Science  27 Apr 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5824, pp. 529

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  1. Think Tiny, Kremlin Says

    1. Bryon MacWilliams,
    2. John Simpson

    With $1 billion in new announced government financing at its disposal, one of Russia's leading centers of scientific research, the Kurchatov Institute, will manage Russian nanotech research and development. The $1.1 billion nanotech windfall, announced last week, is an enormous sum for science in Russia, where the average researcher is slated to earn only $1000 per month by 2010. The first 3 years of investment, aimed to outfit a dozen or so research centers with laboratory equipment, will be followed by a second stage to run through 2015.

    “This will help Russia emerge on the international stage in nanotechnology, where it had been in a state of decay,” says Mihail Roco of the U.S. National Science Foundation.

  2. Think Big, Report Suggests

    1. Eli Kintisch

    The U.S. government needs to do a better job of putting into strategic context its plans for new nuclear weapons, says a panel convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which publishes Science. The main points of a new report by the panel were disclosed in February (Science, 9 March, p. 1348), but the final version includes new emphasis on the “international implications” of the nascent Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) effort to make bombs that don't need to be tested. C. Bruce Tarter, panel chair and former director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, says that the White House must explain “what are nuclear weapons for … [and] how many do we need.” The chair of the House spending panel that controls nuclear weapons, Peter Visclosky (D-IN), is an RRW skeptic and has called for such big-picture answers.

  3. Indian Rockets Prove Lucrative

    1. Pallava Bagla

    NEW DELHI—India entered the fiercely competitive commercial space market with a bang on 23 April with the launch of an Italian astronomy satellite. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is muscling in on a multibillion-dollar business that has been the exclusive domain of rocket efforts in Europe, China, Russia, and the United States. ISRO is trumpeting its cost advantage: It charged Italy about $11 million, a competitive price given the launch location close to the equator. Italy's AGILE craft will study, among other things, gamma ray bursts and dark matter. ISRO chair G. Madhavan Nair called AGILE's launch a “historic moment.”

  4. Things Looking Up

    1. Daniel Clery

    To keep up with other spacefaring nations, the United Kingdom needs its own space agency, the Royal Society said this week in a submission to a government consultation aiming to draw up a space strategy for the years 2007-10. With government spending spread across nine departments and funding agencies, Britain's space effort lacks focus, the society says, making it particularly hard for the U.K. to speak with one voice when negotiating bilateral projects apart from the multinational programs of the European Space Agency.

    A new national agency would replace the British National Space Centre, which now plays a coordinating role but has a staff of just 45 and no budget of its own. The U.K. spent just over $400 million on space research and missions in the 2005-06 fiscal year and provides only 7% of the budget of the European Space Agency; France and Germany give 25% and 20%, respectively. “It can be difficult at times to get agreements for international missions,” says space scientist Andrew Coates of University College London. “A more effective voice would be extremely welcome.” But it's not all about perception. “We should be fighting for more money for space,” Coates says. “Our ambitions go far beyond what we can currently do.”

  5. Lights Out, Please

    1. Daniel Clery

    Astronomers upped the ante in their efforts to fight light pollution with an international conference last week that drew up a declaration on a “right to observe the stars” and promoted the idea of specially protected dark-sky reserves. “There is lots of protection for different environments. Now there is a movement to look at the night sky in the same way,” says Graham Bryant of the British Astronomical Association.


    A UNESCO-sponsored meeting, Starlight 2007 brought astronomers together with tourism, environment, and culture experts on the Spanish island of La Palma, whose dark night skies have been protected by law since 1988. “By mixing up the various communities, everyone wins,” says David Crawford, head of the International Dark-Sky Association. Cipriano Marin of UNESCO suggests that tourism authorities in astronomy hot spots such as La Palma and Hawaii could develop trip packages that exploit each locale as a “clean-sky destination.”