Kremlin Says Spies Watching Russian Scientists ’24/7′

Russia Flag

 

 

Foreign spies keen to get their hands on Russian research are monitoring Russian scientists around the clock, the Kremlin said Wednesday, after experts denounced a new security decree as a Soviet throwback.

The Kremlin’s comments came after scientists criticised a ministry directive calling on researchers not to meet foreign colleagues one-on-one and requesting filed reports after every encounter — even a cup of coffee.

“Of course we must be somewhat vigilant, because foreign special services are on alert,” said President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov when questioned on the decree from the science and education ministry.

“There is such a thing as scientific and industrial espionage,” Peskov said. “It exists 24/7 and is targeting our scientists, especially young scientists.”

He noted however that some of the decree’s provisions “sound excessive” adding that Russia “should not be bound by some rules that won’t lead to anything good.”

The decree recommending new rules on contacting foreign scientists — or Russian scientists working for foreign institutions — was made public by Alexander Fradkov from a mechanical engineering institute.

He called the rules “absurd” and urged authorities to retract them.

Another scientist working in a physics institute confirmed to AFP that the decree — which is marked for internal use — is real.

The document imposes significant red tape on any visits by foreigners into Russian institutes, asking that they are always accompanied by a designated employee.

It requests special restrictions on their use of computers, phones and other devices, including watches and binoculars.

Fradkov told AFP that the decree reminds him of Soviet-era rules which asked that researchers always met with foreigners along with a colleague, so that one scientist could report on the other if necessary.

“All science is built on communication and exchange of information,” he told AFP. “If you go by the decree, then even having a cup of coffee with a foreign colleague requires a report afterwards.”

On Wednesday, the deputy chief of Russia’s Academy of Sciences Alexei Khokhlov joined the criticism of the decree, writing on Facebook that it goes against the government’s goals to increase the number of foreign students and ease their subsequent employment in Russia.

The science and education ministry on Wednesday argued that the decree “reflected global practice” on international scientific conduct, according to a statement quoted by TASS agency.

South Korea To Launch World’s First National 5G Networks

 

 

South Korea launches the world’s first fully-fledged 5G mobile networks Friday, a transformational leap that already has superpowers sparring for control of an innovation that could potentially change the day-to-day lives of billions of people.

The superfast communications heralded by fifth-generation wireless technology will ultimately underpin everything from toasters to telephones; from electric cars to power grids.

But while the South has won the race to be first to provide the user experience, that is only one part of a wider battle that has pit the United States against China and ensnared giants including Huawei.

Hyper-wired South Korea has long had a reputation for technical prowess, and Seoul has made the 5G rollout a priority as it seeks to stimulate stuttering economic growth.

The system will bring smartphones near-instantaneous connectivity — 20 times faster than the existing 4G — allowing users to download entire movies in less than a second.

In the same way that 3G enabled widespread mobile web access and 4G made new applications work ranging from social media to Uber, 5G will herald a new level of connectivity, empowered by speed.

It is crucial for the future development of devices ranging from self-driving vehicles that send data traffic to one another in real time, industrial robots, drones and other elements of the Internet of Things.

That makes it a vital part of the infrastructure of tomorrow, and the 5G standard is expected to bring about $565 billion in global economic benefits by 2034, according to the London-based Global System for Mobile Communications, an industry alliance.

‘One million devices’

But the implications have pitted Washington against Beijing in an increasingly bitter standoff.

The US has pressed its allies and major economies to avoid 5G solutions from Chinese-owned telecom giant Huawei, citing security risks that technological backdoors could give Beijing access to 5G-connected utilities and other components.

But Chinese firms dominate 5G technology.

Huawei, the global leader, has registered 1,529 5G patents, according to data analysis firm IPlytics.

Combined with manufacturers ZTE and Oppo, plus the China Academy of Telecommunications Technology, Chinese entities own a total of 3,400 patents, it says — more than a third of the total.

South Korea comes next, with its companies holding 2,051 patents.

In contrast, US firms have 1,368 altogether, IPlytics said — 29 fewer than Finland’s Nokia alone.

All three of South Korea’s mobile networks — KT, SK Telecom and LG UPlus go live with their 5G services.

“5G’s hyper speed can connect one million devices within a one square kilometre zone simultaneously,” KT said in a report.

On the same day, Samsung Electronics will release the Galaxy S10 5G, the world’s first available smartphone using the tech, with rival LG following with the V50s two weeks later.

Cost barrier

More than three million South Koreans will switch to 5G by the end of this year, predicted KT vice-president Lee Pil-jae.

Until now, no mobile networks have offered nationwide 5G access. In the US, hotspots in a few selected cities have offered 5G speeds but over wifi only, while Qatari firm Ooredoo says it offers 5G services in and around Doha, but does not have devices available to use them.

US network carrier Verizon will launch fifth-generation services for mobile users in Chicago and Minneapolis next week, with more than 30 cities due to follow this year.

Japan is also expected to roll out a limited deployment in 2019 before full services start in time for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

But cost is likely to be a barrier for user uptake initially, analysts say: the cheapest version of the new Galaxy handset will be 1.39 million won ($1,200).

“While there are many cheap 4G smartphones under $300, Samsung’s 5G phones are well over $1,000, which could be a major minus point for cost-savvy consumers,” a KT representative told AFP.

None of South Korea’s three network operators would say how much they have invested in 5G — but Seoul’s economy minister Hong Nam-ki put it at at least $2.6 billion this year alone.

“If 5G is fully implemented,” he said, “it will greatly improve people’s lives”.

AFP

Scientists Discover How Mosquitoes Detect Human Sweat

Zika, w.h.o

 

Scientists have known for decades that mosquitoes are attracted to the lactic acid contained in human sweat, but in the era before advanced genetics, the precise mechanism had remained a mystery.

Now, a team of researchers at Florida International University have discovered the olfactory receptor that allows the disease-carrying insects to hone in on our odor — and how to switch it off.

They published their work on the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, known for spreading deadly illnesses like Zika, dengue and yellow fever, in the journal Current Biology on Thursday.

The team, led by FIU biologist Matthew DeGennaro, identified the guilty receptor as Ionotropic Receptor 8a, or simply IR8a, through a process of elimination that began in 2013 when DeGennaro was able to create the world’s first mutant mosquito, removing a gene to investigate how its absence affected the insect.

Tasked with investigating IR8a, DeGennaro’s PhD student Joshua Raji began by carrying out an exposure experiment using his own arm, and found the mutant mosquitoes were significantly less attracted to him than wild ones.

The outcome was confirmed through testing on 14 additional subjects.

“People have been looking for a receptor for lactic acid since the 1960s,” DeGennaro told AFP.

The findings could offer a roadmap for a new generation of attractants that lure adult specimens into traps for population control, as well as advanced repellants that make people invisible to mosquitoes — though that could be some way away.

“It’ll take years, but we are definitely a step closer,” said DeGennaro.

AFP

Academic Asks FG To Invest More In Science Education

Academic Asks FG To Invest More In Science Education
File photo

 

The Federal Government has been advised to increase its funding of the education sector if Nigeria is to become globally competitive.

An academic at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife in Osun State, Dr Babatunde Ogundare, gave the recommendation on Tuesday at the Faculty of Science Secondary Schools Quiz Competition held at the institution.

Addressing participants at the gathering, Dr Ogundare lamented that the sector had not been given adequate attention by past governments.

He stressed that government has to pay particular attention to resuscitating the interest of students in science courses, as against other fields of study which is being promoted in the recent time.

According to the don, the present administration must refocus attention to sciences for the development of the nation if the country is to advance technologically.

He further explained the rationale behind the Faculty of Science Secondary Schools Quiz Competition which started about 12 years ago.

Dr Ogundare said the quiz is aimed at sensitising the secondary school students to the knowledge of sciences and to know how relevant science is to the nation.

Eighty-one schools drawn from across states in the South-west region participated in the first round of the written science quiz competition.

Out of the 162 students who took part in the first stage of the quiz competition, 52 students qualified to move on to the second round of the competition.

FG To Set Up Science Centres In Six Geopolitical Zones

FG To Set Up Science Centres In Six Geopolitical Zones
File photo

 

The Federal Government has revealed plans to establish science centres in the six geopolitical zones of the country, to stimulate the interest of young Nigerians in science-related disciplines.

Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, disclosed this while inaugurating the Chemistry Pavilion Block of the Assumpta Science Centre during the week in Owerri, the Imo State capital.

In a statement from the ministry on Wednesday, Dr Onu said the centre would serve as the headquarters for informal science learning in Africa, with satellite centres in other parts of the continent.

According to him, the centre will become an important platform through which the challenge of poverty, disease, illiteracy, and underdevelopment in Nigeria and other parts of Africa can be fought and defeated.

The minister noted that the project showed the commitment of the Federal Government, in partnership with the Vatican, to advance the frontiers of science and technology in a bid to enthrone a knowledge-based and innovation-driven economy.

“This project re-affirms Nigeria’s commitment to African as a key component of her foreign policy, especially in the pursuit of sustained African brotherhood, development, and solidarity,” he said.

On his part, the President-General of Ofekata community, Mr Alex Iwuorie, thanked the Federal Government and the Vatican for collaborating to establish the centre in the community.

He, however, called for more presence of the Federal Government in the community and the state at large.

The Assumpta Science Centre is established to offer moral laboratories support for science teaching and learning in various schools and universities.

The centre is also expected to serve as a means of reaching schools in the rural areas through mobile units, exhibitions and lab kits for experience, as well as a platform for industrial training and field experience among others.

Wike Seeks Investment In Research Institutes

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has called for investment in science research institutions as part of government’s economic diversification plan.

The governor, who received the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, said a diversified economy would create employment opportunities for the people.

“We must sustain the development of technology for the growth of the country,” he said on Thursday at the Government House in Port Harcourt.

“I urge that we begin to use research reports from science institutes to attain the desired growth. “The development of relevant machinery and equipment will help create jobs locally and enhance the economy “.

Governor Wike said the minister exhibited maturity by establishing the Chemical Equipment and Machinery Development Institute in the state, noting that other ministers would have been influenced by political considerations.

He further directed the management of Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority to liaise with the Ministry of Science and Technology for the allocation of land for the institute.

L-R: Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, Deputy Governor Ipalibo Harry Banigo and Executive Vice Chairman, National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, Prof M Sharuna after the Courtesy Visit of the Minister to Government House Port Harcourt

Earlier, Dr Onu said the institute was a part of the process to build a knowledge-based economy that would sustain the nation, stressing that the over-reliance on oil and gas has made it difficult for the economy to grow in view of emerging realities.

“The decision has been made to make Nigeria an innovation-driven economy; we are determined to work hard to ensure this succeeds.

“If there is a problem with oil, we will still strive. For us to do this, we need to build capacity, look inwards and use our natural resources in ways that will improve our economy,” he said.

The Minister also noted that Rivers State plays a very important role in the chemical and petrochemical sector of the nation’s economy.

“We want the institute to be a centre of excellence in the chemical and petrochemical sector of the nation’s economy.

“The results of the research will be available to the private sector. We will be in a position to grow our economy,” he said.

FG Moves To Develop Science, Technology In Nigeria

Ogbonnaya Onu

The Federal Executive Council has declared a state of emergency in the science and technology sector.

The development is part of Federal Government’s efforts to boost local production in line with its Economic Recovery and Growth Plans.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, disclosed this to State House correspondents on Wednesday after the Council’s meeting in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The minister stressed the need for Nigeria to reduce its dependence on imports and encourage technological advancements in the country through a technology acquisition policy.

According to him, the initiative will help Nigerian firms to produce what the country needs as well as boost foreign investment in science, technology and engineering to develop local content.

On his part, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, hinted that the Council approved N20.6bn for the construction of roads in Kwara and Plateau states.

Channels TV Boss, John Momoh Tasks Africa On Climate Change

Climate ChangeThe Chairman/CEO of Channels Television, Mr John Momoh, has drawn the attention of African leaders to the serious dangers of climate change.

This came as the foremost television station affirmed its commitment to re-directing the mind-set of the government to guarding the environment jealously and reducing air and water pollution.

Mr Momoh spoke at the Transcorp Hotel in Abuja on Saturday during the launch of a joint production of an environmental programme by Channels Television and Deutsche Welle Television called [email protected].

The Chairman/CEO of Channels Television, in his short opening remark, emphasised the importance of putting more effort into protecting the environment from further degeneration.

“We are really excited today that we are expanding our coverage footprints to the subject of environment which we all know is under threat. We are also familiar with the issue of global warming which makes Africa’s future less green.

“Indeed Africa is facing a dramatic increase in air and water pollution, drought and wildlife extinction and unless immediate action is taken to clean up the continent’s environment, its future may be bleak,” he said.

Based on findings by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) that over the next 30 years, growing populations, wars, climate change and the introduction of alien plants and animal species will increase poverty, destroy the environment and spread disease, Mr John Momoh expressed hope that Nigeria’s Minister for Environment, would get the much needed political support of the government and wide engagement of public, private and civil society institutions and the public in general.Eco@Africa-launch-Channels-TV-DW

On the production of [email protected], he said, “This partnership couldn’t have been more timely. It comes at a time when the government is focusing intensely on taking decisive steps towards implementing our environment policy process.

“So we are right on queue with the launch of [email protected] and we are right on queue with DW.

“We at Channels are very proud to be collaborating with DW in this production and together we’ll use the programme to assist in providing direction on the continent’s intended action to address environmental issues affecting its people and the economy.”

The launch follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the Chairman of Channels Television, Mr John Momoh and DW’s Director General, Peter Limbourg in Paris in 2015.

Also speaking at the launch, the Director-General of Deutsche Welle Television, Mr Peter Limbourg, also expressed hope that the initiative would make a huge impact on Africa and Europe’s efforts on the environment.

He revealed that it was the first time that DW in over 60 years of its existence would produce a magazine with another TV channel in the world with both sides contributing.

He acknowledged the importance of Nigeria in the African continent in terms of its population, culture and wealth of human resources.

Speaking on the collaboration with Channels TV, he said, “What brings us together is that we both have high journalistic standards, we both are professionals and we are dedicated to the subjects; not only selling things, we are interested in the world.”

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Minister of the Environment, who was represented by Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Environment, Bukar Hassan, said that the federal government has endorsed [email protected]

He said that with partnerships such as Channels TV and DW’s the country would do everything to have a more sustainable environment.

[email protected] will report on innovations and best-practice guidelines in Africa and Europe and will present ideas on environmental protection from all over the world.

It will focus on the preservation of biological diversity, the utilization of national resources, energy sources of tomorrow and the mobility of the future.

The magazine is designed to be interactive; readers will be able to contribute their own ideas by uploading stories, photos and videos to social media.

Channels TV, DW TV Launch Environmental Programme, [email protected]

Eco@AfricaChannels Television in conjunction with Deutsche Welle Television has launched a joint production of an environmental programme called [email protected] at the Transcorp Hotel in Abuja at 6:00pm on Saturday.

[email protected] will report on innovations and best-practice guidelines in Africa and Europe and will present ideas on environmental protection from all over the world.

It will focus on the preservation of biological diversity, the utilization of national resources, energy sources of tomorrow and the mobility of the future.

The magazine is designed to be interactive; readers will be able to contribute their own ideas by uploading stories, photos and videos to social media.

Today’s launch follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the Chairman of Channels Television, Mr John Momoh and DW’s Director General, Peter Limbourg in Paris last year.

Speaking on our breakfast show, Sunrise this morning, the Director General of DW, Peter Limbourg said that the programme is a massive one and the door is open for countries with like minds.

Join us on Channels TV on Saturdays at 16:30 WAT and on DW on Saturdays at 06:30, 14:30 and 20:30 UTC, Mondays at 11:30 UTC.

The presenter of [email protected] is Nneota Egbe, a graduate of geography, who has spent the past seven years as an anchor, reporter and producer for Channels Television in Lagos, Nigeria.

[email protected] Debuts On Channels Television

Eco@Africa[email protected], a new programme which showcases innovative environmental concepts from Africa and Europe is launching on Channels Television and Deutsche Welle.

Co-produced by Deutsche Welle in Berlin and Channels TV in Nigeria, [email protected] brings together two broadcasters committed to creating a platform to showcase cutting-edge green ideas from their respective continents.

The programme presents innovative and inspiring ideas from the fields of conservation, science, art, mobility and more.

It will also move viewers and users to get on board or launch an environmental project of their own.

Join us on Channels TV on Saturdays at 16:30 WAT and on DW on Saturdays at 06:30, 14:30 and 20:30 UTC, Mondays at 11:30 UTC.

The presenter of [email protected] is Nneota Egbe, a graduate of geography, who has spent the past seven years as an anchor, reporter and producer for Channels Television in Lagos, Nigeria.

He has worked on a variety of different shows covering current affairs, cultural and environmental topics.

He has long been concerned about the environment. As the face of [email protected], he believes it is important to live with an awareness of green issues and strives to ensure his actions help protect our natural world.

He greatly enjoys spending time outdoors, is an avid cook and photographer, and has even been known to turn his hand to making clothes. Besides his television work, he volunteers for several non-governmental and humanitarian organizations.

Nigeria Needs Technology To Achieve Vision 2020 – Buhari

President-Muhammadu-Buhari-Media-Chat-1President Muhammmadu Buhari on Thursday said Nigeria must accord high priority to science and technology if it must take its rightful place among the leading economies in the modern world.

The President was speaking at the first meeting of the National Research and Innovation Council (NIRC) for the year.

The President said Nigeria’s vision of becoming one of the twenty largest economies in the world by the year 2020 is only attainable when science, technology and innovation are fully integrated into the national socio-economic development process.

He assured the council headed by the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, of his determination and commitment to ensure that as a nation, Nigeria will invest appropriately in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in order to guarantee competitiveness both continentally and globally.

According to the president the goal to secure our nation, grow our economy, create jobs and fight crime can best be achieved if Nigeria can embrace science and technology.

President Buhari hopes that research and innovation output should be measured by number of intellectual property such as patents granted and not only by the number of articles published in scholarly journals.

He also hopes that Nigeria will soon become a centre of discoveries, inventions and innovation in all fields of science and technology and that before long Nigeria should be in a position to produce Nobel laureates in the sciences.

Device Keeps Liver “Alive” Outside Body In Medical First

A donated human liver has been kept alive, warm and functioning outside a human being on a newly-developed machine and then successfully transplanted into patients in a medical world first.

A British team of doctors, engineers and surgeons announcing the achievement on Friday said it could be common practice in hospitals across the developed world within a few years, up to doubling the number of livers available for transplant.

So far the procedure has been performed on two patients on Britain’s liver transplant waiting list and both are making excellent recoveries, the medical team told a news conference.

“It was astounding to see an initially cold, grey liver flushing with color once hooked up to our machine and performing as it would within the body,” said Constantin Coussios, a professor of biomedical engineering at Oxford University and one of the machine’s co-inventors.

“What was even more amazing was to see the same liver transplanted into a patient who is now walking around.”

Currently livers destined for transplant are kept “on ice” in a process which cools them to slow down their metabolism and does not keep them functioning as they would inside a body.

This system has worked for several decades, but can also often lead to livers becoming damaged and rendered unfit for use in patients who need them.

Surgeons say keeping livers “on ice” beyond 14 hours starts becoming risky, although they can last up to 20 hours.

Hepatitis infection, alcohol abuse and drug-induced cholestasis – a blockage in the flow of bile from the liver – can all cause liver failure. Some patients with liver cancer can also benefit from a transplant.

Around 13,000 liver transplants are carried out each year in Europe and the United States, but there is a combined waiting list of around 30,000 patients who need a new liver.

Experts say up to a quarter of these patients die while they are waiting. At the same time, more than 2,000 livers are discarded every year because they are either damaged by oxygen deprivation or do not survive the cold preservation process.

The new technology, developed by Coussios together with Peter Friend, director of the Oxford Transplant Centre, preserves the liver at body temperature and “perfuses” it – supplying it with oxygenated red blood cells to keep it alive.

“This device is the very first completely automated liver perfusion device of its kind,” Coussios said. “These first clinical cases confirm that we can support human livers outside the body, keep them alive and functioning on our machine and then, hours later, successfully transplant them into a patient.”

“I FEEL SO ALIVE”

The device can keep a liver functioning normally – just as if in a person, with blood circulating through its capillaries and bile being produced – outside the body for 24 hours or more.

The results from the first two transplants using the new technology, carried out at King’s College Hospital (KCH) in London last month, suggest the device could be useful for all patients needing liver transplants, Field told reporters.

The new device could also mean livers which would otherwise be discarded as unfit for transplantation could be preserved and made viable – potentially as much as doubling the number of organs available for transplant, he said.

“If we can introduce technology like this into everyday practice, it could be a real, bona fide game changer for transplantation as we know it,” said Nigel Heaton, director of transplant surgery at KCH and part of the team that carried out the first two transplants using the device.

Coussios and Friend have been researching the technology for the device since 1994 and are developing it through an Oxford University spin-off company called OrganOx.

The first person to receive a transplanted liver kept alive on the OrganOx system was 62-year-old Briton Ian Christie. He is still recovering from the surgery but said in a statement he was getting better day by day. “I just feel so alive,” he said.

Christie was told last year he had cirrhosis of the liver and had only 12 to 18 months to live unless he got a transplant. “I was placed on the waiting list but…I was very worried.”

Having been through the surgery, he said: “I feel better than I’ve felt for 10 to 15 years, even allowing for the pain and wound that’s got to heal.”

The team now plans to run a pilot trial with 20 more liver transplant patients at KCH. Coussios said successful results of that trial would allow OrganOx to apply for marketing authority, meaning the device could be on the market by as early as 2014.