Mongolia: Remembering N. Sodnoma and Looking to the Future

News, 18 October 2013

For his achievements in the development of cooperation between the Academy of Sciences, higher educational institutions of Mongolia and JINR, Director of LRB, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Ye. Krasavin was awarded the Golden Medal of the Academy of Sciences of Mongolia –“Khubilai-khan” (the highest award of the Academy). Award ceremony took place on October 3, 2013 at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences during international scientific conference “The Role of Academician N. Sodnom in the Development of Science and Higher Education in Mongolia” dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the birth of Mongolian academician. Today Yevgeny Krasavin shares his impressions of the trip to Mongolia.

Celebration of the 90th anniversary of Academician N. Sodnom was organized at the highest level. Former president of Mongolia, Minister of Science and Education participated in the festivities, academician B.Ehnkhtuvshinopened the conference. I did a presentation entitled “Academician N. Sodnom and the role of JINR in human space exploration”. Why did I choose this topic? As a physicist and organizer of science, Sodnom is well-known both in Mongolia and in JINR.

Many areas of fundamental physical research in which academician Sodnomhad done his work, were covered in presentations of physicists. These include studies of nuclear reactions between accelerated tritium ions and various light nuclei, development of semiconductor detectors for high-energy physics, and several other areas of research. At the same time, professor Sodnom played an important role in the development of space research. Intensive radiobiological research was conducted on synchrocyclotron of DLNP while he held the post of deputy director of the Joint Institute in the 1970s. Namsarain Sodnom and Venedikt Dzhelepov supported them in every possible way. Sodnom also played a prominent role in the organization of the radiobiological research sector. In my presentation I also spoke about possible future role of JINR accelerators in solving problems of space biology, and in the development of outer space.

The younger son of Sodnom and his sister attended the conference. His older son – an academician of the Academy of Sciences of Mongolia S.Enkhbat, who once represented Mongolia in the Scientific Council of JINR, is now an Ambassador of Mongolia to Kuwait. After the conference, several meetings at the Academy of Sciences were held, including a discussion of closer and broader interaction between universities, the Atomic Energy Committee, other institutions in Mongolia, and JINR. Mongolia is now beginningto use minerals for the development of nuclear energy at an increasing rate. It has huge deposits of uranium, and rare earth metals, especially, of tungsten and copper. Mongolia has more copper then even Chile. Therefore, it faces the task of well-planned explitation of these minerals. In Mongolia you can see representatives of many countries – USA, Canada, Korea, China, Japan and others, who are showing interest in its development.

Any activity related to the use of atomic energy should begin with radiation protection. Its development is a top priority in Mongolia, otherwise it would have been impossible to develop the deposits. At the Academy of Sciences, training of personnel in this area was discussed – including topics such as radiation protection, dosimetry, radiobiology. Possibilities of collaborating with Dubna were discussed – not only with JINR, but also with the University of Dubna – for targeted training of personnel for the needs of Mongolia. Although Dubna University has regional, and not federal, quotas for foreign students, but Mongolian students could have a comfortable stay, and receive good training in Dubna. I also met with the new rector of Ulaanbaatar University, I was able to assess the level of physics and mathematics training provided to students. The planned meeting with Prime Minister of Mongolia, N.Altanhuyag, who is a biophysicist by education, did not take place, due to his extremely busy schedule, but I forwarded him our proposals.

As for the general impressions, Mongolia is changing so fast that the changes that took place in the four years since my previous trip are just amazing. There is a lot of construction underway, in which companies from Korea and Japan take part, there are a lot of cars and modern buildings. The second biggest impression is the number of young people. Mongolia is a very young nation, with over 30 percent of the population under 18 years old. Unfortunately, few young people speak Russian, but many of them speak English, Chinese, Japanese fluently – many go to study in China, Korea, Japan, Australia. Russia is losing its positions in Mongolia today. And one non sensical detail: Russians pay 100 dollars for a Mongolian visa, while Belarusians and citizens of the three Baltic states enjoy a visa-free regime. Why? It is just because Mongolia has responded adequately to the paid Russian visa regime for its citizens. After all, Mongolia was the first to recognize Soviet Russia, and our country should not lose its presence there. So far, the atmosphere is extremely friendly, and the fact that Mongolia participates in the work of the Joint Institute and plans to continue doing so, should be welcomed and supported in every possible way.