Today, many people think that science does not develop as quickly as it did in the 20th century, but in many areas such a phenomenon is observed, that further steps are possible only through the implementation of extremely expensive projects. Naturally, not always money determines the importance of discovery – maybe someone will be able to make a scientific revolution and with a hundred dollars in his pocket. However, huge investments in various scientific projects show that states and scientists still face important tasks worth the expense. Today, there are so many projects with a budget of over one billion dollars that it is difficult to single out a clear leader, so consider the twelve largest of them.
ISS (International Space Station).
This object is located in the Earth’s orbit, at a distance of 330-350 km from the surface. The total value of the funds invested in the ISS exceeded $ 100 billion. The first module of the station was launched in 1998, and since then it has been under continuous construction. It is the ISS that is the most expensive scientific project in human history. However, many people question the scientific nature of this space research base. It is also the largest space object created by man. It can be mentioned that this is the only known place in the universe (except the Earth), where there is a shower, toilet and even the Internet. In general, the station has a lot of records, but with scientific achievements, things are worse. Here really grow crystals, conduct experiments with spiders and lizards. Only there have not been any tangible breakthroughs for earth science either in biology or in physics. At least this general public is not known. Numerous skeptics, for example, the patriarch-theoretician of physics Freeman Dyson, believe that the ISS is just a big toy of humanity. However, we can consider this project as preparation for new space tasks. After all, the very process of assembling giant orbital modules is itself interesting to programmers and engineers. Another example of the use of subtle technologies is docking. Scientists are also studying traces of micrometeorites on the skin – this made it possible to study the behavior of materials in collisions with objects at velocities unattainable for terrestrial conditions. The main subject of research is still people. Doctors are constantly watching how the lack of gravity affects, for example, the composition of the bones of astronauts, the body’s response to the radiation of the cosmos. These data will certainly be useful in the construction of future bases on other planets or satellites. International Experimental Thermonuclear Reactor (ITER).
This reactor should generate energy by combining light atomic nuclei into heavier ones. There is an installation in France, near the Cote d’Azur, it will be invested from 12 to 15 billion dollars. According to the idea of the creators with the help of it, it will be safe to receive energy in large quantities. The construction of the reactor began in 2006, and will be completed in 2016. After the completion of the construction site for about 20 years, a number of experiments will be conducted here. Only in case of their successful completion in 2020-2030 will the design of thermonuclear reactors for commercial use begin, which will fully work only for a while until 2060. The very idea of thermonuclear fusion arose in the middle of the 20th century, then it seemed to be a unique source of energy. Scientists suggested using reactions similar to those occurring in the depths of the Sun – the atoms of hydrogen isotopes should merge into a helium atom with the release of a large number of energy. Fuel for thermonuclear reactions is more caloric than oil millions of times. Raw materials can be obtained from ordinary water, and there is no risk of a technogenic catastrophe, like Chernobyl. In reality, the implementation of this project is hindered by many factors, both financial and political, and purely technical. Only in 2006, world leaders were able to agree on the construction of an experimental installation.4/11 of the amount allocated by the European Union, Japan 2/11, and the remainder divided equally by India, China, the United States, Russia and Korea.
Large Hadron Collider.
In this accelerator, heavy ions collide with colliding beams of protons. There is an installation on the border of France and Switzerland. The cost of the construction of the collider was about 10 billion dollars. The meaning of the project is the awareness of the nature of matter, time and the universe as a whole. The construction was started in 2001, and completely finished in 2008. Today it is the largest and most expensive experimental plant in the world, its ring length exceeds 26 kilometers. In addition, the collider is discussed not only by scientists, but also by the general public. Many people were frightened at all launching the installation, believing that this could lead to the end of the world. It is not surprising that the jokers devoted a lot of jokes and anecdotes to the fact of launching the installation.
Space Telescope “James Webb”.
This infrared observatory is located in space at the Lagrangian point L2 at a distance of 1,% million kilometers from the Earth. The launch of a $ 4.5 billion project is planned for 2013 – 2014. The telescope will help make up life descriptions of stars, galaxies and earth-like planets. Currently, the main telescope is “Hubble”, it is something that will be replaced by “James Webb” in this post. It should be noted that they have little in common, with the flooding of “Hubble” is likely to end the era of optical telescopes. “Webb” will look at the universe already in the infrared range, as well as night vision devices. Than it is better? The fact is that there is a red shift effect discovered by the astronomer Hubble. Its essence is that with the removal of the object from the Earth and acceleration of its motion away from us, the spectrum shifts into the red region. As a result, the stars, located billions of light years away, do not see the eye, but the night vision device distinguishes them perfectly. Yes, and the planet – the potential twins of the Earth are exactly the infrared glow, so the light is reflected from the atmosphere back into space. “Webb” will be much more complex and massive than the “Hubble”. The main part of the new telescope will be a 6.5 meter mirror made of beryllium, covered with a layer of gold. For comparison, the Hubble mirror was “only” 2.5 meters in diameter. Only in the case of a breakdown of “Webb” hardly anyone from outside will help, whereas “Hubble” is periodically repaired by astronauts. James Webb also has a cheaper brother – the Herschel telescope, whose total cost with the Plank Observatory has exceeded $ 2.5 billion. This facility is already in space since 2009, the goal is also to study the infrared spectrum.
National incendiary installation (NIF).
This laser thermonuclear reactor is located in California, and its cost is almost 4 billion dollars. Its construction was completed in 2009, and the first results for obtaining cheap energy are planned to be received in 2010. This place will be the brightest place on the planet. 192 high-power lasers are aimed at one point, during an ultrashort flash, in billions of seconds, a flash of light of 500 terawatts will be created, which corresponds to light from 5 trillion light bulbs. This will have to provoke a thermonuclear reaction inside the golden “thimble” with tritium and deuterium, which has a volume the size of a pea. In the long term such a reaction can become the cheapest source of energy. Installation is naturally of an experimental nature, around the central “thimble” has grown a structure in shape and size resembling “Luzhniki”. This setup is a competitor of the French ITER, although they have the same tasks, but absolutely different means. Constructions for thermonuclear reactions have been invented for a long time already, smaller scales are already in use throughout the world, but NIF has no analogues and direct predecessors.
This project aims to compile a list of all human proteins. The project has no territorial linkage, it is conducted simultaneously in hundreds of laboratories around the world, the total cost of work is more than a billion dollars. It is planned that these studies will help develop fundamentally new tools for the diagnosis of diseases and their treatment. The project arose at the beginning of the 21st century, although the proteins learned to define a century ago. All human life is based on proteins, some of which allow us to move, others – determine the mood, and the third participate in digestion. In the mid-1990s, the Australian Mark Wilkins introduced the term “proteome”, which was formed by merging the words “protein” (which in English means protein) and “genome” (ie, a set of genes). For reading the proteome is much more difficult than the genome. This is due to the fact that, firstly, the DNA sequence is relatively stable, but the protein composition of the organism changes every second. In addition, it is not enough to understand what amino acids form a protein, it is also necessary to understand its functions. Knowledge in this area can create a completely new medicine that can diagnose as quickly as possible any disease and successfully treat it. There is an international organization – the Organization of the Human Proteome Organization (HUPO), which tries to coordinate the work of international scientific groups on the solution of the problem, focusing on proteins of the brain, liver and blood.
Accelerator for the study of antiprotons and ions
This extremely powerful elementary particle accelerator is located in Darmstadt, Germany, at a cost of $ 1.7 billion, with an installation that is scheduled to launch in 2015, scientists will be able to simulate early state of the universe, this will give them an opportunity to better understand the structure of the protons and atoms, the device of the nucleus.The tasks in general in the accelerator are similar to the Large Hadron Collider.For example, the task of scientists is to recreate the substance that was formed in the first instants after the Big Bang. the study of a strong interaction, because it keeps the world from within, not allowing the nuclei of atoms to decay into particles, and that, in turn, into quarks. Scientific laboratory on Mars.
The goal of this project is to launch the rover. While for him the exact landing site has not yet been chosen – roughly this will be the 45th latitude or closer to the equator. It’s clear that the project cost exceeded $ 2.3 billion. Scientists hope with the help of the rover to find traces of life on the red planet. Start the installation is planned in late 2011, and in less than a year to get the first results. The size of the rover will be small – about with a jeep. It will be the most equipped car that ever was on Mars. It is worth noting that the car is also more reliable and powerful than its predecessors – it will be able to see further and dig deeper. Essentially new skills rover will not get, just now their class will be higher. Scientists hope that now they will be luckier with the new one in search of water and microorganisms. The incredible budget of the expedition is due to the fact that Mars is the next target of manned flights after the moon, and such space programs in the 21st century have become much better funded than purely scientific ones.
X-ray laser with free electrons.
This X-ray laser will be the largest in the world. It will be located in German Hamburg, the cost of the project is 1.5 billion dollars. The project is scheduled to start in 2013-2014. With the help of the installation it will be possible to better analyze organic molecules, as well as nanomaterials. According to external formal characteristics, the laser will resemble a hadronic collider. This is also an expensive underground looped installation.Naturally, the installation has other tasks – it should help to see molecular and atomic processes with the help of short (less than a trillionth of a second) laser flares. The share of Russia in this project is almost a quarter. The money is allocated by the corporation “Rosnano”.
Census of ocean life.
Since 2000, scientists have compiled a register of all those who live in the seas and oceans from the poles to the equator. It is planned to finish the census already in 2010, the cost of works is about 1 billion dollars. The project was named Census of Marine Life. Such a list was compiled for the first time, preliminary estimates suggest that it will contain at least 250,000 species of marine animals. In addition to estimating the number and the person who lives in the ocean, the project should help to identify the habitats of different species. During the census more than 6 thousand species have already been discovered, the most interesting of which is the Megaleledone setebos octopus, living near the coast of Antarctica. It is he who is the ancestor of all living at the depth of octopuses. However, the project in addition to the scientific side has a purely practical one. After all, experts estimate that in the year 2050 there will be a global collapse of commercial fishing, and an understanding of marine life can help prevent the problem. Multi-antenna radio telescope (SKA).
This installation is an antenna array with an area per square kilometer. It is planned to be located either in South Africa or in Australia. The length of the network will be 3 thousand kilometers, and the cost of all works is 2 billion dollars. With the help of a radio telescope, researchers plan to obtain more information about the history of space. Despite the scheduled completion of work in 2016, the first results should not be expected before 2020. SKA is able to catch hypothetical radio talks on the Moon, but the most sensitive radio in the world will listen to signals of an extremely inhuman origin – space radio waves. Radio astronomy can be compared with the vision of a frog, which sees only what moves. If in space the star gives powerful radio pulses – it means something interesting happens to it. In comparison with optical devices, radio telescopes have the advantage – after all, the radio signal easily passes through walls, in space there are no barriers at all – one dust and gas for hundreds of millions of light years around. As a result, radio telescopes easily listen to long distances. However, such sensitivity requires the appropriate size. The SKA complex consists of 5 thousand 12-meter-diameter antennas. The trouble is that the complex is being built in the Southern Hemisphere, so the greater part of the northern sky will remain inaccessible to it.
Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.
The goal of the $ 1.5 billion program is to drill deep wells at specially selected sites in the Pacific and Atlantic seabed. This will allow scientists to better understand plate tectonics, predict earthquakes, and also to reconstruct the geological history of the planet. The first results of the program that began in 2003 already exist, but scientists promise the appearance of the most interesting data in a few years. This project is one of the most ambitious among all, devoted to the study of the Earth’s interior. It is not surprising, because the insides of our planet remain a big mystery. The lunar soil can be felt in the laboratory, although it was transported for 300,000 kilometers. Earth’s same depths are studied in large part thanks to indirect information. The main initiators of the project were Japan and the United States. Later, they were joined by other countries. The project aims to reach the Earth’s mantle or at least to the layer of Mokhorovich, which is located between the bark and the mantle. At the heart of the program are several ships specially equipped for this purpose. Installation on the most famous of them, Chikyu, can drill the ocean floor to a depth of more than 7 kilometers.However, for discoveries it was not necessary to reach such depths – there is already information about the detection of bacteria at a depth of 1,626 meters under the ocean floor.