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Livescience / October 1, 2020
Ancient Siberian grave holds "warrior woman" and huge weapons stash
The grave holds the remains of a man, two women and a baby.
Археологическая экспедиция ИАиЭт СО РАН обнаружила в Хакасии погребальный комплекс тагарской культуры возрастом около 2500 лет. В захоронении были останки четырех человек, в том числе двух воинов с полным набором оружия - мужчины и женщины.
Archaeologists in Siberia have unearthed a 2,500-year-old grave holding the remains of four people from the ancient Tagar culture - including two warriors, a male and female - and a stash of their metal weaponry.
The early Iron Age burial contained the skeletal remains of a Tagarian man, woman, infant and older woman, as well as a slew of weapons and artifacts, including bronze daggers, knives, axes, bronze mirrors and a miniature comb made from an animal horn, according to the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The Tagar culture, a part of the Scythian civilization (nomadic warriors who lived in what is now southern Siberia), often buried its dead with miniature versions of real-life objects, likely to symbolize possessions they thought were needed in the afterlife. In this case, however, the deceased were laid to rest with full-size objects, the archaeologists said.
It's not yet clear how these individuals died, but perhaps an illness caused their deaths, the archaeologists said.
A team from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography found the burial in the southern part of Khakassia, a region in Siberia, ahead of construction work on a railroad. The finding is remarkable, given that grave robbers have looted most known Tagarian graves, Yuri Vitalievich Teterin, head of the excavation, said in a statement.
The remains of the man and woman, who likely died in their 30s or 40s, were laid down on their backs, with large ceramic vessels next to each of them. The man also had two sets of weapons (two bronze daggers and two axes), and the woman had one set, according to the statement. The woman's weapons, including a long-handled instrument, perhaps a hatchet or battle ax, were an unusual find; the Tagarians often buried their women with weapons, but those were usually long-range weapons, such as arrowheads, noted Oleg Andreevich Mitko, a leader of the excavation and head of archaeology at Novosibirsk State University in Russia.
The infant's remains were in bad shape, the archaeologists found.
"The remains of a newborn baby, no more than a month old, were also found in the burial, but fragments of its skeleton were scattered throughout the grave, possibly as a result of the activity of rodents," Olga Batanina, an anthropologist at the Paleodata laboratory of natural scientific methods in archeology, said in the statement.
At the man and woman's feet, lay the remains of an older woman of about 60 years of age; her body was positioned on her right side, with her knees bent. Next to her, archaeologists found a small ceramic vessel and a comb with broken teeth.
It's unclear how these people were related to one another, but a forthcoming DNA analysis may reveal whether they had family ties.
The Tagar culture lasted for about 500 years, from about the eighth to the third centuries B.C.; its people were spread across the Minusinsk Basin, a landscape that is a mix of steppe, forest-steppe and foothills, according to the statement.
The archaeologists have a busy schedule ahead of them. Survey work in 2019 revealed more than 10 archaeological sites, nine of which were directly in the railroad's development zone. This excavation is just one of those sites.
© Future US, Inc.
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Ancient Origins / 2 October, 2020
5,000-Year-Old Masked Figurine Found in Siberian Mass Grave
При раскопках массового захоронения возрастом 5000 лет в Новосибирской области археологи ИАиЭт СО РАН обнаружили необычную глиняную статуэтку, лежавшую на плече одной из погребенных женщин. На лице фигурки была костяная маска с изображением медвежьей морды, а в корпусе было выдолблено углубление с бронзовой пластиной и каким-то органическим материалом внутри.
Archaeologists have discovered a strange little masked figurine in Siberia. It was found upon the shoulder of a woman who was buried face down in a mass grave 5,000 years ago. The whole scenario has created an alluring archaeological mystery.
Mysterious Burial Rituals of the Odinov Culture
The archaeological team found the masked figurine this summer while excavating a mass burial in the Novosibirsk region of Western Siberia. The grave belonged to members of the Odinov culture, a group of people who lived in the Bronze Age. They were named after a settlement called Odino, which is located near the lower Ishim river in Western Siberia.
Odinov people were primarily involved in hunting, fishing, and animal husbandry. They had sheep, horses, and cattle. They are said to have lived in dug-outs in "an isolated community surrounded by forest-steppe terrain […] situated along the terraces of the rivers and creeks."
According to the Siberian Times, this interesting little figure was placed on the shoulder of a woman who had been laid face down on top of a man. The couple had been wrapped in birch bark that was set ablaze before they were buried. There was another man and woman who were found underneath their remains in this tiered grave - which is said to have been ‘typical’ in the Odinov culture’s funerary habits.
In May 2019, another bizarre skeletal discovery was made linked to the Odinov culture. In that incident, archaeologists found an individual’s remains wearing a collar, headdress, or possibly armor made out of bird beaks. As with this new discovery, the bird beak wearing skeleton was also described as unlike other Odinov burials. Researcher Lilia Kobeleva from the Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, said "Nothing of this kind was ever found as part of Odinov culture in all of Western Siberia."
The Masked Figurine
Returning to the palm-sized statuette, it is made of clay and the ancient artisan who crafted it even created a little mask out of a horse vertebra for it to wear. Archaeologists think that the bone mask probably had the appearance of a bear muzzle.
When the mask is removed from the figurine, a person sees that there is a little stripe along the statuette’s face. Siberian Times reports that this line symbolized a tattoo. Professor Vyacheslav Molodin, head of the excavations at the site, says that "the face of the figurine had clear Caucasian features," which differed from the appearance of the people with whom it was buried.
The researchers don’t know if the clay figurine was meant to represent a male or female figure, which the professor says is "unusual," and they also are uncertain if it had originally had clothing. Archaeologists found the statuette placed face down in the grave, like the woman. For some unknown reason ‘its head was broken off and turned upside down so that it ‘looked up’ in a ritual yet unseen by Novosibirsk archeologists,’ according to Siberian Times.
A final point of interest about the masked figurine is that it was made with a hollowed out middle section. This contained a bronze plate and some unknown organic material, which is undergoing chemical testing.
A Discovery Worthy of Any Major Museum
Professor Vyacheslav Molodin emphasized the importance of the discovery of the masked statuette to Siberian Times stating: "This is without a doubt the find of the season, the find that any world museum from the Hermitage to the Louvre museum would love to exhibit. We’ve never come across anything like this, despite our extensive knowledge of the Odinov culture’s burial rites. The woman must have been an unusual person to have such a figurine ‘escorting’ her to the afterlife."
Hopefully the results of the chemical testing will help the archaeologists find out more about this unusual person and her strange, little, masked figurine "escort."
Ancient Origins © 2013-2020.
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CNN / October 5, 2020
The race inside Russia's coronavirus vaccine laboratory
- By Zahra Ullah and Matthew Chance
Интервью каналу CNN академика Александра Гинцбурга, директора НИЦЭМ им. Н. Ф. Гамалеи, где была разработана противокоронавирусная вакцина «Спутник-5». Как удалось создать вакцину так быстро, почему она была одобрена еще до начала заключительного этапа испытаний и получал ли НИЦЭМ указания от Кремля?
Russia powered through with developing a coronavirus vaccine to give people hope and not because of political pressure, the nation's top virologist told CNN in a rare interview.
All other work at the Gamaleya Institute was suspended and scientists and researchers were tasked with developing an effective vaccine, said the institute's director, Alexander Gintsburg.
Promising results led to the vaccine being approved even before widespread human testing, Gintsburg insisted. That's testing that experts say is required before any vaccine is widely used.
"It gave people a choice to either protect themselves or play roulette with a pathogen - will you get infected or not, will you die or not?" he said.
Critics across the globe say the breakneck speed of the vaccine development points to political pressure from the Kremlin, which is keen to portray Russia as a global scientific force. It was President Vladimir Putin himself who announced the approval of the vaccine amid much fanfare on Russian state television. And its name - Sputnik V - harks back to the Soviet Union's successful launch of the first space satellite decades ago. But Gintsburg told CNN the Kremlin did not give instructions to Gamaleya.
"We do not have direct communication with the Kremlin, it does not give any orders to us," Gintsburg said. "The only link to the Kremlin [we have] is Putin Vladimir Vladimirovich's portrait in my cabinet," Gintsburg chuckled, referring to a picture of a younger Vladimir Putin adorning his office - a birthday gift he received 14 years ago from friends, he said.
"Our task is to isolate this pathogen and to defeat it, which is exactly what we are doing now. And, as we all very well know, it can only be defeated with the help of vaccination."
The Moscow-based Gamaleya institute is one of Russia's oldest, most accomplished vaccine research laboratories. But in the rush to create Sputnik V, it has bypassed normal scientific practices.
As well as skipping large-scale human tests before approval, Russian soldiers were used as "volunteers" in early trials and, the Institute's director even injected himself and his staff with the experimental vaccine, CNN learned, as early as April.
"We vaccinated ourselves and our staff. Primarily, the staff that participate in developing this vaccine product. I don't have that many staffers, so I value every employee very much," Gintsburg told CNN. "An illness of any members of the staff would be a hard blow not just to me personally but also for our workflow. I couldn't allow this to happen, to lose any of our staffers as a result of being infected by Covid-19."
Russia has had the fourth greatest number of coronavirus cases across the world, behind the US, India and Brazil, according to Johns Hopkins University. It ranks 12th for overall deaths, the JHU data shows.
Results from the first human tests of Sputnik V were published in The Lancet last month. Importantly, just 76 people were involved in the trials. Experts say that's too small to determine if the Russian vaccine was safe and effective. But, The Lancet reported the peer-reviewed clinical data was mostly positive with only mild adverse effects reported and it did trigger an immune response in trial participants.
The fast-tracking of the vaccine approval by Russia before the phase 3 human trials had begun and at a time when the whole world is looking for a vaccine, generated criticism outside Russia. But Gintsburg, who describes the pandemic as a "war" and an "emergency," said he has no qualms.
"Maybe we should ask the relatives of those who died if they would have preferred to vaccinate their loved ones with a vaccine that demonstrated brilliant early results and no side effects, or to wait until the end of the trials for these results to be confirmed, I believe the answer to this question is obvious," he added.
After months of requests, CNN was allowed an exclusive tour inside the actual labs where the vaccine was developed.
Researchers wearing gloves and white coats were working on Sputnik V in buildings that have been used for scientific research since the Soviet era.
The head of the laboratory, Vladimir Gushchin, said the team used their expertise, in addition to knowledge and techniques honed in vaccine development for other diseases to perhaps get an edge over international pharmaceutical companies also looking to create a Covid-19 vaccine.
And he said the focus purely on beating coronavirus was vital.
"What's the secret? I think the secret is when your team is really involved, concentration on this process. In many pharma firms you have different projects in which you are involved. But here (we) concentrate on this special task, people are ready to stay here overnight."
Russia's sovereign wealth fund (RDIF), which has funded the vaccine production, has announced deals to supply hundreds of millions of doses of Sputnik V to countries around the world.
After US President Donald Trump's Covid-19 diagnosis, Gushchin told CNN that the US should reconsider its refusal to cooperate on a vaccine.
"Now would be a good time for the US to seriously consider the Russian vaccine to defend themselves against Covid-19," he said. "Trump would not be in this situation if he'd been vaccinated with Sputnik V."
The Kremlin now says Putin himself may soon take the vaccine, ahead of a possible trip to South Korea. He would become the latest high-profile Russian to take Sputnik-V including the defense minister, the mayor of Moscow and, according to Putin, one of his own daughters. But the vaccine's creator does not appear fazed.
"I don't feel any pressure," Gintsburg said," I just feel a certain responsibility for the vaccine product, and I will feel it all my life."
© 2020 Cable News Network.A Warner Media Company. All Rights Reserved.
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Ars Technica / 10/7/2020
Russian space corporation unveils planned "Amur" rocket - and it looks familiar
Musk: "It’s a step in the right direction, but they should really aim for full reusability."
Корпорация «Роскосмос» обнародовала планы по созданию новой многоразовой ракеты-носителя на метане «Амур». Затраты на разработку составят около 900 млн долларов, а первый старт запланирован на 2026 год.
On Wednesday Russia's state space corporation, Roscosmos, unveiled plans to develop a new "Amur" rocket.
The booster will be powered by new and as yet undeveloped rocket engines that burn methane. Just as significantly, for the first time, Russia is seeking to build a reusable first stage. And Roscosmos is targeting a low price of just $22 million for a launch on Amur, which is advertised as being capable of delivering 10.5 tons to low-Earth orbit.
"We would like our rocket to be reliable, like a Kalashnikov assault rifle," said Alexander Bloshenko, executive director of Roscosmos for Advanced Programs and Science.
What is perhaps most striking about the Amur rocket design, however, is how much it resembles a smaller version of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, which can lift about twice as much payload into orbit.
The resemblance begins at the top, with a wider fairing than the core of the rocket. SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket has a payload fairing with a 5.2-meter diameter, and the proposed Amur design has a 4.1-meter diameter. Both rockets feature a set of grid fins at the top of the first stage and landing legs at the base. Instead of using nine engines, like the Falcon 9, the Amur booster will use five RD-169 engines.
Whereas the Falcon 9 rocket's first stage is designed to either return to its launch site or land downrange on a drone ship, the Amur booster will launch from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in eastern Russia and land downrange, possibly at a site to be constructed along the Sea of Okhotsk. For now, Russia is not planning to land the booster at sea, due to often rough conditions in the Sea of Okhotsk.
Roscosmos said development costs of the booster will not exceed $900 million, and each Amur first stage will be designed to fly 10 missions during the initial test phase. If this sounds familiar, in terms of commonality, SpaceX's goal is to fly a Falcon 9 first stage for the tenth time in 2021.
This all sounds good, especially the competitive price point of $22 million, which is low for a medium-lift booster if Roscosmos and its contractors can deliver. It is important to note that Russia's space leader, Dmitry Rogozin, has announced a number of ambitious space projects in recent years and then taken no actions to see that they're carried through.
Moreover, even under Roscosmos' most optimistic timeframe, Amur would not be ready to fly until 2026. This is a long time for a rocket development program, and it's difficult to say what kind of market the booster will be entering into. For example, if SpaceX is able to make good on its plans to build a fully reusable Starship launch system, that vehicle could be able to launch 10 times as much as Amur for a similar cost, or less. This would seemingly make it difficult for the Amur booster to increase Russia's share of the commercial satellite launch market.
Commenting on the Amur rocket on Twitter, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said, "It’s a step in the right direction, but they should really aim for full reusability by 2026. Larger rocket would also make sense for literal economies of scale. Goal should be to minimize cost per useful ton to orbit or it will at best serve a niche market."
© 2020 Condé Nast. All rights reserved.
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Novastan / 9 octobre 2020
Sur les pas des Fedtchenko, une famille d’explorateurs amoureuse du Pamir
- Naïm Amonbekov, François Robic, Adrien Delorge
О семье ученых - исследователей Средней Азии и первооткрывателей Памира Алексее, Ольге и Борисе Федченко. Алексей Федченко успел побывать лишь на северной границе «Крыши мира», открыв в 1871 г. Заалайский хребет. После гибели ученого дело продолжили его жена и сын, организовав в 1901 и 1904 гг. экспедиции при поддержке Русского географического общества, в результате чего удалось собрать богатейший материал по флоре, фауне, географии и этнографии Памира.
Chaîne de légende située dans le nord et l’est du Tadjikistan, le Pamir a fait l’objet de nombreux récits d’aventures et de voyages. Parmi eux, ceux de la famille d’Alexeï Fedtchenko, aventurier et naturaliste russe du XIXème siècle. De leurs expéditions, ils ont laissé de grandes histoires et un héritage scientifique considérable.
Novastan reprend et traduit ici un article publié le 19 juillet 2020 par le média Asia-Plus.
La plupart des Tadjiks et connaisseurs de la région du Pamir, chaîne de montagne située dans le nord et l’est du Tadjikistan, associent le mot "Fedtchenko" au glacier du même nom, un des lieux les plus visités du pays. Peu de personnes savent en revanche que l’homme en l’honneur duquel a été nommé ce glacier n’y a jamais mis les pieds. Malgré cela, l’explorateur Alexeï Fedtchenko (1844-1873) a consacré toute sa courte vie à l’étude de l’Asie centrale.
Lors de ses multiples voyages, il a développé un nombre considérable de connaissances sur la flore, la faune, la géographie et l’ethnographie de la région. Il tacha avec détermination d’explorer le Pamir, mystérieux et énigmatique pour les Européens, et qui était alors absolument inconnu sur le plan scientifique. Le 19 décembre 1869, Alexeï Fedtchenko écrit dans une lettre à Constantin Von Kaufman, premier gouverneur général du Turkestan russe : « J’ai lu dans les journaux que l’anglais Hayward entend pénétrer le Belor-Tagh et le Pamir. Pour tout dire, cela m’a beaucoup attristé, puisque cela signifie que la découverte la plus curieuse qu’il reste à faire en Asie centrale ne sera pas faite par des Russes… ». Des mots à la hauteur de son engagement.
Avec ses explorations, Alexeï Fedtchenko a découvert notamment le chaînon Trans-Altaï, qui marque la bordure du Pamir au Nord, et parvint jusqu’aux contreforts Ouest formés par le Mont Zeravchan. Cependant, malgré ces découvertes, il ne parvient jamais à atteindre le « Toit du monde », le nom donné au Pamir en raison de la présence de trois sommets de plus de 7000 mètres. Alexeï Fedtchenko est décédé en 1873 à l’âge de 29 ans, lors d’un séjour de préparation dans les Alpes en vue d’une expédition future au Pamir.
C’est cinq ans plus tard que l’explorateur Vassily Oshanin découvre dans le Pamir un des plus grands glaciers de montagne au monde, qu’il nomme en l’honneur de son ami Alexeï Fedtchenko.
A la suite de la mort d’Alexeï Fedtchenko, sa femme, Olga Alexandrovna, et son fils, Boris Alexeïevitch Fedtchenko poursuivent ses recherches dans le but d’achever son rêve. Olga Fedtchenko avait réussi à transmettre à son fils Boris l’amour pour le voyage au Pamir. Ils étudient non seulement la faune et la flore, mais recueillent également des connaissances uniques quant à la vie et au quotidien des habitants de cette région montagneuse.
Ils organisent dès 1901, avec le soutien de de la Société impériale russe de Géographie, une première expédition. Son but était d’explorer la végétation du Pamir d’est en ouest, et plus loin en Inde à travers l’Hindou Kouch. Mais les pouvoirs coloniaux indiens leur refusent l’accès au Gilgit, en raison de prétendus dangers se trouvant en ces lieux.
C’est au milieu du mois de mai 1901 que l’expédition arrive au Pamir Oriental, en direction de Khorog. Au travers de nombreux comptes rendus et notes, Boris Alexeïevitch a fait part de ses impressions et écrit notamment à propos de la bienveillance des habitants de la région. Il rencontre le 24 juillet 1901 à Khorog Pir Saïd Youssouf Ali Shah, guide spirituel du Chougnan, région de l’est du Tadjikistan actuel. L’homme, qui lui fait forte impression, allait être un compagnon important de ses expéditions futures.
Dans ses écrits, Boris Fedtchenko soulignera de nombreuses fois l’abondance et la singularité de la nature rencontrée au Pamir. Il racontera son étonnement du nombre de plantes rares rencontrées entre les villages de Darmarakht et Andarob, au sud de Khorog. Il remarquera aussi la présence en grande quantité de Ferula, une plante herbacée de la région.
Après avoir exploré la région d’Ichkachim, Fedtchenko retourne à Khorog, où il a entamé le chemin du retour. Il est accompagné par Asis-Khan, le volostnoï du Chougnan. Le volostnoï était, à l’époque, un officier chargé de gouverner un volost, un groupement administratif de 2 000 à 2 500 maisons. Asis-Khan accompagne donc Boris Alexeïevitch jusqu’au campement de Hajj-Nazar, situé à 150 kilomètres à l’est de Khorog, point qui marque la fin du premier voyage de Boris Alexeïevitch et de sa mère au Pamir occidental.
Retour au Pamir
Une nouvelle expédition de la Société russe de géographie est organisée trois ans plus tard, toujours sous la direction de Boris Fedtchenko. Le départ est donné du poste militaire Pamirsky, construit par les Russes en 1893, et situé aujourd’hui à l’emplacement de la ville de Mourgab. Au-delà des traditionnels enjeux botaniques, l’objectif était la découverte de glaciers, rivières et cols afin d’actualiser la carte du Pamir oriental.
Dans son article Second Voyage au Pamir, publié dans la revue de botanique française Bulletin de l’Herbier Boissier, le savant souligne à nouveau le rôle essentiel joué par les locaux dans le succès de ses explorations. « Le Poste Pamirsky, depuis mon expédition de 1901, a été transféré dans une nouvelle position, à 7 versts (1km, ndlr) plus bas dans la vallée du Mourgab […]. Grâce au choix de deux bons connaisseurs du Chougnan, invités à prendre part à cette expédition - le noble Asis-khan et Aman-bek, ci-devant : « volostnoï » du Wakhan - nous pouvons nous flatter de l’espoir de visiter des localités complètement inconnues et de recueillir tous les renseignements nécessaires sur ces régions lointaines ».
Boris Fedtchenko fait référence à Asis-Khan et Aman-Bek, figures de leurs régions respectives, et expulsés de ce qui était à l’époque l’Emirat de Boukhara vers le Pamir oriental. L’explorateur remarque en effet la relation extrêmement tendue qui existait entre les fonctionnaires de l’Emirat et les habitants et représentants locaux. Malgré la menace qui pesait sur la vie d’Aman-Bek, ce dernier donne sa parole d’accompagner l’expédition tout le long du trajet, jusqu’au Rouchan et la vallée du Bartang.
Le groupe franchit le col de Koi-Tezek le 19 juillet 1904 et parvient au bassin de Djauchangoz le soir même. Boris Fedtchenko a été profondément marqué par une rencontre avec un groupe de Tadjiks venus à leur rencontre. Ces derniers avaient décidé d’effectuer le trajet depuis les régions de Wakhan et de Shakhdara, afin de rencontrer les membres de l’expédition dont on parlait tant. C’est également à ce moment-là qu’Asis-Khan se sépare momentanément du groupe afin de retourner auprès de sa famille.
Tout au long du voyage, Boris Fedtchenko a pris le temps d’effectuer une cartographie précise des zones traversées et consigna de nombreuses espèces de plantes, ainsi que leurs noms dans les langues des régions du Wakhan et de Shakhdara. Il remarque une grande différence entre ces deux langues. En paralèlle, il a également établi la généalogie des dirigeants du Shakhdara et retracé l’histoire du Wakhan, grâce aux informations de ses compagnons de voyage Aman-Bek et Asis-Khan.
Le premier Européen sur le col de Yamg
Après trois jours de traversée jusqu’au col du Vrang, l’expédition fait une halte dans la résidence d’Aman-Bek dans la région du Wakhan.
« Nous fîmes joyeusement campement sur l’agréable terrasse de la maison du volostnoï du Wakhan : nous nous mîmes à trier nos collections et nos notes, alors que pendant ce temps on préparait le dîner. Il y avait cette sorte de joie chez Aman-bek lui-même, qui avait retrouvé son chez-soi, chose qu’il croyait ne plus jamais pouvoir faire », décrit Boris Fedtchenko.
En poursuivant par la vallée du Shakhdara, le groupe passe par le col de Yamg. Boris Alexeïevitch note avec fierté dans ses publications qu’il était le premier Européen à se présenter sur ce lieu. Après une périlleuse descente au milieu des crevasses et glaciers, l’expédition s’arrête dans le kishlak de Sindev, terre de leur compagnon de voyage Asis-Khan. Symbole de la chaleur de l’accueil, une peau de lynx a notamment été offerte à Boris Fedtchenko.
Le trajet se poursuit et le 9 août, l’expédition parvient à Khorog d’où ils suivient la rivière Piandj pour rejoindre la région du Rouchan à la confluence des cours d’eaux du Piandj et du Bartang. Les récits racontent que de grands efforts ont été nécessaires pour traverser la rivière. Celle-ci effectuée, le groupe prend la direction de Kalai-Vamar, l’actuelle ville de Rouchan, résidence au Pamir occidental des gouverneurs de l’Emirat de Boukhara.
Boris Fedtchenko était inquiet, à juste titre, du sort réservé à son compagnon Aman-Bek lors de leur arrivée à Kalai-Vamar. Ce dernier en avait été chassé six mois plus tôt et une rumeur faisait état d’hommes envoyés par l’Emirat pour l’arrêter. Malgré cela, tout se passe sans accroc et les gouverneurs Ich-Mouradbek et Mirza-Mouhammad rencontrent le savant et ses hommes assez chaleureusement.
De Khorog à Tachkent
Boris Fedtchenko a été impressionné par le Bartang et ses paysages pittoresques faits d’étendues de rivières fertiles et d’immenses jardins, ainsi que par la nature hardie de ses habitants. Escalades le long des falaises, et passages sur des avancées escarpées au moyen d’une corde faisaient partie du quotidien de ces hommes et de ces femmes.
Après une période d’étude au Bartang, le groupe remonte en direction du col du Shtam, où beaucoup ont été de nouveaux impressionnés par les paysages s’offrant à eux. Se dressait majestueusement au loin, blanchis par la neige, les chaînons de la vallée du Gunt et ses nombreux glaciers. Une fois redescendu dans la vallée, le groupe se met en direction de Khorog, où devait se tenir la dernière réunion de l’expédition. On y discute notamment de l’invitation de Saïd Youssouf Ali Shah, Aman-Bek et Asis-Khan par le gouverneur général du Turkestan à Tachkent, ville qui marquerait la fin de leur voyage.
« Avec nous se mirent en chemin pour Tachkent Saïd Youssouf Ali Shah, Aman-Bek, Asis-Khan et leurs serviteurs. Des centaines de Tadjiks se réunirent pour faire le début du chemin avec eux", raconte Boris Alexeïevitch. "Ces hommes dignes n’allaient pas seulement demander la restauration de leurs droits, mais aussi l’apaisement de la situation insoutenable de leur patrie. Nous avons eu la chance d’aller là-bas, là où personne n’a jamais été, principalement grâce à leur assistance, et de connaître grâce à eux des aspects de la vie du peuple du Pamir occidental, qui sont cachés pour l’Européen ».
Un héritage scientifique et historique
Pour tout chercheur s’intéressant à l’histoire des régions occidentales du Tadjikistan à la fin du XIXème et au début du XXème siècle, les notes de Boris Fedtchenko s’avèrent être d’une valeur inestimable. Grâce à sa participation à plusieurs expéditions dans la région, il a été le témoin de nombreux événements historiques qu’il relate dans ses écrits. Son apport sur le plan scientifique a été conséquent, grâce à des observations décrites avec une exactitude et une précision exceptionnelles. Ces témoignages et observations sont sans commune mesure pour l’époque avec les autres récits de voyageurs, soldats et fonctionnaires.
La famille Fedtchenko laissera donc une marque importante dans l’histoire du Pamir et plus globalement dans la recherche et l’exploration scientifique. On trouve aujourd’hui leur nom associé à de nombreuses espèces de plantes et espèces animales. Un astéroïde a également été désigné en leur honneur, mais rien n’apporte bien sûr plus à la symbolique de leur amour pour le Pamir que le célèbre glacier portant leur nom.
(C) Novastan France (Paris, France).
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PRNewswire / Oct 12, 2020
Take It Away Carefully: The World's First Eco-Technology of "Honeycomb" Underground Mining Which Reduces the Loss of Minerals by 4 Times Is Invented at NUST MISIS
Ученые Горного института НИТУ «МИСиС» представили новую технологию подземной разработки месторождений полезных ископаемых. Устойчивая система вертикальных скважин снижает риск деформаций и смещений горных пород, что позволяет сократить количество аварий, а в выработанных пустотах можно хранить пустую породу, не поднимая ее на поверхность.
The research team from the NUST MISIS Mining College has presented the latest "Honeycomb" Technology for solid mineral mining. The technology is based on a fundamentally new nature-like concept for the development of the Earth's interior. The new-generation engineering solutions created based on the novel convergent system will provide an order of magnitude higher economic and environmental performance in underground mining.
The modern technocratic civilization takes materials and energy from the substance extracted from the Earth. The outstripping growth in the consumption of mineral raw materials on the planet leads to a rapid depletion of non-renewable resources and reserves in the lithosphere, to complication of mining conditions and to the increase in the depth of mining. At the same time, up to 400 billion tons of waste rock - which is often more than the volume of the extracted minerals - is taken from the subsoil to be stored on the Earth's surface annually.
The process of mineral extraction always generates a zone of anthropogenic destruction in the lithosphere and disturbs the adjacent areas of the Earth's crust with a cascade of accompanying environmental problems. On the other hand, the infrastructure and maintenance of large-scale mineral mining, which is one of the most energy-intensive sectors of the economy, are based on the advanced extraction of liquid, solid and radioactive resources from the subsoil. That is, to extract and use, you first need to spend a lot.
Scientists from the Research Center for Applied Geomechanics and Convergent Mining Technologies at the NUST MISIS Mining College have proposed a new solution for the key mining challenges associated with safety, efficiency and environmental friendliness - creation of sustainable honeycomb mine structures underground. This technology is a part of the innovative nature-like (convergent) and functional subsoil development, which allows a major reduction in the volume of waste rock storage on the Earth's surface, and enables a scale-down in the rate of industrial accidents and injuries of mine personnel.
"This technique is a part of a system in which interaction between the nature and technology is organized according to the principle of co-evolution of antagonistic systems in the theory put forward by Academician Nikita Moiseyev, that is, the dialectically contradictory co-development," said Project Manager, Director of the Center and Professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vitaly Eremenko. "This approach implicates mining using analogs of natural processes distinguished by maximum safety, practicality and wastelessness."
In particular, the Center's research team is developing the technology of "honeycomb" underground mining without large-scale blasting and with extraction of ore from vertical "pipes" drilled underground. The created system of drill holes is a very stable mine structure, similar to the structure of a porous human bone bearing load, a cereal stalk, etc.
The system allows reducing the loss of minerals left in pillars during mining from 50-60% to 15-25%. At the same time, it is convenient to store mining waste in these mined-out voids without lifting it to the surface, vice a verse, other waste from the earth's surface can be placed underground. This "honeycomb" concept is actively used by aircraft designers, architects and builders. It provides the necessary structural strength with a minimum amount of material spent.
"Nature never leaves waste, but carefully selects and restores everything. Industrial waste is normally a man's "prerogative". Unfortunately, man is currently destroying the Earth by leaps and bounds, and it may soon become not green, but a different color," stressed Vitaly Eremenko.
Firstly, this method of mining significantly reduces effective stresses in rock mass, respectively minimizing the risk of rockburst and unpredictable strains and displacements in rocks. As a result, the number of accidents in mines can be largely cut down.
Secondly, thanks to the new technology the large-scale waste rock dumps formed during development of the lithosphere may become a thing of the past. The mines applying this technology will reduce waste storage on the surface by 100%.
The project has been supported by a grant from the Russian Science Foundation and is currently at the stage of basic research. The scientists carry out laboratory tests of physical models of any complexity mine structures using 3D modeling methods, and also create and validate standard versions of other convergent geotechnologies for underground mining of mineral deposits of any geological types.
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Libération / 14 octobre 2020
Catastrophe écologique au Kamtchatka : les fonds-marins dévastés, l’origine de la pollution en questions
С начала октября у берегов Камчатки наблюдается массовая гибель морских животных. Эксперты говорят об экологической катастрофе. Основных версий произошедшего три: утечка пестицидов с закрытого полигона ядохимикатов, ракетное топливо с какого-то военного объекта, токсичные микроводоросли рода Gymnodinium.
Depuis le début du mois, une catastrophe écologique touche la côte pacifique de la péninsule de Kamtchatka en Russie. Des amoncellements de carcasses d’animaux et une destruction de la biodiversité sous-marine ont été constatés.
Poulpes, phoques et oursins… Des tonnes de carcasses d’animaux marins ont été retrouvées sur la côte de la baie d’Avatcha depuis début octobre, dans la péninsule de Kamtchatka, située à l’extrême orient de la Russie, comme le montrent les images publiées par l’école de surf Snowave ou celles diffusées par Greenpeace Russie. Fin septembre, des surfeurs de la baie d’Avatcha ont commencé à témoigner de symptômes désagréables : douleurs aux yeux ou encore à la gorge. Certains habitants de la péninsule ont souffert de brûlures cornéennes ou de vomissements au contact de l’eau ou à proximité.
A l’origine de ces blessures et morts massives : une longue nappe compacte d’une substance mousseuse observée le long de la côte. D’une longueur de 40 kilomètres et de 30 à 100 mètres de large, celle-ci se «déplace progressivement vers le sud», selon le communiqué d'un laboratoire de biologie de l’Université fédérale d’Extrême-Orient, publié jeudi 8 octobre. Les conséquences écologiques semblent à première vue catastrophiques. «A une profondeur de 10 à 15 mètres, il y a une mort massive de benthos (organismes vivant au fond des mers), 95% sont morts», a déclaré Ivan Oussatov, chercheur à l’Institut de géographie du Pacifique, cité dans un communiqué officiel.
Pollution industrielle ?
Les autorités russes ont d’abord émis la possibilité qu’il s’agisse d’un phénomène «d’origine naturelle» comme l’avait évoqué la semaine dernière le ministre russe de l’Ecologie, Dmitry Kobylkin. Finalement, une enquête a été ouverte pour «violation des règles de gestion des substances et déchets dangereux pour l’environnement» et de «pollution marine».
Deux hypothèses ont été initialement formulées alors que des taux de phénol et de produits pétroliers bien supérieurs à ceux autorisés ont été observés dans les relevés d’eau. La pollution, écrivent certains médias russes, semblait provenir d’une décharge de produits chimiques fermée depuis 2010 et où seraient entreposées 108 tonnes de pesticides, selon Greenpeace. D’autres ont avancé l’hypothèse d’une fuite de carburant de fusée extrêmement toxique, l’heptyle, provenant peut-être d’une installation militaire, une possibilité écartée jeudi par le gouverneur de la région.
Lundi, les scientifiques de l’Académie des sciences de Russie ont rejeté l’origine industrielle du phénomène. «Je suis sûr que nous sommes confrontés à un phénomène naturel à assez grande échelle, mais pas rare pour le Kamtchatka», a déclaré lors d’une conférence de presse le vice-président de l’Académie, Andreï Adrianov. L’empoisonnement des animaux serait lié à la prolifération de microalgues toxiques «du type Gymnodinium», a précisé le chercheur.
Série de désastres
Les doutes demeurent pourtant. Si la présence de ces microalgues est apparemment confirmée, l’origine de leur prolifération, ainsi que la présence d’autres substances à des niveaux bien supérieurs à ceux autorisés, n’est pas identifiée. «Certains résultats extrêmement importants font défaut, comme les tests de laboratoire sur les tissus et les organes d’animaux morts. Les matériaux collectés n’ont pas été testés pour les pesticides», dit Vladimir Chouprov, directeur du projet de Greenpeace Russie. L’ONG présente à Petropavlovsk-Kamtchatsky, située dans la baie d’Avatcha, a lancé ses propres recherches à l’aide d’un drone sous-marin pour examiner le fond de l’océan. «Nous ne sommes toujours pas sûrs qu’il s’agit d’un phénomène d’origine naturelle et continuons nos recherches», complète Ira Kozlovskikh, attachée de presse de l’ONG.
Alors que les questions d’écologie ne sont pas au cœur des préoccupations des autorités, cette catastrophe s’inscrit dans une série de désastres récents, comme la fuite de 21 000 tonnes de carburant en Arctique, provoquée par l’affaissement d’un réservoir d’une centrale thermique du groupe Norilsk Nickel en mai dernier.
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Science X / October 14th, 2020
SUSU Researchers Creating a Map of Migration through the South Ural Region in the Bronze Age
Ученые Южно-Уральского государственного университета работают над масштабной картой путей миграции древних людей по территории Южного Урала в бронзовом веке. В дальнейшем методику можно будет использовать и для других территорий.
Researchers from South Ural State University are investigating how groups moved across the territory of the South Ural region in the Bronze Age, and where individuals came from.
The university received a grant to develop a big project which will make it possible to follow the migration of ancient people and will become the foundation for future research in this field for different territories. The project is headed by the lead researcher of the Eurasian Studies Research and Education Centre, Doctor of Sciences (History) Andrey Epimakhov.
- The Russian Science Foundation supported the project "Migration of human collectives and individual mobility in the framework of multidisciplinary analysis of archaeological information (Bronze Age of South Ural)". Please, tell us about this project.
- Mobility is a quality inherent to humanity, one of the main mechanisms of its adaptation. We can say that we are not only homo sapiens but also homo mobilis. However, very little is known about human migrations today. And within this project, we intend to determine how the population moved within a relatively small area, the Chelyabinsk Region.
Migrations have occurred in every historical period and continue to occur, but we have chosen the Bronze Age for our study. The fact is that this epoch is the most well researched one in the South Urals, which means that we will have more objects for analysis.
At the same time, the team is faced with the task of creating a tool to diagnose the degree of mobility in the past, as well as developing the methodological aspect for future studies.
- What is the essence of the tool for diagnosing the movement of peoples?
- The tool is a basic map on which we can "superimpose" the samples found during excavations to determine how they appeared in the area being investigated. Due to the very complex geological structure of the Urals, it is easier to investigate this question. After all, rocks affect the microelement composition of water, soil, plants, animals, and humans. And if the composition does not coincide with the local composition, we will be able to analyze which territory it is closer to.
- Have such studies been conducted before?
- Yes, researchers in Europe, Central, and South America already have experience in these studies. In Russia, initial research has been conducted in the North Caucasus. Several dozens of samples were taken for study there. In our case, we are talking about several hundred samples. We will have a much more detailed and accurate picture. The task is not just to prove that this approach works, but also to show how the population of the region moved.
- What is the relevance of this project?
- Scientists have been discussing large migrations for more than 200 years. We do not have a complete picture of the spread of languages and different races in the past. Specifically, with the Bronze Age, there are actually no peoples that have survived since then. Therefore, scientists propose hypotheses and try to prove them. The more tools the researchers have, the more reliable their conclusions will be. Our work will provide such a tool.
- What is the work within this project based on?
- The methodology of our project is based on the work done by our foreign archaeology colleagues. They have more experience in studying migration and a fundamentally different survey of territories. Maps, which we have yet to create, they obtained decades ago. We intend to adopt this useful experience to avoid mistakes. We will also build on the research completed by Russian geologists and geochemists in the study of the North Caucasus and the Urals. It is important to note that we do not need to contact foreign specialists to work with equipment. We have our own hardware, and all our equipment is of world-class. This means that our results will be in line with the world standards and will be in demand among our colleagues.
- Who are you working on the project with?
- We created a Urals collaboration that brings together different organizations to work on this project. The efforts of the Institute of Mineralogy of the Ural Division of Russian Academy of Sciences in Miass; the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow; and the Zavaritsky Institute of Geology and Geochemistry of the Ural Division of Russian Academy of Sciences, Ekaterinburg. Our research requires the synthesis of different information, which is why our team involves cooperation between archaeologists, geochemists, and geologists.
- What are the practical applications of the results of your work?
- Archaeology is trying to recreate the diversity of life in its entirety. The level of knowledge available to us has been reflected in the eight-volume work History of the Southern Urals. Now we are moving to a new level, creating the basis for a large number of our research projects and the work of other specialists.
If our tool will be competently methodically composed, this work can be translated to any territory: the Altai or Volga regions, or Central Kazakhstan... As soon as we are able to cover a large area with this network, we will stop arguing about the origin of different peoples and learn who came to the investigated territory and from where, and who is a native.
- Are the results of the research conducted within the project being prepared for publication now?
- Several scientific articles related to this topic will be published in 2020 and 2021. We are preparing the results of research on the diet of ancient people for publication. We performed radiocarbon dating and investigated the isotopic composition of bones in order to determine what the buried Bronze Age representatives were eating a few years before their burial. This information is stored in the bones and teeth. Within the same group, a difference in these indicators was noticed, and we were working on determining the reasons for these differences.
At the same time, we completed a study on tooth plaque. Microelements are stored in plaque, which can also be used to diagnose what a person ate. The microelement composition makes it possible to trace their connection with the local area. The project was fulfilled in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute in Germany.
- Are there any other new projects in which SUSU archaeologists are participating?
- Yes, the second project is supported by a Ministry of Science and Higher Education state assignment. It involves the study of the development of global and local world-system for the territory of the South Urals. American scientist Immanuel Wallerstein believed that the world-system emerged in the 14th-16th centuries, but this cannot happen without ancient origins. It is possible that world-system, i.e. the sum of material world connections, originated in the Bronze Age. We must determine what kind of connections were present in the South Urals during this period, and how the local system relates to the global system. This project is more historical than archaeological, so SUSU historians will be the ones to decide.
South Ural State University is a university of digital transformations, where innovative research in most priority fields of science and technology is conducted. In accordance with the strategies for scientific and technological development of the Russian Federation, the university is focused on the development of major scientific and interdisciplinary projects in the digital industry, materials science, and ecology. Within these directions, SUSU researchers are investigating the objects of metallurgy, mechanical engineering, power engineering, housing and communal services, the safety of urban infrastructure, and human comfort.
SUSU is a participant of Project 5-100, the goal of which is to enhance the competitiveness of Russian universities among the world's leading research and education centres.
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Medical Xpress / October 15, 2020
Researchers question the existence of the social brain as a separate system
Коллектив российских нейропсихологов, нейробиологов и рентгенологов поставил под сомнение существование так называемого социального мозга (гипотетическая сеть различных областей мозга, ответственных за взаимодействие с другими людьми) как отдельной системы. Исследование с применением фМРТ показало, что при решении задач в группе социальные компоненты мозга дополнительно активируются, но не синхронизируются, т. е. не образуют единую сеть.
A team of Russian researchers with the participation of a leading researcher at HSE University, Ekaterina Pechenkova, found that during group problem solving the components of the social brain are co-activated, but they do not increase their coupling during cooperation as would be suggested for a holistic network. The study was published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Social neuroscience studies examine the "social brain", a hypothetical network of different areas of the brain responsible for interacting with other people.
In this science, the brain of a person is most often studied while the person observes interactions between others without taking part in them themselves. This is due to the complexity of conducting experiments with active communication. Modern equipment for studying the brain is not adapted to situations in which a person can freely move and talk during the scanning process.
Meanwhile, in experiments with passive observation of others, it is possible to detect only individual components of the social brain. It is not possible to view the network as a whole as it functions.In order to better understand the network, researchers must be able to observe subjects as they engage in tasks that are more complex and closer to those they encounter in real life - such as group problem solving.
One such study was carried out by a team of Russian scientists from institutions including the Research Institute of Neuropsychology of Speech and Writing (Moscow) and the Federal Center of Treatment and Rehabilitation of the Russian Ministry of Health. The study involved 24 teams of 3 people, who were recruited from among Moscow players of the "What? Where? When?" quiz game. In the study, participants had to solve Raven-like matrix problems both in small groups and individually.
The study lasted four hours and consisted of two parts that each contained 60 problems. When solving the problems as a group, each team completed both a practice session in a classroom and a scanning session, in which one subject was placed in an MRI scanner while their two teammates sat next to them on each side. Group and individual tasks alternated. The individual task was solved only by one team member, who was in the MRI machine in the second part of the experiment. The participants had about 40 seconds to solve each matrix. On average, teams solved 44 out of 60 problems correctly, while those working individually solved only 34 problems.
The study showed that when solving problems as a group, as opposed to individually, the social brain components described in the literature are additionally co-activated but not synchronized. In other words, they do not form a holistic, jointly working system. However, a readjustment occurs in the interaction between the brain's basic networks: the researchers observed a decreasing connectivity between the language and the salience networks in the group vs. individual activity conditions. The scientists have yet to figure out why these particular networks are reconfigured during social interaction.The components of the social brain include areas such as the medial prefrontal cortex, the pole of the temporal lobe, the temporoparietal junction, the precuneus, and other areas. Studies confirm that these zones are co-activated when various social stimuli are presented, such as photographs or descriptions of how people interact with others.
In addition, when people work together, structures of the so-called 'default' mode network became more involved. This observation may support the fact that it is easier to solve problems in a group setting, because less personal cognitive effort is required.
"Another explanation is that the default network is by no means passive and provides the processes necessary for cooperative communication," says HSE researcher Ekaterina Pechenkova, one of the study authors. "These supposed functions of the zones involved in the default network include, first of all, the ability to mentalize, or to understand that other people have thoughts and experiences, as well as to reflect on their own thoughts and feelings."
The study involving players of the quiz game What? Where? When? allowed the researchers to examine the work of the brain during social interaction from a different perspective, and it also demonstrates the possibility of using more complex problems that are closer to those encountered in real life activities for neuroscientific experiments.
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Deccan Herald / Oct 16 2020
Siberian scientists breeding foxes for pets eye human link
Репортаж из новосибирского Академгородка о жизни одомашненных лис, результате эксперимента, начатого в 1959 г. Дмитрием Беляевым.
Soaking up the sun in their garden, Sergei Abramov and his wife Tatiana are playing with their furry pet, Plombir, who is wagging his tail and winning treats for obeying his owners' commands. But Plombir, whose white fur matches the colour of the beloved Soviet ice cream he was named after, is not Abramov's canine best friend. He is actually a fox, bred by Russian scientists as part of a decades-long experiment in Siberia to study how wild animals are domesticated. Plombir is happy to be led around by his owners on a leash, but, as he pulls towards chickens safe in their cage, it's clear he hasn't lost all his animal instincts.
"Yes, he already tried to eat our chickens and run away," says Abramov, 32, who lives in the suburbs of Russia's third-largest city Novosibirsk. His wife, biologist Tatiana Abramova, 33, admits she always wanted to live with a fox. She concedes that Plombir is "friendly and kind" but not very obedient. "He jumps on tables, or jumps inside the fridge. He steals things and hides them," she says.
Such an energetic animal is better suited to living outdoors, the couple have decided, and they set aside a spacious nook in their garden as Plombir's home. He enjoys being stroked, he can do tricks and is always eager to play - unlikely characteristics for most foxes, but not surprising given that he and his ancestors were bred by scientists to be friendly pets.
In 1959, Soviet geneticists Dmitry Belyaev and Ludmila Trut launched the experiment on a farm in the Akademgorodok scientific research centre near Novosibirsk. Their goal was to tame foxes and understand how these ancestors of wolves evolved into the loyal and loving dogs we know now. For decades, researchers at the farm have selected the most friendly animals for breeding. Others were put down and a small number were sold as pets.
This artificial selection "changes everything in their body", said Yuri Gerbek, one of around 15 scientists working at the centre that is home to almost 1,000 foxes. In particular, this rigid selection has altered foxes' pigment and shortened their muzzles. "We are trying to understand which genes change and how they change," Gerbek explained. He added that the team keeps wild as well as tamed foxes "for comparison". Yet due to a lack of funding, the animals are kept in old and rusting cages.
Belyaev died in 1985 and the experiment was nearly shuttered over a lack of funding during the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the economic crisis that followed. It survived however and has even won international attention since the emergence of DNA sequencing techniques that made it possible to study the foxes' genetic code.
"The interest of the scientific community remains very strong," US geneticist Adam Wilkins told AFP.
That is particularly true since the team is studying the effects of domestication on foxes' brains and in particular their levels of oxytocin, known as the love hormone. Studies have shown that oxytocin nurtures protective behaviour, empathy and feelings of love, and it could play a key role in rendering foxes better pets. But the experiment might also offer a window into human evolution - in particular an existing theory that our human ancestors domesticated themselves, Wilkins says.
It is an apt comparison "because many of the changes that domesticated foxes have undergone look like possible related changes in human evolution," says Wilkins. "Important discoveries are yet to be made," he added.
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PR Newswire / Oct 19, 2020
Scientists discover new remarkable materials properties at ultrahigh pressure
Международный коллектив российских, шведских и немецких ученых обнаружил, что некоторые материалы при сверхвысоких давлениях не уплотняются, а, вопреки законам физики и химии, становятся более пористыми. Это произошло с образцами гафния, вольфрама и осмия, помещенными в алмазную наковальню с подачей азота и под давлением миллион атмосфер. В результате некоторые атомы азота образовали нечто вроде каркаса, что позволило кристаллической решетке расшириться.
An international team of scientists from NUST MISIS (Russia), Linköping University (Sweden) and University of Bayreuth (Germany) found that, contrary to the usual physical and chemical laws, the structure of some materials does not condense at ultrahigh pressures. Actually, it forms a porous framework filled with gas molecules. This happened with samples of Os, Hf, and W put together with N in a diamond anvil at a pressure of one million atmospheres. The discovery is described in Angewandte Chemie.
"You can transform a pencil lead into diamond if you squeeze it very hard" - this fact heard by many of us in childhood sounded like a complete nonsense. However, science laws make it clear that there is no miracle: both pencil lead and diamond are formed by the same chemical element, i.e. carbon, which actually forms a different crystal structure under very high pressure. It makes sense: ar pressure the empty space between atoms decreases and the material becomes denser. Until recently, this statement could be applied to any material.
It turned out that a number of materials can become porous at ultrahigh pressure. Such a conclusion was made by a group of scientists from NUST MISIS (Russia), Linköping University (Sweden) and University of Bayreuth (Germany). The team examined three metals (hafnium Hf, tungsten W, and osmium Os) with an addition of N when placed in a diamond anvil at a pressure of 1 million atmospheres, which corresponds to a pressure at a depth of 2.5 thousand kilometers underground. Scientists believe that it was the combination of pressure and nitrogen N that influenced the formation of a porous framework in the crystal lattice.
"Nitrogen itself is quite inert and without ultrahigh pressure it would not react with these metals in any way. Materials without nitrogen would simply condense in a diamond anvil. However, a combination gave an amazing result: some of the nitrogen atoms formed a kind of reinforcing framework in the materials, allowing the formation of pores in the crystal lattice. Consequently, additional nitrogen molecules entered the space," said Professor Igor Abrikosov, head of the theoretical research group and NUST MISIS Laboratory for the Modeling and Development of New Materials.
The experiment was initially conducted physically by Sweden and German part of the group, and then its results were confirmed by theoretical modeling on NUST MISIS supercomputer. Scientists emphasize that the research is fundamental, i.e. materials with such properties are not yet created for specific tasks. At the moment, the very fact that previously unthinkable modifications of materials can be obtained is important.
A whole new step will be to preserve such materials at normal atmospheric pressure. In one of the previous works, scientists managed to preserve a special modification of rhenium nitride. Currently, rapid cooling to critical low temperatures is considered as one of the ways to stabilize new materials.
The work of the research team is marked as "Hot Paper" by the editorial board of Angewandte Chemie, and an illustration from the article is placed on the back cover. The research is supported by the Russian Science Foundation (Project No. 18-12-00492)
Copyright © 2020 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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Study Finds / October 20, 2020
Scientists improve process that could make nuclear power eco-friendly
Ученые Дальневосточного федерального университета и Озерского технологического института усовершенствовали технологию извлечения тория из монацитового концентрата. Новый метод позволяет выделить до 90% тория, который может использоваться в ядерной энергетике, будучи более безопасным и экологичным, чем уран и плутоний.
Nuclear power and environmentally friendly are two terms that don’t usually go hand-in-hand. Scientists in Russia however say they have improved the technology which allows these powerful reactors to make energy from the element thorium. Doing so may make it possible to create nuclear energy without producing harmful nuclear waste.
The team from Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) and Ozersk Technological Institute say this less radioactive element is much safer than the classic nuclear processes based on uranium and plutonium. The improved process focuses on extracting thorium and other rare earth elements (REEs) from a monazite concentrate. These concentrates hold a collection of minerals including thorium, uranium, phosphate, and rare metal oxides.
The Russian researchers report their work has optimized the mechanics behind extracting and then grinding these elements into a solution. Once the new process is complete and the elements are purified, researchers say 90 percent of the uranium and thorium and 100 percent of the REEs are freed from the monazite.
The future of nuclear power?
Study authors say this is particularly important because thorium is a resource many countries can take advantage of without many of the fears that come with nuclear pollution.
"Unlike uranium mineral products, the mineral commodities of thorium are found in abundance both in the Russian Federation and all over the world. A shift to the thorium-uranium cycle would secure the environmentally friendly development of the nuclear industry because this technology does not lead to the accumulation of nuclear waste," Prof. Ivan Tananaev of FEFU says in a media release.
"Moreover, as it claimed in scientific papers, with thorium-based fuel elements adoption, the nuclear core can be reduced by two to three times with no losses in the energy output. Also, according to this scenario, the reactor can be operated continuously for an estimated 50 years without fuel reloading."
The team adds that this breakthrough could mean major changes for nations like Russia, who are looking to modernize their economies. Not only does thorium offer a cleaner option for the nuclear industry, the study finds the element may have other benefits too. Those include making use of other REEs extracted from the monazite processing and using the phosphate as a fertilizer in agriculture work.
The study appears in the journal Energies.
© 2020 41 Pushups, LLC.
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Times Now / Oct 24, 2020
5,000-year-old skull of "unlucky" man who underwent failed brain surgery discovered
Обнаруженный в Крыму антропологами Института археологии РАН череп возрастом 5 тысяч лет носит следы прижизненной трепанации. Несмотря на то, что трепанация была проведена умело, а выживаемость после таких операций была довольно высока даже в древности, пациент возрастом около 20 лет ее не перенес.
"This young man was unlucky. Despite the fact that the survival rate after trepanation was very high even in ancient times, he apparently died shortly after the surgery," Dr Maria Dobrovolskaya said.
A 5000-year-old skull of a man who underwent ancient brain surgery and most probably died from it has been discovered by a team of Russian archaeologists.
Incredible 3D images from Crimea show traces of trepanation on the Bronze Age man who was in his 20s. The researchers said that the surgery was not successful and the "unlucky" patient lived only for a short duration after undergoing a stone 'scalpel'.
"The ancient 'doctor' definitely had a "surgical set" of stone tools," the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, was quoted as saying by Daily Mail.
The dimensions of the trepanation were 140 × 125 millimetres.
Dr Maria Dobrovolskaya, head of the Laboratory of Contextual Anthropology, said, "This young man was unlucky. Despite the fact that the survival rate after trepanation was very high even in ancient times, he apparently died shortly after the surgery."
She explained, "This is evidenced by the absence of obvious traces of healing. Traces of a trepanation instrument are clearly visible on the surface of the bone. Paradoxically, this is a rarity, since most people in ancient times survived safely even after several trepanations."
The 5000-year-old skull was found a skeleton in a deep grave in a burial mound dating to the Scythian time.
"Judging by the position of the bones, the body of the deceased was carefully laid on its back, slightly turned on its left side, the legs were strongly bent at the knees and turned to the left," the institute said. "Large fragments of red pigment were found near the head and on the vault of the skull."
Two flint arrowheads were buried with the ancient man.
Experts believe that trepanation was done for both surgical and ritual purposes in ancient times. At times, it may have been to "change a person's nature".
In ancient times, brain surgery may have been conducted to ease severe headaches, cure a haematoma, repair skull injuries or seek to overcome epilepsy.
Russian research indicates that prehistoric medics conducting primitive procedures of this type used cannabis, magic mushrooms as anaesthetics to dull the pain. Even Shamanic practices like ecstatic dancing may have also been used.
© Bennett Coleman & Company Limited.
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The Guardian / Wed 28 Oct 2020
Arctic methane deposits starting to release, scientists find
Exclusive: expedition discovers new source of greenhouse gas off East Siberian coast has been triggered
Экспедиция в рамках российско-шведской программы по изучению шельфа Восточной Сибири в Северном Ледовитом океане пришла к предварительным выводам, что в море Лаптевых начали высвобождаться залежи замороженного метана. Наиболее вероятная причина - вторжение теплых атлантических течений в восточную часть Арктики.
Scientists have found evidence that frozen methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean - known as the "sleeping giants of the carbon cycle" - have started to be released over a large area of the continental slope off the East Siberian coast, the Guardian can reveal.
High levels of the potent greenhouse gas have been detected down to a depth of 350 metres in the Laptev Sea near Russia, prompting concern among researchers that a new climate feedback loop may have been triggered that could accelerate the pace of global heating.
The slope sediments in the Arctic contain a huge quantity of frozen methane and other gases - known as hydrates. Methane has a warming effect 80 times stronger than carbon dioxide over 20 years. The United States Geological Survey has previously listed Arctic hydrate destabilisation as one of four most serious scenarios for abrupt climate change.
The international team onboard the Russian research ship R/V Akademik Keldysh said most of the bubbles were currently dissolving in the water but methane levels at the surface were four to eight times what would normally be expected and this was venting into the atmosphere.
"At this moment, there is unlikely to be any major impact on global warming, but the point is that this process has now been triggered. This East Siberian slope methane hydrate system has been perturbed and the process will be ongoing," said the Swedish scientist &OUML;rjan Gustafsson, of Stockholm University, in a satellite call from the vessel.
The scientists - who are part of a multi-year International Shelf Study Expedition - stressed their findings were preliminary. The scale of methane releases will not be confirmed until they return, analyse the data and have their studies published in a peer-reviewed journal.
But the discovery of potentially destabilised slope frozen methane raises concerns that a new tipping point has been reached that could increase the speed of global heating.
The Arctic is considered ground zero in the debate about the vulnerability of frozen methane deposits in the ocean.
With the Arctic temperature now rising more than twice as fast as the global average, the question of when - or even whether - they will be released into the atmosphere has been a matter of considerable uncertainty in climate computer models.
The 60-member team on the Akademik Keldysh believe they are the first to observationally confirm the methane release is already under way across a wide area of the slope about 600km offshore.
At six monitoring points over a slope area 150km in length and 10km wide, they saw clouds of bubbles released from sediment.
At one location on the Laptev Sea slope at a depth of about 300 metres they found methane concentrations of up to 1,600 nanomoles per litre, which is 400 times higher than would be expected if the sea and the atmosphere were in equilibrium.
Igor Semiletov, of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who is the chief scientist onboard, said the discharges were "significantly larger" than anything found before. "The discovery of actively releasing shelf slope hydrates is very important and unknown until now," he said. "This is a new page. Potentially they can have serious climate consequences, but we need more study before we can confirm that."
The most likely cause of the instability is an intrusion of warm Atlantic currents into the east Arctic. This "Atlantification" is driven by human-induced climate disruption.
The latest discovery potentially marks the third source of methane emissions from the region. Semiletov, who has been studying this area for two decades, has previously reported the gas is being released from the shelf of the Arctic - the biggest of any sea.
For the second year in a row, his team have found crater-like pockmarks in the shallower parts of the Laptev Sea and East Siberian Sea that are discharging bubble jets of methane, which is reaching the sea surface at levels tens to hundreds of times higher than normal. This is similar to the craters and sinkholes reported from inland Siberian tundra earlier this autumn.
Temperatures in Siberia were 5C higher than average from January to June this year, an anomaly that was made at least 600 times more likely by human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and methane. Last winter’s sea ice melted unusually early. This winter’s freeze has yet to begin, already a later start than at any time on record.
© 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
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News-Medical.net / Oct 29 2020
Biophysicists develop computer model that shows effect of antiseptics on bacterial membranes
- Reviewed by Emily Henderson
Российские биофизики разработали компьютерную модель, демонстрирующую действие антисептиков на бактериальные мембраны. Оказалось, что они не разрушают мембраны, а вызывают изменения в их структуре, что ослабляет бактерии и делает их более восприимчивыми к неблагоприятным внешним факторам.
A team of biophysics from leading Russian research and educational institutions (MSU, RUDN University, and the Federal Research and Clinical Center of the Federal Medical-Biological Agency of Russia) developed a computer model that shows the effect of antiseptics on bacterial membranes.
The common concepts regarding the mode of action of antiseptics turned out to be incorrect: instead of destroying bacterial membranes, they cause changes in their structure. These changes make the bacteria weaker and more susceptible to adverse external factors. The results of the study were published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry.
Antiseptics are chemical agents that affect the internal processes or external structures of harmful microorganisms causing them to die. For example, alcohols break down important building and regulation blocks of bacteria and viruses.
Other antiseptics target the integrity of bacterial membranes. They are effectively used against a wide range of pathogens, but their mode of action remains elusive. Scientists are aware of some general patterns, such as the presence of electrically charged particles in the molecules of antiseptic agents.
The team developed a computer model of a bacterial membrane and found out the mechanism of the antiseptic activity. The results of the study can help to combat bacterial resistance.
The scientists developed a model of a bacterial membrane and put the molecules of four antiseptics (miramistin, chlorhexidine, picloxydine, and octenidine) on it. All these substances are cationic antiseptics, i.e. their molecules are positively charged.
However, to the researchers' surprise, the antiseptics failed to damage the membrane and just slightly changed its structure. Even when the ratio of antiseptics to membrane lipids was increased from 1/24 to 1/4, the membrane was not destroyed.
The destruction of the membrane took place only when an external electric field (with the intensity of 150 mV/nm) was added to the model. The membrane started to restructure, and pores began to form around the molecules of the antiseptics.
Then, water got into them and made them bigger; and eventually, the membrane was torn apart. This was because the membrane became thinner around positively charged molecules: the molecules of the membrane had no charge and therefore were pushed away. An uneven membrane became more susceptible to adverse external factors, which led to the death of the cell.
"We studied the reaction of the model membrane to several cationic antiseptics and found out that structural changes in the membrane in the presence of an electrical field play a key role in the formation of pores. We plan to use this model to predict the effect of existing and new antiseptics on different microorganisms," added professor Ilya Kovalenko, Ph.D., Doctor of Science in Physics and Mathematics, working under Project 5-100 at RUDN University.
AZoNetwork, © 2000-2020.
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Mirage News / October 29, 2020
Atmospheric analysis will find fires quickly
Ученые Томского государственного университета и Института оптики атмосферы СО РАН выявили характеристики атмосферы, которые помогут на ранней стадии обнаруживать отдаленные - «загоризонтные» - природные пожары. Для этого не требуется специальных устройств, достаточно тех, что уже используются: вышки сотовой связи, станции метеорологического наблюдения и др.
Scientists at the TSU Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics and the Institute of Atmospheric Optics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences have found characteristics of the atmosphere that will help to detect remote - over-the-horizon - field fires at an early stage. These parameters can be recorded using infrastructure that is already available at monitoring posts - cell towers, ground stations for meteorological observation, and others. TSU used these data to develop a system for early fire detection, which will minimize the forces and the aviation-based forest protection needed to search for new fires and fight them.
Fires affect the atmosphere through intense heat release during combustion, which affects the temperature, air humidity, wind speed, and turbulence parameters, and also through the release of combustion products. Gas analysis is a rather complicated process requiring expensive equipment. Therefore, scientists were faced with the task of identifying signs that clearly indicate a fire, and at the same time can be detected using available instruments.
In the course of semi-natural experiments, scientists discovered characteristic signs of a natural fire that can be recorded at a considerable distance. They are connected with the turbulence of the free atmosphere directly next to the flame and with gaseous combustion products and aerosols.
"Volatile components occur inside turbulent vortices that are formed inside the flame. These turbulent structures rise due to the force of Archimedes, expand, and then disintegrate. The process is accompanied by the release of energy, which leads to the turbulence of the free atmosphere in the vicinity of the flame. And as it turned out, as a result of measurements, this turbulence is registered at a considerable distance from the combustion center", says Yegor Loboda, Doctor of Physics and Mathematics, head of the Department of Physical and Computational Mechanics of the TSU Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics.
Using the data, scientists have developed a system for early fire detection, which is now at the stage of patenting. The system is based on a comprehensive analysis of atmospheric characteristics (gas and aerosol composition, meteorological parameters, turbulence, and others) and uses the existing engineering infrastructure. This approach avoids a number of disadvantages that satellite monitoring and other existing fire detection systems have. The integration of the proposed fire detection system with satellite monitoring methods will significantly improve the accuracy of fire detection with the elimination of false signals.
"Our development helps to find remote fires, which ultimately will lead to minimizing the costs of searching for new fires and fighting them. It also helps to use the results of monitoring a distributed network of sensors at the post of an emergency duty officer on duty, in situational centers, and integrate them into complex geographic information systems, for example, in the Geoportal of TSU", says Yegor Loboda.
Scientists add that the system can be used throughout Russia for early fire detection, rapid response, and extinguishment at a stage before the fire has increased to an extreme scale.
© Mirage.News 2020.
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Science / Oct. 29, 2020
How dogs tracked their humans across the ancient world
Коллектив ученых из 20 стран, включая Россию, опубликовал в журнале Science масштабное исследование, посвященное ранней истории собак. Выделив 27 наборов древних собачьих ДНК и добавив их к 5 уже имеющимся, ученые сопоставили их с 17 геномами людей, живших в те же времена и в тех же местах. Результаты оказались неожиданными. Получилось, что все собаки имеют общую родословную, восходящую к одной, ныне вымершей популяции волков на какой-то одной территории - это противоречит прежним гипотезам, согласно которым собак приручали в нескольких местах одновременно. Около 11 тысяч лет назад собаки разделились на 5 подвидов и начали распространяться по миру.
Sometime toward the end of the last ice age, a gray wolf gingerly approached a human encampment. Those first tentative steps set his species on the path to a dramatic transformation: By at least 15,000 years ago, those wolves had become dogs, and neither they nor their human companions would ever be the same. But just how this relationship evolved over the ensuing millennia has been a mystery. Now, in the most comprehensive comparison yet of ancient dog and human DNA, scientists are starting to fill in some of the blanks, revealing where dogs and humans traveled together - and where they may have parted ways.
"It’s a really cool study," says Wolfgang Haak, an archaeogeneticist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. "We’re finally starting to see how the dog story and the human story match up."
Dogs are one of the biggest enigmas of domestication. Despite decades of study, scientists still haven’t figured out when or where they arose, much less how or why it happened. A 2016 study concluded that dogs may have been domesticated twice, once in Asia and once in Europe or the Near East, but critics said there wasn’t enough evidence to be sure. A few years later, researchers reported signs of dogs in the Americas as early as 10,000 years ago, yet those canines appear to have vanished without a genetic trace. Other studies have found evidence of ancient dogs in Siberia and elsewhere, but scientists don’t know how they got there or how they’re related.
To fill in some of the blanks, two big names in dog and human genetics teamed up: Greger Larson, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford, and Pontus Skoglund, a paleogenomicist at the Francis Crick Institute. Larsen, Skoglund, and colleagues sifted through more than 2000 sets of ancient dog remains dating back nearly 11,000 years from Europe, Siberia, and the Near East. In the process, they added 27 ancient dog genomes to the five already on record. They then compared those with the genomes of 17 humans living in the same places and times as the dogs.
The dog DNA alone revealed some surprises. As early as 11,000 years ago, there were already five distinct dog lineages; these gave rise to canines in the Near East, northern Europe, Siberia, New Guinea, and the Americas, the team reports today in Science. Because dogs had already diversified so much by that time, "domestication had to occur long before then," Skoglund says. That fits with archaeological evidence: The oldest definitive dog remains come from Germany about 15,000 to 16,000 years ago.
Remarkably, pieces of these ancient lineages are still present in today’s pooches. Chihuahuas can trace some of their ancestry to early American dogs, for example, whereas Huskies sport genetic signatures of ancient Siberian dogs, the team found. "If you see a bunch of different dogs in a dog park," Skoglund says, "they may all have different ancestries that trace all the way back 11,000 years".
When the researchers compared their dog DNA with modern and ancient wolf DNA, they got another surprise. Most domesticated animals pick up genetic material from their wild relatives - even after domestication - because the two species often live in close proximity and can still mate (think pigs and wild boars). But dogs show no such "gene flow" from wolves. Instead, the wolves gained new DNA from the dogs - a one-way street.
Larson chalks this up to the intimate relationship between dogs and humans. If your pig or chicken becomes a bit wilder thanks to an infusion of feral DNA, it doesn’t matter, because you’re going to eat them anyway, he explains. But dogs that go native make bad guards, hunting companions, and friends. "If you’re a dog and you have a bit of wolf in you, that’s terrible," Larson says. People will "get rid of the dog."
The wolf-dog analysis also suggests dogs evolved only once, from a now-extinct wolf population. Still, Larson, who led the 2016 study on multiple domestication events, says more data are needed to seal the deal.
Then the scientists brought humans into the mix. They selected human DNA samples from the same places and eras for which they had ancient canine DNA, and traced the genetic history of each. "It’s like you have an ancient text in two different languages, and you’re looking to see how both languages have changed over time," Skoglund says.
In many places, the team found a strong overlap between human and dog genomes. For example, farmers and their pups in Sweden about 5000 years ago both trace their ancestry to the Near East. This suggests early farmers took their dogs with them as agriculture spread throughout the continent. "Writ large, as humans moved, they moved with their dogs," Larson says.
But sometimes the stories didn’t match up. Farmers in Germany about 7000 years ago also came from the Near East and also lived with dogs. But those animals seem more similar to hunter-gatherer pups, which came from Siberia and Europe.
That suggests many early migrants adopted local dogs that were better adapted to their new environment, Haak says. The benefits were many, adds Peter Savolainen, a geneticist at the Royal Institute of Technology and an expert on dog origins. "They were cute. You could use them. You could even eat them."
Savolainen calls the study "very thorough," and adds it’s "fantastic" that the researchers were able to bring together so many data. But he has long argued that dogs arose in Southeast Asia and says the work is incomplete without samples from that corner of the globe. "Without those, you could be missing an important part of the picture."
For now, Larson says his team is analyzing "a ton" of wolf and dog genomes. He and his colleagues have also begun to look at ancient skull shape and genetic markers that could give clues to what early dogs looked like. Whatever he finds, he’s counting on being surprised. "We have to expect the unexpected," he says, "because that’s all ancient DNA ever gives us."
© 2020 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights Reserved.
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Newsweek / 10/29/20
Siberian Virologist Reinfects Himself With Coronavirus in Experiment to Test Immunity
Вирусолог Федерального исследовательского центра фундаментальной и трансляционной медицины (ФИЦ ФТМ) Александр Чепурнов впервые переболел коронавирусом в марте. После выздоровления он решил оценить устойчивость полученных антител. Повторное заражение - уже намеренное - случилось через полгода, после чего ученый пришел к выводу, что на коллективный иммунитет за счет количества переболевших рассчитывать не стоит. Выходом может стать вакцина, которую можно вводить многократно, возобновляя уровень антител, либо эффективная вакцина длительного действия.
A Siberian virologist has infected himself with coronavirus for a second time in an experiment to better understand immunity to the virus. Alexander Chepurnov said antibody levels were no longer detectable three months after the first infection, and that his second bout of the disease left him hospitalized.
Chepurnov, 68, from Novosibirsk, told the local newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that he was infected with SARS-CoV-2 in March. He believes he caught the virus after stopping off in Moscow on his way to a skiing holiday in France. He fell ill, suffering from a fever, chest pain and a loss of the sense of smell. He returned home and was diagnosed with pneumonia, but antibody tests later showed he had been infected with coronavirus.
He and his research team at the Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, which is part of the Russian Academy of Sciences, then started recording the way his antibodies "behaved," recording how levels in his body changed over time.
"The observation [showed] a fairly rapid decrease," he told the newspaper referring to his antibody levels. "By the end of the third month from the onset of the disease, they ceased to be determined."
He then decided to get reinfected to see how his body responded. He did this by spending time with patients with coronavirus, without wearing a mask. Every two weeks he was tested to see if he had been reinfected.
Six months after his initial illness, "protection fell," he said. He became ill for a second time, testing positive for the disease. Over the course of the second infection, he was hospitalized. He suffered from a high temperature, lost his sense of smell and X-rays showed pneumonia. "The pain was more severe than the first time," he told Komsomolskaya Pravda.
There are a number of problems with Chepurnov's experiment. Because his first case of COVID-19 was only found via antibodies, it is difficult to determine whether he suffered from two different strains of the virus. This is required to confirm a person has been reinfected with SARS-CoV-2, rather than the original virus reemerging in the body. He also points out, his reaction may not be the same as other people. Far more cases of reinfection will need to be studied before any conclusions are drawn about immunity.
However, Chepurnov's case largely falls in line with reports of other reinfection cases reported in the scientific literature. In the Netherlands, an 89-year-old woman died after being reinfected with coronavirus two months after her initial diagnoses. This was the first known death from reinfection.
A handful of other case reports suggest the second infection can be more severe than the first. In the U.S., a 25-year-old man from Nevada had to be hospitalized for COVID-19 after being reinfected, having recovered from the first case while self-isolating at home.
In Brazil, a 36-year-old doctor became reinfected following a mild case of the virus three months earlier. Researchers said that the second time round she experienced a "more intense" inflammatory response. After the eleventh day of the infection, a CT scan showed she was suffering from acute viral pneumonia.
These cases of reinfection have important implications for how long immunity to the virus lasts, with some politicians and scientists currently pushing for a "herd immunity" approach to the pandemic. This would involve allowing the virus to sweep through a community, allowing healthy people to become infected. This would supposedly provide a level of protection to those more vulnerable as transmission would be significantly reduced.
Chepurnov said his own experiment is a warning against a herd immunity approach. He also said it has implications for a vaccine, suggesting multiple doses will be required. As a result, Chepurnov thinks the virus will be with us for many years to come.
© 2020 NEWSWEEK DIGITAL LLC.
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Science X / October 30th, 2020
Scientists Apply Artificial Intelligence to Online Monitoring of Milling
Ученый из Южно-Уральского государственного университета совместно с зарубежными коллегами получил прогностическую модель отклонений от плоскости обработанной поверхности в процессе торцового фрезерования в зависимости от мощности главного привода станка с ЧПУ и износа инструмента. Такие модели можно использовать для онлайн-мониторинга фрезерования.
A scientist from South Ural State University, together with foreign colleagues, obtained a predictive model of deviations from the plane of the machined surface obtained by face milling. Real-time forecasting is made possible by artificial intelligence, which takes into account the power consumption of the main drive of the machine and changes in tool wear in the analysis. The results of the study were published in the highly ranked scientific Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing.
Artificial intelligence monitors production
The digitalization of production is one of the trends in Industry 4.0. The fourth industrial revolution requires the introduction of modern technologies, thanks to which enterprises will be able to monitor processes independently and predict them, which means that they can produce better products.
Artificial intelligence capable of solving non-routine tasks at a high level is one of the main steps to implement the principles of smart industry. It helps to quickly and cost-effectively achieve the goal of each production: to make a quality product.
Artificial intelligence can be successfully used for online monitoring of various processes in automated production, for example, the state of a cutting tool. Thus, its cutting part will be replaced on time, which will ensure the accuracy of the product processing and the required roughness. Besides, the timely replacement of the cutting part will avoid tool breakage.
Digital equipment diagnostics
Artificial intelligence is used to create predictive models. Danil Pimenov, a scientist at the Institute of Engineering and Technology, senior lecturer at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, together with colleagues from Spain, Poland, and the UK, used the technology to predict deviation from flatness, taking into account the wear of the end mill teeth.
"One of the most important indicators of the quality of processed flat surfaces is the deviation from flatness. Therefore, the goal of the international team of scientists was to obtain a predictive model of deviations from the plane of the machined surface in the process of face milling, depending on the power of the main drive of a numerically controlled machine (CNC) and taking into account changes in tool wear. AISI 1045 carbon steel (Russian analog - Steel 45) was studied as a blank. This is a common structural material, from which a huge number of all kinds of mechanical engineering, instrument making, shipbuilding products are made," Danil Pimenov explained.
Experimental data on face milling were obtained at the SUSU Engineering Research and Education Center based on the Mori Seiki NMV 5000 CNC machining center. On their basis, scientists created a predictive model. This was the task for Dr. Andreso Bustillo from the University of Burgos (Spain). The highest performance was shown by such machine learning methods (a subsection of artificial intelligence) as Random Forest ensembles and the Synthetic Minority Over-sampling Technique (SMOTE). The final stage of the preparation of the research was facilitated by Professor Voitsech Kaplonek from the Koszalin University of Technology (Poland) and Mozammel Miaiz of the Imperial College London (Great Britain).
"The results of the study will be of interest to process engineers who can learn about the expected deviation from the flatness of the workpiece surface. In this case, the installation of new sensors is not required. Modern machine tools with numerical control (CNC) have built-in the ability to monitor the power of the main drive. Models for predicting flatness deviation parameters during face milling can be integrated into automated production systems for online monitoring," Danil Pimenov said.
This article is the second in a series of studies looking at online face milling monitoring, and in 2018, researchers obtained a predictive model of surface roughness during face milling. The work also traced the dependence of indicators on the power of the main drive of the machine and changes in tool wear.
Scientists intend to continue work that will bring the process of processing parts in production to a new level.
SUSU is a member of the 5-100 Project, intended to increase the competitiveness of Russian universities among the leading research and educational centers.
Research in the field of new technologies is among the priorities of the Ural interregional scientific and educational center Advanced production technologies and materials. The center is currently being created by the joint efforts of Ural Federal University, SUSU, KSU, other regional higher educational institutions, the Ural branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, industrial enterprises, and governments of the Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk, and Kurgan regions.
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