|Российская наука и мир|
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)
The Inquisitr / March 1, 2019
Scientists Have Just Confirmed That The First Denisovan Skull Has Been Officially Identified
В Денисовой пещере обнаружены фрагменты черепа пятого денисовского человека. Ученые намерены представить находку на конференции Американской ассоциации физических антропологов в конце марта.
Scientists have just confirmed that a small piece of a skull discovered in a Siberian cave is officially that of a Denisovan, adding to the small amount of specimens that have already been identified as belonging to this extinct branch of the hominin family.
As Sapiens reports - while this discovery is, as yet, unpublished - paleoanthropologist Bence Viola from the University of Toronto will be announcing and discussing the identification of this Denisovan skull at the end of March in Cleveland, Ohio. The announcement will take place at a meeting which will be conducted by the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.
The announcement that fragments of a skull found in Siberia are Denisovan will be immensely helpful, as scientists today still understand very little about this group of hominins. Prior to the discovery of this skull fragment, scientists have only been able to identify four Denisovans.
The first of these was identified in 2010, and scientists have so far recovered teeth and a small finger bone from these four Denisovans. However, the chunks of skull - also found in the same Siberian cave where the other fragments were unearthed - now moves up the grand total of Denisovans identified to five.
As Viola happily explained, "It’s very nice that we finally have fragments like this. It’s not a full skull, but it’s a piece of a skull. It gives us more. Compared to the finger and the teeth, it’s nice to have."
However, Viola joked that in a perfect world it would be brilliant if scientists came across an even larger Denisovan specimen - like a full skeleton - noting, "We’re always greedy. We want more."
The two interconnected pieces of the recovered Denisovan skull include fragments of the skull’s back side, along with a small piece of the parietal bone. Combined, these pieces were measured at 8 centimeters by 5 centimeters.
Because the skull is so ancient, scientists have been unable to submit it to radiocarbon dating. However, DNA analysis is all that is needed to show, definitively, that these fragments indeed belonged to a Denisovan.
When Viola and fellow scientists analyzed the pieces of the skull, they also compared it with both human and Neanderthal specimens. Beyond this early information, nothing more is being said until the work which identifies this skull as Denisovan is officially published.
Chris Stringer - a paleoanthropologist at the Natural History Museum in London who was not involved in this new study - has stated that with this exciting discovery comes the hope that, one day, scientists will find even larger Denisovan specimens.
While the remains of the newly identified Denisovan skull aren’t quite large enough to be used in the identification of other skulls, scientists are optimistic that there will be other even bigger discoveries in the future.
All Content © 2008-2019 The Inquisitr.
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New York Times / March 2, 2019
Zhores Alferov, 88, Dies; Nobel Winner Paved Way for Laser Technology
Российский физик, нобелевский лауреат Жорес Алферов скончался 1 марта в возрасте 88 лет. Его исследования легли в основу множества изобретений, ставших неотъемлемой частью современной жизни.
Zhores I. Alferov, a Russian physicist who won a Nobel Prize for research that underpinned an array of inventions integral to modern life, from solar cells to DVD players to cellphones, died Friday night in St. Petersburg. He was 88.
Dr. Alferov shared the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physics with two American physicists, Herbert Kroemer and Jack S. Kilby, "for basic work on information and communication technology."
Son of a Stalinist industrial apparatchik, Dr. Alferov maintained an ambiguous relationship with the United States throughout his life. He worked closely with American colleagues but rejected market reforms in post-Soviet Russia and served in its parliament as a Communist Party deputy.
He did his research at the Ioffe Institute in Leningrad (today St. Petersburg), whose weightier projects included helping to build the Soviet hydrogen bomb and nuclear submarine fleet.
The three scientists, who shared the 2000 prize, working separately, pioneered the development of the so-called heterostructure semiconductor. Scientists had studied semiconductors - materials that conduct a relatively weak and controllable pulse of electricity - since the 1930s, famously focusing on silicon as the most useful. But the transit of electrons through a silicon wafer, known as a homostructure because it consists of one material, proved ineffective at releasing photons, whose energy can be converted to light in the form of a laser beam.
Dr. Alferov discovered that a "sandwich" of different materials, or heterostructure, could yield a continuous stream of photons without adding so much electrical current that it would heat the materials to extreme temperatures.
He hit upon the optimal combination of gallium arsenide with aluminum, and in 1968 made his first visit to the United States to deliver a paper summarizing his results. The presentation "produced the impression of an exploded bomb," Dr. Alferov would recall without undue modesty in his Nobel acceptance speech 32 years later.
His research also gave him entree to American colleagues at Bell Labs and IBM, and set off a small-scale laser race that combined comradeship and sharing between individual scientists with dead-serious Cold War rivalry.
Dr. Alferov would recall with pride that in the race to build a prototype of a laser that worked at room temperature, he and his team in Leningrad beat Bell Labs in New Jersey by a month. Subsequent perfection of heterostructure lasers and heterotransistors based on combined materials made possible today’s world of LED screens, optically read disks and the fiber-optic technology behind cellphones.
Zhores Ivanovich Alferov was born on March 15, 1930, in Vitebsk, in what is now Belarus, the painter Marc Chagall’s hometown. His father, Ivan Karpovich Alferov, was a former dockworker who joined the Bolsheviks in 1917 and later regaled his two sons with reminiscences of meeting Lenin and Trotsky. His mother, Anna Vladimirovna Alferova, headed a public organization of housewives, worked as a librarian "and always remained our close friend while bringing us up without discouraging words," Dr. Alferov wrote in his Nobel autobiographical essay.
Communism lifted his father to the role of itinerant industrial manager, and he moved the family across the Soviet Union as he helped carry out Stalin’s five-year plans for rapid industrialization and collectivization of agriculture. He named his eldest son, Marx, after Karl Marx; Zhores was named after the assassinated French Socialist leader Jean Jaurès.
Marx was 20 when he died at the front during World War II, to be remembered by his younger brother a half-century later at the Nobel ceremony in Stockholm.
Zhores moved to Leningrad to study physics after the war. He joined the research institute there, founded by the father of the Soviet semiconductor field, Abram Ioffe, in 1953, the year Stalin died. The times were turbulent but fertile for science, as both the United States and the Soviet Union poured money into research that each hoped would keep it ahead of the other in a superpower competition for supremacy.
"The sensation I felt then could not be compared to anything," Dr. Alferov wrote of his early work at Ioffe.
He stuck with the institute all his life, winning the Lenin Prize, Soviet science’s highest honor, in 1972; becoming director of Ioffe in 1987; and heading the Leningrad-St. Petersburg branch of the Academy of Sciences in 1989. In the mid-1990s, he was obliged to accept support from his old rivals in America. The United States Strategic Defense Initiative, better known as "Star Wars," helped finance Ioffe and a half dozen other Russian research centers for several years.
"You could tell it was hard for him to be in this position," said Michael Stroscio, a University of Illinois professor of electrical and computer engineering who visited Ioffe to help oversee the Pentagon grant. "He was very professional, but kept his distance."
Among his survivors is his wife, Tamara Darskaya; their daughter, Olga; and their son, Ivan. A first marriage had produced another daughter, but Dr. Alferov rarely spoke of the union.
Dr. Alferov had entered politics reluctantly, he told interviewers, his purpose being to revive domestic financing for science. He joined Russia’s parliament, the State Duma, in 1995 as a member of the party supporting the westernizing policies of President Boris Yeltsin, but he switched to the opposition Communists in the 1999 parliamentary elections, convinced that Mr. Yeltsin’s "young reformers" had brought Russia to the brink of economic ruin. (Mr. Yeltsin stunned the world when he resigned less than two weeks later, turning over the presidency to the prime minister, Vladimir V. Putin.)
Dr. Alferov served as a Communist deputy, but seldom attended Duma sessions and maintained his focus on bills affecting science and technology.
"He probably lost a bit of prestige among the intelligentsia for joining the Communists," said Yuri Korgonyuk, a commentator at the Moscow political think tank Indem. "But everyone could see he wasn’t really a politician."
Faith in science and its universal benefits remained Dr. Alferov’s true credo. "All that was made by human beings, in principle, was made due to science," he said after accepting the Nobel Prize.
© 2019 The New York Times Company.
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Business Standard / March 4, 2019
Russian scientists to make metro tunnels more reliable
Специалисты НИТУ "МИСиС" выявили ключевые факторы разрушения подземных сооружений, например, тоннелей метро. Исследования показали, что основной причиной дефектов в подобных конструкциях является фильтрационное воздействие воды.
A new study by the National University of Science and Technology MISiS has identified the key factors contributing to the disintegration of underground structures, like metros.
The findings, published in the 'IOP conference series: Materials Science and Engineering' journal, would help cut metro construction and maintenance costs, as well as develop more durable lining for the planned underground facilities.
Defects of underground facilities' load-bearing structures can account for 25 to 100 per cent of construction cost.
The quality of their construction, service life and capital expenses depend on the type of lining and specific methods used for its installation, Professor Yelena Kulikova stated.
"The discovery of a mechanism influencing the formation of defects inside the internal lining makes it possible to chart measures for preventing their formation and to reduce underground structures' maintenance and construction costs," Kulikova told RIA Novosti.
Findings reveal that water filtration contributes to most of the defects inside the underground facilities' structure.
"Speaking of deep tunnels, water filtration is usually observed in their side sections. As far as shallow tunnels are concerned, water filtration is visible inside their gutters and near the ceilings. Filtration is centred near the insulation and concrete section joints," she explained.
Key factors contributing to the disintegration of tunnels include the water-abrasive wear and tear of tunnel gutters, the leaching of free lime from concrete under the influence of external ground waters, as well as gas and chemical corrosion caused by aggressive liquids flowing through the tunnels. These combined and separate factors cause the lining to decay or even put the tunnel out of use for a long time.
It is necessary to focus on the choice of structural and water-insulation materials, as well as production processes and technologies for installing water-proof joints and seams between concrete-coated sections while designing and installing load-bearing structures of underground facilities.
Copyrights © 2019 Business Standard Private Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Inside Higher Ed / March 7, 2019
Questions on Russia's Research Reforms
Experts question whether new National Science Project will have wide impact beyond creating "a few islands of research excellence".
Мнения российских и зарубежных экспертов о национальном проекте "Наука", цели которого - вхождение России в пятерку ведущих научных стран по приоритетным областям науки и создание научно-образовательной инфраструктуры мирового уровня. В целом проект оценивается положительно, но заявленные цели выглядят не слишком реальными, учитывая объем финансирования и уровень имеющихся проблем.
A new multibillion-dollar strategy from the Russian government to boost the country’s global research standing is a welcome step but is unlikely to have a broad impact on its higher education system, experts have predicted.
The Russian government recently announced that a new National Science Project would be one of 13 initiatives aimed at boosting the country’s stagnating economy and placing Russia among the top five global economic powers.
President Vladimir Putin said that 300 billion Russian rubles (about $4.6 billion) would be allocated for the project over six years.
The prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, said that the project would establish 15 "world-class science and education centers" throughout the country, provide more support to young researchers and upgrade at least half of all research equipment.
Its goals include making Russia one of the world’s top five countries for the number of academic publications, patents and researchers and for research and development output. The government hopes that the project will increase the attractiveness of Russian higher education among leading domestic and international academics alike and see growth in R&D expenditures overtake the growth rate of its gross domestic product.
The Ministry of Science and Higher Education has also promised to simplify bureaucracy in the research system and has proposed changing legislation to make defending a thesis obligatory for postgraduate students.
Igor Chirikov, senior researcher at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley, said that it was "a very positive sign" that science had been chosen as one of the project areas, but he described the ambitious goals as "unrealistic considering the amount of allocated funding."
Russia’s R&D spending lags behind more than 25 countries, for instance, he said. Chirikov added that although the project could help to boost fundamental research, which has been "chronically underfunded," and to "create a few islands of research excellence," it "won't be able to tackle existing problems of the research sector."
Such issues include a brain drain of scholars, bureaucratic barriers in the organization of research and the low engagement of the university sector in research, which was historically concentrated in the institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS).
Margarita Balmaceda, professor of diplomacy and international relations at Seton Hall University and an expert on Russia, said that she was "concerned about a possible decrease in the autonomy of Russian higher education institutions" as a consequence of the project, noting that there has already been a "gradual but unequivocal" decline in the funding and power of the RAS.
Anatoly Oleksiyenko, associate professor in higher education at the University of Hong Kong and co-editor of a recent book on the Soviet legacy in Russian and Chinese universities, said that there were "too many governance challenges in the Russian higher education sector for good academic research to take place these days."
"The Soviet legacy of mistrust, excessive oversight and data fabrication prevails across many institutions. Besides, the current political environment provides no good support to building trustworthy and sustainable partnerships with centers of excellence in the West, on which some successful projects of Russian universities depended during the previous two decades," he said.
However, Isak Froumin, head of the Institute of Education at the Higher School of Economics, said that the project was a "very positive development" and that the "relatively small investments could initiate bigger changes in the culture of Russian higher education and research."
"I believe the policy will lead to the creation of ‘islands’ of modern research culture, which could play an important role in the gradual transformation of the whole system," he said.
Copyright © 2019. Inside Higher Ed.
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Devdiscourse / 07-03-2019
Olga Ladyzhenskaya - Russian mathematician known for Fluid dynamics of Navier-Stokes equations
7 марта исполняется 97 лет со дня рождения академика АН СССР и РАН Ольги Ладыженской (1922-2004) - выдающегося математика ХХ века.
Google today celebrates the 97th birthday of Olga Ladyzhenskaya with a beautiful doodle. Olga is globally popular for her contribution on partial differential equations (especially Hilbert's nineteenth problem) and fluid dynamics.
Olga Ladyzhenskaya was a Russian mathematician. She was a student of the Petrovsky lacunas' discoverer, Ivan Petrovsky. She is also remembered for triumphing over personal tragedy and obstacles and later she became one of the most influential thinkers of her generation across the planet.
Olga Ladyzhenskaya was born on March 7, 1922, in the town of Kologriv in Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Being the daughter of a teacher of mathematics, she was highly inspired by her father. But when she was just 15 years old, her father was arrested by the interior ministry of the Soviet Union and soon executed. Although she was able to finish her high school studies, she was not allowed to enter the Leningrad University as her father was considered 'enemy of the people'.
After the demise of Joseph Stalin on March 5, 1953, she was able to present her doctoral thesis at the age of 31 and was given the degree she had long before earned. She even joined the Leningrad University's faculty and Steklov Institute while staying in Russia. She continued to stay in Russia even after the collapse of the Soviet Union that brought salary deflation for the professors.
Olga Ladyzhenskaya authored over 250 papers to show the methods for solving partial differential equations. She became the member of St. Petersburg Mathematical Society in 1959 and became its president in 1990. One of her works involved studying elliptic and parabola equations used in statistical probability theory. She was also awarded Lomonosov Gold Medal by the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2002, just two years before her death at the age of 81, for her tremendous contributions to the world of mathematics.
© Copyright 2019.
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The Guardian Tribune / March 12, 2019
Finnish and Russian Researchers are Collaborating in a Project to Develop a Prototype Wind Turbine Adapted for Arctic Conditions
Санкт-Петербургский политехнический университет Петра Великого, ЦНИИ конструкционных материалов "Прометей" и Лаппеенрантский технологический университет (Финляндия) разрабатывают уникальный ветрогенератор, способный эффективно работать в условиях Арктики.
Researchers from Finland and Russia are developing energy efficient wind turbines for supplying consumers in the Arctic region. The EFREA project is part of the South-East Finland Russia Cross Border Cooperation Program for 2014-2020 period.
The project aims to innovate and advance the following topics: corrosion protection, 3D manufacturing, coatings, standards and coatings, light-weight structures, materials for arctic conditions, wielding methods and processes.
Paul Kah, the associate professor and manager of EFREA project, said the program is an emerging cluster for the development of Arctic technology which builds upon the extensive Russian and Finnish experience, technical knowledge and scientific competence in the field. Remaining competitive in the Arctic engineering requires strong institutional frameworks and cross-border cooperation. The project will advance joining methods for deployment in various Arctic structures and will also assess the durability of new high-strength materials.
Energy supply in Northern regions is a very acute problem both cost-wise and environmentally. Delivering organic energy resources to these areas is very expensive and emissions from fuel combustion and storage of barrels causes huge environmental damage to the Arctic ecosystem. Professor Viktor Elistratov said that the use of renewable energy sources such as wind is also difficult due to Arctic conditions such as icing of blades of wind turbines and turbine metal becomes brittle due to extremely low temperatures. The short summer period and off-road condition creates serious problems in the manufacturing, installation and assembling of foundation.
The first stage of the project will involve determining the design parameters and types of modular type wind turbine. The turbine is to be developed considering the digital design principles. Researchers will assess the climatic and natural characteristics of the arctic region and identify the extreme climatic factors and most effective zones for manufacture and design of the wind turbines. The scientists are considering possibilities of installation both on ground and floating underwater installation. The development will take into account the features such as large water surfaces of lakes and northern seas in Finland and Russia. The installations will open up several opportunities for renewable energy supply to remote areas in the Arctic.
Finland’s LUT University is the participant from the Finnish side in the joint project. The university has extensive experience in implementation and development of Arctic materials. The project’s supervisor Professor Paul Kah is of Finnish origin and is a visiting professor at the St. Petersburg Polytechnic University.
The third participant in the project is "PROMETEY" or the Central Research Institute of Structural Materials. The institute is currently engaged in research and analysis of materials which can be used for installations and deployments in the Arctic region. The project’s end result is to a create a wind turbine prototype suited and adapted for northern conditions as well as creation of a geographic information system with natural and extreme climatic characteristics and wind potential.
© 2018 The Guardian Tribune.
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Futurism / March 13, 2019
Russian Scientists Used a Quantum Computer to Turn Back Time
The quantum system was kicked a tiny fraction of a second backward in time.
Физики из России, США и Швейцарии (МФТИ, Аргоннская национальная лаборатория, Швейцарская высшая техническая школа Цюриха) вернули состояние облачного квантового компьютера на долю секунды назад в прошлое, "нарушив" тем самым второй закон термодинамики.
Russian scientists have apparently reversed the flow of time in an experiment they conducted on a quantum computer.
The finding is unlikely to lead to a time machine that would work on people. But the team of physicists managed to restore IBM’s public quantum computer to the state it had been in just a moment earlier, according to research published Wednesday in the journal Nature Scientific Reports - a nuanced result, but one that could have striking implications for the future of computing, quantum physics, and our understanding of time itself.
"We have artificially created a state that evolves in a direction opposite to that of the thermodynamic arrow of time," Gordey Lesovik, a quantum physicist from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology who led the research project, said in a university-published press release.
Lesovik’s team worked with scientists at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois to run thousands of experiments on a quantum system programmed to reverse time’s arrow on a single electron.
After thousands of trials, the physicists managed to restore the quantum computer’s earlier state about 85 percent of the time, but only if they were working with a simplified, two-qubit system. A more complex quantum computer with three qubits was too chaotic, and the time reversal experiment only worked 49 percent of the time.
Just like research into quantum teleportation has nothing to do with transporting people, there’s no reason to link this study to the notion of a machine that could travel through time. Rather, the scientists hope that their work can help quantum computer scientists make sure their software is actually doing what it’s supposed to by kicking it back through time and double checking its work.
Copyright ©, Futurism, LLC All Rights Reserved.
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EuroScientist / 14 March, 2019
Ecology of the Gulf of Finland and the Neva Bay: plastic pollution of the marine environment
- By Dr. Nelly Didenko, Euroscience Local Section in Russia, St. Petersburg
О проблеме загрязнения микропластиком Финского залива и Невской губы. В начале года ученые из Института озероведения РАН и Российского государственного гидрометеорологического университета представили результаты проведенного в 2018 г. исследования. Оказалось, что ежегодно в воду попадает около 1500 тонн пластикового мусора только из Санкт-Петербурга, причем пластик не разлагается, а распадается на микрочастицы.
Petersburg scientists are sounding the alarm over the pollution of the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga with plastic bottles and household chemicals.
In accordance with the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea region, cooperation between Russia and the EU in the field of environmental protection is relevant.
This article presents several results of international cooperation in the protection of the marine environment on the example of the Finnish Bay as a Baltic Sea region within the framework of the EU macro-regional strategy for this region.
At the TASS press agency (St. Petersburg) well-known scientists from the Russian State Hydrometeorological University and Institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) presented on January 10, 2019, the results of the first study of microplastic particles entering the aquatic environment and bottom sediments on the shores of the Gulf of Finland and the Neva Bay, and also Lake Ladoga.
In the summer of 2018, scientists from the Institute of Lake Science of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Hydrometeorological University tested water and bottom sediments on the shores of the Gulf of Finland and the Neva Bay for the presence of microplastic and other larger debris. They came to alarming conclusions. Every year, about 1,500 tons of plastic garbage gets into the water from St. Petersburg alone. Plastic does not decompose, but disintegrates in the natural environment into microscopic particles.
It turned out that each liter of water from Lake Ladoga and its tributaries contains one particle of microplastic from one micron to five millimeters in size. Particles smaller than one micron in size have not been investigated, as this is too expensive. But the suggestion is that the concentration of such particles is much higher. And it is these particles that most likely do not linger in the Vodokanal treatment facilities and end up in the tap water that St. Petersburg residents drink.
Scientists have identified the main sources of microplastic: cosmetics, detergents and cleaning products, which are made with plastic micro-additives to reduce the cost - this is the primary source of microplastic, and the secondary - the result of the decomposition of plastic products: bottles, bags. But there are also residues from fishing net or remnants of clothing fibers.
Director of the Institute of Lake Science, RAS, Shamil Pozdnyakov, noted that decomposing bags cause even more damage: natural glue, which glued parts of bags, for example, starch, quickly decomposes, and the bag breaks down even faster into small fractions, becoming a source of microplastics.
In addition to the water arteries, samples were taken from the beaches of the northern capital, not only ofmicroparticles, but also of meso- and macrogarbage. It was established that there are strong differences in the accumulation of debris on the northern and southern coasts, whether it is plastic, glass, rusty metal and so on. Plastic was found more on the north coast of the Neva Bay, which is the main problem. The first studies not only collected data on the pollution of beaches and the aquatic environment of the Gulf of Finland and the Neva Bay, but also on the sources of plastic waste and hot spots of accumulation of marine debris on the northern and southern coasts. And they looked at the distribution as a function of the exposure of the coast, from the distance from the mouth of the river Neva, as well as of other features of the coast.
It was noted that there are still no standardized international methodologies for studying the problem of marine litter and plastic pollution in particular. Sampling methods and their analysis must of course use international experience, but then adapt it to the regional characteristics of the Gulf of Finland. Many of the data were collected in the first marine litter survey on the coasts of this region, conducted in 2018 by university staff in the framework of the International project Baltic Litter Rim (project partners: PP Shirshov Institute of Oceanology (Kaliningrad), Baltic Sea Research Institute in Warnemünde, Germany and the University of Tartu, Estonia).
The study will be completed at the end of this year, and will lead to recommendations to the city government, including how to better monitor comprehensively marine litter of the Neva Bay and the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland in order to maintain a favorable environmental situation in the area of St. Petersburg. But more should be done than only talking of separate collection of plastic waste, though it is of course better to recycle more plastic instead of dumping it in e.g. landfills.
For St. Petersburg, the issue of plastic pollution is particularly relevant. According to the head of the water resources department of the city committee for nature management, environmental protection and environmental safety, Mikhail Strakhov, this is due to the geographical location of the city and its population - there are more than a thousand water bodies within St. Petersburg.
Experts emphasize that plastic pollution of the marine environment is a global problem. Approaches to its solution are still being developed; in particular, the possibility of refitting treatment facilities with the latest nanosystems is being studied. But abandoning plastic would be better. That is what the European Union is in the process of doing. Of course there are economic consequences. Retailers don’t mind switching to e.g. paper. The director of the NPF "Leningrad Printing Plant", Alexey Nikiforov says that in recent times large retail chains have been willingly switching from plastic to paper packaging - this favorably affects their image in terms of environmental concerns. But it will affect the market for packaging: at least 2000 tons of various plastic packaging products are sold monthly in St. Petersburg which at a price of an average of 200 rubles per kilo represents a business sector of almost 5 billion rubles (65 million €).
Microplastics are dangerous…
Not all environmentalists believe that plastic is uniquely harmful to the environment. There are at least two very different positions on this issue. The first was described by an expert of the Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Irina Chubarenko.
From the 300 thousand tons of plastic which humanity produces annually only 3-5 percent is normally disposed of. The rest is either still in use or in the environment. If the discarded plastic enters the ocean or soil where there is no sunlight, it remains intact for 300-500 years. By ultraviolet radiation it disintegrates, but to the smallest particles it remains plastic.
"So far the role of this pollutant is poorly understood by scientists. It seems to be inert and does not react with anything, but it can give to the environment additives that were introduced into it at the production stage. Also, if you throw a bag on the beach, it turns into an excellent means of transportation for microorganisms. They multiply on it; they can travel, for example, from us to Africa and back, transferring alien species of microorganisms on their rough surface to new habitats. Some of them may begin to dominate in new ecosystems, and this is quite a serious problem."
In addition, plastic microparticles end up in the stomachs of fish and birds, and when we eat for example fish we don’t think about how many microparticles of plastics and industrial additives used in them enter our bodies. And islands of plastic garbage are growing in the oceans because of the long lifetime of plastic.
...Or are they?
But there is another point of view, which is expressed by no less respected scientists, such as Yury Shevchuk, the head of the North-West Public Ecological Organization Green Cross.
"That which does not decompose is not harmful. Harmful substances are released just by decomposition. And in his opinion it is true that the EU announced measures to combat plastic, declared its readiness to legally prohibit 10 categories of plastic goods, impose a tax on plastic bags and organize recycling of 95 percent of plastic bottles, but it is not clear whether his will be globally accepted. "
And experts note that the effect of microplastics on the human body is also not fully understood. Research needs to continue. According to the results of the project, recommendations will be developed on how to properly monitor and investigate pollution.
It may be good to add here the concluding summary of a report of SAPEA of January 2019. SAPEA which stands for Science Advice for Policy from European Academies, is part of the Science Advisory Mechanism the European Commission has set up. This what they say, and the report was widely praised at a session at this year’s AAAS general meeting in Washington DC mid-February.
According to the results of the project, recommendations will be developed on how to properly monitor and investigate pollution. According to the report, the best available evidence suggests that microplastics and nanoplastics do not pose a widespread risk to humans or the environment, except in small pockets. But that evidence is limited, and the situation could change if pollution continues."
"Sea garbage" - garbage falling into the sea with ships’ waste or brought from land with a river discharge. Marine debris includes all items that are not of natural origin and are not found in the natural environment. Garbage enters the sea, is captured by global ocean currents and forms giant clusters in the oceans (hundreds of square kilometers) - "trash islands". It is classified by size according to international documents: micro particles <5 mm, meso - 5-25 mm, and macro debris> 25 mm.
The danger is that in the aquatic environment, plastic particles behave like a "sponge", attracting and "absorbing" organic pollutants and other toxic compounds present in seawater, and transporting them up the food chain (for example, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB, dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene, which is derived from DDT, as well as nonylphenols, which cause endocrine disorders in fish).
According to the latest global studies, microplastic is found in sea salt, drinking water and seafood, and even in the snows of the Alpine highlands.
2014 - EuroScience - All rights reserved.
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The Guardian / Sun 17 Mar 2019
Nile shipwreck discovery proves Herodotus right - after 2,469 years
Greek historian’s description of ‘baris’ vessel vindicated by archaeologists at sunken city of Thonis-Heraclion.
В 450 г. до н.э. греческий историк Геродот описал египетский речной корабль необычной конструкции под названием "барис", однако археологических свидетельств его существования долгое время найти не удавалось. В 2009 г. во время подводных раскопок в бухте Абукир группа французских и российских археологов обнаружила хорошо сохранившееся судно возрастом примерно 2500 лет, похожее на то, что описывал Геродот. В 2019 г. в издательстве Оксфордского центра морской археологии вышла монография "Ship 17: a baris from Thonis-Heracleion", автор которой, российский египтолог Александр Белов, окончательно доказал, что затонувший корабль и есть тот самый барис.
In the fifth century BC, the Greek historian Herodotus visited Egypt and wrote of unusual river boats on the Nile. Twenty-three lines of his Historia, the ancient world’s first great narrative history, are devoted to the intricate description of the construction of a "baris".
For centuries, scholars have argued over his account because there was no archaeological evidence that such ships ever existed. Now there is. A "fabulously preserved" wreck in the waters around the sunken port city of Thonis-Heracleion has revealed just how accurate the historian was.
"It wasn’t until we discovered this wreck that we realised Herodotus was right," said Dr Damian Robinson, director of Oxford University’s centre for maritime archaeology, which is publishing the excavation’s findings. "What Herodotus described was what we were looking at."
In 450 BC Herodotus witnessed the construction of a baris. He noted how the builders "cut planks two cubits long [around 100cm] and arrange them like bricks". He added: "On the strong and long tenons [pieces of wood] they insert two-cubit planks. When they have built their ship in this way, they stretch beams over them… They obturate the seams from within with papyrus. There is one rudder, passing through a hole in the keel. The mast is of acacia and the sails of papyrus..."
Robinson said that previous scholars had "made some mistakes" in struggling to interpret the text without archaeological evidence. "It’s one of those enigmatic pieces. Scholars have argued exactly what it means for as long as we’ve been thinking of boats in this scholarly way," he said.
But the excavation of what has been called Ship 17 has revealed a vast crescent-shaped hull and a previously undocumented type of construction involving thick planks assembled with tenons - just as Herodotus observed, in describing a slightly smaller vessel.
Originally measuring up to 28 metres long, it is one of the first large-scale ancient Egyptian trading boats ever to have been discovered.
Robinson added: "Herodotus describes the boats as having long internal ribs. Nobody really knew what that meant… That structure’s never been seen archaeologically before. Then we discovered this form of construction on this particular boat and it absolutely is what Herodotus has been saying."
About 70% of the hull has survived, well-preserved in the Nile silts. Acacia planks were held together with long tenon-ribs - some almost 2m long - and fastened with pegs, creating lines of ‘internal ribs’ within the hull. It was steered using an axial rudder with two circular openings for the steering oar and a step for a mast towards the centre of the vessel.
Robinson said: "Where planks are joined together to form the hull, they are usually joined by mortice and tenon joints which fasten one plank to the next. Here we have a completely unique form of construction, which is not seen anywhere else."
Alexander Belov, whose book on the wreck, Ship 17: a baris from Thonis-Heracleion, is published this month, suggests that the wreck’s nautical architecture is so close to Herodotus’s description, it could have been made in the very shipyard that he visited. Word-by-word analysis of his text demonstrates that almost every detail corresponds "exactly to the evidence".
Ship 17 is the 17th of more than 70 vessels dating from the 8th to the 2nd century BC, discovered by Franck Goddio and a team - including Belov - from the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology during excavations in Aboukir bay, with which the Oxford Centre is involved.
© 2019 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
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The Print / 18 March, 2019
Russian cosmonaut who pulled off first spacewalk today 54 years ago beat death many times
Alexei Leonov became the first human to walk in space on 18 March 1965, but the return to Earth of him and his partner was nothing short of a miracle.
18 марта 1965 года человек впервые вышел в открытый космос.
Alexei Leonov’s father was upset as a livestream from a Russian space expedition on 18 March 1965 showed the cosmonaut hanging out of his spacecraft.
"Why is he acting like a juvenile delinquent?" he said, according to Leonov’s book Two Sides of The Moon. "Everyone else can complete their mission properly, inside the spacecraft. What is he doing clambering about outside? He must be punished for this."
Leonov Sr didn’t know at the time that his son had just made history as the first human to spacewalk. The feat was pulled off as part of a super-secret mission that helped the erstwhile USSR score another point in its Cold War-era space race with the US. The operation also almost cost Leonov his life.
On the 54th anniversary of the first-ever spacewalk, ThePrint looks back at how Leonov and his fellow cosmonaut Pavel Belyayev, who stayed inside the spacecraft through the mission, beat the odds to glide straight into history books.
Race for space
In the 1960s, at the peak of the Cold War, Americans were getting ready to go to the moon. NASA had started using the term ‘extravehicular activity’ or EVA to refer to the activities the astronauts were to perform on the lunar surface. In a bid to beat NASA, the erstwhile Soviet Union rapidly implemented design changes to their Vostok spacecraft - aboard which Yuri Gagarin became the first human being in space - to develop a new series, the multi-pilot Voskhod, capable of supporting EVA. It was aboard a Voskhod spacecraft that Leonov and Belyayev finally set off for space, on a mission named Voskhod 2. Despite the intensive 18-month training received by the duo, several things went wrong during the spacewalk, placing the cosmonauts in mortal danger. The general public would not know these details of the mission for several decades.
Almost out of breath in space
The night before the launch, Leonov barely slept. At the time, on the night before a mission, cosmonauts were hooked up to devices that would monitor their sleep.
Speaking to the European Business Review in 2017, Leonov said he was uneasy through the night on account of the machines - even though he was fairly excited at the prospect of sleeping in a bed that was once used by Gagarin.
Once in space, Leonov stepped out of the spacecraft, which was orbiting the Earth at nearly 30,000km/hr, with a metal backpack containing 45 minutes worth of oxygen. His suit had a vent to expel heat, moisture, and carbon dioxide. There was no way for him to manoeuvre outside the vehicle except by pulling the tether that tied him to the spacecraft.
But this was the very first spacesuit to be exposed to outer space with a human in it, and it wasn’t perfect. It immediately ballooned because of the internal pressure keeping Leonov alive against the vacuum of space. After floating freely outside for 10 minutes, Leonov realised that it had ballooned so much, he could not turn on the camera mounted on his chest. The public, watching or listening to a telecast of the mission all this while, suddenly found the transmission cut off.
Back in space, Leonov was starting to realise that this level of inflation meant that there was a stiff layer of air between his extremities and the suit, preventing him from entering in feet first as he should. There was no way for him to push himself into the airlock (according to NASA, airlock is an "airtight room with two entrances that allows an astronaut to go on a spacewalk without letting the air out of the spacecraft").
According to the account he offered in his book, he realised that the only thing he could do was move in head first, release some air, and push the rest of his body in. This was incredibly risky. Bleeding air meant that Leonov would be at high risk of running out of oxygen, and if he didn’t manage to get inside in time, he would pass out in space.
"I knew I might be risking oxygen starvation, but I had no choice," he wrote in the book, which he co-authored with Apollo astronaut David Scott. "If I did not reenter the craft, within the next 40 minutes my life support would be spent anyway," he added. Leonov also decided against informing mission control, reasoning that he was the only one who could do something about the situation.
According to the European Business Review interview, as he slowly twisted and grappled in space, bleeding oxygen, the amount of extra exertion was causing his temperature to rise dangerously high, by nearly 2°C. He could feel heat waves traveling up and down his limbs, and his risk of heatstroke climbed by the second. Once he entered the airlock head first, he had to contort and turn 180 degrees to then shut the hatch. Belyayev then immediately equalised the pressure, allowing Leonov to clamber back into the inner hatch, drenched in sweat.
But further challenges awaited. Unknown to mission control, a host of new problems were occurring on the spacecraft, which was said to have been designed in a hurry so Russia could steal a march (spacewalk) on the US.
Just before reentry, the astronauts realised that their automatic guidance system wasn’t functioning. As the system that was supposed to guide them through the atmosphere and land the capsule was no longer reliable, the two were forced to switch to manual. They had to then align the craft to enter the atmosphere at the correct angle: A little too much of a fuel burn would mean they would plummet to the ground with no speed control, a little too short, and they would simply bounce off the atmosphere like a skipping stone on water.
In their last orbit, they started recalibrating their instruments to enter manually when an indicator showed that the main engine for reentry was low on fuel. They also had just enough fuel to perform one course correction. It turned out one of the hatches wasn’t shut properly after Leonov’s reentry and the environmental control system compensated by pumping oxygen into the cabin. Soon, the oxygen level within the spacecraft started climbing, making the air flammable. As the retro-engines were fired, the spacecraft slowed down and entered the atmosphere. But something was wrong again. Describing the sensation in his book, Leonov said it felt as if something was pulling them from behind as they blazed through the atmosphere.
Ten seconds after the engines fired, the landing model module the crew were in was supposed to detach from the orbital module, leaving the latter to burn up in the layers of atmosphere. Looking out the window, Leonov realised that a communication cable was still holding the two modules together, and the entire thing was spinning around like a floppy dumbbell. They were subjected to excess of 10 Gs of force, a condition called redout occurred and several blood vessels in the pilots’ eyes burst. Thankfully, the connecting cable eventually burned up, breaking them free, sending their module spinning out of course. They eventually landed in Siberia, in thick snow, 2,000 kilometres beyond where the cosmonauts planned.
When they attempted to open the hatch (outward), they found it was jammed against a tree. So the duo rocked the spacecraft until it moved enough to dislodge from the tree and roll away. When they finally opened the hatch in elation and breathed in the stark cold air, darkness set in. They were in the middle of a taiga region infested with bears and wolves.
The craft had sent a rescue signal upon landing, but mission control did not pick it up. Despite no one in Russia having any word of the cosmonauts’ whereabouts, the pilots’ families were informed that they had landed safely. The signal had, however, been picked up by planes nearby, and one helicopter finally zoomed in overhead. This was unfortunately a civilian craft and the pilot did not know how to conduct a rescue. Instead, they hovered with a rope ladder, which the pilots could not climb because of their spacesuits. Soon, a group of aircraft had collected overhead, with people tossing objects and alcohol from overhead. But nothing helped. By then, Leonov had realised a new complication: All the sweat from the airlock manoeuvre had collected inside his spacesuit and formed puddles at his extremities. And it was freezing. They proceeded to undress and shred the layers of their spacesuits apart, to get at the dry, protective outer layer.
The night was difficult. The exit hatch had blown off the capsule they were nestled in and the temperatures dropped to -30°C. At one point in the night, they were even surrounded by wolves, but the animals eventually left them alone. The pilots had to spend one more night in their capsule before the trees around them could be cleared and the duo rescued. The third morning, they went to a clearing from where they had to ski nine kilometres to get to a helicopter. When they arrived at the launch site in Baikonur, they were welcomed with much fanfare.
In his post-mission report, Leonov skipped the details. Instead, he simply wrote, "Provided with a special suit, man can survive and work in open space. Thank you for your attention."
The account of the mission is largely based on Alexei Leonov’s own description in his book Two Sides of the Moon, co-authored by US Apollo astronaut David Scott, as reproduced by the Air & Space Magazine.
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CBC News / Mar 19, 2019
Scientists make surprising discoveries about salmon on Gulf of Alaska expedition
21 researchers from 5 countries studying survival of fish during their years in North Pacific.
Завершилась международная экспедиция по изучению лосося в заливе Аляска с участием канадских, российских, американских, японских и южнокорейских ученых, позволившая впервые изучить поведение и условия обитания этих рыб в зимнее время, а также проследить пути миграции.
A vessel carrying an international team of scientists docked in North Vancouver, B.C., on Monday after a five-week expedition to the Gulf of Alaska that could shed new light on the lives of salmon. Researchers collected thousands of samples and pioneered a new DNA testing method to learn more about salmon survival in the North Pacific in the first comprehensive study in the region in decades.
The scientists were all smiles as they spoke of their findings and praised the success of the international collaboration at an event at the Burrard Dry Dock Pier. "The ability of a team of researchers to work together effectively, that already is a tremendous success," said Dick Beamish, the expedition's organizer. "We have now set a precedent for being able to do this in the future."
The 21 scientists from five salmon-producing countries in the Pacific Rim - Canada, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the U.S. - travelled around 8,000 kilometres and surveyed 60 different locations while aboard the Russian research vessel Professor Kaganovsky.
The purpose of the trip was to learn more about how Pacific salmon survive in the open seas of the Gulf of Alaska, a major feeding ground for salmon. The team trawled for salmon so they could collect data and conducted DNA testing to identify where the fish hatched. The research led to some surprising discoveries.
The team found the second most abundant species of salmon in the catches was coho, contradicting their belief that most coho stay in coastal areas in the winter. Researchers were also surprised that pink salmon - the most abundant of all Pacific salmon - comprised only 10 per cent of their catches.
Their findings also raised questions for further research.
Laurie Weitkamp, a fisheries biologist with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said scientists were puzzled when they caught large, seemingly well-fed sockeye salmon and skinny, malnourished chum in the same location.
"These two fish clearly were responding to this common environment in different ways," said Weitkamp. "It's really puzzling. How does this sockeye look so beautiful and well fed and this chum just barely made it through the winter?"
The researchers hope to make more discoveries in the coming months after analyzing data from the thousands of samples they collected.
The expedition was in collaboration with the Year of the Salmon, a five-year initiative spanning the Northern Hemisphere to raise awareness and improve understanding of salmon conservation. The project was funded through $1.3 million in donations from governments, non-governmental organizations, industry groups and private donations.
© 2019 CBC/Radio-Canada. All rights reserved.
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WTVD-TV / Thursday, March 21st, 2019
4 months in isolation: US-Russian crew start simulated moon mission
В Москве начался совместный научный эксперимент "SIRIUS-19" НАСА и Института медико-биологических проблем РАН. Четверо россиян и двое американцев проведут четыре месяца в замкнутом пространстве, имитирующем полет на Луну, высадку на ее поверхность и пребывание на окололунной орбите.
A group of American and Russian volunteers this week were sealed into a collection of mock space modules in Moscow at the start of a four-month isolation experiment intended to simulate a mission to the moon.
The mixed gender crew on Tuesday began their imagined flight inside a brown brick building on the edge of the city center at a Soviet-era facility run by Moscow's Institute of Biomedical Problems. There, they will be confined to a collection of cramped tubular constructions inside a hangar-like hall at the institute for 120 days. The modules are hermetically sealed, meaning they have their own atmosphere, and the crew will not leave or see any other human beings for the duration of the mission.
The simulation, called SIRIUS-19, is an unusually lengthy isolation experiment organized jointly by the Institute for Biomedical Problems of Russian Academy of Science and NASA. It one of a number of international experiments underway that's intended to help inform plans for future deep space travel by studying the physical and psychological effect of months-long isolation.
A few months ago, Reinhold Povilaitis sold his apartment in Arizona and put his belongings into storage before joining the experiment in Moscow. Povilaitis, 30, a researcher at the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera at Arizona State University, works on finding possible landing sites for future moon missions. He will now be living in close quarters with his five other crew mates, another American and four Russians.
"I'm not too worried about it - I thrive in these sorts of environments. I'm excited to get started," Povilaitis said. "My personal reason for doing this is to help advance human space flight in anyway that I can."
His home over the coming months is known as the Ground-based Experiment Complex or the NEK. The facility has been in use since the 1960s, when it was purpose-built for such simulations. Though some date from the 1970s, those used in this experiment have been renovated.
The modules are linked by metal tunnels that have to be crawled through, sealed off by hatches modeled on those from Russia's Soyuz spacecrafts. The living quarters are roughly about 40 meters squared - a long corridor with submarine-like cabins that contain a tiny desk, a cupboard and a bed. A kitchen area is furnished with just a microwave and hot water. A common area for relaxation has some beanbags and a large television.
Povilaitis and Anastiasia Stepanova, his Russian crew mate, were unfazed by the confined space.
"It's bigger than my apartment that I left," said Povilaitis.
The team's mission is multi-stage. First, they must make the 10-day flight to the moon, where they will simulate docking with an orbital station. Two of them will then leave the living modules, landing to the "surface" of the moon - another enclosed area where the two explorers will wear virtual-reality goggles as they collect samples and fix a damaged moon rover. New modules will open to the crew as they progress.
Now sealed inside, the team will receive food and supplies through an airlock. Intelligent lighting will mimic daylight on Earth, dimming and brightening as its follows sunrise and sunset. The living areas are clad entirely in light wood, a surrounding found to be more soothing for crews than the metal of spacecraft.
"It looks like a sauna," laughed Stepanova, who is also junior researcher at the institute.
The crew's contact with the outside world will be limited to communications with "mission control" and sending emails to their loved ones via the project's psychologists. To entertain themselves, the volunteers can watch movies and listen to music, as well as exercise on running machines.
All the common areas are covered by multiple dome-shaped cameras that will record the crews' interactions with one another. There is some privacy - the cameras are not in the sleeping cabins, the toilets or the showers and they will only record sound on specific days.
Igor Kofman, who represents NASA's Human Research Program in Russia and is helping to oversee the project said scientists would be looking to see how isolation affects physical and psychological performance.
The Moscow experiment is one of a number of isolation simulations going on around the world as countries have begun to look in earnest toward flights to the Moon and Mars.
NASA is leading an international project to develop plans for the so-called Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, a space station orbiting the moon that can serve as a jumping off point for deep space flights.
Russia's space agency meanwhile has set itself the goal of landing cosmonauts on the moon in the mid-2020s and to establish a permanent base there by 2040 - an ambitious goal that many experts question is possible given the current troubled state of Russia's space industry.
One of the unusual elements of the current experiment is the amount of technical simulation it involves. The crew will have to dock and receive supply ships, among other tasks, meaning, incidentally, if they fail to dock the supply shipments they will go short of food.
"In essence, this is the beginning, the first step toward carrying out the technical preparation for a lunar program," said Yevgeny Tarelkin, a former cosmonaut who is the crew's commander. "And not just for a flight, but for the conquering of the moon."
The current experiment is far from the longest held at the NEK. The Mars-500 mission organized by Russia, China and the European Space Agency between 2007 and 2011 lasted 250 days.
Stepanova and Povilaitis have both participated in space-themed isolation experiments previously. Two years ago Povilaitis took part in NASA's Human Exploration Research Analog or HERA program, a 45-day simulation at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. His team though only completed two weeks before Hurricane Harvey forced them to evacuate. That experience made him jump at the chance to join the Moscow experiment when it came up.
"It will never feel like a prison if your mind is in the right place," Povilaitis said. "You just kind of have to tune into what makes you work well. At least speaking for myself, you can go indefinitely. Four months doesn't seem to like too long for me."
Copyright © 2019 ABC, Inc., WTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham. All Rights Reserved.
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Futurity: Research News / March 25th, 2019
Hypothesis: Bacteria Use ‘Air Bridge’ To Travel The World
Instead of hitching a ride on people or animals, some bacteria may travel thousands of miles through the air, according to a new study.
Изучив "молекулярные воспоминания" теплолюбивых бактерий Thermus thermophilus из горячих источников в Италии, Чили и России, международная группа ученых (США, Россия, Израиль, Франция, Чили) под руководством Константина Северинова из Института микробиологии им. Ваксмана при Ратгерском университете выдвинула теорию "воздушного моста", согласно которой бактерии могут перемещаться по воздуху на значительные расстояния самостоятельно, без "помощи" людей или животных.
This "air bridge" hypothesis could shed light on how harmful bacteria share antibiotic resistance genes, researchers say.
"Our research suggests that there must be a planet-wide mechanism that ensures the exchange of bacteria between faraway places," says senior author Konstantin Severinov, a principal investigator at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology and professor of molecular biology and biochemistry at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
"Because the bacteria we study live in very hot water - about 160 degrees Fahrenheit - in remote places, it is not feasible to imagine that animals, birds, or humans transport them," Severinov says. "They must be transported by air and this movement must be very extensive so bacteria in isolated places share common characteristics."
For the study, which appears in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Severinov and other researchers studied the "molecular memories" of bacteria from their encounters with viruses, with the memories stored in bacterial DNA.
Bacteriophages - viruses of bacteria - are the most abundant and ubiquitous forms of life on the planet, and have a profound influence on microbial populations, community structure, and evolution, according to the study.
The scientists collected heat-loving Thermus thermophilus bacteria in hot gravel on Mount Vesuvius and hot springs on Mount Etna in Italy; hot springs in the El Tatio region in northern Chile and southern Chile’s Termas del Flaco region; and hot springs in the Uzon caldera in Kamchatka, Russia.
In virus-infected bacterial cells, molecular memories store in special regions of bacterial DNA called CRISPR arrays. Cells that survive infections pass the memories - small pieces of viral DNA - to their offspring. The order of these memories allows scientists to follow the history of bacterial interaction with viruses over time.
Initially, the scientists thought that bacteria of the same species living in hot springs thousands of miles apart - and therefore isolated from each other - would have very different memories of their encounters with viruses. That’s because the bacteria all should have independent histories of viral infections.
The scientists also thought that bacteria should evolve very rapidly and become different, much like the famous finches Charles Darwin observed on the Galapagos Islands.
"What we found, however, is that there were plenty of shared memories - identical pieces of viral DNA stored in the same order in the DNA of bacteria from distant hot springs," Severinov says.
"Our analysis may inform ecological and epidemiological studies of harmful bacteria that globally share antibiotic resistance genes and may also get dispersed by air instead of human travelers."
The scientists want to sample air at different altitudes and locations around the world and identify the bacteria there to test the air bridge hypothesis. They would need access to planes, drones, or research balloons.
Additional scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences; Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Russia; Pasteur Institute in France; University of Santiago de Chile; and Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel contributed to the work.
© 2019. Futurity. All rights reserved.
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Science Times / Mar 27, 2019
Space Race Is "On", according to Russia’s Space Chief
- Lysette Maurice N. Sandoval
Ведущие космические державы начинают активную работу по освоению дальнего космоса, и генеральный директор "Роскосмоса" Дмитрий Рогозин объявил, что Россия намерена принять участие в новой "космической гонке". В настоящее время "Роскосмос" обсуждает с Российской академией наук детали программы, касающейся исследования Луны.
According to the head of the Russian Space Agency, the country has recently entered a space competition. The goal of the race is to send out a manned space flight that will conduct deep space exploration.
"We are now part of a competition led by the leading space powers in the world," said Dmitry Rogozin, Roscosmos Chief.
He also revealed that he recently met with Alexander Sergeev, the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences. They discussed the details of the program concerning the exploration of the Moon and the other specifications of that project.
The complexity of the planned space exploration involved in the so-called "space race" is rather cooperative in nature. According to Nathan Eysmont, Chief Fellow from the Russian Institute of Space Studies believes that "This space exploration is competitivein nature, but it is cooperative in some way."
"It doesn't mean that everyone is racing to be the first to win. It may come as a surprise, but without the cooperation of all the participants, there would be nothing about this competition that will come out good," said Eysmont
The team of Russian astronauts is expected to make their first spacewalk by 2030. The program would be called the Moon. It will include the development of both a super heavy lifter module and a take-off module too.
Before the actual spacewalk to set out for the Moon mission, Roscosmos will have to conduct a series of exploratory test launches. This is to ensure the safety and security of the astronauts who will be joining the mission. The test flights will include a Don-type super heavy rocket carrier. The Don carrier is expected to be able to carry a hugeweight of about 130 tons to the low Earth orbit while carrying up to 32 tons to the orbit of the moon.
This manned mission to the Moon is also planned to be preceded by a lunar module. To this time, there is still no name released for this lunar module.
Apart from the mission to the Moon, Rogozin also expressed Russia's plans of putting up a permanent base on the satellite. If the space mission becomes fruitful, the space station that has been set up will be manned by avatars. These will be the robots that will act like the astronauts in space. The plan is to bring in as much information about the space as they can.
The United States will also be entering the race with the Trump Administration demanding Nasa to return to the moon by 2024.
In this race, there is no one agency or government that will win. It is every living thing on Earth that will win. With all the information this "space race" is going to bring in, humans will have a deeper understanding of the world we are living in.
© Copyright 2019 The Science Times. All Rights Reserved.
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BBC News / 28 March 2019
Russian space pioneer Valery Bykovsky dies aged 84
Скончался летчик-космонавт Валерий Быковский, ставший в 1960 году участником отряда космонавтов первого набора. Первый космический полет он совершил в 1963-м на корабле "Восток-5" - параллельно с полетом "Востока-6", который пилотировала Валентина Терешкова.
Valery Bykovsky, who was the 11th person to venture into space and who held the unbroken record for the longest solo spaceflight, has died aged 84.
Bykovsky first flew aboard a Vostok 5 spacecraft in June 1963 and would go on to take part in two more USSR missions. His record-setting solo flight saw him spend five days in space aboard the Vostok 5, orbiting the Earth 82 times. Bykovsky was among the first group of USSR cosmonauts alongside Yuri Gagarin, the first person to travel to space.
His death on 27 March was confirmed by Russia's federal space corporation Roscosmos, but no cause of death was given. He leaves Alexey Leonov, the first spacewalker, and Boris Volynov as the last surviving members of that pioneering first group.
"Bykovsky belonged to the first generation of Soviet cosmonauts, who wrote many bright pages in the glorious history of Russian manned cosmonautics," officials at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City said in a statement.
Valery Fyodorovich Bykovsky was born on the 2 August 1934 in Pavlovsky Posad, near Moscow. As a boy, he moved around due to his father's job at the Ministry of Railways, spending seven years of his youth in Iran. In November 1955, he graduated from the Kachinsk Military Aviation Academy with top marks in flying and combat training. He started serving as a pilot the following year.
The First Soviet Cosmonaut Team, a history of the pioneering group, quotes Bykovsky's father as saying: "He (Valery) has always been courageous and exciting, and dangerous professions attracted him."
After his successful selection as a cosmonaut, Bykovsky was launched into orbit aboard the Vostok 5 mission, which lasted from 14-19 June 1963. The spacecraft entered a lower-than-expected orbit. And while the craft was in good technical shape, it become apparent a few days into the mission that it was losing altitude faster than expected. To prevent an uncontrolled re-entry, Soviet officials decided to curtail the flight and bring Bykovsky back to Earth. Although it has long since been surpassed in duration by missions carrying more than one crew member, it remains the longest flight by a single person.
Bykovsky's mission overlapped with that of Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. At one point, the two Vostok spacecraft were said to have come within 5km (3 mi) of one other. Tereshkova is now the last person alive to have flown in a Vostok ("east" in Russian), the first generation of Soviet-crewed spacecraft.
Bykovsky would have commanded the second flight of the USSR's Soyuz spacecraft, the general design still in use today. But the first flight, Soyuz 1, crashed into the ground at high speed in April 1967 after its parachutes failed, killing its sole occupant, cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. The same parachute fault was picked up in the Soyuz 2 craft, causing the flight to be cancelled.
Bykovsky trained for the Soviet Union's programme to land on the Moon, which was also cancelled after American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down in the Sea of Tranquility in July 1969. In September 1976, he made his second spaceflight on the Soyuz 22 mission. Bykovsky and fellow cosmonaut Vladimir Aksyonov spent a week in orbit photographing the surface of the Earth with a specially-built camera. The cosmonaut's third and final orbital flight would come on Soyuz 31, which docked in orbit with the Salyut 6 space station on 28 August 1978.
Bykovsky and Sigmund Jähn, the first German in space, spent six days on Salyut 6, visiting the orbiting outpost's two resident crew members Vladimir Kovalyonok and Aleksandr Ivanchenkov. Their tasks were to deliver supplies to the crew and carry out scientific experiments aboard the station.
Over his career, Bykovsky spent a total of nearly 21 days in space. He left the cosmonaut corps in 1982 and later worked in several roles at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center at Star City near Moscow.
Bykovsky was married to Valentina Mikhailovna Sukhova, with whom he had two sons.
Copyright © 2019 BBC.
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Phys.Org / March 28th, 2019
A new dictionary will describe the Siberian peasant lifestyle
Филологи Томского государственного университета составили ряд словарей на основе записей речи типичной представительницы сибирских старожильческих говоров. Последним стал идеографический словарь, отражающий картину мира носителя языка - единицы в нем упорядочены не по алфавиту, а по близости значений слов.
Записи велись в течение 23 лет, с 1981 по 2004 год; объем расшифрованных текстов составляет около 10 тысяч страниц.
TSU philologists have compiled a new dictionary based on recordings of the speech of Vera Prokofyevna Vershinina, a typical representative of Russian Siberian old-timers dialects. Scientists divided all the words she used into groups by meaning, for example, "home", "work", "movement", "food", "family", and others and found that in the view of Siberians, love is closely connected with friendship and respect.
From 1981 to 2004, Professor Ekaterina Ivantsova and Associate Professor Lyudmila Gingazova recorded the speech of Vera Prokofyevna Vershinina (1909-2004). The volume of decoded texts was about 10,000 pages. Based on this material, philologists have published a number of dictionaries, the last of which is ideographic. It was composed by Svetlana Zemicheva, a researcher at the Laboratory of General and Siberian Lexicography. The dictionary has more than 23,000 units, combined into 858 entries (semantic groups).
- In the ideographic dictionary, units are ordered based on the proximity of the meaning of words, rather than alphabetically. The ideographic dictionary reflects the picture of the world of a native speaker; it can be used to identify the ethical norms and values that exist in the peasant community, to reconstruct the way of life, - said Professor Ekaterina Ivantsova.
All words are grouped into three broad categories: "nature", "man", and "man and nature". Each is divided into more particular ones, for example, "man" – "man as a living creature", "spiritual man", "man as a social being", and "society". These groups are divided into smaller ones.
The compiler of the dictionary, Svetlana Zemichyova, revealed that the physical and social spheres of life are most important for a representative of folk culture, and therefore, many names of body parts, diseases, food, physical labor, and others. The sphere of the mental (thinking, emotions, and will) is represented by fewer units. In addition, she found a special notion of love for the Siberian peasant woman.
- On one hand, there is a romantic notion of love - give a heart", "a hug", but mostly quotes from songs where love is presented as a high beautiful feeling. People in folklife culture rarely talk about love, and do so without lush phrases. For them, love is "to be friends," "feel sorry for," and "look at." There are almost no romantics. Marital infidelity and debauchery are strictly condemned in traditional culture. Affairs on the side, outside the family, are described with words with negative connotations - concubine", "paramour", "repel", and metaphors in which people are compared with animals - snooze", "boar", "herd", and others. Ideally, a person should get married once and live like that all their life, - said Svetlana Zemicheva.
An interesting fact is that the words related to nature in the lexicon of Vera Prokofievna turned out to be the fewest. For peasants, nature is, first of all, the space that needs to be mastered, to use, for example, for your own vegetable garden. Nature is extremely rarely perceived from an aesthetic point of view.
The most important for the Siberian peasant are such areas as "labor", "house", "food", "disease", "behavior", "relationship", "family", "plants", "animals", "religion", and "customs and rites". These categories include the most words and demonstrate the traditional values of the villager.
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