More than a year later, the war in Ukraine still continues to harm the country and its people. Numerous science-related events have been postponed, canceled or relocated. However, one of the scientific columns that remains active is the Ukrainian Journal of Physics. (UJP). The first issue of the magazine for 2023 was recently published online; this is the 12th issue since the start of the war. The online magazine contains articles in both English and Ukrainian. To learn more about researchers' attempts to overcome the rigors of war, Physics Magazine spoke to some of the scientists who wrote and edited the journal.
“The feeling of danger for everyone I come in contact with is the background of everyday life,” said Volodymyr Zasenko, deputy director of the Bogolyubov Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kiev. Replying by e-mail from Ukraine, Kamikaze said that drones, rockets and mortars had seriously damaged much of the scientific infrastructure. According to Zasenko, daily power and water outages in open buildings and laboratories can damage sensitive equipment and interfere with communications.
Despite the difficulties, many physicists in Ukraine continue to research and teach. According to Zasenko, “complications related to war do not diminish the motivation of his colleagues for scientific work.” They are still just as enthusiastic about their research as before.
Volodymyr Onyshchenko of the Lashkaryov Institute for Semiconductor Physics in Kiev is one of these physicists. His review of the previous year painted a bleak picture of deafening explosions, howling sirens and blackouts. “You can't wake up or switch to another program,” Onyshchenko said in an email. This is how it is. While empty grocery shelves are no longer a big deal, sandbags and barred windows continue to serve as inevitable reminders of conflict. He talked about his nervousness and the value of getting things done by talking. “You relax, you feel better, and the fear disappears when talking to others.” He added that focusing on condensed matter theory studies helps distract his thoughts from conflict.
Onyshchenko recently published some of his writings in UJP. The National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine sponsors the monthly publication of the open-access journal of general physics, founded in 1956. According to Onyshchenko, it is critical that the UJP and other Ukrainian journals continue to be published. Onyshchenko claimed that the “Russian aggressors” wanted to destroy our future, our economy and our confidence in freedom. But we are still here; We will continue to resist.
Boris Grinyuk, deputy editor-in-chief of the UJP and a particle physicist at the Bogolyubov Institute, said he made a similar decision. Grinyuk stated that the journal continued to be published despite significant obstacles such as the missile attack that occurred just a few hundred meters away from the building in Kiev where the peer-reviewed journal was published. In addition, hackers attempted to access the journal's servers. "But we're ready for this kind of thing and we make a backup copy of the entire UJP every day," Grinyuk said in an email from Trento, Italy, where he was tentatively researching.
According to Zasenko, the journal's funding is currently insufficient because the Bogolyubov Institute, which publishes the journal, operates on a small budget. However, the magazine is still run by a small staff with a low salary. But the real problem, according to Grinyuk, is the decline in the number of articles submitted. The cancellation of some Ukrainian conferences where articles could be produced contributed to this decline. In addition, UJP stopped accepting publications by Russian authors who had previously contributed. In support of Ukraine, Grinyuk urged physicists in the US and other countries to send a study to the UJP (see APS News: What Can US Scientists Do to Help Their Ukrainian Peers?)
Oleksii Khorolskyi of the VG Korolenko National Pedagogical University in Poltava recently contributed to the UJP. Khorolskyi stated in a video chat that although his home city of Poltava is far from the front line, air raid sirens still go off four or five times a day and electricity is only available at certain hours. “It often happens that you give lectures or engage in internet activity when the power goes out,” he added. Although she does some of her classes face-to-face rather than online, her students still suffer from interruptions. According to Khorolskyi, students are very happy to see each other.
In addition to teaching, Khorolskyi also conducts macromolecule research. He had planned to conduct some tests in Kharkiv before the war, but the institute there had suffered too much from the initial conflicts. Khorolskyi began doing some exploratory research in Poltava, where he had the spectrophotometer and some other basic instruments to keep up with his work. The findings were published in the latest UJP issue of 2022 and help explain the evolution of pH in saline solutions. Khorolskyi stated that although it was difficult to travel within the country and find the necessary funding, he and his colleagues wanted to do follow-up studies using equipment in Odessa. Khorolskyi adds that Odessa is at significant risk of bombing. I confess, I am very scared,” he admitted.
Khorolskyi, like other scientists questioned, nevertheless displayed a great desire to keep things as they were. “We have to live our lives,” he said. On the day of the interview, Khorolskyi was preparing to visit a nearby high school to evaluate students' scientific projects. “We need to raise our children while we work. We can't stop. Stopping causes everything to disappear. He claimed that the Ukrainians were confident in their ability to repel the attack. He went on to say that aid from other nations is crucial to the morale of his people. “We firmly believe that everything will turn out well,” Khorolskyi added.
Zasenko also discussed the value of foreign aid. Zasenko said: “We appreciate the international scientific community's solidarity with Ukraine. Free access to books and journals as well as free participation in international research organizations are offered to Ukrainian academics. In addition, many Ukrainian specialists were offered opportunities in foreign countries. We are happy that our colleagues have applied for asylum, but Zasenko noted that it is important to consider how we can persuade them, and especially the younger generation, to return to Ukraine after the war.
Numerous initiatives are still underway to advance research in Ukraine. Zasenko emphasized that the Simons Foundation in the USA funds a large number of researchers both in his own institution and in other institutions in Ukraine. The novelty of this grant, according to Zasenko, is that it is aimed at scientists staying in Ukraine. The National Research Foundation of Ukraine (NRFU), a funding agency similar to the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the US, has launched a new initiative to recruit international experts to review applications. NRFU was founded in 2019, which makes it a relatively new company.
According to Gerson Sher, a retired NSF administrator and member of the NRFU's International Board of Advisors, “they now have a staff of about 1000 evaluators, 6000 of them from other countries.” Sher claimed that the foundation's credibility would be ensured by expanding the international pool of evaluators.
According to Sher, an "easy way" for physicists from around the world to support Ukrainian science is to offer to review grant applications. As seen in last year's issues of the UJP, many scientists in Ukraine are still working on new projects and dreaming of new projects that could benefit from this help. According to Sher, there is a misconception among scientists that it is currently impossible to conduct research in Ukraine. Nothing could be more different from the truth.
Source: physics.aps.org/articles/v16/49 – Michael Schirber
Günceleme: 26/03/2023 08:48