Science of Latvia: Achievements


Main achievements 

Achievements of 1999 - 2001

·        Institute of Solid State Physics, University of Latvia, has been awarded the status of the Excellence Center of the European Union for the investigation and technologies of advanced materials. Among 185 projects submitted to the competition (from 12 countries of Eastern and Central Europe), the Institute of Solid State Physics ranked 5–8 and was the only one from Latvia to receive the status. Altogether six Latvian institutes took part in the competition, and among them three more got good estimation.

·        On 11 November, 1999, under the leadership of A. Gailitis and O. Lielausis, the transfer from simple motion of electro conducting liquid to magneto active (magnetic field generating) dynamo motion was first demonstrated at the Institute of Physics, University of Latvia. Until now, this MHD Dynamo phenomenon should be in fact considered as hypothetical. Obtained results also allow to verify the calculation methods used for  investigation of Earth magnetic field, as well as fields of other astrophysical objects. 

·        On 10–14 November, 1999, the Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Center (E. Bervalds, Z. Sīka a.o.) performed the first observation cycle within the Eurasian system of very long base radio interferometer by its 32 m radio telescope. The observations were simultaneously carried out together with 11 radio telescopes in India, Italy, Russia, China, Poland, and the Ukraine. The experiment lasted for 43 hours and 45 minutes, and 13 sources of cosmic radiation (quasars, radio galaxies, and the Sun) were observed. The successful realisation of the experiment proved the ability of Latvian radio astronomers to act as equal partners in global international projects.

·        Two new classes of anticancer substances have been discovered at the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis. The properties of selenium have been used in one of them (E. Lukevics a.o.). The substances of the other newly discovered class induce apopthotic cell death (I. Kalvinsh a.o.).

·        Scientific background has been developed for the production of new foods, polyfunctional victuals, of grain raw materials (M. Bekers, M. Marauska, D. Klavina a.o.). In 1999, the joint-stock company “Rīgas piena kombināts” started the production of one of the products, “Oat Biolacto”.

·        Significant scientific results were achieved at the Biomedical Research and Study Centre, University of Latvia. Academic lecture “Biomedicine — the 21st century” by Professor Pauls Pumpens, delivered at the General Meeting of the LAS on 19 February, as well as the work of the UNESCO International Centre of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, the first one in the Baltic States, gives evidence of the above said.

·        New potential class of anticancer substances — tetraorganilammonium hydroselenites — has been found and investigated (Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis, E. Lukevics, full mem. LAS).

·        New group of gene transfection agents has been discovered for gene therapy (Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis, G. Duburs, full mem. LAS, in cooperation with Kuopio University in Finland).

·        New classes of substances have been discovered, which selectively destroy the cells of so far incurable pancreas cancer (Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis, I. Kalvinsh, full mem. LAS).

·        Plasma technology for the production of different content refractory compounds (nitrides, carbides, borides, oxides, etc.) and their compositions in form of nanosize powders, developed as a result of long-term investigations carried out at the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, Riga Technical University, lies at the basis of the innovation project “Transnanopowder” J. Grabis, cor. mem. LAS, et al.), included in the 5th structural programme of the European Commission. In course of its implementation, the new technology will be handed over to cooperation partners in Germany and Austria.

·        At the Biomedical Research and Study Center, University of Latvia, in investigating tumour antigenes, new genes have been identified, which will potentially be used for the design and diagnosis of anticancer vaccines or as prognostic genome markers.

·        National Biofuel Programme has been drafted at the Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology (leading organisation), University of Latvia. The programme foresees the production of bioethanol as petrol oxigenate and the trans-esterifier of rape-oil to obtain alternative diesel fuel (biodiesel) and to produce biogas from waste. It is planned that the implementation of the programme will bring about considerable increase of agricultural production in Latvia. At the Faculty of Materials Sciences and Applied Chemistry, Riga Technical University, technology for the production of biodiesel by trans-esterification rape-oil has been worked out within the frames of the programme, as well as the method for the oil refining, allowing to obtain a product fit for food (full members LAS M. Beķers, E. Gudriniece, J. Freimanis).

·        In the field of the mechanics of textile composites, two basically new braiding methods for the production of free dimensionally reinforced frames  have been developed. In cooperation with 3TEX Inc. (USA), a pilot equipment has been produced (Institute of Polymer Mechanics, UL, full mem. LAS Y. Tarnopolsky et al.).

·        Latvian scientists and inventors (full mem. LAS I. Kalvinsh, Dr. habil. phys. Y. Gelfgat an others) have received several significant foreign patents (granted by the USA, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, etc.) for their new inventions.

Latvian publishers have supplemented the book stock with several significant scientific editions:

·        Incunabula in Latvian. 1525–1855], a catalogue produced by the staff of the Latvian National Library — the most complete bibliographical record of early Latvian book printing, which gives a reader a unique possibility to get acquainted with and study the history of culture.

·        Janis Stradins. Latvian Academy of Sciences: Origin, History, Transformation, background for the development of science in Latvia starting from the first learned societies, the origin, development, and transformation of the Academy of Sciences.

·        4 May: A Collection of Articles, Conclusions and Documents on the Declaration of Independence / T. Jundzis, ed. R.: Fund “Latvijas Vesture”.

·        Ojars Zanders. Book-Printing and Culture of Ancient Riga in the Context of Hanseatic Towns (13th-17th cc.)] R.: Zinatne (the book was awarded the first prize in the group of scientific and textbooks, a diploma and prize “The Book of the Year” in the competition “The Most Beautiful Book 2000).

·        Convener. Translation from Hebrew and remarks by honorary mem. LAS U. Bērziņš; afterward and commentaries by Prof. J. Veinbergs (Series “Monuments of Literature”). R.: Zinatne (The Spidola Prize in the humanities 2000 of the Latvian Culture Foundation).

·        History of Latvia, 20th century. I. Latvia from the Beginning of the Century till the Proclamation of Independence. 1900–1918. V. Berzins, ed.-in-charge. R.: Publishers of the Institute of History of Latvia.

Several prestigious international conferences took place in Latvia, among them:

·        The NATO seminar “Defects and Surface Induced Effects in Advanced Perovscites” (Jurmala, 23–25 August, 1999, organizer: Institute of Solid State Physics)

·        9th International Baltistica Congress “Baltic Languages in Times of Change” (Riga, 3–6 October, 2000, organiser: Latvian Language Institute)

·        11th International Conference in  Mechanics of Composite Materials MCM2000 (Riga, 11–15 June, 2000, organiser: Institute of Polymer Mechanics)

·        5th European Conference on Application of Polar Dielectrics (Jurmala, 27–30 August, 2000, organiser: Institute of Solid State Physics)

·        After the break of 59 years, the 7th Baltic Conference of Intellectual Cooperation took place in Riga (17-18 September, 1999, organiser: Latvian Academy of Sciences)



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