Russian science is on the verge of a breakthrough innovation

 

"REO" Michael V., start with a provocative question: does the Russian science requirements of the time?

MK: Of course — yes. Russian science meets world standards, it is generally accepted. I emphasize that in general the hallmarks of our science, many scientists are creative, proactive attitude, creativity, commitment to interdisciplinarity. In many European and world science has enriched our ideas, discoveries — from the XIX century to the present day.

Russian science, its achievements and contributions are significant and important, integral part of the world, first of all, the fundamental science. All this solid "baggage" certainly gives us a significant chance for further development and transformation of Russia into a modern great scientific power.

Certainly both — today, after completion of the transition to a market economy, we are in a kind of crossroads, where it is necessary to look at the scope of our research with fresh eyes, to see that it has lagged behind that slows down, where there is no promising. Soviet science has been aligned to the specific economic, administrative way. Today is a different environment completely different economic and political conditions, and in science requires a kind of inventory. It is necessary to highlight the research areas — objectively strong demand in Russia and in the West. They need to fully support, develop, and already around them — all you need to step up. No need to focus on past glory.

"REO": What Russian research areas you would define as a "breakthrough"?

MK: Breakthrough scientific fields, by definition, can not be much, but they play a key role in the development of modern society. Another obvious example — energy. Today, not only in our country but in the world there is a huge demand for energy. Feel a lot of energy deficit countries — China, U.S., India and Russia. In particular, we have today a shortage of generating capacity constrains the development of industry, construction, small business (although this is projected shortage must have occurred no earlier than 2012!).

It is clear that energy — is the most important trend in the development of civilization, not only today but also in the foreseeable future. What will we do when the end of traditional resources? Today, the world has already decided — after the traditional hydrocarbon and hydropower will develop nuclear energy. This is the only existing alternative to today — clear, developed, sustained and at the moment it is a safe way to generate energy.

"REO": What are the "trump card" has in this industry, our country?

MK: I recall — nuclear power was born in the Soviet Union, and by the way, we have, at the Kurchatov Institute. Over fifty years ago, launched the first nuclear power plant in Obninsk. Now Russia is a large-scale program for the creation of nuclear energy by 2015, which provides for significant investments in the sector — about 1.5 trillion rubles, of which more than half are non-budgetary funds, including private businesses.

This program is clearly stated — every year in our country will be administered two blocks of nuclear power plants. Now there are two types of reactors. The first — a channel type, uranium-graphite RBMK — development of the Kurchatov Institute. They are now produced 50% of the electricity produced by the "Rosenergoatom" at the plant. The rest are VVER-1000 with capacity of 1000 megawatts, the so-called pressurized water reactors [1]. We are actively developing the NPP-2006, providing, inter alia, the creation of VVER-1500. Given the fact that the world begins a violent, explosive growth of nuclear power, domestic nuclear technology has tremendous export potential. Today we are building nuclear power plants in China, India, Iran, approved the project for Bulgaria.

After the Chernobyl accident, which caused serious distrust of the nuclear industry, many nuclear projects in the world have been frozen, but Russia continued to work to improve the safety of nuclear power plants. Over the past two decades, the reliability of nuclear power plants, in particular, protecting them from human error, radically improved. In parallel, the problem is solved closed fuel cycle, waste-free production. All the spent fuel will automatically be put on deposit, run the loop for recycling.

Along with the program of NPP-2006, we developed a new program on a regional nuclear power. This is a unique scheme — the installation barge reactors of the type that are on the nuclear-powered icebreakers to water way they can be transported to any place in Russia and the world. The first such floating station on the base of the reactor facility lies in the "Sevmash". If two plants with total capacity of 660 megawatts will be installed on a barge, then this floating power can provide energy to the entire region.

After the implementation of this project will be to speak not only about the innovative breakthrough: floating nuclear power stations are able to make the Russian leader for innovative development. The company "Ford" not invented the car, and the company "Boeing" aircraft, but they created the industrial technology of their assembly on the assembly line. In fact, floating nuclear power stations will give impetus to the creation of nuclear power plants "on the line."

REO: Michael V., and unless such mobility of nuclear technology will not reduce the level of security?

MK: No way. Note that we do not depart from the regime of non-proliferation of nuclear technologies. We do not need anyone to transfer fuel, we produce and provide a ready power plant on a barge. We are bringing it, set themselves provide the necessary security measures, provide the required connection. The crew of such a facility will change shifts, as in the oil well. In case of completion of work or if there is no need in the station, or in the case of some events that threaten sustainable presence in the area, issues its closure, transfer, suspend, decommissioning resolved in the normal mode.

The second important aspect. Today, on the basis of such a power plant has become possible to realize a fundamentally new nuclear power trading schemes, such as leasing: the station can not sell, transfer and leasing.

Another promising area of domestic nuclear industry — the development of atomic hydrogen energy.

A few words about fusion energy, that is, the establishment of plants based on nuclear fusion. In autumn 2006 in Paris, a few leading countries, including Russia, have signed an agreement to participate in an international project ITER [2] — on the basis of the construction of the fusion in France. This project is for 30 years and it is worth tens of billions of dollars. I recall that "TOKOMAK" which was born fusion plasma [3], proposed and implemented in the Soviet Union, too, at the Kurchatov Institute. Russian Research Center "Kurchatov Institute", with a unique scientific potential, is one of the most important platforms of modern science.

I can not mention such a direction as innovative nuclear energy associated with new types of reactors — is a high-temperature gas reactors, liquid-salt reactors, fast reactors. All of these operating time has our science, but for some items is a leader. I cite here the example of nuclear energy, especially because today is the most significant breakthrough industry, which "pull" for all the rest. The breakthrough here is obvious for Russia. Especially in view of the growing global demand for energy.

In general, Russia is today, from my point of view, in a very favorable situation for innovation breakthrough, which will be very important not only for the economy of the country, but the whole way of life.

REO: Michael
V., and that other branches of science?

MK: Russia has strengthened promotions in the space sector. We all remember that the orbital space station — is also a domestic achievement. Russia has accumulated invaluable experience in delivery of goods to them, long-term stay at the station, medical and biological experiments conducted in orbit. Space exploration has also been, is and will be the domestic perspective direction. Finally, speaking about the fundamental, methodological breakthrough, it — nanotechnology, which will become the basis of scientific and technical progress of the XXI century. Based on nanotechnology will develop in almost all areas of science, medicine, economics, nanotechnology will change the entire way of life in the world in the coming decades.

"REO": Among the many views on the Russian science and there is this: it is thanks to science, our country is very fast by historical standards, has moved from a socialist to a market economy. What do you think about this?

MK: This is, in my view, is quite obvious. Such rapid transition of our country from the administrative-totalitarian system to a market structure has historical roots. In the Soviet Union, a man who seeks to be free and independent, should be implemented as a creative person. And if in any Western country average statistical creative people are evenly distributed across many sectors of the economy and society: business, practical medicine, law, sports, journalism, where they can be realized and achieved tangible success in our country, this implementation was often only possible in science. Science has been claimed and caressed power. As a result, people have sought to creatively active in science and, in particular, were concentrated in the Academy of Sciences. That is why we have in Russia, despite the general decline of the economy and the lack of development in many areas of public life in 1970-1980-ies., Science, however, maintained a fairly high level and international recognition.

By the beginning of the restructuring under the roof of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR was gathered, in fact, the intellectual potential of the nation. Hardly perestroika began immediately in other areas were in demand creative people, and then inject the scientific sphere intellectual potential in different sectors of the economy and other areas, including in the area, which were created in our country from scratch.

One can cite many examples of the most successful businessmen, bankers, politicians, public figures became former scientists. The "brain drain" was, in fact, not only in the outflow abroad, but also in the diffuse power flows mainly from the fields of sciences, where there was a very high concentration of research capacity, in the areas where it was called for, where it was little or not at all, and where the money was.

"REO": Speaking of money, poor funding and low incomes of scientists — one of the most common places in the discussion of the situation in the domestic science. At the same time, the European Union regularly increases the cost of science, the same occurs in the USA. How do I fix this?

MK: First, not only the European Union and the United States to increase spending on science. They are growing and large-scale manner in our country. And a number of positions in absolute terms, they are quite comparable to those investing in the science that makes other leading countries.

Leaders of our country and, above all, the president, paying great attention to science. Over the past two years, due to increase investments in science has improved the material and technical basis of many scientific institutions. Tens of centers of excellence. For example, the Institute of Crystallography, Russian Academy of Sciences, in which I have been working for many years in his entire 60-year history, there was such a variety of high-end research equipment, which today has access center, established on the basis of the institute. And this is no exception. All over Russia there are dozens of institutions, equipment which invested millions of dollars. There are dozens of centers that received less financial support, but, nevertheless, significantly upgraded equipment. Furthermore, so-called active develop large plants. For example, a synchrotron facility at the Kurchatov Institute, the research neutron source and a number of similar research facilities around the country have received additional support from the state. And all of this equipment is open to the scientific community.

Moreover, now, in connection with the adoption of a state-level program of the development of nanotechnology in the country in scientific infrastructure planned new large-scale investments. In the next two years, Russia has a chance to become one of the most equipped with modern scientific equipment developed nations of the world.

"REO" Michael V., what transformations, in your opinion, will be waiting in the next few years, industry-science? Do not turn into a pursuit of large-scale privatization and corporatisation of research organizations destruction of science? Quite often business will be easier and easier to invest in the purchase of imported technologies and techniques instead of investment in domestic developments. Some experts fear that such an approach can result in long term loss of the country’s position in a number of ways.

MK: In the early 90’s, many industries have virtually disappeared. And it automatically became a verdict of Soviet science industry. She actually ceased to be relevant. Before, when there was a Soviet industry, built on the branch principle, it oversaw the powerful ministry. Industry asked for so many students, so many innovations, such and such results. Were industry research institutions that serve the industry. Then it is gone, and the beginning of another stage of development. Instead of having branches, especially raw. While they, of course, of little interest to the development of new industries and innovation.

But look at what the situation is today. A united Aircraft Corporation (JSC "UAC"), brings together dozens of aircraft factories. The government has given an order for a large-scale aircraft for five to ten years. The same is done in shipbuilding. With the launch of "Rosatomproma" will develop another largest, with a billion-dollar volume of high-tech company. Each of these corporations will now actively promote science, invest in her own money to build their brand science. Without it, they will not survive.

We now have in the country is a natural, civilized process. In this sense, I consider the prospects of domestic industry, or, more correctly, corporate science, extremely positive. There will regroup and re-formed industrial science to the science enterprise. This will take a few years.

[1] The first Soviet industrial uranium-graphite reactor was put into operation in 1948 Since the mid 1960s, in the Soviet Union worked on two main areas of power reactors: uranium-graphite RBMK (high-power channel reactor) and a body-type reactors (pressurized water reactor). RBMK-1000 reactors installed at the power of Leningrad, Kursk and Smolensk NPP. — Here and below approx. "REO".
[2] The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER).
[3] TOKOMAK — a grand scientific and technical construction, designed to compress in a complete vacuum with electromagnetic fields of hot plasma to temperatures of solar fusion reactions to produce energy from the Sun to the Earth.

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