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Exciting Day 2 of Science BRICS Meeting at Kurchatov Institute

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EIRNS—On the second day of the meeting of the BRICS science delegations, which include delegates from India, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, China, and Kyrgyzstan, the president of the Kurchatov Institute, Mikhail Kovalchuk, introduced some of the work of the Institute to the visiting delegates. Speaking to them at the beginning of the event, Kovalchuk told the delegates, "“Today in the Russian Federation one of the most modern scientific fields in the world has actually been formed, prepared for the future science of the 21st century.”

Kovalchuk then went into a report of the work of the Institute in all the major areas of science, from crystallography to microelectronics. He laid stress on such areas of work of the Institute as the creation of new materials, microelectronics, high-energy and elementary particle physics, nuclear physics, and genetics.

A major area of work at Kurchatov is of course nuclear energy. Kovalchuk spoke of the new Elena reactor, which they have developed, which is a self-regulating reactor that can work for 20 years without maintenance. Heat generated from the reaction is converted to electricity by the installation. These will be ideal for difficult to reach locations like in the Arctic.

They have recently laid down a new icebreaker, the Leader, which can move quickly through ice as thick as three meters. They have also developed an underwater vehicle for monitoring pipelines and are working on an underwater drone.

In the area of space, they are working on plasma engines for flights to the Moon and other planets, and another self-regulating nuclear reactor, the sister of Elena, Selena, which can be placed on the Moon. At the same time, they are working on the creation of nature-like technologies—from physics to neurosciences. As an example of nature-like technology, Kovalchuk cited the possibility of creating an “animate” system from a microelectronic semiconductor substrate and rhodopsin, a sensitive protein of the human eye that acts as a photodetector.

Kurchatov is also working on what they call “megascience class projects” with construction of a synchrotron Russky Island and another synchrotron in Siberia. Kurchatov also plans to have its own particle accelerator soon. [Russian scientists have recently been ejected from their work in CERN.]

Kovalchuk’s comments then led to a lively discussion among the BRICS participants, with opening remarks from a video message from the President of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Helena Bonciani Nader, who noted that the meeting of academy leaders is very important for the development of science and the unity of friendly countries.

Wide -ranging topics were discussed, including a proposal for studying the world’s oceans, put forward by a Chinese delegate, topics dealing with food security, and creating a platform of “science diplomacy” among the BRICS countries, and a proposal to focus on the youth of the world to teach them to listen to authoritative scientists, rather than to all the self-styled “experts.” [wcj]