Awarding the 2004 Global Energy Prize

The Global Energy Prize will be awarded for the second time in this country June 20. President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation had first announced a new independent international award during the 2002 Russia-EU summit. The Global Energy prize, which was initiated by Zhores Alferov, who had received the 2000 Nobel physics prize, is presented for scientific and practical achievements in the field of energy because a similar Nobel Prize is lacking. Well, this is hardly surprising because the power industry was perceived as relatively unimportant more than 100 years ago (that is, when the Nobel Prize came into being).

The Global Energy prize, which rivals the Nobel Prize, resembles it to some extent. Just like the Nobel Prize, it can be presented to a team of researchers (no more than three people); any posthumous awards are out of the question. Both prizes are quite comparable, with the Global Energy prize totalling at least $750,000 in line with its statute. This prize can't be awarded twice; meanwhile any Nobel Prize winner can get this prize in some other category, such as physics and chemistry. And, finally this prize is awarded by President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation at St. Petersburg's Constantine palace, which is his official residence there.

In June 2003 the Russian leader awarded the first Global Energy prizes to Russian scientist Gennady Mesyats, as well as Ian Douglas Smith and Nick Holonyak, both from the United States. Gennady Mesyats and Ian Douglas Smith received these prizes for their achievements in the field of high-capacity impulse energy; for his own part, Nick Holonyak was awarded for his contribution to developing silicon electronic circuits and semi-conducting devices.

This year's prize went to two Russian physicists and one US physicist. Academician Feodor Mitenkov and professor Leonard J. Koch received this prize for developing fastreactors, with Academician Alexander Sheindlin getting it for his high-temperature substance-property research, which will benefit the power industry.

Leonard J. Koch pioneered the development of fast reactors. Academician Feodor Mitenkov's inventions supplement research in this highly important nuclear power-industry sphere. Both men have never met before; nonetheless, professor Leonard J. Koch did admit that he was looking forward to seeing his Russian counterpart. The United States hasn't yet used any fast reactor; meanwhile two such reactors now operate in Russia, Leonard J. Koch noted. Apart from fast reactors, Feodor Mitenkov developed compact, extremely dependable and safe nuclear reactors for nuclear-powered ice-breakers.

Leonard J. Koch also admitted that Global Energy was the first important international award in his entire scientific career.

For his own part, Academician Alexander Sheindlin perceives the Lenin Prize (i.e. the top Soviet award) and the Global Energy prize as the most important awards of his lifetime. Alexander Sheindlin is particularly proud that he had ranked among the first prize-winners in both cases.

Alexander Sheindlin created the required scientific foundation of the modern thermal power industry, which generates 90 percent of all electricity on this planet. He studied thermodynamic properties of heat carriers, i.e. water and water vapor; such research makes it possible to develop new-generation thermal power plants boasting super-critical parameters. The results of such research are listed in all fundamental reference books all over the world. Moreover, Alexander Sheindlin studied heat-physical properties of liquid metals and their vapors, which is important for nuclear power units.

He is quite upset because the Russian power industry now tends to lag behind. This is really vexing because Russia had boasted a world-class power-generating equipment sector. More than 10 million kWt of new power units had previously been commissioned in this country each year. Separate power plants now being constructed are a drop in the bucket.

He praises the work of two other 2004 prize-winners, believing that the fast-reactor power industry will make it possible to completely tap the potential of nuclear fuel just because operational fast reactors reproduce fuel.

240 foreign and 160 Russian specialists were asked to nominate prospective Global Energy prize-holders in 2004. The prize statute calls for absolute confidentiality. According to Zhores Alferov, those scientists, who don't get this prize, won't be upset; and those, who do, will be really happy.

More than 60 papers from the United States, Japan, Canada, India, Russia and other countries, were examined this time (a 100-percent increase on the 2003 period).

The "Global Energy" prize fund was established by three big-league Russian oil-and-gas and power-industry corporations, namely, Gazprom, RAO UES (Unified Energy Systems) and YUKOS.

Those, who instituted this prize, didn't pay attention to financial aspects alone, designing a unique medal and a prize-winner's certificate, as well.

The gold-and-silver medal, which measures 45 by 45 millimeters, is a real jewelry masterpiece. Medal designers opted for an unusual-looking square medal in the most innovative sphere, i.e. energy. The medal's obverse side features a rising star symbolizing a scientific discovery. A risen sun can be seen on its reverse side, symbolizing the energy sphere.

St. Petersburg has been minting coins and medals for over 300 consecutive years; meanwhile local goldsmiths were particularly good this time. The entire top-secret medal-production process has 15 operations; some of them can only be performed by hand.

The medal is placed between two top-quality glass pieces, thus appearing to float in mid-air; all three components rest on a precious mahogany pedestal.

The prize-winner's certificate is also quite unique, featuring custom-made paper and resembling a work of art. The certificate is placed inside a gilded frame featuring state-of-the-art technologies. An aphoristic inscription in Russian, English, German and French is located along its perimeter, describing the importance of each prize-winner's discovery for mankind.

The 2004 prize fund stands at $900,000. Meanwhile next year's prize fund will total at least $1 million, Gazprom chief executive officer Alexei Miller noted.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team