Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Ноябрь 1999 г.

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Российская наука и мир
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    Science / Vol.286, No.5443, Iss. of 12 Nov. 1999, P.1303-1304
    Science and Higher Education in Russia
    • By Irina Dezhina & Loren Graham

    Распад Советского Союза более десятилетия назад очень повлиял на способность России поддерживать превосходство в области науки и техники. Глубокий финансовый кризис и утечка мозгов особенно сильно ударили по науке. Научные исследования в сегодняшней России менее популярны, чем в Советском Союзе. Прекращение централизованного планирования привело к коренным изменениям в высшем образовании и структуре исследований в России. Однако, правительственные и иностранные инициативы, направленные на поддержку науки и образования, показывают некоторый прогресс в создании нового, более крепкого основания для российской науки.

The fall of the Soviet Union nearly a decade ago deeply affected Russia's ability to maintain excellence in the natural sciences and engineering. The severe financial crisis and the brain drain have hit the scientific research community particularly hard.
Scientific research is much less popular in today's Russia than it was in the Soviet Union. The end of centralized planning necessitated fundamental changes in Russia's higher education and research structure, and governmental and foreign initiatives directed toward supporting science and education are showing some success in creating a new healthier basis for Russian science.
Science now has an opportunity to become an organic part of Russian society, instead of being imposed on it from above.

© 1999 by The American Association for the Advancement of Science

* * *

    Nature / Vol.402, No.6760, 25 Nov. 1999
    Moscow will help build Large Hadron Collider

    Международный центр науки и техники в Москве предоставит оборудование для Большой ускорительной установки на встречных пучках. Европейский центр физики частиц, расположенный в Женеве, одобрил контракты с Центром науки и техники на 7,1 миллионов долларов. "Центр в Москве имеет большой творческий потенциал и именно поэтому ему решили поручить основные исследования и разработку проектов огромной важности для своевременного строительства датчиков ускорителя," - сказал руководитель исследований Европейского центра физики частиц Роджер Кашмор.

GENEVA -- The Moscow-based International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is to provide equipment for the Large Hadron Collider, due to begin operating in 2005 at the European Centre for Particle Physics (CERN) in Geneva. CERN agreed contracts worth SFr12 million (US$7.1 million) with the ISTC this week, paid for out of two experiments. The centre is a clearing house for the 'conversion' of former weapons scientists, managing financial arrangements and easing the transition between the different economic systems. "Clearly the ISTC has come of age," says CERN's research director Roger Cashmore. "That is why the high-energy physics community at CERN has chosen to entrust to the centre major research and development projects of critical importance to the timely construction of the collider's detectors."

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 1999

* * *

    Nature / Vol.402, No.6760, 25 Nov. 1999
    Search of Russian ecologist's flat 'illegal'

    В письме в Российскую Академию наук, инспекционный отдел Российской ФСБ признал, что офицеры действовали незаконно при обыске квартиры видного Российского эколога Владимира Сойфера во Владивостоке.

MOSCOW -- The inspection department of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has sent a letter to the Russian Academy of Sciences admitting its officers acted illegally last July when they searched the Vladivostok apartment of a prominent Russian ecologist, Vladimir Soyfer (see Nature 400, 300; 1999).
The search warrant said that Soyfer's work - several decades of research on nuclear pollution in the far east of Russia - posed "a threat to the state and military security of the Russian federation". Nikolai Patrushev, FSB director, says he has ordered those who made the search to be punished.

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 1999

* * *

    Science / Vol.286, No.5443, Iss. of 12 Nov. 1999, P.1268-1269
    U.S. Cuts Retraining of Russian Weaponeers
    • Richard Stone

    Соединенные Штаты урезают на 75% ранее запланированные расходы на создание рабочих мест для российских ученых, разрабатывающих ядерное оружие в 10 закрытых городах России.

Congress has slashed by 75% a planned expansion of an effort to produce 20,000 civilian jobs for weapons scientists and engineers in 10 closed cities in Russia. But while the Department of Energy is reeling from the blow to its 1-year-old Nuclear Cities Initiative, European countries hope to start their own program next year to keep nuclear scientists employed--and perhaps avert a brain drain to rogue countries.

© 1999 by The American Association for the Advancement of Science

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    Nature / Vol.402, No.6759, 18 Nov. 1999, P.225
    Russian peace researcher detained
    • By Carl Levitin

    27 октября руководитель отдела военно-технических исследований Института США-Канады Российской академии наук был задержан Федеральной Службой Безопасности. Его квартира в Обнинске была обыскана

LONDON -- The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has detained a Russian researcher, Igor Sutyagin, who works on arms control, disarmament and security problems, and interrogated two of his colleagues.
Sutyagin, head of the military-technical research section at the US-Canada Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, was detained on 27 October by the FSB, the successor to the Soviet KGB. His apartment in Obninsk, 100 kilometres south of Moscow, was searched and officers removed computers and papers.
Later that day FSB officers searched the Moscow apartment of Joshua Handler, a PhD student at Princeton University working on a dissertation on nuclear arms control in the 1990s between Russia and the United States. He is working under Frank von Hippel, vice-president of the Federation of American Scientists.
Officers removed Handler's computer, notebooks, address books, papers, photographs and maps, although they left his passport, money and air ticket. Eight officers spent until late evening searching Handler's apartment and questioning him about his work.
Handler has been a colleague of Sutyagin's, and the US-Canada Institute, for many years. He has now returned to the United States for what he calls a temporary "vacation".
Handler has worked on arms control for 15 years. He says: "My work has been directed at understanding and improving US-Russian relations in the hope of encouraging greater steps towards nuclear disarmament." He adds that "it has never, and was never intended to, harm any country's security".
Handler was until recently a researcher for Greenpeace International. He worked on its nuclear disarmament campaign in the 1980s and 1990s, writing many articles and papers about nuclear weapons and the attendant military and environmental problems. "I've always published [my] research results openly and sought to disseminate [them] as widely as possible," he says, adding that it is unclear why Sutyagin has been detained.
In response to Sutyagin's detention, Sergey Rogov, director of the US-Canada Institute, has issued a statement saying: "Like other institute employees, Sutyagin does not have access to information constituting state secrets."

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd

* * *

    Science Daily Magazine / Posted 10/20/99
    Argonne Biochips May Halt Tuberculosis Epidemic

    Новая технология биокристаллов, разработанная российскими и американскими учеными, способна противодействовать глобальному возрождению туберкулеза. Как ожидается, новая технология поможет организациям здравоохранения справиться с разновидностью этой болезни, устойчивой к лекарствам.

A new biochip technology developed by Russian and American scientists may help stem the global resurgence of tuberculosis.
The technology, developed by the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and the Russian Academy of Sciences' Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology, is expected to help health organizations deal with the new variety of drug-resistant strains of the disease.
According to the World Health Organization, tuberculosis kills more youth and adults than any other infectious disease, including AIDS and malaria combined. Every year, 7 to 8 million people become sick with the disease and more than 3 million die.
The biggest problem associated with the new tuberculosis epidemic is that several different bacterial strains can cause the disease, and each is resistant to different drugs. Finding which strain is affecting a patient, and knowing which antibiotic is best equipped to combat that strain, is key to controlling the disease.
Argonne will use the biochip technology in research to distinguish between different tuberculosis strains. The tests will be done on harmless segments of genetic material removed from tuberculosis bacteria. Clinical research - involving patients - is not expected to begin until the method has been proven successful.
The biochips are designed to carry out thousands of biochemical reactions simultaneously, and have performed well in laboratory tests. "But this will be their first test in the realm of real-world medical diagnostics," said Harvey Drucker, Argonne associate director.
"We chose tuberculosis for the tests," he said, "because new drug-resistant strains have sprung up and can easily spread to the whole world. If we can quickly identify specific strains, it will help doctors prescribe the best treatments quickly and possibly help prevent a worldwide epidemic."
Today, tuberculosis patients are often prescribed several antibiotics simultaneously because it takes weeks or months to identify specific tuberculosis strains, and patients can die during this time. "If our biochip can do the job," Drucker said, "physicians can prescribe the most effective treatment without delay."
If successful, these initial studies will set the precedent for similar evaluations of other bacterial and viral diseases. Antibiotic resistance results from the natural selection of stronger bacteria over weaker ones. Stronger bacteria have mutated genes that help the disease resist antibiotics.
Because tuberculosis cells grow slowly, patients must take antibiotics daily for at least six months to ensure that all the bacteria are eliminated. If treatment is shortened, or inconsistent, surviving bacteria - those most resistant to the treatment – can reproduce, passing their resistance on to their offspring.
In impoverished nations, where people cannot afford months of medication, victims effectively become incubation chambers for new drug-resistant strains. In some Russian institutions, roughly 80 percent of tuberculosis patients were found resistant to at least one antibiotic, and 50 percent showed multiple resistance.
Although airborne, tuberculosis is not remarkably contagious compared to other viral and bacterial infections. With only one exposure, the body's defenses normally keep the bacteria at bay, unless the immune system is weakened by a disease such as AIDS. However, with continued exposure, as when living with a person with active tuberculosis, someone can develop the disease quickly.
Like computer chips, which perform millions of mathematical operations per second, biochips can perform thousands of biological reactions in a few seconds. The Argonne/Englehart biochip is a glass slide containing up to 10,000 tiny gel pads, each serving as a mini test-tube. Attached to each gel pad is a short strand of DNA, the unique set of blueprints that determine the building blocks of every living species. The information in DNA is encoded in long sequences of four molecular units, or bases - adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T). The precise pairing of A on one strand with T on another strand and G with C, allows DNA to form its "double helix."
By fixing only one strand of the double helix to each gel pad, the chip takes advantage of the natural tendency of each DNA base to pair with its complementary base. When tests begin, a sample of unknown single strands of tuberculosis DNA will be spread on a chip and allowed to naturally pair up in the gels with single strands of tuberculosis DNA with identified drug resistance. A direct match will identify drug resistant tuberculosis strains. By changing the DNA samples in the gels, scientists can also use this technique to diagnose an unlimited range of other diseases quickly and efficiently. One of the biggest advantages of Argonne's biochips over conventional biochips is that they can be cleansed and reused up to 50 times, making them more economical than conventional biochip technology. Also, the gel's greater size allows them to hold up to 1,000 times the material, making them more sensitive than any other biochip.
"With the advanced biochip technology, we'd be able to get all the information we need in a couple of hours," Drucker said, "without any false positives." The researchers are optimistic about this project, he added. "The fact that it has been shown to work, and that the test wasn't difficult to perform, shows us that this has a lot of potential," he said. However, bringing the test from this research effort into the clinical setting is another giant leap. "We're using DNA for the research study, not actual fluid from patients," said Drucker. "But it does give us a good idea of the direction we want to go."
If successful, Drucker says, they would move to a larger scale study with more patients, using fluid samples from active tuberculosis patients. "We'll be doing a full scale clinical diagnosis but it'll take years to get to the market," Drucker said. "Considering that tuberculosis is becoming a global epidemic, some urgent steps must be taken to speed up the process."

* * *
The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory supports basic and applied scientific research across a wide spectrum of disciplines, ranging from high-energy physics to climatology and biotechnology. Since 1990, Argonne has worked with more than 600 companies and numerous federal agencies and other organizations to help advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for the future. Argonne is operated by the University of Chicago as part of the U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory system.
* * *
    Science News / Vol.156, No.20, Nov. 13, 1999, P.308
    New Flea Imperils Fish, Fouls Gear
    • By J. Raloff

    В Великих Озерах появились новые обитатели - блохи, которые могут нанести большой ущерб рыболовству. Российские ученые на встрече в Дублине 15 месяцев назад описали воздействие этих блох на рыболовные флотилии в Балтийском море. Поскольку количество блох достигает максимума летом, они забивают сети. Блохи могли попасть в Америку на грузовых судах из Северной Европы.

The Great Lakes have some new inhabitants. Nestling side by side, 50 to 80 of them could fit within 1 square inch of space. But their small size belies the potential that these fishhook water fleas hold for causing big damage.
Anglers are already complaining that gelatinous blobs comprising hundreds of these little animals are fouling their fishing lines. Sport fish may soon begin suffering from these zooplankton, as well. The voracious fleas devour the same small plankton that larval fish need to survive.
Indeed, " small fish could end up being big losers here," observes Hugh J. MacIsaac, an aquatic ecologist at the University of Windsor in Ontario. He described the flea's explosive North American invasion at an international conference Monday sponsored by the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Md.
At a meeting MacIsaac attended in Dublin 15 months ago, Russian scientists described the impact of the flea, Cercopagis pengoi, on fishing fleets in the Baltic Sea. As the fleas' numbers peak in summer, they clog nets with their bodies, which hook together into masses that look like frost, says MacIsaac. The Russians warned that freighter traffic from the Northern European home of this flea could soon transport the nuisance to America.
"Literally, within one day of coming home," MacIsaac notes, " I received the first notification that this flea was in our lakes." In August 1998, Canadian anglers began reporting knots on fishing lines that jammed their gear. Those knots turned out to be clumps of Cercopagis.
Within a month, the flea was sighted widely over Lake Ontario. Despite hopes that the pest would die out over winter, August 1999 counts in Lake Ontario exceeded 600 fleas per cubic meter of surface water. And not just in hot spots. " This was an average for sampling over the entire lake," notes Joseph Makarewicz of the State University of New York at Brockport.
Three months ago, Cercopagis also turned up in northern Lake Michigan. A week ago, researchers with the Illinois Natural History Survey in Zion reported finding 50 of the fleas per cubic meter in water from southern Lake Michigan. It's only a matter of time, MacIsaac says, before the flea enters the Illinois River on its way to the Mississippi and connected waters. The aggressive invader has already infested six of New York's Finger Lakes.
With no way to eradicate the flea, MacIsaac says, one can only hope to slow its spread—such as by bleaching fishing gear after its use in infected waters.
At stake is the Great Lakes' multibillion-dollar fishing industry, says Paul D.N. Hebert of the University of Guelph in Ontario. Even if the flea only starves out the larvae of noncommercial fish low in the food chain, it could indirectly trigger the collapse of top predators, such as salmon and trout, he notes. In the worst case, he says, " we could wake up one morning with no fish in the Great Lakes, except perhaps carp." Right now, Cercopagis has few known North American predators. Its spiked tail spine, which can be nearly a half-inch long, makes the flea too big for most North American plankton feeders to swallow.
Aiding the flea's invasions is its asexual reproduction. During most of the summer, Cercopagis females reproduce almost exclusively by cloning. " A single female can seed a lake," Hebert notes. As the water cools or food becomes limited, the females begin developing into a sexual form, MacIsaac notes. If unmated, sexual females bear only males.
Heterosexual unions then produce " resting eggs," which are able to survive harsh conditions, including cold winters, he says. Like the zebra mussel, round goby (SN: 7/31/99, p. 68), and most other recent aquatic immigrants to the Great Lakes, the fleas have come from northern Europe, probably traveling in ballast water. "If these ships were discharging chemical pollutants, there would be a public uproar," Hebert argues. Instead, they release a more persistent, biological pollutant, he says—and yet garner almost no public notice.
He and MacIsaac are currently looking to use genetic analyses to locate the invading fleas' home port in Europe. Makarewicz is working with Edward Mills of Cornell University to identify U.S. predators and better predict how the flea will alter local food webs.
Since 1993, U.S. and Canadian laws have prohibited the discharge of ballast waters into the Great Lakes. Yet introductions of invasive species continue unabated. At the Smithsonian meeting this week, scientists began looking for patterns in these invasions.
Explains Greg Ruiz of the Smithsonian's Edgewater lab, "We hope to begin investigating whether [control programs] are targeting the right things" — and if not, to recommend improvements.

© 1999 Science Service

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