Many areas of modern science have reached the milestone, when you can move forward only by means of very expensive projects. Of course, we can not all be measured only in money - and now you can make a great discovery with a budget of one hundred dollars. But huge investments in different projects at least indicate what the problem is recognized by States and scholars worthy of such costs. Today, the project, whose budget is over a billion dollars, it was so much that we could not limit ourselves to traditional scores and barely stopped for a dozen.
The hostel is in orbit
International Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS)
What: Space Station
Where: in orbit, about 330-350 km from Earth
How much: more than $ 100 billion
Why: the base for a variety of space research
When: in 1998 it launched the first module. Construction is continuously
ISS - not only the most expensive scientific (or pseudo-scientific) project in history. It is also the largest man-made object in space. Or is the only place in the universe (except, of course, Earth), where there is internet access, shower and toilet. Records on account of the ISS indefinitely. With scientific problems worse.
Yes, there are grown crystals and occasionally doing a something with spiders and lizards. But breakthroughs in physics and biology, which in any way would affect the Earth's science is not done - or just are not ready to talk about them. That is why skeptics like futurist and patriarch of Theoretical Physics, Freeman Dyson, and stated that the station - a useful thing, if you just look at it as a universal human toy.
We can assume that the most valuable experience - is preparing to experience. Build a giant modules in orbit - an exciting exercise for engineers and programmers who planned it. Docking - another example of thin technologies. And traces of micrometeorites on the casing give an idea of how materials behave in a collision at incredible speeds to Earth.
But the main thing is people - doctors with unflagging influence shall ensure that in the absence of gravity changes, for example, the composition of the bones of the astronauts and how their body reacts to cosmic radiation. When is conceived to build bases on the Moon or on Mars, this knowledge is certainly useful.
International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER)
International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor
What: reactor generates energy due to the fact that the light atomic nuclei combine into heavier
Where: in France, not far from the French Riviera
How much: $ 12-15 billion
Why: to produce energy cheaply, safely and in large quantities
When: construction started in 2006. In 2016 it should be completed, then within 20 years will be conducted experiments. If they go well, then in the 2020s - 2030s begin design of commercial fusion reactors, which will begin to fully operate somewhere in 2060
Ever since the 50-ies of XX century, scientists have promised us a unique source of energy - controlled thermonuclear fusion. It was suggested to use a reaction similar to those that occur in the interior of the sun: the atoms of hydrogen isotopes (deuterium and tritium) merge into a helium atom, and as a result generated a lot of energy. Fusion fuel is millions of times our favorite high-calorie oil. Thus there is no risk of accident such as Chernobyl, and the raw materials can be produced from ordinary water.
But this scheme seems simple only on the pages of school textbooks. In reality, on the way to fusion energy was a lot of problems, both technical and financial and political.
In 2006 alone, the world's leading countries were able to agree on the construction of an experimental fusion reactor. The financial contribution is distributed as follows: China, India, Korea, Russia, the United States - each in the amount of 1/11, Japan - 2/11, the European Union - 4/11.
The end and the beginning of our world
Large Hadron Collider
Large Hadron Collider
What: accelerator, which faced colliding beams of protons and heavy ions
Where: in Switzerland and France
How: costs approaching $ 10 billion
Why: to understand the nature of matter, time and the universe
When: construction began in 2001. Starting transferred many times. Last date - summer 2009
I have said many times that the Large Hadron Collider - the most powerful, most expensive, and so on. D. Device in modern particle physics. Moreover, it is the only scientific attitude, which is discussed in full, not only scientists, but also the general public. Collider has become the hero of anecdotes, standing in a row with Stirlitz, Chukchi and Vovochka.
James Webb Space Telescope
Space Telescope "James Webb»
What: Infrared Space Observatory
Where: Lagrangian point L2 to 1, 5 million km from Earth
How much: $ 4, 5 billion
Why: biography of galaxies, stars and Earth-like planets
When: The launch is scheduled for 2013-2014 year
"James Webb" will replace the "Hubble" telescope as head of earthlings. In the successor to its predecessor little to do when "Hubble" flood, the era of optical telescopes, by and large over. Universe "Webb" will show in the infrared as night vision devices.
Why infrared better? There is a so-called redshift - the effect, Hubble's discovery (not telescope and astronomer). The farther away the object and the faster he runs away from the Earth, the more its spectrum is shifted to the red. The stars in several billion light years from us already visible eye, but visible to this "night-vision devices." A potential counterparts Earth - planets outside our solar system - usually posing as infrared radiation is: because the molecules of the atmosphere give light back into space.
Compared with the "Hubble" "Webb" bigger and harder. Its main item - 6, 5-meter mirror (against 2, 5 meter from the "Hubble") of beryllium coated with a layer of gold. However, a distance of 1, 5 million kilometers creates problems, if "Hubble" every few years astronauts mending, the "Webb" will have to rely only on themselves.
"James Webb" is not only one of the expensive space-based telescopes. For example, last week, from Kourou in French Guiana were launched telescope "Herschel" Observatory "Plank". Their total value exceeds $ 2, 5 billion.
Trying to foment
National Ignition Facility (NIF)
National incendiary installation
What: laser fusion reactor
Where: Livermore, CA, USA
How much: $ 3, 9 billion
Why: get cheap energy
When: The installation was completed in March 2009. The first results expected in 2010.
NIF is conceived as a very bright place on earth. 192 heavy-duty laser aimed at a single point, must generate a flash of light in the 500 terawatts - about 5 trillion light bulbs. Flash, however, will ultrashort - billionths of a second. All this is necessary to trigger a fusion reaction inside the gold "thimble" volume of a pea, which wobbled deuterium and tritium. The reaction is considered the cheapest (in the future) energy source.
Installation is experimental. Around the central "thimble" built structure, size and shape resembling a "Luzhniki". NIF - US rival fusion reactor ITER, which is being built in France. The problem they have is the same, but the means are different: design like ITER - tokamaks - has come up with Tamm, Sakharov, and such smaller scale installations are all over the world. NIF has no direct predecessor.
General Census of proteins
What: Create a list of all human proteins
Where hundreds of laboratories around the world
What: More than $ 1 billion
Why: create a fundamentally new means of treatment and diagnosis of diseases
When: we are talking about the project in the early 2000s, and proteins began to identify more than a hundred years ago
Our whole life is based on a class of substances - the whites. Some of them allow us to move more determined mood, others help digest food.
In the mid 90s the Australian scientist Mark Wilkins coined the word "proteome". It was formed by "protein" (in English protein - protein, and in Russian as it is sometimes called) and "genome" (the set of all genes).
Only proteome for "reading" is more complicated than the genome. Firstly, the DNA sequence is more or less stable, and the protein composition of the body is changing every second. Second, not enough to understand some of the amino acids is a protein, we must also deal with its functions. That's when you may receive a fundamentally new medicine, allowing quickly diagnose any illness and treat it as efficiently as possible.
Coordinate research groups working on the problem, trying to International Organization of the human proteome - Human Proteome Organization (HUPO). Particular emphasis is they do on the proteins of the brain, blood and liver.
Another Big Bang
Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research
Accelerator for Antiproton and Ion Research
What: very powerful particle accelerator
Where: Darmstadt, Germany
How much: about $ 1, 7 billion
Why: to simulate the early state of the universe, to understand the structure of protons and neutrons to examine the device core and much more
When: The installation is planned to start in 2015
At the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research of the problem in something similar to the Large Hadron Collider. In particular, scientists are going to recreate the substance, which was formed in the first microseconds after the Big Bang. Another task - to study the so-called strong interaction. That it "keeps the world from the inside", without giving atomic nuclei disintegrate into particles and particles - quarks on.
Armored car on Mars
Mars Science Laboratory
Mars Science Laboratory
Where: at the 45th latitude or closer to the equator of Mars - the exact landing site is chosen
How much: $ 2, 3 billion
Why: to find life
When: The launch is scheduled for November and December 2011. The first results will appear in autumn 2012
The rover the size of a Jeep-equipped vehicle will be the most of all that ever rolled on the Red Planet. It is more accurate, more powerful and reliable than their predecessors. Dig deeper and see further. Everything is the same that was used for the study of Mars before, only a class above. And, perhaps, Mars Science Laboratory have better luck with water and microorganisms. His incredible budget of the Martian laboratory must ensure that Mars - next moon after the goal of manned space flight, and such programs in the 2000s, which were financed by generous purely scientific.
Very fast laser
X-Ray Free Electron Laser
X-ray free electron laser
What: the world's largest X-ray laser
Where: Hamburg, Germany
How much: about $ 1, 5 billion
Why: to analyze organic molecules and nanomaterials
When: The start is scheduled for 2013-2014 year
On its face, this piece will look like the Large Hadron Collider - also very expensive, too underground and too in the form of a circular tunnel. Only problem it has quite different: using very short laser flashes (less than a trillionth of a second) can "see" the molecular and atomic processes.
Almost a quarter of the budget took over Russia. The money will go through a corporation "Rosnano". Those interested can witty to say: before Chubais was responsible for millions of light bulbs, and now he was entrusted with a laser.
Census of Marine Life
Census of Marine Life
What: an inventory of marine life
Where: in the seas and oceans from the poles to the equator
What: More than $ 1 billion
Why: to understand who and what lives in the sea
Who lives in the sea? On the issue of the Encyclopedia for preschoolers should answer project Census of Marine Life. For the first time, a complete list of sea creatures. It is expected that there will be no less than quarter of a million species of marine zhivotnyh.Pomimo the question "who?" Program should also deal with the category of "where?" That is, to understand the habitat of a species. The third issue is even more difficult - "how many?»
During the census discovered nearly 6 thousand. New species. Among them are living off the coast of the Antarctic octopus Megaleledone setebos, which is recognized as the ancestor of all deep-sea octopuses.
The project has a practical aspect. According to some projections, in 2050 there will a total collapse of the commercial fishery. Perhaps understanding of marine life will make it possible to prevent it.
Square Kilometre Array
The antenna array in a square kilometer
What: The multi-antenna radio telescope
Where: South Africa and Australia, the network length of 3 thousand. Km
How much: $ 2 billion
Why: To find out details of the biography of space
When: Built in 2016, waiting for the results in 2020
Whether the police on the moon, and in the police radio for the SKA would not have been a problem to eavesdrop on talks. Just catch the most sensitive radio in the world will not radio signals and is strictly "non-human" origin - radio waves from space.
Radio astronomy - something like a frog vision that sees only what is moving. If the star delivers powerful radio - so it takes something special.
There is another plus compared with optical devices: you can listen to the radio in his apartment, a signal easily passes through the concrete walls. In space, instead of walls - the cosmic dust and gas on hundreds of millions of light-years. And radio telescopes can easily "look" through them.
For keenness to pay sizes. SKA consists of almost five thousand 12-meter antennas - folded their signals, in principle, you can get something that would pass one antenna the size of a continent. The main trouble is that the complex is being built in the southern hemisphere - most of the northern sky, he will never see.
Zabur how to
Integrated Ocean Drilling Program
Integrated Ocean Drilling Program
What: drilling of deep wells in the ocean
Where: specially selected areas in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans
What: More than $ 1, 5 billion
Why: to understand plate tectonics, earthquake prediction, to reconstruct the geological history of the Earth
When: started in 2003. The results are already there, but the most interesting data should appear in a few years
The insides of the planet - one of the biggest mysteries of science. Lunar soil brought over three hundred thousand kilometers away, you can touch in the lab. But the depths of the earth are studying mainly on indirect data.
One of the most ambitious projects in the field of the Earth's interior - Integrated Ocean Drilling Program. Its main initiators were the United States and Japan. Later they were joined by many other countries, but Russia is not among them. Most likely, this is due to the policy, in particular with disputes over the Arctic shelf.
One of the aims of the program - to get to the Earth's mantle, or at least to the so-called Mohorovicha layer that lies between the mantle and the crust. The main "instrument" of the project - some specially equipped ships. The most famous of them - Chikyu. It hosts the plant is capable to drill the ocean floor at a depth of more than 7 kilometers.
But the smaller the depth of already impressive: it was recently reported the discovery of the bacteria at a depth of 1626 meters below the seabed.