Science and technology in Russia - 19 March, 2004

* Russia's prospected and accumulated reserves of uranium and plutonium will ensure the stable development of the country's nuclear power engineering until the end of the 2030s, says a nuclear industry leader Igor Borovkov. After that, the Russian nuclear power engineering will resort to fast neutron reactors and thermonuclear plants.

Russia's nuclear energy is developing at a stable pace. In the past five years, electricity generation at nuclear power plants rose by 40% and their share in the power balance of European Russia topped 20%, annually replacing about 40 bln cubic metres of natural gas in the country's energy balance and increasing replacement by up to 3 bln cu m every year.

The cost of electricity produced at nuclear plants is 10-13% cheaper. Russia's Energy Strategy provides for the development of nuclear power engineering at two times the pace of other energy branches. By 2020, the production of electricity at nuclear power plants will reach 270-300 bln kWh a year, or double the current figure.

* Academician Alexander Lisitsin spoke at the 8th international conference on modern methods and equipment of ocean studies about four-dimensional oceanology. The ocean is usually studied as a three-dimensional object, with latitude, longitude and depth. The academician adds the fourth dimension, time. He suggests that seabed sediments, silt and sand, which store information about changes on the Earth in the past 160 mln years, should be viewed as the time element.

Four-dimensional oceanology could become instrumental in studying climate changes and trends, as a study of sediments could raise the veil of the secrecy over warm and cold periods in the past and present and predict them in the future.

* Scientists at the Institute of Comprehensive Social Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences have proved wrong the general belief that weak migration in Russia keeps back the development of the labour market. The scientists showed that the influx of migrants in modern Russia is registered not only in large cities but also in the provinces. As many as 13% of provincial residents have come to their current place of residence and work in the past decade, that is, during the reform period.

The overwhelming majority of urban dwellers in Russia have similar possibilities and mobility. Selective polls in 2003 involved about 1,800 respondents in all types of urban settlements. According to official data, there were 1,098 cities in Russia with an aggregate population of over 105 mln.

* Absorption has a vital role in many branches of production and life. The cigarette filter is the most pleasant example of absorption of substances (though dangerous, in this case).

Siberian chemists have created a new class of absorbing substances, the organosilicon sorbents, which can be applied in a variety of spheres. Their production is simple, they are very strong and very resistant to high temperature and chemicals.

The scientists have created and applied methods of determining silver, gold and platinum content in gold-bearing sands and polymetallic ores based on the new sorbents, which are also used to monitor Lake Baikal, the planet's largest fresh water body. The new sorbents can be also used for the utilisation of silver from cine- and photo wastes and for purifying industrial sewage from quicksilver, lead, arsenic and other toxic agents.

And lastly, cigarette filters made of the new material make smoking less dangerous and are much safer than current filters.

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Author`s name Editorial Team