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Sientific news from China (I)
2005-05-18 00:00


1.Torch Program Enjoy Industrial Innovation

The Torch Program Center, a part of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, has received 2102 project applications for the year of 2005. Of the applications heading for the National Torch Program, the one with industries as major players accounts for 1,535 in number, or 73% of the total applications. The 2,102 applications have registered 4,768 patent applications, or 2.27 patent applications per project. Of the patent applications, domestic invention patents take 2,319, and foreign ones 226. The cited data reflects the increasingly important innovation status of industries. Small and medium S&T businesses with fresh vitality are becoming the mainstream of S&T finding spin - offs. Meanwhile, Chinese enterprises have demonstrated their enhanced consciousness for intellectual property protection.

Of the project applications received by the National Torch Program, electronics and information comes to 396 in number, or 18.8% of the total, genetically engineering and new drugs 297, or 14.1%; advanced materials and applications 605, or 28.7%; optic - machinery - electronic integration 577, or 27.4%; new and efficient energy 139, or 6.6%, and environmental protection 88, or 4.1%. In the context of technical sources, the National Natural Science Foundation, 863 Program, National Key Technology Program,

Small and Medium S&T Businesses Foundation, and major local S&T programs have produced 450 projects, or 21.4% of the total applications; the one applied by industries account for 1,535, or

73% of the total; and the one under the category of foreign technology digestion and associated innovations takes 117, or 5.6% of the total.

2.China's First Science Town

The Anhui Provincial government, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences will jointly build Hefei, the capital of Anhui province, into a science town, the first of its kind in the country. The science town under planning is defined with the following goals: turning the city in the future 15 years into a renowned international science town, with clear disciplinary strength, well - functioned infrastructures, clean and beautiful environment, and an enriched cultural atmosphere. The city will become an ecologically friendly S&T park with innovative vitalities, and a role model to demonstrate the concept of coordinated sustainable development of every aspect. A number of major high tech and knowledge innovation bases will be created in the city to work on strategic topics, including energy, matter science, information and telecommunication, and environment watch. The city will also see the establishment of several service platforms, including a national center for S&T results incubation and diffusion, a national training center for high caliber S&T personnel, a mobile platform for innovation elements, an innovation information processing and service platform, an innovation resources integration and sharing platform, and an intellectual property development and utilization platform.

The Ministry of Science and Technology will provide support for the construction of S&T innovation centers and S&T results conversion platforms. It will also provide a weighted support for the construction of national key labs, engineering research centers, productivity promotion centers, S&T industrial incubators, and other infrastructure platforms. The Chinese Academy of Sciences also promises to add its support to the construction of the science town, in collaboration with the Anhui Provincial authorities, rendering its due contributions to the new initiative.

3.Space Storm Probe in 2011

The Space Storm Probe Project, initiated by LIU Zhenxing, the chief scientist of China' s dual - satellite project, has entered its substantial phase. A coordinating solution for three satellites' operation has been defined. Three satellites are expected to be launched around 2011.

The Space Storm Probe is made up of three probe satellites. All the satellites will run at an intersection angle of 65 degree against the earth equator. Of them, one will be stationed 700 km away from earth, mainly for troposphere and thermosphere observation, with another keeping a distance of 50,000 km from earth to watch near ground magnetosphere. The most distant satellite will be 150,000 km away from earth, watching solar wind areas outside the magnetosphere. The collaboration of three satellites can simultaneously monitor the events occurring in solar wind area, magnetosphere, troposphere and thermosphere, providing evidences to show the evolution of space storms. The project will realize for the first time a joint observation of four levels, including troposphere, thermosphere, magnetosphere, and solar wind area.

4.China Enhance Wetland Protection

China will by 2010 place 60% of its natural wetlands under solid protection in a form of nature conservation zone, said ZHOU Shengxian, Director of Chinese State Forestry Bureau on Feb. 3, 2005. He added that by 2020 the same protection will be applied to 70% of wetlands in the country, in an attempt to establish a well - functioned wetland protection network, making the wetland protection on a sound development track.

Recent years have witnessed a range of measures and policies adopted to enhance the protection of the nation' s wetlands, including China Wetland Protection Action Plan, National Wetland Protection Projects, a national wetland resources survey, wetland protection strategy studies, and construction of wetland conservation zones. The efforts have made 16 million hectares of wetlands, or 40% of the nation' s wetland resources, be protected in a form of nature conservation zone. The Secretariat for the Convention on Wetlands has recently issued certificates to recognize nine more China' s wetlands as the wetlands of international importance, which adds China' s total number of the wetlands under the protection of international wetland network to 30.

5.New Allele for Human White Blood Cell Antigen

Dr. LI Jianping, a researcher working for the Liaoning Blood Center, has discovered an allele of human white blood cell antigen. The new allele has been officially named HLA- * 2451

(AY904343 for its reception number in the gene database) by a committee for naming human white blood cell antigens under the World Health Organization. Dr. LI told reporters that the committee had informed him that the new gene sequence would be published in several renowned medical journals, including Tissue Antigen , Human Immunology, and European Journal of Human Genetics.

Up to the early 2005, scientists in the world have discovered more than 1000 alleles of human white blood cell antigens, of which 70% were by US scientists, and less than 10 alleles by Chinese scientists.

The new finding was made when screening the blood specimen collected from a hematopoietic stem cell donor in Liaoning Province. The donor is aged around 20. It needs further study to determine if the gene is the result of mutation, or that of an inherited line. Future study will also investigate how many Chinese are carrying such gene.

6.3-D Skull Reconstruction

Chinese scientists have worked out a processing system able to verify a human skull on a 3 - D basis. The system can reconstruct and identify a 3 - D skull image, offering a desirable key solution to verifying the identification of victims, especially in criminal cases.

The new system, using forensic anthropology, facial anatomy, and 3 ~ D digital imaging techniques, is able to reconstruct a nameless skull into a missing victim s picture, and then verify the victim ' s identification, providing clues and evidences for criminal investigations and judicial examination. The new system also makes a very important technical means for personnel identification.

The 3-D skull verification technique and 3-D skull reconstruction technique constitute a solution to identifying and verifying a nameless skull without picture data. The new system, a breakthrough in Chinese man skull reconstruction, has demonstrated through 83 application cases its scientific, advanced and practical nature in reconstructing a 3-D skull.

7.Recessed Plateau Glaciers Affect Global Climate

Starting from 2003, a Qinghai ~ Tibet Plateau ecological and geological environment study team, made up of the experts from the China Aero Geophysical Survey & Remote Sensing Center for Land and Resources (AGRS) and Jilin University, has studied, using remote sensing means, the

desertification, ice and snow line changes, river and lake evolutions, geological disasters, the Quaternary system and Holocene tectonic movement over the plateau. Investigators found that in the 1970s the Qinghai - Tibet Plateau had a glacier area of 48859. 18 km2. At the beginning of the century, the glacier area came down to 44438.40 km2. In the three decades, the plateau glaciers saw a reduction of 4420. 78 km2, or 147. 36 km2 a year, melting down at a speed of 9. 05 % . Ice tongues of mast plateau glaciers are dwindling, and snow lines are ascending, with the maximum ascending up to several hundred meters.

Experts explain that the dry and warming tendencies of global climate, plus microclimate change and reduced precipitation caused by the Plateau' s fast differentiated ascendings and descendings, are attributed to the degradation of the Plateau ' s ecological environment. However, an increasing number of scientists also believe that man's activities, including overgrazing, tourism, and large projects, also accelerate the degradation.

8.China First Survey on Xisha Coral Reefs

Chinese ecologists have recently launched an extensive scientific survey over the coral reefs near the Xisha Isles. The underwater expedition mainly studies the Isles ' ecological environment for coral reefs, collecting and updating basic information and images. Meanwhile, scientists are investigating the health and new species of coral reefs, and the fishes and algae living around the reefs. The extensive survey will provide basic feasible evidences for coral reefs management, future protection planning, and ecological protection.

As many studies in the expedition has to be done underwater, investigators will use underwater photographing technique to supplement submarine observations. The coral reefs pictures are collected in such a manner that they will be completely in line with internationally accepted standards, facilitating exchanges and cooperation with coral reefs experts in other countries.

9.Super Corn Gives Super Yield

Chinese researchers have recently produced new corn species, with their indicators approaching that of the socalled "super corn". ZHAO

jiuran, Director of the Corn Research Center, a part of the Beijing Academy of Agriculture and Forestry told reporters that the center has screened out four hybrid corn combinations from some 10 thousands hybrids. The selected combinations have registered a yield exceeding 900 kg, very close to the expecting yield of 1,000 kg/ mu( lmu - 0. 0667ha. ) for a super corn. Their other major indicators, including quality, resistance, seeding capability, are also approaching that of a super corn.

Under the project initiated by the Beijing Municipality for super corn innovations and establishing a standard corn DNA fingerprint database, China will augment and create new com species, using extensive fine quality corn species both from home and abroad, in an attempt to screen out real super corn species.

10.Self - growing Silicon Nanotubes

A study team, headed by Prof. TANG Yuanhong with the Hunan University, has worked out self - growing silicon nanotubes. The development marks a major progress achieved in China's nanomaterial study. The finding has applied for the national invention patent.

Researchers synthesized out silicon nanotubes, using a completely new warm water growing method. Those silicon nanotubes make the first synthesized self -growing silicon nanotubes in the world, another completely new nanomaterials, following carbon nanotubes and silicon nanothreads. They can be used to manufacture nanoelectronic components.

11.Major Progress for Bird Flu Vaccine

With the support of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Science and Technology, a key lab for avian influenza under the Ministry of Agriculture has recently rolled out a new recombinant inactivated vaccine for avian influenza (H5N1 subtype), and a recombinant avian influenza vaccine with fowl pox carrier.

Comparing with existing vaccines for bird flu, the recombinant inactivated vaccine (H5N1 subtype) is more target- focused, with a longer immune protection for birds. The vaccine is also valid for aquatic birds, including duck and goose. The valid immune protection for chicken, under an experimental condition, can last

for more than 10 months, or at least 4 months longer than the existing vaccines.

12.China Probes Moon in 2007

Ai Guoxiang, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told reporters that China's first moon expedition will begin with the launch of a moon probe satellite. The moon probe satellite will map the usable resources on the moon surface, with a range of other missions, including collecting 3-D moon images, understanding the soil, usable elements and mineral resources on the moon surface, and gaining more knowledge of the moon space environment. The moon probe satellite is designed to have a weight of 2, 350 kg, with effective payloads including optic sounding system, and probing instruments to detect y and X rays and space environment.

China officially kicked off its moon probe project last year. The project, named Chang' e Project, is implemented in three phases: surrounding the moon, landing on the moon, and returning from the moon. All the probe activities are unmanned. The moon surrounding satellite named Chang' e I expects to be launched before 2007.

13.China's First Nanotechnology Standards

Not long ago, the General Administration of Quali ty Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and the National Committee for Standards jointly held a news conference to announce the coming debut of China ' s national standards for nanomaterials, including a nanomaterial nomenclature. China' s first package of nanostandards is made up of a nomenclature, two testing methods, and four sets of specifications for nanoproducts. The promulgation of China' s first nanostandards marks China' s intent to make its nanotechnology related production and market activities regulated according to law. In addition to the above - mentioned seven standards that will come into effect on April 1st, 2005, China will continue to work out other related standards, in a move to establish a well - functioned standard system for the nanotechnology industry.

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