* "The Scientific and Industrial Capability of Siberia: New Technologies, Development Projects and Investment Programs" is the title of the second investment portfolio of the Siberian Federal District. Over 500 regional projects and the available research and development programs are presented in the portfolio, Nauka v Sibiri (Science in Siberia) reported.
The portfolio contains information about the research of 43 institutes of the Siberian Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 10 institutes of the Siberian Department of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, the State Center of Virology and Biotechnology - Vektor, and 16 science-intensive enterprises in Novosibirsk. It also contains a list of the applied research of 30 Siberian institutions of higher education.
The investment portfolio is available in Russian, English and on the Internet.
The office of the Presidential Envoy to the Siberian Federal District (SFD) Leonid Drachevsky issued the first SFD investment portfolio last year. The first portfolio contained 160 projects from various sectors of the Russian economy.
* Russian scientists have resumed researching ways to process brown coal into engine fuel, Poisk (Quest), a Russian scientific community periodical, reported. This idea emerged about a century ago in Russia and was developed in the 1970s. This research is becoming increasingly important today, as oil resources in the world are obviously limited. Synthetic fuel is produced in various countries. In Russia, nuclear engineering experts are working on this problem.
The Institute of Physics and Energy in Obninsk (Kaluga region), which specializes in fast neutron nuclear reactors, proposed a method of using nuclear power to transform brown coal into liquid fuel. This method calls for the hydrogenation of coal under a small amount of hydrogen pressure. The coal hydrogenation method was developed 30 years ago at the Moscow Institute of Fossil Fuels. Scientists in Obninsk designed a compact fast neutron reactor that uses a primarily sodium solution. The reactor has a 75-100 megawatts capacity and an output temperature of 550 degrees Celsius - this temperature is required for obtaining liquid fuel from coal.
This project is expected to recoup its initial cost, $240 million, within 6-7 years.
Oil waste can also be processed using this method.
In this method, 96% of the low-grade coal is turned into valuable energy.
* This year is the eighth year of the 11-year solar cycle, but "the Sun clearly does not want to calm down," said Vladimir Kuznetsov, a doctor of physics and mathematics.
During the maximum period of activity in the 11-year cycle, a solar flare will occur once every 1-2 hours, and during the minimum period of activity, there are 1-2 solar flares a day. A minimum period of activity in the 11-year cycle is approaching, however solar activity has not decreased.
At the Institute of Earth Magnetism, Ionosphere and Radio Wave Propagation in the town of Troitsk outside Moscow, where Vladimir Kuznetsov works, there is a Center for Solar and Geomagnetic Activity Forecasts. Apart from ground-based sources of information, the Russian-Ukrainian Koronas satellite, which records the state of active areas on the Sun, is also used in forecasting.
Astronauts at the International Space Station use information from the center to protect themselves (using a special protective "sarcophagus") from violent solar bursts. Information from the center also has many applications on Earth. For instance the information is used to check the state of pipelines. As a magnetic field in metallic pipes changes, the inductive current speeds up their corrosion.
IZMIRAN gives forecasts of solar activity and of the magnetic field of the Earth for the next 2-3 days. The address of the institute's Web site is http://forecast.izmiran.rssi.ru (information is available in Russian and English).
* For 20 years, the Kola Superdeep Well has been man's most daring attempt to explore the depths of the Earth, V Mire Nauki (a Russian version of Scientific American) said. Twenty years ago, the Kola Superdeep Well reached a depth of 12,262 meters, surpassing the 9,583-meter deep well in Bertha Rogers, United States.
The Kola Superdeep Well, in northern Russia, continues to be used as a research laboratory. Presently, Russian scientists are creating an information and exploration geological database system, "Geological Section of a Superdeep Well." The large database includes petrographic, geochemical, and mineralogical information, as well as video of a few thousand rock sections taken at various depths.
Unfortunately, work at another Russian well, the Uralskaya Superdeep Well (its planned depth is 15,000 meters and 6,000 meters have already been drilled), has been called into question by the technological, social and economic reasons.