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Working to realise tomorrow’s world: Russia’s futuristic university

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Moscow, Feb 19 (IANS) Nanoparticles to detect and combat cancer, superconducting metamaterials to make quantum computers a reality, solar cell technology providing over 40 per cent efficiency and more — these are not goals but achievements already realised at a Moscow university which is at the vanguard of Russia’s aim to further its high-tech knowledge economy and cooperate with international partners to develop futuristic technologies.

The National University of Science and Technology (NUST MISIS) grew out of the Department of Metallurgy in the Moscow Academy of Mines, established in 1918, before undergoing a series of metamorphoses to emerge in its current incarnation as one of Russia’s most dynamic research and education hubs with an international faculty and rollcall of students, Rector Alevtina A. Chernikova told IANS.

The NUST MISIS has moved on from mining and metallurgy to now being engaged in research in cutting-edge areas of technology, especially nanotechnology for medicine and energy efficiency and as well as miniature magnetic sensors, multilayered corrosion-resistant alloys for nuclear reactors and oil and gas pipelines, shape memory alloys, solar batteries for spacecraft, biocompatible hyperplastic titanium alloys for bone-grafting, and more.

Giving an overview of the varsity to a select group of visiting journalists from eight countries, Chernikova said that it now comprises nine colleges, with 27 advanced laboratories, three-world class engineering centres, over 400 staff and 15,000 students, including over 1,000 PhD students and doctoral candidates (with over a fifth of them from 69 countries) in its nearly 300 programmes in various subjects.

While the institution, ranked ninth in the country, figuring high in the QS World University list — particularly in the BRICS segment, and the only Russian university in Times Higher Education’s World Best Small Universities — receives adequate funds from the government, it has also been successful in attracting funding from business and industry, making it a model of Public-Private Partnership in the sector, Chernikova said.

And high-level academics is not the only thing its graduates excel in — four represented Russia in the 2016 Rio Olympics in disciplines like swimming and boxing, with boxer Evgeny Tischenko winning the gold in the heavyweight category.

On the focus areas for NUST MISIS, Vice Rector for Science and Innovation Mikhail Filonov said that the thrust is mostly (nearly 35 per cent) in material sciences, over 25 per cent in physics and astronomy, followed by engineering, chemistry and chemical engineering.

Stressing on its admirable record in academic publications and citations, including leading scientific journals like Nature Communications, NanoLetters, Science and ACS Nano, he said it has collaborations on with 527 leading institutions in the world, mostly in Europe (313) and North America (84), but also 108 in the Asia-Pacific region, out of which nearly half are in fellow BRICS countries — China (31) and India (20).

To a question from IANS on links with the BRICS members, Filonov said that they were a Network University of the grouping and an active participant, with the members represented by their students. “We represent Russia in the project and look forward to improve collaboration in science.”

He admitted that links with Brazil and South Africa were on a lesser scale than with India and China, but now picking up. “We have a project in South Africa in mining, especially platinum, palladium and rare earths… also with De Beers. We also have some joint research on with the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil).”

The visiting journalists were taken to a few of its leading laboratories, including the one for Biomedical Nanomaterials headed by Alexander Majouga, which has synthetised biomedical magnetic nanomaterials for targeted treatment of brain, liver and prostate cancer.

The 10-nanometre particles of magnetite (ferrous oxide) are coated with a biopolymer, which contains the anti-cancer drug intended to kill the tumour cell, said Majouga, who told IANS that all pre-clinical trials have been successfully completed, and human trials are scheduled to start later this year or next year.

In the Hybrid Nano-Structure Materials lab, Alexander Komissarov — the varsity’s youngest faculty member — is engaged in various key infrastructural projects like using acoustic signals to detect internal fractures in rail tracks and stemming corrosion in oil pipes, while in the Advanced Energy Efficient Materials, Japanese Professor Akihisa Inoue is leading attempts to develop new metal amorphous and nanocrystal alloys, including “metallic glass”.

Prof. Alexei Ustinov, who heads the Lab of Superconducting Metamaterials, where he divides his time with Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, has presided over development of superconducting qubits (quantum bits — the building blocks of quantum computers), and Prof Anvar Zakhidov, of University of Texas at Dallas, is leading here a project to develop high-efficiency tandem solar cells based on perovskite and polymer semiconductors.

Zakhidov told IANS that India, which is leading solar energy campaigns, must associate in this technology which is at least twice as efficient as existing techniques but still has teething problems.

But among the varsity’s crowning features is the Vladimir Pirozhkov-headed Centre for High-Complexity Industrial Prototyping, which can produce samples of any equipment, ranging from a micron to 20 metres, with its 3-D printers and other advanced machines, and the FabLab to train aspirants in digital manufacturing.

And the university is keen on international students to help it achieve its objectives, with many programmes in English and ample scholarships available.

(Vikas Datta’s visit to the university was sponsored by the Rossiya Segodnaya [Russia Today] News Group. He can be contacted at [email protected])

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BJP Minister caught urinating in public near campaign poster, Calls it ‘Old-age Tradition’

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Ajmer, Oct 8: A picture of Bhartiya Janata Party minister urinating near a wall, next to a campaign poster featuring chief minister Vasundhara Raje is making rounds on social media.

The minister, Shambhu Singh Khatesar, justified himself by saying that urinating publicly was “an age-old tradition” and he had done nothing wrong.

Speaking to media Khatesar said, “There was a wall and some posters stuck at some distance on it. I hadn’t paid attention. It isn’t right to urinate in open but it’s a natural call. Urinating in a crowded area, is wrong”.

On the Narendra Modi government cleanness drive the minister stated “As far as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is concerned, urination alone doesn’t contribute to uncleanliness. That place did not have urinals for kilometers at a stretch”.

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IMD issues cyclone alert for Odisha

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Cyclone
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Bhubneshwar, Oct 8:  The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on Monday said a depression over the Bay of Bengal is likely to concentrate into a cyclonic storm during the next 48 hours.

Under its impact, several parts of Odisha will receive heavy rainfall starting from October 9.

Fishermen have been advised not to venture into deep sea areas of the Bay of Bengal from October 9 to 12 as the sea condition would be rough.

While rainfall at many places with heavy downpour at isolated places over south coastal Odisha is likely to occur on Tuesday, heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and extremely heavy rainfall at isolated places over coastal Odisha is likely to occur on Wednesday.

It further predicted rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy downpours at a few places and extremely heavy downpour at isolated places over coastal and adjoining interior Odisha on Thursday.

The IMD said squally winds with speeds reaching 45-55 kmph to 65 kmph are very likely along and off north Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal coasts from October 9.

It is very likely to increase gradually, reaching 70-80 kmph to 90 kmph from October 10 evening onwards along and off south Odisha and adjoining districts of north Andhra Pradesh coasts, said H.R. Biswas, Bhubaneswar Met centre Director.

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Russia, Pakistan sign MoU on gas pipeline from Iran

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Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline

Moscow, Sep 28 (IANS) Russia and Pakistan signed a memorandum of understanding on implementing a project to build an underwater gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan and India, the Russian Energy Ministry said in a statement Thursday.

“The memorandum provides for the identification of authorized organisations through which the project will be supported, including during the development of a feasibility study, identification of the resource base, configuration and route of the gas pipeline,” the statement said, Xinhua reported.

Russian Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky and Pakistan’s Ministry of Energy Additional Secretary Sher Afgan Khan signed the document in Moscow.

Now Russia will have to inform Iran and India about the signing, after which it expects to sign a similar document with India, Yanovsky said in the statement.

The project was frozen in 2013 due to the imposition of sanctions against Iran, but its revival started in 2017. In November 2017, Russia and Iran signed a memorandum that envisaged Russian support for gas supplies from Iran to India.

In March, a Russian-Iranian working group on the implementation of the project had its first meeting.

According to Yanovsky, Russia and Pakistan were holding consultations on another project of building the 1,100 kilometer North-South Gas Pipeline (NSGP) between Pakistan’s Karachi and Lahore to transport 12.3 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

The implementation of an agreement signed in October last year between Russia and Pakistan on Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies “can become a promising direction of cooperation,” he said.

The governments of the two countries were also considering signing an agreement on Russian oil products supplies to Pakistan, Yanovsky said.

In addition, Russian electric power industry has shown interest in the Pakistani market, he said.

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