Without Russia, science tackles the misery and dreams of the world alone


Without Russia’s help, climate scientists are worried about how they will continue their important task of recording Arctic warming.

The European space agency is working on how a planned Mars rover can survive the freezing nights on the Red Planet without Russian heating.

And if the 35 countries cooperating with experimental fusion reactors in France cannot ship critical components from Russia, what will happen to the world’s quest for carbon-free energy?

In the field of science, which has a profound impact on humanity’s future and knowledge, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine has caused a rapid and widespread decline in the relationship and project that connects Moscow and the West. The post-Cold War science bridge is being elucidated as Western nations seek to punish and isolate the Kremlin by depleting support for scientific programs, including Russia.

According to scientists, the cost of this decoupling can be high on both sides. Addressing climate change and other issues becomes more difficult and time-consuming without cooperation. Russian and Western scientists have become dependent on each other’s expertise as they have worked together to tackle the challenges of unleashing the power of atoms and launching spacecraft into space. Breaking up a tight network of relationships can be complicated.

One example is the Mars rover with Russia planned by the European Space Agency. An array of Russian sensors for sniffing, refining and studying the planet’s environment may need to be unbolted and replaced. In that case, a launch already scrubbed for this year could not have happened until 2026.

“We need to unravel all this cooperation we had. This is a very complex process and a painful process that I can tell you,” said the Associated Press director. One Josef Aschbacher said in an Associated Press interview. “Of course, interdependence creates stability and some confidence, and this is what we lose and is now lost by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

International resentment and sanctions against Russia make formal cooperation difficult or impossible. The scientists I’ve become friends with are in informal contact, but the plugs are being pulled, regardless of the size of the project. The European Union has said it will freeze Russian entities from a major € 95 billion ($ 105 billion) in funding for research, suspend payments and not obtain new contracts. In Germany, the United Kingdom and other countries, funding and support for projects involving Russia has also been withdrawn.

In the United States, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has cut off its ties with the research university that helped establish it in Moscow. Estonia’s oldest and largest university does not accept new students from Russia and its ally Belarus. Tarmo Soomere, president of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, states that it is necessary to break the scientific connection, which will also hurt.

“We are at risk of losing much of the momentum that drives the world to a better solution, (a) a better future,” he told AP. “Globally, we are at risk of losing the core of science. It is about getting new and essential information and communicating it to others.”

Russian scientists are preparing for painful isolation. An online petition by Russian scientists and scientists against the war states that there are currently more than 8,000 signatories. By invading Ukraine, they became a Pariah state, saying, “Because you can’t do research without full-scale cooperation with foreign colleagues, you can usually work as a scientist. I can’t. “

Increasing marginalization is also being promoted by Russian authorities. An order from the Ministry of Science suggested that scientists no longer had to bother publishing their research in scientific journals, saying they would no longer be used as a benchmark for the quality of their work.

Lev Zelenyi, a leading physicist at the Moscow Space Institute, who was involved in the currently suspended collaboration at ExoMars Rover, described the situation as “tragic” and emailed him and other Russian scientists to AP. Said what he had to do now. Learn how to live and work in this new deactivated environment. “

With some major collaborations, the future is unclear. Work on the ITER fusion energy project in 35 countries in southern France is ongoing, and Russia is still one of the seven founders, sharing the costs and results of the experiment.

Laban Coblentz, an ITER spokesman, said the project remains “a deliberate attempt by countries with different idealisms to build something physically together.” Among the key components supplied by Russia is a giant superconducting magnet awaiting testing in St. Petersburg before shipping — scheduled for a few years later.

Researchers looking for elusive dark matter hope not to lose more than 1,000 Russian scientists contributing to experiments at the European nuclear research organization CERN. Joachim Mnitch, director of research and computing, said the punishment should be reserved by the Russian government, not by Russian colleagues. CERN has already suspended its position as a Russian observer in the organization, but “we haven’t sent anyone home,” Mnich told AP.

In other areas, scientists say Russia’s expertise will be lost. Adrian Maxworthy, a professor at Imperial College London, said in a study of the Earth’s magnetic fields that Russian-made instruments “can make types of measurements not possible with other commercial instruments made in the West.” .. Muxworthy no longer expects the 250 million year old Siberian rocks he planned to study to be delivered from Russia.

In Germany, a year-long international mission led by atmospheric scientist Marcus Rex to the Arctic from 2019 to 2020 is a powerful burst of ice to continue to supply research vessels with food, fuel and other necessities. He said it would not have been possible without a Russian ship. The Ukrainian invasion has prevented this “very close cooperation” and future joint efforts to study the effects of climate change, he told AP.

“It will hurt science. We will lose things,” Rex said. “Lay out the map and look at the Arctic Circle. Ignoring the big thing about Russia in the Arctic Circle, it’s very difficult to do meaningful research.”

“It’s a real nightmare because the Arctic is changing so fast,” he added. “We do not wait for us to resolve all our political conflicts and ambitions to conquer other nations.”


Frank Jordan of Berlin, Jamie Keeten of Geneva, and other AP journalists contributed to this report.

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Without Russia, science tackles the misery and dreams of the world alone

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