|Российская наука и мир|
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)
Associated Press / November 24, 1998
Jiang Visits Siberian Researchers
Китайский президент Цзян Цземинь посетил научно-исследовательские институты в Сибири и обсудил возможность покупки "ноу-хау" у доведенных до нищеты центров.
NOVOSIBIRSK, Russia (AP) - Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited scientific and military research institutes in Siberia on Tuesday, and discussed buying Russian "know-how" from the impoverished centers. Jiang toured several centers, including the Nuclear Physics Institute, in Novosibirsk, about 1,750 miles east of Moscow.
* * *
"You have a very powerful scientific capability and your potential for scientific creation is great," Jiang said. But Russia's researchers are often unable to earn money for the work they produce, institute director Gennady Kulipanov said. He said the two sides had talked about selling Russian research to China.
On Monday, Jiang met with Russian President Boris Yeltsin in a Moscow hospital where Yeltsin had been admitted the day before with a high temperature and pneumonia. The two leaders issued a declaration on expanding relations between the former Cold War rivals and defining the western part of their 2,700-mile border. Decades of hostility marred relations between the Chinese and the former Soviet Communist leaders, but relations between Russia and China began to improve shortly before the Soviet collapse. In recent years, China has evolved into a major export market for Russia's cash-strapped defense industry.
Jiang was headed for Tokyo on Wednesday, in the first visit by a Chinese president to Japan since World War II. Jiang is seeking an apology for Japanese wartime atrocities. The Japanese news agency Kyodo said Japan and China had worked out a compromise in which Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi would give Jiang a clear oral apology that would not be included in a written joint statement on the visit.
BBC News / Thursday, November 26, 1998
Chill winds of change in Siberia
In this week's Crossing Continents, James Proctor reports from Siberia on the remorseless decay of Russian science - once the jewel in the crown of Soviet socialism, now a luxury the region can't afford.
* * *
It was one of the great Soviet dreams - to build a city of 200,000 people in unspoiled Siberian forest, fifteen hundred miles east of Moscow. The city would become the shining centre of Soviet science - and its distance from Moscow would allow its residents to enjoy a climate of social and intellectual independence in which their brilliance could flourish.
In 1958, construction of the "Science City" - Akademgorodok - began. Forty years later, James Proctor visits Akademgorodok and finds a city in crisis and a dream on the verge of extinction. Russian science has been battered since the end of Communism by the decline in lucrative defence contracts, and recently by the shattering collapse of the economy.
Akademgorodok is reeling from a steady and merciless "brain drain" - as top scientists seek to get out as soon as possible - and those left behind face a daily struggle for survival.
Also in the programme, we explore a relatively unknown art form - Siberian Jazz. Even at the height of the Cold War, the urge to let loose never died down. The bohemian lifestyle of some of Akademgorodok's early intellectuals, and the indigenous music of the Siberian people, came together to spawn a unique form of music. We talk to one of the movement's leading musicians about the sound he calls the "Frosty Blues" and find out how hot jazz survives in a cold climate. Finally, as winter sets in and food is in ever shorter supply across Russia, we discover how Siberians survive day to day. Turning to the great forests surrounding them, the people ofAkademgorodok have found that nature can provide plenty to supplement and spice up their daily diet - from berries to mushrooms, from herbs to wild game. But these bounties are finite - which is why an elaborately polite code for forest foragers has evolved.
Nature / Vol.396, N 6708, 19 November 1998
Russian scientists reach salaries deal
Профсоюз российских научных работников за последние 6 месяцев помог российскому кабинету министров достичь "некоторого понимания" проблем, стоящих перед наукой - например, необходимости платить ученым зарплату. Активисты профсоюза готовы к пикетированию Министерства финансов, если к 15 ноября зарплата не будет выплачена.
MOSCOW - The trade union that represents Russian scientific workers says that, for the first time in six months, it has helped the Russian cabinet to reach "some understanding" of the problems faced by science, in particular the need to pay scientists' salaries. According to Valery Sobolev, the chairman of the Russian Committee of Scientific Collectives, at a meeting with deputy prime minister Vladimir Bulgak at the end of October, "the government promised to follow the protocol we have signed, and we accepted that this is all the cabinet can do now to support scientists".
* * *
Given the cabinet's previous failure to fulfil its promises to scientists, the union has continued to picket the Ministry of Finance in Moscow. Union activists had been prepared for a national protest if the cabinet failed to pay salaries due by last Sunday (15 November). "This time the government faithfully followed its word," says Sobolev. But Sobolev adds that the union will remain "in a state of one-week readiness for protest actions".
PR Newswire / November 20, 1998
MacArthur Foundation Gives $6 Million in Support of Scientific Education & Research in Russia
- SOURCE: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
20 ноября Фонд Джона и Кэтрин МакАртуров объявил о гранте в 6 млн. долларов для поддержки научных исследований и образования. Всего на Программу фундаментальных исследований и высшего образования в России за 5 лет будет выделено 60 млн. долларов. Программа состоит из двух частей: 1) создание на конкурсной основе 10-15 образовательно-исследовательских центров, 2) присуждение грантов университетской молодежи за выдающиеся достижения в науке.
CHICAGO - The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today announced a grant of $6 million in support of a Russian-U.S. effort to establish a new framework for scientific research and education in Russia.
* * *
The funds will launch a $60 million, five-year effort to help rejuvenate Russian science by integrating research and training into Russian universities and to support the research activities of young Russian scientists. The effort will be jointly managed by the Russian Ministry of General and Professional Education and the U.S.-based Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), and will be entitled the Program for Basic Research and Higher Education in Russia. The Russian ministry has allocated $6 million to match the MacArthur grant and has agreed to match other funds raised from foundations and international organizations.
The program's overall objective is to help Russia renew its capacity to train young scientists, a capacity severely damaged by deep cuts in funding for the network of free-standing research institutes established by the Russian Academy of Science - once the world's largest community of scientists and engineers. With the collapse of financial support for the research infrastructure, many highly talented young scholars have abandoned scientific careers or left the country to pursue professional employment.
"One of the world's great intellectual resources is in danger of extinction," said Victor Rabinowitch, senior vice-president of the MacArthur Foundation. "Russia's ability to sustain first-rate science is critical to its economic health, to its continued transition to democracy, and to the world as a whole. With this grant and other support a structure is being created that will encourage the current generation of Russian scientists to teach and carry out research within Russian universities, and thus to ensure an adequate supply of future scientists for the country's future. Failure to act now would almost certainly mean that scientific education in Russia would collapse."
Gerson Sher, executive director of the CRDF, said: "The strength of this plan is that is was developed by a joint Russian-U.S. committee and has received expressions of support from representatives of virtually all parts of the Russian scientific community: The Academy of Science, the relevant government ministries, scientists, and university officials. The plan offers significant hope for the long-term survival of the basic science research community in Russia. Especially valuable will be the support and training of young scientists, so that the revitalized research community can become self-perpetuating."
The Program for Basic Research and Higher Education in Russia will have two major components:
1) the establishment, on a competitive basis, of ten to fifteen Research and Education Centers at selected Russian universities;
2) merit-based research grants for exceptional, young university-based scholars.
Each Research and Education Center will focus upon scientific research, education, and linkages with other institutions. Such linkages could include strengthening partnerships with the Academy of Science research institutes, embedding them in university-based programs of research and education; joint training and research activities with industry; and outreach to local primary and secondary school educators. The centers will also provide competitive funding opportunities for research and education at undergraduate and graduate levels as well as funds for links with the international scientific community. It is anticipated that each center will be supported at a level of $500,000 to $1 million per year.
The Young Investigator Grants are planned for university-based investigators who have received a Ph.D. or its equivalent in the past six years. The grants of up to $20,000 per year for five years, to be awarded through an open competition, are meant to give special encouragement and recognition to young scientists whose primary affiliation is with a Russian higher education institution.
The MacArthur Foundation was one of the first of the international foundations to begin operations in the former Soviet Union. Since 1992, not including the present grant, it has made about $27 million in grants in support of social science, the environment, and human rights. The present grant is a new effort by the Foundation to contribute to the development of a sustainable scientific tradition and to the research and education communities in Russia.
The U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) was created in 1995 by the U.S. Government to find ways to support the Russian scientific and research community. In 1997 the MacArthur Foundation supported a joint Russian-U.S. study to determine the best way to sustain the training of Russian scientists. The study resulted in the plan announced today, and the current grant of $6 million, combined with the match by the Russian government, represents its initial funding. With support from the MacArthur Foundation, the CRDF is working with Russia's Ministry of General and Professional Education in managing a demonstration project that is serving to launch the initiative. The demonstration project is at the Physical Technical Research Institute of the University of Nizhniy Novgorod.
THE PROGRAM IN DETAIL
The current situation in Russia
Science research and training in Russia today is in great peril. State funding has sharply decreased, gutting the wage structure for scientists and researchers and cutting equipment allocations for scientific institutions, in effect forcing many scientists to move abroad. In addition to these problems, emergency support programs put in place by worldwide scientific and philanthropic organizations in the early 1990's are ending, intensifying the pressures on Russian research and higher education establishments.
Prior to 1991, the Soviet Academy of Science, an elite honorary society, managed the network of research institutes that carried out most of the basic research in the USSR. As a result of severe problems in the Russian economy, this national system of research institutes and scientific personnel could no longer be adequately sustained. Tens of thousands of highly trained scientists saw their professional lives unravel. Although most of the Academy's institutes still exist, among Russian scientists and the Russian government there is a widespread recognition that a change in the structure of the science establishment is necessary if long-term issues of growth and competitiveness of Russian science are to be addressed.
The most pressing problem is to find a way to nurture a new generation of scientists as the current generation, which includes many of the world's most prominent scientists, grows older or leaves Russia in pursuit of professional work.
The new approach
The Program for Basic Research and Higher Education in Russia represents a broad consensus arrived at over the course of a two-year study. The study was carried out in partnership with Russian scientists and representatives of the Russian Federation Ministry of General and Professional Education, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, and the Russian Ministry of Science and Technologies. This will link research and advanced training, areas not historically associated with one another in Russia.
How the program will work
The program will establish, on an open and competitive basis, 10 to 15 Research and Education Centers at selected Russian higher education institutions lying within the Russian Federation. It is hoped that the success of the program will attract further funding that would allow the expansion of the program into other countries of the former Soviet Union as well.
Each Center will conduct programs in research and education, and build linkages with other domestic and international institutions. Because of the traditional separation of the research and higher education functions in Russia, each center will place special emphasis on strengthening partnerships between the remaining Academy institutes and other Russian regional universities. The Program will focus on the basic natural, mathematical and engineering sciences, including environmental and medical sciences. Under the fully funded plan, about $10 million per year will be used to support the newly created research centers.
Supporting young scientists
A second major component of the program will support young scientists through a competition for grants open to top researchers who have received their Ph.D. or equivalent degrees in the past six years. The grants will be limited to university-based investigators. A typical grant would include funds for individual support, equipment, materials, supplies, communications, subscriptions, travel and indirect costs for the host institution. This portion of the program will help ensure that Russia can replace its current generation of scientific talent with new blood, and that younger investigators will have access to financial support that might otherwise only go to senior investigators.
The program will be administered jointly by the Russian Ministry of General and Professional Education and the CRDF. The two have formed a joint U.S.-Russian Program Council, which will exercise general policy oversight for the program. All U.S.-source and Russian-source funds will be administered through parallel yet separate accounts. A program office will be established in Moscow to administer the program. Competitions for the awards will begin in the coming months and the first
grants will be available in 1999.
About The U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF)
The U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation for the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (CRDF) is a private, non-profit charitable organization that was created by the United States Government as an American response to the declining state of science and engineering in the former Soviet Union (FSU). The CRDF seeks to address this issue by fostering opportunities for collaborative projects between FSU and U.S., by encouraging the growth of productive civilian employment opportunities for FSU defense scientists, and by taking advantage of new opportunities to pursue these in a framework of mutual benefit which promotes the values of democratization and market economy.
The CRDF was first proposed in U.S. legislation sponsored by Congressman George Brown of California, then-Sen. Al Gore of Tennessee and Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. The resulting authorization to create the CRDF was passed by the United States Congress and signed into law in 1992. Initial funding included a $5 million allocation from the National Science Foundation utilizing funds from philanthropist George Soros and an additional award of $5 million from the Department of Defense's "Nunn-Lugar" program to promote demilitarization in the former Soviet Union (FSU). The National Science Foundation, which was directed by the 1992 legislation to establish the CRDF, transmitted these combined funds to the CRDF in an Endowment Agreement and appointed its initial Board of Directors.
About The MacArthur Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, with assets of about $4 billion, is a private, independent grantmaking institution dedicated to helping groups and individuals foster lasting improvement in the human condition. The Foundation seeks the development of healthy individuals, and effective communities; peace within and among nations; responsible choices about human reproduction; and a global ecosystem capable of supporting healthy human societies. The Foundation pursues this mission by supporting research, policy development, dissemination, education and training, and practice.
The Washington Post / November 19, 1998
Scholars in Peril
- By Loren Graham and Andrew Kuchins
Российские исследовательские институты и университеты находятся на грани развала. Несколько знаменитых руководителей институтов покончили с собой, т.к. не могли выплачивать зарплату своим сотрудникам. Некоторые ученые выступают за коммунистов - не потому, что разделяют их иделогию, а просто потому, что Советский Союз оказывал науке большую поддержку, в отличие от "свободного и демократического" пост-советского государства, игнорирующего науку и образование.
In the midst of the political and economic turmoil in Russia, it's all too easy to forget the ways in which we can be of enormous help to that country, greatly improving long-term chances for prosperity and peace among Russia and its neighbors.
One of the most important is in the fields of science and education, which have deep roots and traditions of excellence in Russia but have been barely propped up since the fall of the Soviet Union and are now in more peril than ever. It is these two sectors that were pivotal in helping to change the Soviet Union and that can play an important role in helping Russia emerge from the mess it is in now.
The scientific and academic communities traditionally have been the most pro-Western segments of Russian society. Throughout the Soviet period, the most prominent calls for democracy and human rights came from their ranks - Andrei Sakharov, the noted physicist and father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, is only the best known of a number of leaders in the human rights movement during the Soviet period. Now, when they are needed most, the scientific and academic communities have lost most of their financial and political support. Russian research institutes and universities are near collapse. Several prominent administrators have committed suicide in despair over their inability to pay their staffs. Some scientists and educators are now flirting with the Communists, not because of ideological sympathy but simply because the Soviet Union under Communist rule supported science and education, while the "free and democratic" post-Soviet state neglects them.
The leader of the Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov, is making adirect appeal to intellectuals, saying he will support them in a way Boris Yeltsin does not, and he has adopted as the official seal of his new Communist Party, in addition to the traditional hammer and sickle, "the book," adding scholars to workers and peasants as bulwarks of the political order he seeks to create. Science and education are areas where Western institutions can act in genuine partnership with Russians, rather than in the spirit of "we know best."
The West has benefited immensely from Russian contributions to international science, and the same is true in higher education. Almost every research university in the United States today, including our own, has faculty members - often in the physics and mathematics departments - who have come from the former Soviet Union during the past 20 years. It is important that we not abandon those of their colleagues who chose to stay in their homeland and who still cherish the belief that they are a part of an international scholarly community. This is an area where American universities, foundations, professional societies and the government can play important roles and, with relatively modest expenditures, make a significant difference. Whenever a professional society holds a meeting in the United States or abroad, it should invite participation by scholars from the former Soviet Union, and pay their expenses. Universities can establish exchange professorships with universities in the former Soviet Union, and foundations can make certain that their established fellowship programs are available to scholars, artists and musicians from the former Soviet Union.
A few foundations and individuals already have shown the way, led by George Soros's International Science Foundation (now unfortunately defunct), the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which, in the areas of environmental and health science, respectively, have had major impacts. The Alfred Sloan Foundation has, in the past, encouraged American professional societies to help their Russian colleagues. This example should be followed by other foundations. Prominent Russian administrators in science and higher education recently announced that they wish to bring research and teaching closer together.
Within the Russian context, this is a dramatic change. The Academy of Sciences traditionally dominated research, and the universities had teaching responsibilities, with little contact between the two systems. The finest system of research universities in the world is in the United States, and we therefore have an opportunity to help our colleagues in the former Soviet Union create a similar system, something that they themselves are now calling for. At the same time that we work closely with scholars in areas where the Russians have traditionally been strong - the fundamental natural sciences - we also can help them train future generations of citizens familiar with political science, economic theory and the humanities. The American and Russian scientific and scholarly communities are the two largest such communities in the world, and they have much to gain by close interaction. Investment in these scholars and scientists can give them the resources and courage they need to stay engaged in their nation's affairs and not leave for more secure havens in the West. For Americans, it is important not to allow the former Soviet Union to lose both its ability to contribute to knowledge and its faith that the West is a friend.
Loren Graham is professor of the history of science at MIT and Harvard. Andrew Kuchins is associate director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company.
* * *
BUSINESS WIRE / November 23, 1998
Rhombic Corporation - Research Presented on Rhombic's Nuclide Battery
На конференции, проводимой Американским физическим обществом с 16 по 20 ноября, были представлены результаты исследований атомных батарей корпорации Rhombic, осуществленных в Российской академии наук.
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Nov. 23, 1998 - Rhombic Corporation is pleased to announce that during the American Physical Society's conference (November 16 through November 20, 1998) in New Orleans, Louisiana, Dr. Vladimir E. Fortov presented his research on Rhombic's Nuclide Battery.
* * *
Dr. Fortov was joined at the conference by Dr. V.Baranov, Dr. F.Boody, Dr. R.Hopfl, Dr. H.Hora, Dr. A.Pal and Dr. A.Starostin. All of these scientists work within the Russian Academy of Sciences out of the High Energy Density Research Center, where they have done extensive testing and development of the nuclide battery.
The nuclide battery has been successfully tested on the ground, on aircraft in flight and most recently on Russia's MIR space station. Rhombic is currently seeking either a joint venture partner in the aerospace industry or financing to bring the nuclide battery to market.
Associated Press / November 23, 1998
Russian Transplant Pioneer Dies
В возрасте 82-х лет скончался Владимир Демихов - российский хирург, первым в мире осуществивший трансплантацию сердца собаке в 1946 году. Собака прожила после операции 5 месяцев.
MOSCOW (AP) - Vladimir Demikhov, a Russian surgeon who conducted the world's first animal heart and lung transplants, has died at age 82, a news agency reported today. Demikhov died Sunday after a long illness, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. It didn't specify the illness or say where Demikhov died. The agency said Demikhov was the first to perform a heart transplant on a dog, in 1946. The animal, which kept both the old heart and the new one, lived for five months after the surgery.
* * *
The next year, Demikhov conducted the first lung transplant, also on a dog, ITAR-Tass said. In 1952, the agency said Demikhov conducted the world's first coronary bypass, in a canine, a procedure that is now commonly performed on humans.
Demikhov won acclaim in the West, but found it hard to apply his research at home, where Soviet officials dismissed his work as "tricks" not worth serious attention, the agency said. It wasn't until this year that Demikhov received a government award for his contribution to the nation's scientific endeavors. Demikhov will be buried Wednesday at Moscow's Novodevichy Cemetery, burial ground for prominent Russians including playwright Anton Chekhov, composer Sergei Prokofiev and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.
Nature / Vol.396, N 6708, 19 November 1998
European reactor accepts US demands on fuel shift
MUNICH - The Institut Laue Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France, has bowed to US pressure and agreed to convert its high-flux 57 MW research reactor to use low enriched uranium (LEU) rather than "bomb-grade" highly enriched uranium (HEU).
Институт Лауэ-Ланжевена (Гренобль, Франция) вынужден использовать в качестве реакторного топлива необогащенный уран из-за невозможности получить высокообогащенный уран (ВОУ) из России. Обычные источники института оказались перекрыты из-за т.н. "поправки Шумана". Эта поправка запрещает поставку ВОУ реакторам, не участвующим в запущенной США программе RERTR (Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors) - "Сокращенное обогащение для исследовательских и экспериментальных реакторов" - рассчитанной на снижение и постепенное прекращение использования высокообогащенного урана в исследовательских и экспериментальных реакторах. Поставки же из России сорвались по причине разногласий между Министерством науки и Минатомом.
The move follows the institute's failure to secure sources of HEU from Russia. According to a memorandum of understanding signed on 12 November, the conversion will take place "when it becomes technically and economically possible". In return, the United States will supply HEU to the reactor until it converts, and also take back spent fuel.
The Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors (RERTR) programme, which started in 1978, requires the United States to promote the development of LEU fuel for reactors wishing to convert. The programme is intended to reduce international commerce in bomb-grade uranium. It was strengthened in 1992 by the so-called Schumer Amendment, banning the delivery of US HEU to reactors that refuse to cooperate with the RERTR programme. The amendment was named after Democrat Congressman Charles Schumer, who earlier this month defeated incumbent Alfonse D'Amato to win a seat in the US Senate, representing New York. As a result of US pressure, most research reactors have converted to existing LEU fuel or have agreed to work with US scientists to develop LEU fuel which they can use without loss of performance or extra cost.
The ILL reactor, which provides neutron beams for structural analysis for scientists from ILL's seven member states, was one of the few to hold out, partly because France objected to US interference in European affairs.
When the ILL restarted operation in 1995 after a four-year shutdown for repair, it found its normal fuel supply blocked by the Schumer agreement. ILL officials turned to Russia for HEU supplies rather than accept US terms, and Russia became an associate member of ILL in November 1996 in exchange for supplying HEU from Minatom, the Russian Atomic Agency. But the Russian fuel failed to materialize and ILL suspended Russian membership at the beginning of this year. Dirk Dubbers, the director of the ILL, cites "problems between the Russian science ministry, which benefited from the scientific opportunities, and Minatom, which saw no exchange of cash".
The agreement between ILL and the United States took observers by surprise. A spokesman for Greenpeace International described it as "welcome, even if not motivated by non-proliferation concerns". The European Union's Petten research reactor in Belgium and Belgium's national research reactor BR2 have long expressed interest in conversion, but have not yet agreed to do so. If they do convert, the only remaining European reactor to hold out will be the controversial German research reactor FRM II, being built by the Technical University of Munich. The operators of FRM II have cited the reluctance of ILL to comply with US terms for HEU supply as support for their reluctance to do so. But the ILL's change of heart comes on top of a statement from the new red-green federal government in Germany saying that use of bomb-grade uranium in research reactors is "problematic and dubious in terms of foreign policy". The statement says the government will check again whether FRM II could be converted to LEU.
Nature © Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
* * *
The Boston Globe / 10/29/1998
Russia's Dreams of a Slavic Silicon Valley Fade
Мечты России о том, чтобы Троицк стал второй "Силиконовой долиной" неосуществимы в новых экономических условиях.
TROITSK, Russia - It was supposed to become the Slavic Silicon Valley, a mecca of high technology trade that would ignite a boom in Russia's post-Communist economy.
* * *
The merger of Soviet science and Russian business is under way in Troitsk, a Cold War-era scientific research center 20 miles south of Moscow, but today's reality is nothing like yesterday's dream. In a dark, cluttered basement of a moribund research institute, Emmanuel, the human face of Russian science in Russia's market economy, ekes out his living as a one-man cottage industry. He keeps a step ahead of tax authorities, protection rackets, and anyone else who would stand in the way of his meager profits. Emmanuel barely makes enough to feed his family, but he keeps the exact amount a secret - as well as the names of his clients and his own last name. A theoretical physicist by training, still nominally employed by the institute, Emmanuel designs, assembles, markets, and sells high-tech devices that utilize the latest advances in spectrum analysis, such as a system used in diagnosing cancer that he recently sold to a local hospital for $120. "A few sales like that and I eat," Emmanuel said. "I have no plans to broaden my business, because these are not the right times for that."
One way to look at businessmen like Emmanuel is that they are the survivors who have been able to adapt to the free market. On the other hand, as businesses go, Emmanuel's firm is more of a postapocalyptic hunter-gatherer, scraping by in the rubble of Soviet science, than a thriving engine of change in the new Russian economy. It is a far cry from what Troitsk thought the free market would bring. Racquetball, swimming pools, Western-style airports. Hotels and jogging tracks, houses with carports. At least, that was the plan in 1990, when the Kremlin announced a joint venture with California-based construction and engineering giant Bechtel Inc., to turn this formerly closed city of 35,000 into "Russian Silicon Valley."
It has not worked out that way. Instead of racquetball and Route 128, Troitsk turned down the road to poverty after the Cold War ended and the state funding for science dried up. Its vaunted research institutes, where the Soviet Union's best physicists once designed laser rays that could knock American spy satellites from orbit, have fallen into disrepair since the end of the Cold War. As with dozens of formerly closed "academic cities" hroughout Russia, whose top-secret research institutes once attracted the country's best and brightest, Troitsk is struggling to pay its bills and keep the specialists who have not bolted for jobs in the West or left science for more profitable trades. "The Silicon Valley? I forgot about that long ago," said Vadim Brazhkin, deputy director of the Institute of High Pressure Physics in Troitsk. "My biggest problem is that they turned off our phones, they turned off our heat, and where to find money to pay salaries."
Troitsk's hard times today provide a striking contrast with the belief shared by many in the early 1990s that all the Soviet Union need do to prosper was to stop making advanced military hardware and put that know-how into high technology civilian goods. But Soviet research centers turned out to be much harder to adapt to the market than anyone thought. One of the problems faced by places like Troitsk is that they were set up to fuel Russia's arms race with the West. An estimated 80 to 90 percent of the work done by Russian science was for military purposes by institutes that have no tradition of marketing their discoveries. "Soviet technology did not serve higher living standards," said Brazhkin.
"The Soviets set an assignment of building a bomb, or a space shuttle, and two laboratories with thousands of employees would develop a single bolt. The Soviet government could pull in the belts, force the whole country to come up with a result." This system produced some amazing results. In a rundown, gargantuan building beyond a courtyard strewn with rusting spare parts and scrap metal, Brazhkin showed his guests a five-story hunk of steel, pistons, and grease called The Bolshoi Press, the world's largest pressure chamber. The Bolshoi Press is a truly astonishing behemoth capable of mustering 50,000 tons of pressure to crush most any material known to man. The Bolshoi Press is also a virtually useless contraption.
Most of the institute's jobs - developing and testing superlight, superhard materials, simulating earthquakes to test their effects on buildings - can be handled by the smaller, 10,000-ton pressure chamber across the hall.
"We have the biggest pressure chamber in the world, but no one knows why," Brazhkin lamented. Why did the institute build The Bolshoi Press? It had plenty of free time, specialists, and funding on its hands. Now, Brazhkin and his colleagues can only joke about the commercial potential of the most pressure money can buy: Custom ritual services for New Russian businessmen who want to be posthumously compacted into diamonds; A new Terminator movie in which Arnold crushes the bad guy robot in The Bolshoi Press. It is a good joke, but Brazhkin is not laughing too hard. He does not know where he is going to get the money to pay this year's heating bill. Not everyone is in the same boat in Russian science.
German Zagainov, who heads an association of 50 research centers across Russia, can name dozens of examples of institutes that have put their brain power toward developing quality civilian goods. His favorite is an institute that took the technology it used to make rocket fuel and invented a pencil-like spot remover "that works better than anything I've seen." The trouble is, you cannot find it in stores, partly because Russian scientists generally lack the experience to develop and market civilian technologies. "Scientists are not businessmen," Zagainov said. "They need managers, they need advertising and people who know how to attract capital. In high technology fields you can't just go to a market and sell your goods. It is not a supermarket."
Funny he should mention that. Ask anyone in Troitsk for the name of a scientist who has been successful in business, he will probably mention Nikolai Yefremov, a physicist who left his old job at the Institute of Spectroscopy and founded a chain of food stores. Retail, and import, and export of raw materials - these have been the money-making spheres in the new Russia, at least until this summer's economic collapse ended their little boom. Various government ministers have addressed the problem of conversion over the past six years, but little has been done to promote it, scientists in Troitsk say.
Oleg Tumanov, deputy director of the Institute of Spectroscopy, says his institute has a number of marketable ideas. The institute makes spectrometers, which provide a rapid and accurate analysis of the composition of bodies by examining the light waves that emanate from them when illuminated by a laser. Tumanov says the applications are endless: Criminology, archeology, medical research. "But to develop this technology, we'd need investment, investors, laws governing this kind of thing, and, in the end, a government program aimed at defining the purpose of having state research centers," Tumanov said. "For six years, we've had none of that, and now, with the latest crisis, it's clear it will be a long time before we will."
Two floors below in the basement, Emmanuel considered his own future. Business, never good, took a big dive in Russia's latest economic crisis, and Emmanuel is wondering if his one-man company can survive. "In retrospect, it was a crazy idea that a scientific city would drive an economic revival," Emmanuel said. "Instead, the science city will die. Firms like mine will live on its ruins for a little while, but this is not the sign of a healthy revival."
The Associated Press / 11/10/98
Mir cosmonauts take spacewalk to install meteor device
Космонаты вышли в космос, чтобы установить ловушку для метеоритов.
MOSCOW - Two Russian cosmonauts on the Mir space station took a spacewalk Tuesday to mount a French-made device for catching and studying small meteorite particles.
* * *
The "meteorite trap" will collect data on a barrage of particles expected to peak around the Mir in mid-November, said Valery Lyndin, spokesman for mission control.
The device will stay attached to the Mir until 1999, when it will be taken for analysis back to earth by a French astronaut to the station early next year. The spacewalk began about 2:30 p.m. EST and was expected to last for six hours. The "meteorite rain" doesn't pose a serious threat to the Mir because it consists of tiny remnants, not full meteorites. To be safe, however, the two cosmonauts will board the Soyuz escape capsule when the shower reaches its peak. While on their spacewalk, Cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Avdeyev were also to mount other scientific hardware on the outside of the 12-year-old Mir, and release a satellite made by schoolchildren from several countries.