Stories tagged Russia


So it's true?: Not necessarily the moon thing. The other part.
So it's true?: Not necessarily the moon thing. The other part.Courtesy Thomas Fowler and OZinOH
What does that title even mean?! I don’t know! Yakov Smirnoff stopped making jokes when I was a baby!

In Russia, phone dials you! In Russia, self-tanner applies you! In Russia, wife buys you! They’re all just meaningless words without the code!

Could it be that Russia has plans to establish a permanent base on the moon? Could that be? I mean, on one hand, my conception of Russia is more or less summed up by an imagined scene in which an old woman and a bear fight over a wilted cabbage. The old lady has a broom … but the bear wants the cabbage too! Does that sound like a space-colonizing nation?

Then again, the mighty USA has been hitching rides into space on Russian rockets for a while now, since we apparently decided that spaceships weren’t something we wanted to buy.

So who knows? Maybe Russia will put a permanent base on the moon. (Or maybe China or Japan will.) Maybe the US will go to an asteroid or to Mars. Maybe, in Russia, asteroid will go to you. Or maybe it’s all just astronaut pillow talk.


We check for trees, da?
We check for trees, da?Courtesy Bethany L King
I know all y'all have been keeping your eyes on Science Buzz for updates in the case of the Russian dude with the tree "growing" in his lung. It's an international news event, after all, and we all like to keep up on this stuff.

Well we've got an update! (And update that appeared in the news last week, but still...)

Some South African medical professionals are calling shenanigans on the whole situation; they say it has to be a hoax.

They agree with the Russian doctors' claims that a 5 cm tree would be too big to inhale all the way into the lungs (it would be coughed out, or get caught on something long before it got so deep), but they don't think that it could have grown there either.

As several of the Science Buzz Lung Tree Task Force have likewise noticed, the South Africans find the green color of the needles a little suspicious. Usually plants growing in the dark (and the lungs are pretty dark inside) tend to be a little pale. Not so with this tree.

Also, the doctors point out that there is no precedence in medical literature for plants growing in people—it's just not the right environment.

The doctors also thought that the the tree looked "folded in to the lung tissue." Had it grown there, it should have looked more interwoven with the flesh.

Finally, they believe that the X-ray image of the man's lungs and the tree/tissue that was eventually taken out do not match. Something about how the tree showed up too much or not enough on the X-ray. (The translation from South African English to American English, perhaps, is the source of my confusion here.)

So the plot thickens. Are Russian surgeons contradicting biological laws to get attention, or are the the South Africans jealous because they've never found a tree inside someone's lung? Either way, we citizens of the Nation of Buzzahkstan are the winners.

Keep your eyes peeled for further developments. (Not literally.)


Scientists?: Progress?
Scientists?: Progress?Courtesy Renato Souza
Well, okay, that headline needs some clarification and elaboration.

By “Russian,” I mean Russian and Estonian. By “indie scientists,” I mean engineering-inclined criminals. By “breakthrough against,” I mean secret pipeline to avoid. But “vodka” and “taxation” mean exactly what you think they mean. (Vodka and taxation, respectively.)

Now put it all together! That’s right, some clever criminals built a 1.2-mile-long pipe for smuggling vodka across the border from Russia to Estonia. They managed to smuggle about 1600 gallons of vodka through the pipe before the vodka police caught them and put them in jail.

Vodka-piping is a big deal, apparently. See, Russia has vast natural reserves of vodka, and so it can be obtained on the cheap in that country. Its little neighbor, Estonia, isn’t so lucky, however. Vodka isn’t as cheap in Estonia, and you have to pay taxes on Russian vodka if you want to bring it across the border. That’s why these guys built a pipe.

So, right, a long pipe full of booze. Why are we reading about this on award-winning Science Buzz?

What? How could you even ask that? Because, like, it’s super clever! Clever in sort of a dumb, cartoony way, but still… I mean, this is an engineering challenge, isn’t it? It’s a lot of vodka, and a long pipe. Like… let’s see here… we can squeeze some math into this…

Let’s treat this booze pipeline like a long, skinny cylinder. The formula for the volume of a cylinder is the area of its base by its height. Height, of course, will be 1.2 miles. To get the area of the base, we just need to use ol’ pi times the radius squared. Your average garden hose is about ½ to ¾ inches in diameter, but because these are clearly slightly above average guys, we’ll give them a pipe 1 inch in diameter. The radius, then, will be .5 inches. So .5 squared is .25. Pi (3.14159265) times .25 equals .7854 square inches. Ooookay. Now let’s just multiply that by the height (or length, in this case) of the pipe. But, wait… we need to keep our units straight, so lets have that height in inches. 1 mile is 5280 feet, so 1.2 miles is 6336 feet. 6336 times 12 is 76,032. So there are 76,032 inches in 1.2 miles. 76,032 times .7854 (the area of the base, remember) is 59,715.5.

So that pipe held 59,715.5 cubic inches of vodka at one time. But what is that in gallons? Well, there are 231 cubic inches in a gallon, so… 59,715.5/231= 258.5 gallons! Holy Cats, am I right? Hopefully Estonia is down hill from Russia, or there’s a bunch more calculations I don’t feel like thinking about.

Wasn’t that fun? 6th grade math for a 21+ theme? And next time you hear a classmate flapping their mouth hole about how they want to be a Russian gangster when then grow up, so why would they need to learn any math, just point them this way.


The mouse knows why: But she's not telling.
The mouse knows why: But she's not telling.Courtesy d ha rm e sh
News broke this week that the Kremlin guard—the security service of the Russian government—has been looking to acquire 3,200 female mice.

Why? They aren’t saying. “If [the mice] were ordered then that means they are needed,” was all a Kremlin guard official would reveal. That, at least, is a relief. I’d hate to think what they’d do with all those mice if they didn’t need them.

Some Russia/mice enthusiasts guess that the mice may be intended for feeding the Kremlin’s falcons, which are kept to scare off crows from the government seat. Others think that the rodents will be used to test toxic chemicals, or as indicators for the presence of dangerous gases. I am inclined to believe that the Kremlin is simply attempting to corner the world mouse market.

It was revealed Friday that the Kremlin has already found a mouse supplier, and will be paying approximately $20,000 for the rodents.

Strange plans are afoot, Buzzketeers. Any thoughts on just what they might be?


Sputnik 1 starts space race 50 years ago

Sputnik 1: Oct. 4, 1957
The "Sputnik crisis" was a turning point of the Cold War that began on October 4, 1957 when the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik 1 satellite. With its intercontinental ballistic missile, the R-7 Semyorka, Russia was first out of the starting blocks in the space race.

The "simplest satellite"

Called PS-1, for "Prosteishiy Sputnik" — the Simplest Satellite, Sputnik 1 weighing just 184 pounds, was built in less than three months. Soviet designers built a pressurized sphere of polished aluminum alloy with two radio transmitters and four antennas.

Sergey Korolyov

Sergey Korolyov, both visionary scientist and iron-willed manager, pressed the Kremlin to let him launch a satellite. The reaction of the world so impressed Khrushchev that he pressed Korolyov to do it again. Working round-the-clock, Korolyov and his team built another spacecraft in less than a month. On Nov. 3, they launched Sputnik 2, which weighed 1,118 pounds. It carried the world's first living payload, a mongrel dog named Laika, in its tiny pressurized cabin.

Sputnik creates initiatives in science and math

The Sputnik crisis spurred a whole chain of U.S. initiatives, including NASA, NSF, DARPA, and even the "New Math".

The finish line - stepping on the Moon

Russia continued its lead in the space race with a moon probe, a photo of the far side of the Moon, a human in orbit, a woman in orbit, extra-vehicular activity, landing a probe on another planet (Venus), and the first space station. The United States captured the biggest prize, though, putting a human on the Moon (July 20, 1969).

An unmanned Russian cargo ship carrying 5000 pounds of supplies, equipment and gifts blasted off Saturday en route to the international space station. The cargo included oxygen, water, food, books, movies, gifts and other personal items for the crew, and snails intended for biological experiments.