket becomes reality, it would join the largest class of heavier-than-air flying machines known to humanity, on par with the famous Saturn V rocket.
During a recent Kremlin meeting with the captains of its space industry, Russian President Vladimir Putin named the project among the top three priorities for the nation's space program. "I would like to stress that all the previously set deadlines for the development (of the super-heavy rocket) have to be met and its flight tests should begin as planned in 2028," Putin said publicly during an otherwise closed-door meeting.
The super-heavy class starts with rockets capable of delivering 50 to 60 tons of payload or more to low Earth orbit (for higher orbits or interplanetary destinations, that number goes down proportionally). But in six decades of space exploration, super-heavy rockets found no other jobs other than launching astronaut-carrying spacecraft such as the lunar expeditionary ships and space shuttles. These colossal vehicles were simply too expensive, complex, and inflexible for more practical uses, like today's burgeoning industry of launching satellites for scientists, businesses, and the military.
That hasn't stopped a new generation of mega-rockets built for propelling humans beyond low Earth orbit. NASA's working on its giant Space Launch System (SLS). SpaceX's Falcon Heavy made its own showy first flight back in February. China even has plans for its own super heavy rocket, rivaling the legendary Saturn 5.
A History of Failure and Frustration
The USSR twice tried to build a super space launcher during the Cold War. The 100-meter-tall N1 moon rocket of the 1960s was meant to compete with America's Apollo program. After its four failed launches, the N-1 project was abandoned in 1974.
It took another decade of efforts for the Soviets to field the Energia rocket, which made two largely successful flights in 1987 and 1988. The nearly 60-meter vehicle was widely acclaimed as the most advanced and powerful rocket of our time.
But after the disintegration of the USSR in 1991, Energia was left rusting in the hangars of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Its army of workers and engineers left the rocket behind, and key technologies - such as the super-complex hydrogen engines - went out of production.
For almost two decades, as Russia struggled into a post-Soviet era, there could be no serious talk about reviving Energia. But with the rise of oil prices and a rebound in the country's economy, Putin's looking for ways to reassert Russia on the world stage. The emergence of a new generation of heavy rockets provides a compelling opportunity.
The Possible Return of a Soviet Space Giant
In its proposed form, the new Energia would be able to haul up to 80 tons of cargo into the low orbits and around 20 tons into the orbit around the Moon. Whereas the original Energia carried a side-mounted space plane, the new vehicle is designed to carry payloads in its nose cone, sending them on lunar-bound trajectories.
With the latest endorsement from the Kremlin, Roscosmos issued a contract to rocket designers in April, covering the development of the super rocket by the end of 2019. Two other smaller and leaner rockets are competing against the resurrected Energia in this preliminary design stage.
If the Energia concept wins out, the project will need to rebuild those huge hydrogen-burning RD-0120 engines. Three of these engines would propel the giant core stage of the rocket with a diameter of 7.7 meters, the same size as the original Energia. Four strap-on boosters of the first stage sporting RD-171 kerosene-burning engines, inherited directly from Energia, will help the rocket during its first two minutes in flight.
For now, Russia's super-heavy rocket remains in the early design and planning stages. But with Roscosmos committed to participating in the NASA-led program to build a space station in orbit around the Moon, it's likely that this very rocket could be the mega machine that helps establish humanity beyond Earth's orbit.
© 2018 Hearst Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
* * *
Smithsonian / July 30, 2018
Ancient Roundworms Allegedly Resurrected From Russian Permafrost
Skeptics cite possibility of ancient samples' contamination by contemporary organisms.
Российские ученые сообщили о том, что обнаруженные в образцах почвы из районов вечной мерзлоты черви-нематоды возрастом примерно 32000 и 42000 лет благополучно ожили после разморозки. Если подтвердится, что нематоды не являются современными экземплярами, они будут самыми древними многоклеточными организмами на Земле, пережившими длительный анабиоз.
The permafrost of Russia's Siberian heartland has yielded an array of impressive finds in recent years. Last September, a local resident wandering along the banks of a river in the republic of Yakutia discovered the roughly 50,000-year-old remains of an extinct lion cub almost perfectly preserved by the permanently frozen ground. In 2015, Russian scientists chanced upon the similarly well-preserved remains of two ancient lion cubs dubbed Uyan and Dina.
* * *
Now, the Siberian Times reports, Yakutia's frigid ground has produced yet another revolutionary discovery: Two nematodes, or roundworms, preserved in the Arctic permafrost for around 40,000 years have allegedly come back to life after being "defrosted" by researchers. If proven true, the claim - newly catalogued in the journal Doklady Biological Sciences - would make the roundworms Earth's oldest living animals, shattering the record for the longest time an animal can survive cryogenic preservation.
According to New Atlas' Michael Irving, a team of Russian scientists working in collaboration with Princeton University found the viable specimens while analyzing more than 300 soil samples taken from the Arctic permafrost. One of the samples was retrieved from a squirrel burrow located in the Duvanny Yar outcrop and dates to about 32,000 years ago. The older sample, which dates to about 41,700 years ago, was found in a glacial deposit near the Alazeya River. Both nematodes are believed to be female.
Irving writes that the worms were initially stored in a lab kept at -4 degrees Fahrenheit. Later, the samples were defrosted in a petri dish alongside an enrichment culture designed to encourage their growth. After spending several weeks basking in their new 68-degree Fahrenheit environment, the nematodes, against all odds, began moving and eating.
"Our data demonstrate the ability of multicellular organisms to survive long-term (tens of thousands of years) cryobiosis under the conditions of natural cryoconservation," the scientists said in a statement. "It is obvious that this ability suggests that the Pleistocene nematodes have some adaptive mechanisms that may be of scientific and practical importance for the related fields of science, such as cryomedicine, cryobiology, and astrobiology."
Robin M. Giblin-Davis, a nematologist and acting director of the University of Florida's Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, tells Gizmodo's Ed Cara that the feat is theoretically possible. He said the worms, if "protected from physical damage that would compromise their structural integrity during their frozen internment, … should be able to revive upon thawing/rehydration," but cautions that the team's "ancient samples" could have been contaminated by contemporary organisms.
Although the Russian scientists acknowledge the possibility of such contamination, they believe it is unlikely. The team followed procedures designed to ensure complete sterility, according to the study, and claims that the depth at which the nematodes were buried - 100 feet and 15 feet below the surface - eliminates the possibility of inclusion of modern organisms. As Science Alert's Mike McRae explains, nematodes generally don't burrow deep into the Siberian permafrost, as seasonal thawing only reaches a depth of about three feet.
This isn't the first time researchers have purportedly resurrected long-dead organisms; in 2000, a team claimed to have revived 250 million-year-old bacteria, though this extraordinary claim requires more evidence before the scientific community will wholeheartedly accept it. Still, the new announcement, which centers on multicellular organisms rather than single-celled bacteria, marks a significant milestone for scientists. McRae reports that nematodes have previously been revived after 39 years of dormancy, while their close relatives, the tardigrade (or water bear), have been successfully revived after roughly 30 years on ice.
Byron J. Adams, a nematologist at Brigham Young University, tells Gizmodo's Cara that the researchers' claims are feasible, but he believes that further testing should be conducted to definitively assess the worms' age. He is particularly interested in what the ancient worms might reveal about their species' evolution, noting that "after 40 thousand years, we should expect to detect significant differences in evolutionary divergence between ancient and contemporary populations."
If proven true, the new findings offer tangible hope for the resurrection of similarly ancient organisms. The return of the woolly mammoth may remain far in the future, but in the meantime, we have two 40,000-year-old roundworms to spark our dreams of a Pleistocene revival.
The Independent / July 31, 2018
Great Pyramid of Giza may be able to focus electromagnetic energy through its hidden chambers, physicists reveal
Revelation could have technological applications such as creating effective solar cells, say researchers.
Физики из Университета ИТМО (Россия) и Ганноверского лазерного центра (Германия) обнаружили, что пирамида Хеопса (Великая пирамида Гизы) может концентрировать электромагнитную энергию во внутренних камерах и в пространстве под своим основанием. Ученые намерены воспроизвести результаты исследования в наномасштабе. Наночастицы в форме пирамид с теми же свойствами можно будет использовать при разработке сенсоров и солнечных элементов.
The Great Pyramid of Giza may be able to focus electromagnetic radiation into pockets of energy inside its network of internal chambers and underneath its base, a new study has suggested.
* * *
Theoretical research by a team of Russian scientists aimed to understand how the pyramid would respond to radio waves directed at it, with the goal of recreating its shape at a nanoscale. But far from unveiling and harnessing some mystical property of the ancient structure, the scientists hope to use their findings in technological applications such as creating effective solar cells.
Speculation about the supposed function of Egypt's pyramids has been prevalent since at least the early 20th century, and the structures have been linked with everything from aliens to the apocalypse. As the oldest and largest of the Giza pyramids, the Great Pyramid constructed for Pharaoh Khufu thousands of years ago has drawn some of the wildest theories.
In their paper, the scientists acknowledge that "these amazing structures excite the imagination of people engendering various fables and baseless assumptions". This, they explain, is what makes it all the more important for scientists to use modern techniques to explore the real-life mysteries of the pyramids. They used mathematical models to understand how light would react with a hypothetical nanoparticle shaped like the ancient wonder of the world.
"Egyptian pyramids have always attracted great attention," said Dr Andrey Evlyukhin from ITMO University, one of the study's authors. "We as scientists were interested in them as well, so we decided to look at the Great Pyramid as a particle dissipating radio waves resonantly."
Their research has been published in the Journal of Applied Physics.
The scientists first estimated that a so-called "resonant" state could be achieved in the pyramid using radio wave lengths ranging from 200m to 600m, meaning electromagnetic energy would be concentrated within and underneath the structure.
"Due to the lack of information about the physical properties of the pyramid, we had to use some assumptions," said Dr Evlyukhin. "For example, we assumed that there are no unknown cavities inside, and the building material with the properties of an ordinary limestone is evenly distributed in and out of the pyramid. With these assumptions made, we obtained interesting results that can find important practical applications."
The team's interest in the Great Pyramid was first roused while they were investigating the interaction between light and certain nanoparticles. Light can be controlled at a nanoscale by varying the size, shape and refractive index of the nanoparticles' source materials. Now, the scientists want to find out if by creating nanoparticles shaped like the Great Pyramid, they can get them to interact with light in the same way it interacted with radio waves - concentrating its energy into specific areas.
"Choosing a material with suitable electromagnetic properties, we can obtain pyramidal nanoparticles with a promise for practical application in nanosensors and effective solar cells," said Dr Polina Kapitanova, another ITMO University physicist.
This is not the first time the worlds of physics and pyramid research have collided.
In a 2017 paper published in the journal Nature, scientists used particle physics techniques to discover a new chamber inside the Great Pyramid - the first to be revealed since the 19th century.
Daily Mirror / 31 Jul 2018
Russian scientists discover 'new mineral harder than diamond' in remains of Siberian meteorite
The unidentified substance was found by gold hunters in Siberia two years ago, and extensive tests have been carried out since.
Ученые из УрФУ, НГУ и Геологического института СО РАН зарегистрировали новый минерал уакитит, обнаруженный в метеорите, найденном возле поселка Уакит в Бурятии летом 2016 г.
A new type of mineral which is harder than diamond has been discovered in a meteorite, Russian scientists have claimed.
The unidentified substance was found by gold hunters in Siberia two years ago, and extensive tests have been carried out since. Experts have named the mineral 'uakitite', saying it was formed in space.
Boris Shustov, head of the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Science said: "This is a fairly common phenomenon due to the fact that a number of minerals, number of substances that can be formed and are formed under cosmic conditions, are not found on Earth. But also vice versa - not all the terrestrial substances are found in those meteorites."
The discovery was unveiled by researchers from the Ural Federal University, Novosibirsk State University and the Geological Institute at the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science. The scientists say that the meteorite had been subjected to temperatures of over 1,000 degrees centigrade forming troilite-daubreelite associations, one of whose early minerals is uakitite. A statement from the University said: "It forms isometric (cubic) crystals (in daubreelite) or rounded grains (in schreibersite). The size of uakitite grains is usually less than 5 micrometers." Structurally, the new mineral is related to carlsbergite CrN and osbornite TiN.
The physical properties of uakitite because of the small amounts have been difficult to assess due to the tiny sizes of the grains, however, the researchers believe it has a yellow and transparent phase with a metallic sheen and is as hard as a diamond.
A special laboratory has been created within the Ural Federal University to study the new mineral in more detail.
Participants at the Annual Meeting of Meteoritic Society in Moscow were the first to hear about the discovery as well further initiatives to develop studies in space mineralogy in a country which continues to provide rich meteorological pickings for scientists.
© 2018 MGN Limited.
* * *