EIFC Carries Off a Second Prize of National Award in Natural Sciences Discovery of Sinovenator Key Lab Established for Marine Ecology and Environmental Sciences Symposium on Infrared Astronomical & Medium-Caliber Telescopes Held in Beijing
New 2-D Artificial Lattice Developed Chinese & American Scientists Join Hands in Cultivating Engineered Tobacco Home  
Basic Research

EIFC Carries Off a Second Prize of National Award in Natural Sciences

The Institute of Zoology, CAS has recently received a letter from the Academy President Yongxiang LU, who congratulated the Institute on carrying off a second prize of the 2001 National Award in Natural Sciences for its accomplishment of Economic Insect Fauna of China (EIFC).

The letter reads: "I am pleased to learn that your institute has won a second prize of the 2001 National Award for Technology Inventions for the achievement of China Economic Insect Fauna and I would like to hereby extend my hearty congratulations and respect to all those involved in the work. I sincerely hope that you will continue to work hard and creatively, under the guidance of the academy's new guidelines, to engage in the campaign of rejuvenating the nation through science and education and in the implementation of the National Knowledge Innovation Program, to scale new heights in science and technology, and to make innovative contributions of fundamental, strategic and foresighted significance to the country's economic construction, national defense and sustainable social development."

Discovery of Sinovenator

Important headway has recently been made in the investigation on the evolution of small dinosaurs and the origin of avians by a research group consisting of Chinese, American and Canadian scientists, marking another accomplishment following the work on feathering dinosaurs in the west of Liaoning, China. Some interesting evolutionary phenomena and important features were disclosed on the process of dinosaur evolution toward avians. The result was published on the journal Nature on 14 February 2002.
The research group, which comprises: Dr. Xing XU and Dr. Xiao-lin WANG from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, CAS; Dr. Mark A. Norell from the American Museum of Natural History, New York; Dr. Peter J. Makovicky from the Field Museum, Chicago; and Dr. Xiao-chun WU from the Canadian Museum of Nature, reported the discovery of a small carnivorous dinosaur, Sinovenator changji gen. et sp. nov., from the lower Yixian Formation of China, which lived around 130 million years ago. With a body length less than 1 meter, the dinosaur had long, thin teeth, a large skull, forelimbs extending sidewise like avian wings, and long, bony quarters. It had a strong ability of running.
Sinovenator belongs to the taxon of troodontid dinosaurs, a very strange genus with many unusual morphological characters. Its phylogenetic position has long been hotly debated among paleontologists. Sinovenator is one of the most primitive species of the lineage. Its transitional form between reptiles and birds has long been searched for, for it represents a missing link between more developed troodontids and other taxa such as dromaeosaurids and avians. It represents one of the most avian-like dinosaur groups. The skull structure of Sinovenator is very similar to that of Archaeopteryx, with a complicated aural antrum system. The large size of its skull indicates a high intelligent level and strong adaptability to environment.

Key Lab Established for Marine Ecology and Environmental Sciences

With the approval of the CAS, a key laboratory based on the former Lab of Marine Ecology, Lab of Environmental Protection, Research Center of Chemical Engineering and Jiaozhouwan Station for Ecosystem Research under the Institute of Oceanology, CAS, known as "Key Laboratory of Marine Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences" has been established.
The Laboratory is aimed at making researches on: marine ecosystem dynamics and ecological principles governing the sustainability of marine biological resources; geochemical circulation of marine life related to global change; mechanism and effects of marine environment quality evolution; as well as formation mechanism of environmental disasters, disaster elimination theory and methods.

Symposium on Infrared Astronomical & Medium-Caliber Telescopes Held in Beijing

The Symposium on Infrared Astronomical & Medium-Caliber Telescopes, organized by the Zijinshan Observatory, CAS, was held at the National Astronomical Observatory, Beijing in March 2002. As the first symposium of the astronomical community in East Asia on the infrared topic, it had a strategically important significance to the research of infrared astronomy and development of relevant devices in the region. More than 50 astronomers and engineers from China, Japan, South Korea, Kazakhstan and so on attended the conference, including Prof. Norio Kaifu, director of Japanese National Astronomical Observatory. The symposium presented the latest results of observation related to infrared astronomy, the operating conditions of telescope devices at astronomical observation stations in East Asia, and development programs for the near future. In-depth discussion was conducted on such issues as the necessity of building infrared telescopes in East Asia, the scientific orientation targets of the telescopes and their design. A task force for infrared telescope construction, consisting of representatives from different countries and areas, was formed to actively promote and coordinate the site selection and designing of infrared telescopes, the development of infrared back end devices and the pre-study of astronomical research projects.

New 2-D Artificial Lattice Developed

A research group led by Qikun XUE and Jinfeng JIA with the State Key Laboratory of Surface Physics, Institute of Physics has made a virtually perfect 2-dimensional artificial lattice by clever use of the atomic cluster phenomenon on periodical nanometer modules, which provides us with an unprecedented approach to studying new fundamental physical phenomena and laws, such as the quantum effects and special optical & electrical properties of nanostructure, nano-magnetism, magnetic order of 2-D magnetic lattice, spin polarization and electron transfer. It has important potential application value in many aspects, for example, nanoelectronics, super-high density information storage, nano-catalysis, quantum calculation and information processing.

The research group, in collaboration with other scientists, has identified the atomic structure of the In-cluster and clarified the stability and cause of formation of periodical lattices by scanning tunnel microscope (STM) and through energy calculation according to the First Principle. It is, so far, the first convincing model of atomic structure of surface clusters, laying down a foundation for understanding the electronic structure of the clusters, establishing the relation between the macro property of materials and microstructures, and discovering new effects.

Chinese & American Scientists Join Hands in Cultivating Engineered Tobacco

Through three years of joint efforts, Chinese and American scientists have succeeded in cultivating for the first time in the world genetically-engineered tobacco with a remarkable Hg-phage feature, marking an important step forward on the way toward hydrargyrum pollution control.

The cooperative research was conducted by scientists from the Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes of Biological Sciences, CAS and scientists from South Carolina University. Annual Review of Plant Biology, an authoritative British journal, evaluated the work as having demonstrated the potential value of GM plants in detoxifying Hg-contaminated soil in the current context where environmental pollution is an increasingly striking issue. Experiments show that the engineered tobacco has a mercurivorous ability 5-8 times that of the conventional ones. The content of Hg in a seriously polluted soil can be evidently reduced when 3-4 stubbles of GM tobacco are grown. In addition to hydrargyrum (Hg), the tobacco can also absorb aurum (Au) and argentum (Ag).

The scientists are also planning to implant the mercurivorous gene into such trees as poplars in order to expand the ecological benefits of GM plants in Hg pollution control.