During the Cold War, Soviet Russia was a very restrictive place. The media was heavily censored, foreign radio and television station waves were jammed, books that criticized the Soviet regime were banned, and playing western music that was deemed morally and culturally depraved was prohibited. At the same time, dissident activity was rife. Banned literature and underground publications were reproduced by hand and the documents passed from reader to reader. Even music was bootlegged.
Late in the spring of 1991, Soviet cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Anatoli Artsebarski, along with Britain's first astronaut, Helen Sharman, blasted off into space towards Mir, the Soviet space station. Sergei Krikalev’s and Anatoli Artsebarski’s mission was to relieve the existing crew of the space station, while Helen Sharman was onboard as part of the British Juno program to conduct experiments on life sciences. Sharman returned back to earth together with the crew of the previous mission eight days later, leaving Krikalev and Artsebarski circling around the earth conducting repairs on the ailing space station. Five months later, Anatoli Artsebarski went home too, but Krikalev didn’t mind—he was trained for long-duration flights. Two years earlier, Krikalev had spent 152 days aboard Mir. He did not know … Read the rest
Fifty years ago, a trove of manuscripts written on birch bark was discovered in the Russian city of Novgorod, situated some 200 kilometers south of Saint Petersburg. Birch bark was frequently used in the old days as a replacement for paper, which was—until a few centuries ago—a valuable commodity. Birch trees were widely available and could be easily cultivated. In fact, Novgorod is surrounded by birch forests, whose bark was used for centuries by the locals for writing since it was soft and easily scratched. Thin pieces of birch bark was almost as good as wood-pulp paper, while requiring nothing to manufacture.
Can you believe these photographs are over one hundred years old? I go through a lot of historical archives– I think I’ve lost count– but I don’t think I’ve ever looked at a photograph from the past and felt its subjects come alive so vividly, as if they’ve almost just blinked at me, as if it were just yesterday.
In 1948, the Library of Congress purchased this collection of over 2,000 images from the sons of Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky, a Russian chemist and photographer whose pioneering work in colour photography captured early 20th-century Russia like no one else could.
His photographs offer a vivid portrait of a lost world—the Russian Empire between 1905 and 1915, on the eve of World War I and the … Read the rest
In 1971, the USSR tried to use nuclear blasts to change the course of rivers. The scheme failed. But it had another consequence, all but forgotten until now: It set in motion the first U.S. government research on climate change — a far-reaching project that has continued into this decade. … Read the rest
For those whose taste in fairytales favours a darker touch, we’re traveling to the far reaches of Eastern Europe, and into the enchanting world of animator Jiří Trnka. The late Czech animator (whose name is pronounced “Yershy Trinka”) created nearly two-dozen films over his lifetime, from folksy gems like Grandfather Planted a Beet (1945) to the gutsy anti-Stalin short, The Hand (1965).
Craftsmanship ran in Trnka’s blood. He was born in Bohemia in 1912, where his grandmother sold toys for a living and his mother worked as a seamstress.… Read the rest
Tucked away in a remote forest of birch and pine in the heart of Siberia, 3,000 km away from Moscow, at a place where winters are six months long with temperatures dropping to minus 40 degree Celsius and summers are swaddled with mosquitos, is a city built for scientists and researchers. This frozen wasteland is more suited for polar bears than scientific endeavors, but Nikita Khrushchev felt the distance from Moscow was necessary so that the country’s sharpest scientific minds could work together on fundamental research away from the prying eyes of bureaucracy. This is Akademgorodok, or “Academic Town”—the Soviet Union’s answer to America’s Silicon Valley.
The Academpark Technopark at Akademgorodok. Photo credit: gelio.livejournal.com
Roscosmos is helping upstart space programs achieve lift off, partly because they want to turn them into customers. The post Russia’s Quest to Build a Space Empire—or Go Broke Trying appeared first on WIRED.… Read the rest
Russia’s 2014 hack of an unclassified State Department computer system was much more aggressive than previously reported, with one official describing it as “hand-to-hand combat,” according to an article published Monday by The Washington Post.
Over a 24-hour period, top US network defenders repeatedly ejected the intruders. Just as quickly, the intruders reentered the breached computer system, the news organization reported, citing both named and unnamed officials. Whenever the defenders severed a link between the malware inside the infected network and a command-and-control server belonging to the hackers, the Russians established a new connection. The new details came amid new warnings by the National Security Agency that Russia is likely visiting the same aggressive tactics on private industry sectors, which have… Read the rest
Kambalny, the southernmost volcano in Kamchatka, erupted unexpectedly over the weekend, sending ash up over the Pacific Ocean. The post A Russian Volcano Just Erupted for the First Time in Centuries appeared first on WIRED.… Read the rest