Scientists at Plovdiv Medical University identify best materials for border molding in complete dentures fabrication

Edentulous jaw is a condition where either the upper (maxilla) or the lower (mandible) jaw is missing all teeth. In medical practice, it could be treated by placement of a complete denture. 

Previous research has already pointed that the application of a border molding procedure (or functional shaping) results in significantly fewer cases of pressure ulcers (decubitus) and soft tissues deformations, hence increased retention and stability of the prosthesis, both at rest and in function. Since there are many factors that affect the optimal treatment, such as anatomical structures (i.e. muscles, muscular and soft-tissue gripping) and the asymmetry between the left and right halves of upper and lower jaws, it is important that special care is taken to determine the depth, as well as the width of the tissue where the teeth would normally be nested (gingivobuccal sulcus). With border molding, it is possible to determine those, however, the accuracy of the impression would still largely depend on the materials used in the procedure.

Internal palatal surface (left) and side view (right) of the designed custom tray
Image: Dobromira Shopova, PhD

In their study, published in the open-access, peer-reviewed scholarly journal Folia Medica, Dr Dobromira Shopova and Prof. Diyan Slavchev at the Plovdiv Medical University (Bulgaria) sought to evaluate and determine the accuracy of two different groups of impression materials for border molding: thermoplastic and elastomers. They examined four different brands: Detaseal function (additive silicone for border molding), Sta-seal F (condensation silicone for border molding), GC Iso functional sticks (synthetic resin for border molding), Kerr Impression compound green sticks for border molding.

To perform their research, the team applied Dr Dobromira Shopova’s clinical method to measure negative pressure after border molding procedure, referred to as the vacuum measurement technique on edentulous upper jaw. They also assembled a special custom tray from a light-curing base plate with a palatal adapter. This was a 900, 7-millimetre metal adapter, which was fixed to the midline on the palatal slope. To create and measure the negative pressure, they used a combined pressure pump. The maximum value ​​was 3 bars for positive pressure and -1 bar for negative pressure.

Clinical setup of vacuum measurement after border molding of the custom tray of complete edentulous upper jaw
Image: Dobromira Shopova, PhD

Working protocol followed for all materials:

1. Apply the impression material along the edge of the individual tray;

2. Insert, position and perform Herbst functional tests;

3. Wait for the elasticity or hardening of the material;

4. Assemble the clinical unit for negative pressure measurement;

5. Measure the negative pressure that has been created between the custom tray and the prosthetic field, then record the result;

6. Release the individual impression tray from the patient’s mouth.

A statistically significant difference was observed between the two thermoplastic materials: the GC Iso functional sticks and the Impression compound green sticks. No statistically significant difference was observed between the other groups of materials. 

The measured mean negative pressure values ​​created between the prosthetic field and the custom tray showed close values ​​for each patient – with a difference of -0,05 to -0,1 bar. This showed that the anatomical features of the prosthetic field were of great importance.

In conclusion, quantitative measurement of negative pressure is entirely possible under clinical conditions. Thermoplastic materials for border molding are retained and formed only along the edge of the custom tray. However, silicone impression materials do not spread only on the edge of the custom tray, but also on the alveolar ridge, demonstrating their superior manipulative qualities and accuracy for the purposes of border molding.


Original source:


Shopova DA, Slavchev D (2020) Clinical Negative Pressure Measurement after Border Molding Procedure. Folia Medica 62(3): 578-584. https://doi.org/10.3897/folmed.62.e48464

What comes after COVID-19? Special issue in the journal Population and Economics

Population and Economics

At this alarming time, when the COVID-19 pandemic is on everyone’s mind, a new special issue in the open-access peer-reviewed journal Population and Economics by Lomonosov Moscow State University (Faculty of Economics) provides a platform for discussion on the impact of the pandemic on the population and economics, both in Russia and worldwide by opening a special issue. An introductory overview of the issue is provided by its Editor-in-Chief, Irina E. Kalabikina of the Faculty of Economics at Lomonosov Moscow University.

Today is still too early to draw any final conclusions, with too many things yet to happen. Nevertheless, the time is right to start a discussion on how to soften the possible consequences of the pandemic. 

In the first published papers, brought together in the special issue, various teams of economists assess the uneasy dilemma – saving lives now or saving the economy to preserve lives in the future; demographers draw parallels with previous pandemics and its impact on demographic development; and sociologists analyse the state of various strata throughout the crisis.

The coronavirus pandemic came to Russia in mid-March – two months after China, two weeks after Spain, Italy, France, and about the same time as the United States.

As of 24th April, according to the data available at the Center for System Science and Engineering at John Hopkins University, Russia is amongst the top 10 countries by number of recorded cases. International comparability of national data on COVID-19 is a separate issue; it will be addressed in one of the special issue articles.

“Now I just want to state that Russia is affected by the pandemic, and it disturbs population and society. Moreover, a number of anti-epidemic measures taken in the country can bite the economy. In this context, the search for specific Russian consequences of the pandemic initiated by our authors along with the global consequences are particularly interesting”,

shares Editor-in-Chief of Population and Economics, Prof. Irina E. Kalabikhina.

All economists, demographers and sociologists are invited to consider the impact of the pandemic and its attendant recession on the population and economy in Russia and the global world. Research papers are welcome to the special issue, which will remain open for submissions until the end of June 2020.

Special issue already includes contributions from top economists, sociologists, demographers from  Lomonosov Moscow State UniversityHigher School of Economics (Moscow), Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), Global Migration Policy Associates (Geneva), University of Chicago, Federal Research Institute for Health Organization and Informatics of Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation; Institute of Socio-Political Research at the Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Science, the New School for Social Research (New York) and Feminist Data and Research Inc. (Toronto), University of Manchester and New Economic School (Moscow).

Different aspects of the current pandemic are considered in a series of research: cost of the pandemic to globalisation, proposals of tax system revision and reforms, future technological shift and a change in the direction and volumes of trade flows.

The current COVID-19 pandemic is “a global social drama”, after which income and wealth inequalities are expected to increase, and it’s still a good question how reliable are the data on the virus we are receiving and what could be the perception of the mass public and voters. While citizens are getting used to the existing rules, both the population and the state are in uncertainty, and lacking the flexible informal rules, which normally determine human behaviour.

Many countries face the issues of unemployment, caused by the virus outburst, and in many countries young people and those of low education level, as well as migrants and refugees are the most vulnerable groups.

Russian families face new issues in the conditions of self-isolation, while “dachas” (countryside family houses) play an important role during the pandemic.

On one hand, the current reduction in production makes a positive impact on the environment, but in the upcoming years it can get replaced by the negative effect – as weakened attention to environmental issues and redirection of cash flows to maintain or prevent a significant drop in the material standard of living.

Scientists try to consider the lessons of the previous pandemics, based on the cases of the Spanish flu of 1918 and the latest Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone.

These and many other topics are considered by researchers in the COVID-19 issue, and it is already quite obvious that even though the pandemic may have touched every side of our lives, life doesn’t stop. These early research works are meant to help humanity to overcome the following crisis, find the way out and adjust to the life after the pandemic.

“We are going through difficult times, and it is hardly possible to overestimate the role of science in the quickest passing through the crisis with the least human and economic losses. We hope that our Journal will contribute to the crucially important discussion on the impact of the pandemic on the economy and population”,

concludes Editor-in-Chief of Population and Economics, Irina E. Kalabikhina.

Additional information

About Population and Economics

Population and Economics is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal, published by Lomonosov Moscow State University (Faculty of Economics). The journal covers basic and applied aspects of the relationship between population and economics in a broad sense.

The journal is running on the innovative scholarly publishing platform ARPHA, developed by scholarly publisher and technology provider Pensoft

Original sources:

Kalabikhina IE (2020) What after? Essays on the expected consequences of the COVID-19 pandemics on the global and Russian economics and population. Population and Economics 4(2): 1-3. https://doi.org/10.3897/popecon.4.e53337

Auzan AA (2020) The economy under the pandemic and afterwards. Population and Economics 4(2): 4-12. https://doi.org/10.3897/popecon.4.e53403

Buklemishev OV (2020) Coronavirus crisis and its effects on the economy. Population and Economics 4(2): 13-17. https://doi.org/10.3897/popecon.4.e53295

Grigoryev LM (2020) Global social drama of pandemic and recession. Population and Economics 4(2): 18-25. https://doi.org/10.3897/popecon.4.e53325

Kartseva MA, Kuznetsova PO (2020) The economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic: which groups will suffer more in terms of loss of employment and income? Population and Economics 4(2): 26-33. https://doi.org/10.3897/popecon.4.e53194

Shastitko AE (2020) COVID-19: moments of truth and sources of controversy. Population and Economics 4(2): 34-38. https://doi.org/10.3897/popecon.4.e53285

Kurdin AA (2020) Institutional continuum in the context of the pandemic. Population and Economics 4(2): 39-42. https://doi.org/10.3897/popecon.4.e53299

Ivakhnyuk I (2020) Coronavirus pandemic challenges migrants worldwide and in Russia. Population and Economics 4(2): 49-55. https://doi.org/10.3897/popecon.4.e53201

Bobylev SN (2020) Environmental consequences of COVID-19 on the global and Russian economics. Population and Economics 4(2): 43-48. https://doi.org/10.3897/popecon.4.e53279

Contact:

Prof. Irina E. Kalabikhina
Editor-in-Chief of the “Population and Economics”
Email: niec@econ.msu.ru


Open Science RIO Journal invites early research outcomes for the free-to-publish collection “Observations, prevention and impact of COVID-19”

Looking at today’s ravaging COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, which, at the time of writing, has spread to over 220 countries; its continuously rising death toll and widespread fear, on the outside, it may feel like scientists and decision-makers are scratching their heads more than ever in the face of the unknown. In reality, however, we get to witness an unprecedented global community gradually waking up to the realisation of the only possible solution: collaboration. 

On one hand, we have nationwide collective actions, including cancelled travel plans and mass gatherings; social distancing; and lockdowns, that have already proved successful at changing what the World Health Organisation (WHO) has determined as “the course of a rapidly escalating and deadly epidemic” in Hong Kong, Singapore and China. On the other hand, we have the world’s best scientists and laboratories all steering their expertise and resources towards the better understanding of the virus and, ultimately, developing a vaccine for mass production as quickly as possible. 

While there is little doubt that the best specialists in the world will eventually invent an efficient vaccine – just like they did following the Western African Ebola virus epidemic (2013–2016) and on several other similar occasions in the years before – the question at hand is rather when this is going to happen and how many human lives it is going to cost?

Again, it all comes down to collective efforts. It only makes sense that if research teams and labs around the globe join their efforts and expertise, thereby avoiding duplicate work, their endeavours will bear fruit sooner rather than later. Similarly to employees from across the world, who have been demonstrating their ability to perform their day-to-day tasks and responsibilities from the safety of their homes just as efficiently as they would have done from their conventional offices, in today’s high-tech, online-friendly reality, no more should scientists be restricted by physical and geographical barriers either. 

“Observations, prevention and impact of COVID-19”: Special Collection in RIO Journal

To inspire and facilitate collaboration across the world, the SPARC-recognised Open Science innovator Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO Journal) decided to bring together scientific findings in an easy to discover, read, cite and build on collection of publications. 

Furthermore, due to its revolutionary approach to publishing, where early and brief research outcomes (i.e. ideas, raw data, software descriptions, posters, presentations, case studies and many others) are all considered as precious scientific gems, hence deserving a formal publication in a renowned academic journal, RIO places a special focus on these contributions. 

Accepted manuscripts that shall deal with research relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic across disciplines, including medicine, ethics, politics, economics etc. at a local, regional, national or international scale; and also meant to encourage crucial discussions, will be published free of charge in recognition of the emergency of the current situation. Especially encouraged are submissions focused on the long-term effects of COVID-19.

Why publish in RIO Journal? 

Launched in 2015, RIO Journal has since proved its place at the forefront of Open Science, which resulted in the SPARC’s Innovator Award in 2016. Supported by a renowned advisory board and subject editors, today the journal stands as a leading Open Science proponent. 

Furthermore, thanks to the technologically advanced infrastructure and services it provides, in addition to a long list of indexers and databases where publications are registered, the manuscripts submitted to RIO Journal are not only rapidly processed and published, but once they get online, they immediately become easy to discover, cite and built on by any researcher, anywhere in the world. 

On top of that, Pensoft’s targeted and manually provided science communication services make sure that published research of social value reaches the wider audience, including key decision-makers and journalists, by means of press releases and social media promotion.

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More info about RIO’s globally unique features, visit the journal’s websiteFollow RIO Journal on Twitter and Facebook.

Challenges for Russia’s agriculture: new special issue in Russian Journal of Economics

While Russia seems to have successfully tackled its historic problem: food shortage – with the agri-food sector becoming one of the most steadily developing of the national economy – the country is already facing a new set of challenges. Today, Russia needs to address several key growth factors, such as sustainability, missing national strategies and lagging research and development progress. These are the topics of the research articles comprising the latest special issue of the open-access peer-reviewed Russian Journal of Economics. An overview and introduction for the issue is provided by its guest editor Eugenia Serova of the Institute for Agrarian Studies at HSE University in Moscow.

Since 2012, Russia’s agriculture is the most steadily developing sector of the national economy. Production of selected crops is reaching historical records. Today, Russia is a world champion for export of wheat and buckwheat and amongst the top ten in terms of export of many other crops. The country has also begun exporting livestock products and value-added food products. Additionally, the past ten years have seen a significant progress in the food quality and safety in Russia, which has already been recognised. According to conventional indicators applied to food security, the country keeps a consistent place amongst the top three in the world.

However, even though Russia has been successful at achieving national food security, largely contributed to a strong emphasis on self-sufficiency, world known experts in food security at KU Leuven (Belgium) and International Food Policy Research Institute (USA) point out that this might have come at the expense of neglecting nutrition in the national policies, thus potentially exposing the nation at a higher risk of already concerning and quite common public health risks, such as malnourishment and obesity. In their paper, Saule Burkitbayeva, Johan Swinnen and Nele Warrinnier evaluate the state of art of food security in major Eurasian countries, in order to see where Russia stands compared to other former Soviet republics. The researchers also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of self-sufficiency policy.

Along with growth in the food sector in Russia, there have been drastic changes in the agrarian structure. With their profound analysis of two censuses from 2006 and 2016, recognised experts on Russia’s farming structure Renata Yanbykh and Valeriy Saraikin (both affiliated with the Institute for Agrarian Studies at HSE University, Moscow) and Zvi Lerman (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel) conclude that the old classification used for statistical purposes (organisations, family farms and households) does not reflect adequately the dynamic changes stemming from the response to market signals. In their study, the authors find that over 90% of the agricultural producers contribute less than 5% of the total standard revenue.

A need to shift budget support to general services which support all Russian producers is highlighted in the research article by Olga V. Shik of the Institute for Agrarian Studies at HSE University. The renowned expert in the field conducts an exhaustive analysis of the public expenditures in the Russian agri-food sector from the last decade to conclude that despite having a positive effect on agricultural growth, Russia’s budget support benefits mostly the larger and already the most successful producers. The second major drawback of budget support in agriculture the author identifies is the inefficient distribution of support between the federal and regional budgets, which leads to market disintegration and reduces the efficiency of budget spending.

In their article, distinguished American experts on Russia’s agri-food trade William M. Liefert and Olga Liefert of the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) report on how Russia’s move from planned to a market economy has fundamentally restructured the country’s agricultural production and trade since the 1990s. Most notably, previously a large importer of grain, soybeans, and soybean meal, the former Soviet state has transitioned to becoming one of the world’s major grain exporters. In fact, Russia has become the world’s top wheat exporter, responsible for 20-23% of the total world exports in 2017-2018. Having also discussed the consequences for the world agricultural markets, the researchers forecast further increase in Russia’s presence in the global market along with slight growth in its produce of value-added foods.

The last article, authored by researchers of the Institute for Agrarian Studies at HSE University Natalia Karlova and Eugenia Serova also addresses the issue of Russia’s presence in the world agri-food market with a focus on the trade with China. Since the significant increase in export is one of the major targets of Russia’s modern agri-food policy, China is seen as the most prospective market. However, there are a number of obstacles and risks that need to be taken into consideration. On one hand, Russia has a fairly limited list of exported agri-food products that have comparative advantages in the Chinese market. On the other hand, the Chinese market is limited by the scale of the country’s domestic demand. Moreover, China has already embarked on a course to self-sufficiency in terms of staple food produce.

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Original sources:

Burkitbayeva S, Swinnen J, Warrinnier N (2020) Food and nutrition security in Eurasia: Evolution, shocks and policies. Russian Journal of Economics 6(1): 6-25. https://doi.org/10.32609/j.ruje.6.49749

Yanbykh R, Saraikin V, Lerman Z (2020) Changes in Russia’s agrarian structure: What can we learn from agricultural census? Russian Journal of Economics 6(1): 26-41. https://doi.org/10.32609/j.ruje.6.49746

Shik OV (2020) Public expenditure for agricultural sector in Russia: Does it promote growth? Russian Journal of Economics 6(1): 42-55. https://doi.org/10.32609/j.ruje.6.49756

Liefert WM, Liefert O (2020) Russian agricultural trade and world markets. Russian Journal of Economics 6(1): 56-70. https://doi.org/10.32609/j.ruje.6.50308

Karlova N, Serova E (2020) Prospects of the Chinese market for Russian agri-food exports. Russian Journal of Economics 6(1): 71-90. https://doi.org/10.32609/j.ruje.6.50824

Upcoming Special Issue of Biodiversity Data Journal to feature data papers on European Russia

Partners GBIF, FinBIF and Pensoft to support publication of data papers that describe datasets from Russia west of the Ural Mountains

Original post via GBIF

GBIF—the Global Biodiversity Information Facility—in collaboration with the Finnish Biodiversity Information Facility (FinBIF) and Pensoft Publishers, are happy to issue a call for authors to submit and publish data papers on European Russia (west of the Urals) in an upcoming special issue of Biodiversity Data Journal (BDJ).

Between now and 31 August 2020, the article processing fee (normally €450) will be waived for the first 20 papers, provided that the publications are accepted and meet the following criteria that the data paper describes a dataset:

The manuscript must be prepared in English and is submitted in accordance with BDJ’s instructions to authors by 31 August 2020. Late submissions will not be eligible for APC waivers.

Sponsorship is limited to the first 20 accepted submissions meeting these criteria on a first-come, first-served basis. The call for submissions can therefore close prior to the stated deadline of 31 August. Authors may contribute to more than one manuscript, but artificial division of the logically uniform data and data stories, or “salami publishing”, is not allowed.

BDJ will publish a special issue including the selected papers by the end of 2020. The journal is indexed by Web of Science (Impact Factor 1.029), Scopus (CiteScore: 1.24) and listed in РИНЦ / eLibrary.ru

For non-native speakers, please ensure that your English is checked either by native speakers or by professional English-language editors prior to submission. You may credit these individuals as a “Contributor” through the AWT interface. Contributors are not listed as co-authors but can help you improve your manuscripts.

In addition to the BDJ instruction to authors, it is required that datasets referenced from the data paper a) cite the dataset’s DOI and b) appear in the paper’s list of references.

Authors should explore the GBIF.org section on data papers and Strategies and guidelines for scholarly publishing of biodiversity data. Manuscripts and datasets will go through a standard peer-review process.

To see an example, view this dataset on GBIF.org and the corresponding data paper published by BDJ.

Questions may be directed either to Dmitry Schigel, GBIF scientific officer, or Yasen Mutafchiev, managing editor of Biodiversity Data Journal.

Definition of terms

Datasets with more than 5,000 records that are new to GBIF.org

Datasets should contain at a minimum 5,000 new records that are new to GBIF.org. While the focus is on additional records for the region, records already published in GBIF may meet the criteria of ‘new’ if they are substantially improved, particularly through the addition of georeferenced locations.

Justification for publishing datasets with fewer records (e.g. sampling-event datasets, sequence-based data, checklists with endemics etc.) will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Datasets with high-quality data and metadata

Authors should start by publishing a dataset comprised of data and metadata that meets GBIF’s stated data quality requirement. This effort will involve work on an installation of the GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit.

Only when the dataset is prepared should authors then turn to working on the manuscript text. The extended metadata you enter in the IPT while describing your dataset can be converted into manuscript with a single-click of a button in the ARPHA Writing Tool (see also Creation and Publication of Data Papers from Ecological Metadata Language (EML) Metadata. Authors can then complete, edit and submit manuscripts to BDJ for review.

Datasets with geographic coverage in European Russia west of the Ural mountains

In correspondence with the funding priorities of this programme, at least 80% of the records in a dataset should have coordinates that fall within the priority area of European Russia west of the Ural mountains. However, authors of the paper may be affiliated with institutions anywhere in the world.

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Data audit at Pensoft’s biodiversity journals

Data papers submitted to Biodiversity Data Journal, as well as all relevant biodiversity-themed journals in Pensoft’s portfolio, undergo a mandatory data auditing workflow before being passed down to a subject editor.

Learn more about the workflow here:
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-10/pp-aif101819.php.

Russia’s nuclear industry set to fight the climate crisis by exporting education

Challenges and perspectives for Russia’s nuclear industry on its way to assuming a key role in the fight against the climate crisis on a global level, while also ensuring future growth and building on 65 years of prodigious legacy, dating back to the launch of the world’s first nuclear power plant in Obninsk in 1954, are brought together in a paper recently published in the open-access journal Nuclear Energy and Technology.

The authors are three prominent nuclear physicists and key figures at Russia’s National Research Nuclear University MEPhI: Prof. Mikhail N. Strikhanov (Rector of MEPhI), Dr. Alexandr V. Putilov (Dean of the Faculty of Business Informatics and Integrated Systems Management), and Dr. Georgy V. Tikhomirov (Deputy Director of the Institute of Nuclear Physics and Engineering MEPhI). MEPhI is also the basic university of the Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) and alone provides education to 25,000 students from over fifty countries.

In their article, the team pays special attention to the urgent need for a new “educational paradigm” to secure the smooth transfer of Russia’s nuclear industry and knowledge to a global digital economy where industries blend together in new and even unexpected alliances with the ultimate promise of joining knowledge and skills for the common good of humanity. The approach is described as “front-line education” that encompasses training personnel for the specificity of the novel digital economy along the entire “front”: from youth yet to enter university to production personnel.

To do so, the Consortium, supported by 18 specialised universities and led by ROSATOM, is to not only provide first-class educational formats, material and technical resources in addition to the high professionalism of the teaching staff to on-site domestic students, but also export nuclear education on a large scale, in order to pave the way for a subsequent international technological expansion by preparing “personnel of a new type, using a kind of symbiosis of engineering, information and economic training”. According to the scientists behind the paper, students should persist throughout their whole education in their mission “to master new opportunities arising from end-to-end digital technologies, search for and create new technological solutions or production schemes, and develop fundamentally new product lines and business models for implementing new manufacturing technologies.”

An excellent exemplary training format of the new age is the Multy-D system: a 3D digital model of the future nuclear power plants and additional dimensions in the format of terms, resources, etc. Developed over the last few years by MEPhI and Atomstroyexport, it allows for foreign specialists to acquire Russian-born competence. However, latest technological advances, including the transition to a closed nuclear fuel cycle with fast neutron reactors, requires changes in modelling systems.

This is an electronic simulator of a nuclear power plant for education.
Photo by Anastasia Barei / Country of Rosatom.

All of these efforts and transitions are of top priority, given the urgent global need for affordable, environmentally friendly electricity on the background of depleting fossil resources and worrying levels of greenhouse gas emissions, point out the scientists. Meanwhile, the nuclear power industry has claimed its own ecological niche by providing the necessary amount of energy without leaving behind any carbon footprint.

“The improvement of existing and the development of new innovative technologies is a prerequisite for the development of a nuclear energy system that meets the principles of safety and sustainable development,” conclude the authors. “All solutions to these problems are in the hands of the young people who are being trained throughout the country.”

Today, the Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation is developing more than 30 projects of new nuclear power plants (NPP) in Russia and 12 other countries.

Original source:

Putilov AV, Strikhanov MN, Tikhomirov GV (2019) Personnel training for the developing nuclear power industry. Nuclear Energy and Technology 5(3): 201-206. https://doi.org/10.3897/nucet.5.39239

Nuclear reactors with a newly proposed barrier could’ve withstood Chernobyl and Fukushima

In the aftermath of the notorious accidents in the history of nuclear energy at Three Mile Island (1979), Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima (2011), where all three have turned into devastating disasters due to meltdown in the core of a reactor, leading in turn to the release of radiation into the environment, many countries around the world have already pledged to a nuclear power phase-out.

However, while actions towards the closure of all nuclear power plants in only a few decades’ time are already well underway, the alternative energy sources currently in operation have some major drawbacks: they rely mainly on non-renewable resources, produce significantly less energy compared with nuclear power plants and, most importantly, are considered to be amongst the main contributors of carbon emissions and, thereby, the climate crisis which humanity is now set to battle.

Nevertheless, a future powered by nuclear energy might be neither a lost cause, nor a game of “Russian roulette”, according to the research team of Francesco D’Auria (University of Pisa, Italy), Nenad Debrecin (University of Zagreb, Croatia) and Horst Glaeser (Global Research for Safety, Germany). In a recent paper, published in the open-access peer-reviewed journal Nuclear Energy and Technology and the result of 30-40 years of collaboration, they propose a new safety barrier to be implemented in large Light Water Reactors around the world. Coming at a fraction of the cost of the already obsolete one that it is about to replace, this barrier is expected to reduce the probability of core melt to that of a large meteorite hitting the site.

With their new technological solution, these scientists aim to bring together research findings from the last few decades, mostly in relation to accident analysis capabilities and nuclear fuel material performance, as well as the concepts of the very pioneers who developed the nuclear technology in the past century. The proposal is based on studies and discussions from the 11th Scientific and Technical Conference “Safety Assurance of NPP with VVER” (Russia, May 2019) and the International Conference on Nuclear Power Plants, Structures, Risk & Decommissioning, NUPP2019 (United Kingdom, June 2019). As a result, they hope to regain public confidence in nuclear power – an efficient and sustainable source of renewable energy, as well as bridging the gaping chasm between what we have learnt over the years about nuclear energy and technology and what is being implemented in practice.

Amongst the up-to-date research findings and knowledge to be implemented in the novel technological solution are the recently discovered nuclear fuel structural weakness, as well as a more elaborate Extended Safety Margin Detection (E-SMD), which allows for an emergency shutdown of a reactor, following even low and very low probability events. It also provides advance information to the operators about the actions needed to prevent or mitigate possible damage. The recruitment of an Emergency Rescue Team (ERT) is also proposed to consist of a group of highly trained and specialised rescuers who will be in possession of suitable machinery and equipment, as well as access to each nuclear reactor installed within an assigned geographic region and who will be able to reach any of the sites within an hour or execute a remote shutdown of the reactor.

In their study, the researchers go on to explain how and why exactly these features would have prevented core melt and the eventual nuclear disasters at each of the three notorious nuclear power stations.

In the case of the Three Mile Island accident: the most devastating accident in US commercial nuclear power plant history, considered to be the result of a rather typical combined failure, an alarm from E-SMD detectors would have triggered the emergency shutdown of the unit well before the event.

In December 2017, the ‘Chernobyl liquidators’ monument by Andrei Kovalchuk was ceremonially unveiled on Poklonnaya Hill in Moscow’s Victory Park to pay tribute to the people who took part in the clean-up operations after the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on April 26, 1986.
Photo by Country of Rosatom.

In Chernobyl, where critical human errors are found to have led to the accident, an intervention from the ERT: a remotely controlled shutdown and perhaps the deployment of the military would have prevented the consequent catastrophe.

Extended core damage at the Fukushima Units 1 to 3 would have also been prevented thanks to the combination of emergency alerts and prompt action by the ERT.

The researchers also note that, in spite of the notoriety of the three nuclear disasters, there have been about 500 safely operated nuclear power plant units since the demonstration of the capability to control the fission reaction in 1942 and the connection of nuclear fission driven electricity generator to the electrical grid in 1954. On top of that, there have been a few thousand accident-free reactors used for purposes different from electricity production, including research, production and marine propulsion.

“The industry and/or the Government of responsible Countries where applicable, become the main players for the possible implementation of the ideas in this paper. A strategy is needed in this connection: academia and research institutes willing to be engaged into practical applications of the nuclear technology should become actors,” the scientists write in conclusion.


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Original source:

D’Auria F, Debrecin N, Glaeser H (2019) The technological challenge for current generation nuclear reactors. Nuclear Energy and Technology 5(3): 183-199. https://doi.org/10.3897/nucet.5.38117

Field research in Turkmenistan’s highest mountain reveals high biological diversity

New open-access book presents a comprehensive report on the remarkable ecosystems of the Koytendag nature reserve

Location of Koytendag
Image by Atamyrat Veyisov

Situated in the extreme south-east of Turkmenistan: on the border with Uzbekistan and close to the border with Afghanistan, Koytendag presents one of the most distinct landscapes in Central Asia. Reaching elevations of up to 3,137 m, this is also the highest mountain in Turkmenistan.

Koytendag State Nature Reserve and its three Wildlife Sanctuaries: Hojapil, Garlyk and Hojaburjybelent, were established between 1986 and 1990 to protect and preserve the mountain ecosystem of the Koytendag region and maintain the ecological balance between the environment and increasing economic activities.

Since 2013, a series of scientific expeditions and assessments were coordinated and funded by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to pave the way for the protection and preservation of the unique landscape and rare wildlife the site is recognised for.

As a result, the efforts of the conducted field studies of multidisciplinary international research teams are brought together in a comprehensive report, which is now openly available as an Advanced Book from the scientific publisher and technology provider Pensoft, edited by Geoff Welch (RSPB) and Prof. Pavel Stoev (National National Museum of Natural History of Bulgaria and Pensoft). Soon, the book will also be available in Russian.

The book is split into eight sections focused on different areas within the study of biodiversity: Flora, Surface dwelling invertebrates, Cave fauna, Fish, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals. An additional chapter is dedicated to the hydrogeology of the site because of its key role in supporting both the cave fauna and the local communities.

Entrance to the newly discovered record-breaking underground lake at the Koytendag State Nature Reserve
Photo by Mikhail Pereladov

In the summary of the report, the authors make a list of the most significant findings made during the research. These include the discovery of a cave hosting the largest underground lake in the whole North Eurasia (4,400 m2) and a total of 48 species of higher plants that can only be found in Koytendag. In terms of Koytendag’s surface-dwelling fauna, the report lists a number of species new to science: a scorpion (most likely yet unnamed species currently recognised as a species complex) and a spider. Meanwhile, a total of seven previously unknown species were found underground, including the very first exclusively subterranean animal found in the country: the insect-like ‘marvellous’ dipluran named Turkmenocampa mirabilis, and a strongly adapted to the underground waters of a desert sinkhole Gammarus troglomorphus. Additionally, the annual monitoring, conducted since 1995 by the reserve staff, report an encouraging increase in the populations of the rare markhors and mouflons. An intact predator-prey community was also identified as a result of observations of numerous Eurasian lynxes and grey wolves, as well as prey species.

Entrance of the cave Kaptarhana, (Lebap Province, Eastern Turkmenistan), where scientists discovered the first ever exclusively subterranean dweller for the country in 2017 (find more here).
Photo by Aleksandr Degtyarev

Stephanie Ward, RSPB Central Asia Partner Development Officer, says:

“RSPB has been working in Turkmenistan under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government since 2004. In that time we have had the privilege of working with a team of talented and dedicated national experts across the diverse and inspiring nature of this fascinating country. Our work in Koytendag has captured the attention and interest of many international scientists who hope that their contemporary biodiversity research will help to deepen the understanding and therefore ensure protection of the unique wonders of this mountain ecosystem. As a potential UNESCO World Heritage Site, we will continue to collaborate with the Turkmen people on the research and promotion of Koytendag State Nature Reserve.

Book editor and member of the research team Prof. Pavel Stoev adds:

“Koytendag Mountain is among the least explored and, simultaneously, one of the most biologically diverse regions in Central Asia. The rapid assessments of its flora and fauna revealed a high number of highly specialised species, all of which have undergone a long evolution to adapt to the harsh environments of the mountain. The establishment of Koytendag State Nature Reserve and the associated wildlife sanctuaries is a step in the right direction for the protection of this unique biota.”

The report, published in an openly accessible Advanced Book format, is available from
https://doi.org/10.3897/ab.e37858.

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Original source:

Welch G, Stoev P (2019) A report of RSPB-supported scientific research at Koytendag State Nature Reserve, East Turkmenistan. Advanced Books. https://doi.org/10.3897/ab.e37858

Additional information:

This work was carried out under the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment Protection of Turkmenistan and the RSPB, within the Project on “Improvement of the status of birds and other biodiversity in Turkmenistan”.

About Koytendag State Nature Reserve:

Koytendag State Nature Reserve was established in 1986 to protect and preserve the mountain ecosystem of the Koytendag region and maintain the ecological balance between the environment and the increasing anthropogenic activities. Of particular importance was the protection of rare species, such as the markhor; important habitats, including pistachio and juniper forests; and the impressive dinosaur trackways at Hojapil.

Advanced Books publishing by Pensoft:

Launched by Pensoft and powered by the scholarly publishing platform ARPHA, the Advanced Books approach aims to issue new books or re-issue books previously only available in print or PDF. In the Advanced Books format, the publications are semantically enhanced and available in HTML and XML as well, in order to accelerate open access, data publication, mining, sharing and reuse. The Advanced books builds on the novel approaches developed by the Pensoft’s journals.

Dutch Banks post-2008: Substantial increase in the equity capital is key to bank stability

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2007-2008 and the following studies and comments in literature and the financial press, a study from a group of leading Dutch economists, published in June 2018, is commented by Prof.dr. Piet Duffhues, Tilburg University, the Netherlands.

The main conclusion of the study group was that an increase in the equity capital for Dutch banks should be realised. This proposal was based on an international comparison of bank balance sheets  of leading countries. It means that commercial banks would be required to keep a greater difference between the values of their assets and their liabilities.

In his paper, recently published in the open-access journal Monthly magazine for Accountancy and Business Administration (MAB), Duffhues agrees that if realised, the recommendation could not only bring Dutch banks back on their feet, but also increase their future solvency: the ability to pay their debts as they fall due. Thus, banks would have greater capacity to cover their future losses if necessary, and would manage risks in a far more efficient way.

Duffhues argues that despite scientists, financial journalists and politicians having continuously analysed and discussed the causes of the most devastating financial crisis since the Great Depression in the preceding century, little attention has been paid to the financial structure of commercial banks themselves.

Not only were Dutch banks not accommodating the international equity ratios, but, according to Duffhues, they were not compliant with the Dutch Corporate Governance Code 2016 in terms of external risk management, either. For a long time, they were keeping to a very low equity capital – only holding 3% of their total balance sheet amount. With their debt possibly reaching 97%, these 3% losses were already enough to lead to a serious lack of trust.

The 3% requirement had been imposed by national and international regulators in earlier decades. At that time, such strategy was considered reasonable by bank management and regulators. However, the financial crisis of 2008 turned out to be too intense to avoid the necessity of government action to rescue the banks from default. Naturally, their behaviour resulted in a very low solvency of the banks.

“The behaviour of banks at that time can be seen as contributing to the systemic risk of the economy,” explains Duffhues.

The author goes even much further than the study group, whose study he references. He is convinced that a substantial increase in the equity capital of up to 25% for banks will not only secure their own survival, but will also bring a number of undoubtedly positive developments for the society as a whole, including more trust from citizens and firms, less need for government interventions, and avoidance of financial cycle collapses. If banks have high enough equity ratios, economic recessions will not result in finance stops for consumers and producers in the economy. Bank solvency ratios should reflect the banks’ responsibility for the welfare and sustainable development of the society.

Original source:

Duffhues P (2018) De lessen van de crisis van 2008 in terugblik. Maandblad voor Accountancy en Bedrijfseconomie (MAB) 92(9/10): 277-282. https://doi.org/10.5117/mab.92.29016

 

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Monthly magazine for Accountancy and Business Administration (MAB) is one of the journals hosted on ARPHA through the platform’s white-label publishing solution.

New promising compound against heart rhythm disorders and clogged arteries

The pharmacological agent outperforms current drugs in most of cases, show multiple experiments

A new pharmacological agent demonstrates promising results for the prevention of a wide range of heart rhythm disorders, including both cardiac and brain injury-induced arrhythmias. Furthermore, the compound (SS-68) demonstrates significant activity in conditions of reduced blood flow to the heart caused by obstructed arteries.

The study, conducted by a research team led by Dr Saida Bogus of the Kuban State Medical University in Russia, is published in the open-access journal Research Results in Pharmacology.

Each year, more than 17 million people from around the globe (mostly Europe and the USA) die of cardiovascular diseases and related complications, according to the World Health Organization. In Russia, about 3 out of 1,000 people suffer from the most common and malignant heart rhythm disorder: atrial fibrillation (AF), where the count is expected to at least double in the next 30 years. While sometimes lacking symptoms, atrial fibrillation could generally be recognised by a racing, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath and chest pain, thereby largely compromising the quality of one’s life. The disorder could also lead to various complications, including dementia, stroke and heart failure.

Currently, the drugs administered to AF patients have major deficiencies, including narrow therapeutic windows, which means that even minimal imprecision in the dosage could result in unacceptable toxicity. Hence, patients need to be closely monitored and have their doses adjusted on a regular basis.

In their study, the team turned to the aminoindole derivatives to look for an alternative compound. This chemical group has already shown a significant potential in terms of cardio-pharmacological activity.

Having tested the SS-68 compound on multiple occasions in different animals, the researchers report that it has a pronounced antiarrhythmic effect and is able to bring the electrical activity of the heart back to normal and, in most cases, outperforming the reference drugs used in clinical practice: amiodarone, lidocaine, aymaline, ethacizine, etmozine and quinidine anaprilin.

Further, in brain injury-induced arrhythmias, the compound was found to reduce the episodes of epilepsy. It was also observed to have a positive effect in clogged blood vessels where it is reported to have successfully increased the coronary blood flow. In addition, the compound managed to decrease the area of necrosis in the heart tissue caused by a heart attack.

“To date, there have been significant achievements of Russian and foreign pharmacologists, chemists and clinicians in creating and introducing into the practical medicine a number of antiarrhythmic drugs different by their chemical structure, nature, spectrum, activity and mechanism of action; nevertheless, one of the most important tasks of modern pharmacology is searching for and developing new highly active substances of the corresponding action,” explain the scientists.

“Special attention should be paid to an in-depth study of the molecular mechanisms of action of this compound,” they conclude.

A paper looking further into the molecular mechanisms of the antiarrhythmic action of SS-68 prepared by the same research team is currently in press with Research Results in Pharmacology.

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Original source:

Bogus SK, Galenko-Yaroshevsky PA, Suzdalev KF, Sukoyan GV, Abushkevich VG (2018) 2-phenyl-1-(3-pyrrolidin-1-il-propyl)-1 H-indole hydrochloride (SS-68): Antiarrhythmic and cardioprotective activity and its molecular mechanisms of action (Part I). Research Results in Pharmacology 4(2): 133-150. https://doi.org/10.3897/rrpharmacology.4.2859

 

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Research Results in Pharmacology is one of the journals hosted on ARPHA through the platform’s white-label publishing solution.