Origins of progress
[b]Belarusian researchers successfully study fundamentals of Universe[/b]Not long ago, scientists from the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences achieved success in creating a new supercomputer — ranked first worldwide for the number of points earned in daily calculations. Comprising 12-nuclei AMD Opteron processors, it can fulfil 8 trillion operations per second, without using its additional graphic processors. Scientists from the United Institute of Informatics Problems at the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus are already working on an even more efficient supercomputer, using a 16-nuclei processor. These supermachines have obvious practical applications but would never have been created without the thorough theoretic work of our Belarusian scientists.
Not long ago, scientists from the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences achieved success in creating a new supercomputer — ranked first worldwide for the number of points earned in daily calculations. Comprising 12-nuclei AMD Opteron processors, it can fulfil 8 trillion operations per second, without using its additional graphic processors. Scientists from the United Institute of Informatics Problems at the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus are already working on an even more efficient supercomputer, using a 16-nuclei processor. These supermachines have obvious practical applications but would never have been created without the thorough theoretic work of our Belarusian scientists.
In their efforts to understand the origins of the Universe, our scientists can hardly guarantee a quick financial return, but progress is hardly possible without such discoveries. The Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics is creating highly efficient SHF-power generators: gyrotons. These open the door to higher scientific spheres, including heating nuclear fusion reactor plasma to create ‘eternal’ energy. Gyrotons are also necessary for the development of powerful radiolocation stations and synthesis of new materials. Some time ago, scientists from the National Academy of Sciences’ Physics Institute were working on lasers; now, they are creating smaller sized lasers to be used for therapeutic treatments. Researchers from the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Genetics and Cytology have discovered the means to select triticale varieties resistant to disease and prolific in their harvest, which should
aid cattle breeding.
“Global civilisation is shifting to a new, post-industrial economic order: one based on knowledge,” explains the Chairman of the Scientific Council at the Belarusian Republican Foundation for Fundamental Research, National Academy of Sciences academician Valentin Orlovich. “In Belarus, the level of higher education is quite high; a range of globally acknowledged schools operate here. However, for obvious reasons, the country is unable to independently conduct research in a number of disciplines. The solution is co-operation with foreign colleagues. This would enable us to more thoroughly conduct scientific work (and at less cost), applying our results.”
The high potential of fundamental research was laid by Belarusian scientists many decades ago — especially regarding nuclear energy, physics and mathematics. They gained famed due to their world-level discoveries. Our country continues to define its own areas of research, conducted by academies, institutions and branched agencies. Among our priority areas (as approved by the President and the Council of Ministers) there are information and biotechnologies, energy studies, space, nano-materials and nano-technologies, farming, health, optics and electronics: supervised by over 100 organisations.
Every year, the Belarusian Academy of Sciences spends over $1m on developing nano-materials and nano-technologies, aiming to apply findings at industrial level. Belarus boasts huge potential in the field of information and communication technologies. Our universities annually train over a thousand highly skilled programmers, contributing not only to theoretical research but creating a basis for the practical application of scientific knowledge. Scientists are being trained to work in our regional higher educational establishments, while the Belarusian state budget allocates more funds for fundamental research each year. At present, Belarus occupies a leading position within the post-Soviet space regarding science’s contribution to GDP.
At present, about 1,300 topics are being studied under the aegis of the Belarusian Foundation for Fundamental Research. Twice this number have been applied already (primarily, in the fields of biology, medicine and agrarian sciences). Selection is made via secret ballot by 16 expert councils, which unite 110 of the most famous Belarusian scientists. In 2009, work resulted in the publishing of 110 monographies, 2,336 scientific articles, over 1,500 reports delivered to international conferences and 56 patents. Half of all studies are conducted in liaison with foreign researchers; interestingly, the number of these joint projects has almost doubled over the past five years.
Co-operation in the physico-mathe-matical and information spheres leads the way, with joint efforts yielding impressive results. This year, international grants worth 229,000 euros, $3.3m and over 2m Russian roubles have been received (double that of 2009 and covering all state costs for joint research). These are being used to implement joint scientific plans, with economic agreements concluded to ensure practical application, bringing dividends. At the time of writing this article, the 2010 results were yet to be released but Mr. Orlovich assures us that this year’s results should be even more impressive.
“Such results are due partly to the fact that the Fund has concluded a range of agreements with similar foreign orga-nisations aiming to support research,” believes Mr. Orlovich. “Among them is the Civilian Research and Development Foundation in the USA, the French National Centre for Scientific Research, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the German Scientific-Research Society, the Italian universities of Trieste and Verona, the national scientific funds of Bulgaria and Slovenia and the Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology. At present, eleven scientific projects are being conducted jointly with the Romanian Academy of Sciences. 40 applications were received for the Belarusian-Moldovan contest, with half chosen for joint financing; the rules for the first Belarusian-Lithuanian contest of projects have also been agreed.”
Naturally, close contacts have been established with the Russian Fund for Fundamental Research and the Humanitarian Scientific Fund. The Belarusian-Russian contest for scientific problems of ancient Polotsk is a tradition, while a joint contest in the field of physics is annually organised with the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research in Dubna. Another direction for joint scientific studies is the overcoming of the consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe, with Ukraine joining recently.
Relations with Polish colleagues are also developing smoothly; according to the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences’ Chairman of the Presidium, Mikhail Myasnikovich, 48 projects are now in place, focusing on natural, physico-technical and engineering sciences. Alternative energy and biotechnology are among the most promising avenues of collaboration, with special attention paid to information-communication technologies. Not long ago, the Vice President of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Karol Modzelewski, visited Minsk to agree an exchange of representations by the two leading scientific centres.
Applications are now being submitted for a regular contest of fundamental scientific research in Belarus, with about 700 projects already proposed (most joint). The most subtle nuances of nature are being explored.
By Vladimir Bibikov