Mongolia: remembering N. Sodnom and looking to the future

News, 18 October 2013

For achievements in the development of cooperation between the Academy of Sciences, higher educational institutions of Mongolia and JINR, LRB Director, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences E.A. Krasavin was awarded the Golden Medal of the Academy of Sciences of Mongolia – “Khubilai-khan” (the highest award of the Academy). The award ceremony took place on 3 October 2013 at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences in the framework of the 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 birth of the Mongolian Academician. Today, E.A. 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 celebrations, Academician B. Ehnkhtuvshin opened the conference. I delivered a presentation “Academician N. Sodnom and the role of JINR in 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 issues of fundamental physical research in which Academician Sodnom had been involved were covered in presentations of physicists, namely 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 development of space research. Intensive radiobiological research was conducted on the synchrocyclotron of DLNP while he was JINR Vice-Director in the 1970s. Namsarain Sodnom and Venedikt Dzhelepov supported them in every possible way. Sodnom also played a prominent role in organization of the radiobiological research sector. In my presentation I also spoke about possible future role of the JINR accelerators in solving problems of space biology and in the development of far space. The younger son of Sodnom and his sister attended the conference. His older son S. Enkhbat, Academician of the Academy of Sciences of Mongolia, who once represented Mongolia in the JINR Scientific Council, 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 beginning to use minerals for the development of nuclear energy at a fast pace. It has huge uranium resources and rare earth metals, particularly, tungsten and copper. Mongolia is richer in copper than Chile. Therefore, it faces the task of well-planned use of these minerals. In Mongolia, you can see representatives of many countries, namely USA, Canada, Korea, China, Japan and others, who are showing interest in its development.

Any activities related to the use of atomic energy should begin with radiation protection. Its development is a top priority in Mongolia, otherwise fields development would have been impossible. I discussed training of personnel in this field at the Academy of Sciences, in particular, in the fields of radiation protection, dosimetry and radiobiology. Possibilities of collaborating with Dubna were discussed not only with JINR but with the University of Dubna for targeted training of personnel for the needs of Mongolia as well. However, the Dubna University has regional, not federal, quotas for foreign students while it would have been convinient for Mongolian students to live and receive training in Dubna. I also visited a new reactor of the Ulaanbaatar University, I was able to assess the level of the physics and mathematics training provided to students. The planned meeting with Prime Minister of Mongolia, N.Altanhuyag, who has a diploma of a biophysicist, was not held due to his extremely busy schedule, but I sent him our proposals.

As for the general impression, Mongolia is changing so intensively that the changes that happened in four years since my previous trip here are just amazing. There is a lot of construction work 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 and many of them go to study in China, Korea, Japan, Australia. Russia is losing its positions in Mongolia today. One more nonsense is that Russians pay 100 dollars for a Mongolian visa, while Belarussians and citizens of the three Baltic states enjoy a visa-free regime. Why? It is just because Mongolia took countermeasures to the paid Russian visa regime for the Mongolian citizens. After all, Mongolia was the first to recognize the 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.