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Top 10 Science Superpowers of the Modern World: An Analysis

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German Transrapid TR 09 Maglev
German Transrapid TR 09, photo by Állatka
A nation which has the capacity to project dominating power and influence anywhere in the world, and sometimes, in more than one region of the globe at a time, and so may plausibly attain the status of global hegemony. Besides the requirement of a strong militarily, a power to become a super power needs a strong diplomatic and stable government, strong economy, a focused foreign policy, strong pool of scientists and strong base of research and education, and sufficiency in food and resources. 
We researched and analysed the potential super power of the world in one of our previous article “Top 10 Superpowers of The World” which is also one of the most read article on our journal. In this article we are going to analyse and list Top 10 science super powers who are growing bigger and may challenge the conventional science superpowers in the near future. 
Research Papers Published by Countries
Research Papers Published by Countries, 2009. Click to Enlarge.

United States of America

United States has been the lone super power since the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991. It remains the unchallenged global leader in science, research and innovation whose foundation has been set up by the high quality universities and educational institutes. Having seven universities in the list of top 10 universities in the world, and forty seven universities in top 100. United States of America is able to attract the creamiest layer of students from all around the world. A robust research environment, facilities, scholarships and high salaried jobs makes United States one of the best destinations for higher education.
Not only universities, a large number of public and private companies like NASA and IBM, are making differences in the society by their state of the art pioneering researches in almost every field. Strongest research area of US is biotechnology.

China

Largest in terms of population and second largest in terms of research papers published, China is the potential threat to United States’ supreme position in the world of science. China has been able to establish 11 universities in the list of top 400 universities in the world. Among which two are in the top 100 universities in the world. Number of research paper published in 2009 has seen a massive 400% growth when compared to year 2000. China’s main strength is material science. China has also seen growth in almost all the areas of research since 2003. China is leading the “space race” in Asia challenging Japan and India. China is also proud to have fastest train in the world CRH380A with its top speed of 302 mph (486.02 Km/hr) breaking the 300 mph barrier. 
However, the quality of research has been the issue in China. The country is also struggling with the attribute of innovation specially in the electronics, auto and military research fields. China has been accused by a number of organisations and companies around the world for copying their products be it vehicles, combat air crafts, electronic devices or other sensitive technologies. 
China's share of world publications by sectors.
China’s share of world publications by sectors. Click to enlarge

United Kingdom

Another country which has a vast presence in the pool of top universities in the world after United States is United Kingdom. United States and United Kingdom have been dominating the list of top 10 universities in the world almost unchallenged for ages. Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College of London are the names which have become classic over the centuries. UK has made extensive contribution towards early science and setup the foundation of various chapters of science creating opportunities for further research. Today United Kingdom is the leader in Europe when it comes to the number of publications, which is followed by Germany, France, Italy and Spain in the respective order. 
UK’s scientific collaboration with other countries and European Union will ensure its position safe as one of the leaders in the world of science. UK’s impressive 25% growth in the number of publication shows it still has an active scientific resources. 

India

One of the fastest growing economy, largest democracy, and many such facts makes India a potential superpower. With every analyst in this world having higher expectation with this nation, India has been relatively slow. However, being slow in the field of science did not prevent this country to astonish the billions in the world time to time with its scientific achievements. Which includes India attaining self sufficiency in food grains, becoming one of the largest exporter of food, developing a highly sophisticated space program which enabled India to find water on the moon’s surface, indigenously developing nuclear program and military hardware, and high quality exports in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and information-technology services.
Indian institutes and universities are dedicated almost equally among all the major fields, still India’s one of the strongest area of research is Chemistry. If we compare India’s share of world’s publication from 1999-2003 with India’s share of world’s publication from 2004-2008 then we see almost all the sectors of research have experienced growth except Agricultural science, which is one of India’s spine. 
India's share of world publications by sectors.
India’s share of world publications by sectors. Click to enlarge
India’s contribution towards science and to the fields of mathematics, astrophysics, chemistry and life sciences dates at least two millenniums back. Later we saw contributions from Aryabhatta, Bhaskara and Brahmagupta who laid the foundation of the modern physics much before widely believed Europeans.
India once again with its one of the largest pool of scientists in the world is tying to excel in the world of science by catching up with leaders. India’s recent contribution to science is rising steeply in contrast with the other nations if we compare each nations relative year-by-year growth since 1981 at a volume of publications standard of 100. 
India's Scientific Year by Year Growth
Year by Year growth of India compared to G8 nations, Thomson Reuters
The behaviour of the India’s curve shows why some analysts have referred to India as a “sleeping giant”. India with its great capacity was sleeping till 1990s as soon as it got up, its brilliant system almost immediately started giving the output almost on par with other nations of G8. If this trend continues then India’s productivity will overtake G8 nations in another 5 to 7 years.

Brazil

Brazil is another important member of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China). With its economy on the rise, Brazil also contributed towards science and technology with its one of the major focus on improving environment. Brazil’s strength has been recognised in biological sciences, including bio fuel production. In the year of 2005, Brazil launched “Empresa Brasiliera de Aeronáutica’s Ipanema” world’s first commercial aircraft to run exclusively on bio fuels.
The world at present is not much aware of the science and technology base in Latin America. Mexico’s proximity to Unites States and Brazil’s rising economy has caused this region to develop a solid science base. Another giant in the South, Argentina is also in the race and catching up with Mexico and Brazil. 
From the year 2000 to 2009, Brazil has experienced a 210% increase in the number of research papers published. Such an enormous growth does indicate young pool of scientists, new force of resources adding up, better efficiency in output from universities and institutions. Brazil’s year by year growth is much better than other countries in BRIC namely, India and Russia. 
Culturally and traditionally close to west Europe mainly Portugal, having land connection with United States and almost being at the same time zone as of US brings Brazil on a advantageous position to collaborate with the world leaders of science and technology. Brazil has become the representative of science and technology power from Latin America.

Russia

If India was the “sleeping giant” which recently got awaken, Russia was an active and awakened giant which is going to sleep. After the collapse of Soviet Union, Russia experienced catastrophe and its contribution towards science seems to decline. Russia as Soviet Union is the one who began the new era of science and technology by surprising the world in 1957 by the launch of Sputnik satellite. In the “space race” Soviet Union had successfully outplayed United States. 
Russia has become the victim of critical brain drain, where a large number of talented resources left their country in search of better facilities, salary and funding. After the collapse of Soviet Union, science and technology has become less preferred destination for the younger generation compared to petroleum industry, language, and politics. This dynamic shift has resulted into the ageing of the Soviet scientists who are  in Russia as young generation is not able to reinforce their science power. In 2009, Russia experienced only 3.57% growth in the number of papers published when compared to 2000.
Russia has proved its supremacy once, and most probably it will once again jump back on the track of scientific research. Russia’s main strengths have been the core physics and space science, whereas the current trend is of life sciences, nano technology and environment where Russia needs to do a lot of catching up. Russia understands its lacking and has been collaborating in research mainly with Germany, US, France and East European nations to gain momentum.
Russia has been doing really good in military science and technology and have been developing state of the art weapons still giving tough competition to United States. Russia is the largest exporter of its weapons to India compared to any other country, and India is the largest importer of weapons in the world. Which shows the quality and superiority of Russian weapons. As Russia’s economy improves and undergoes constructive reforms with its wider integration in the world trade, its highly enthusiastic public who has a sense of competition with the west specially with United States will definitely help boost its research programs bringing it back on the track. 

Japan

Japan is a G7 economy and enjoyed the status of being world’s second largest economy for a long period of time until it was overtaken by China and India recently by GDP (PPP). Japan has been traditionally the innovation centre and brought surprising and attractive products both in automobile and electronic sectors. Japanese companies till date have been bringing out their innovative hybrid cars which exhibit higher fuel efficiency.  Japan also boasts third fastest rail in the world Shinkansen with a top speed of 275 mph (442.57 Km/h). Scientifically Japan had been the super power of Asia for a long time until it gave that position to China with India and South Korea almost catching up. 
Japan’s economy peaked in 1980s and since then there hasn’t been any appreciable increase or decrease in its volume of papers published. Just like Russia, Japan also experienced only a single digit growth in the number of papers published. From the year 2000 to the year 2009, there was only 8.3% growth. However, unlike Russia, Japan had always been ahead in modern science, be it nanotechnology or electronics. It already has an established base of high quality education and pioneer research labs. Its 13 universities are in top 400 in the world. With 2 in top 100 and 5 in top 200 universities in the world. All what Japan needs is human resources and encouraged young scientists. India and China produces one of the largest first class high quality resources in the world every year. All that said about Japan, it has a potential to become a favourite destinations for young Chinese and Indians who usually head towards US which is quite far. Japan can also collaborate with losing Russia, South Korea and rising South East Asia.

Germany, France, and Italy (and Spain)

These have been the traditional European power and were the super powers along with United Kingdom before second world war. Germany was a highly industrialized nation, unfortunately after the war, most of its sophisticated industries were taken over by west and Soviet Union for their benefits. 
Out of the three countries, Germany is leading in science and technology followed by France and Italy, with its volume of papers published in 2009 almost reaching close to that of United Kingdom. Germany had stunned the western powers and Soviet Union by its sophisticated weapons, air crafts and V2 rockets during the second world war. 
Today these countries within European Union have formed much collaborative educational system welcoming other prospective students from European Union. Universities from these countries invites students from countries like India and China in high number and fund their education. This way these universities are able to function with its full capacity.
Germany’s strength has been mechanical engineering in its various forms like aerospace and automobile, German cars like BMW and second fastest train in the world Transrapid TR-09 with the top speed of 279 mph (449 Km/h), which is faster than the fastest train in Japan, makes it one of the advanced developed country, and the region as a whole, in science.

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Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

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9 disruptive technologies that will bloom before 2019 ends

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Technology-in-2019

Since the beginning of time, each new technological invention has meant a change of paradigm for the way people work. However, in recent years the frequency of changes has accelerated to such an extent that companies have to renew themselves and their daily procedures almost every season. Usually they are small changes or mere adaptations, but sometimes an innovation appears that makes the previous mechanisms obsolete. This is what is known as disruptive technology.

2019 is a disruptive year as far as technology is concerned: the trend of innovation continues at an accelerated pace, deepening the technological revolution. Innovative industries keep evolving and they are overcoming barriers only imaginable in Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi novels or in TV series and films such as Black Mirror or Gattaca. Check the technological trends that are making a disruptive change in the digital transformation.

1. 5G mobile networks

Some companies have started to launch pilot experiments of this kind of technology. 5G prepares the ground for navigating at speeds of up to 10 gigabytes per second from mobile devices.

2. Artificial intelligence (AI)

This will be the year of its definitive take-off. Included in the political agendas, the European Commission has made it one of the mandates for member states to develop a strategy on this matter by the middle of the year.

3. Autonomous devices

Robots, drones and autonomous mobility systems are some of the innovations related to AI. They all aim to automate functions that were previously performed by people. This trend goes beyond mere automation through rigid programming models, as it explores AI to develop advanced behaviors that interact more naturally with the environment and users.

4. ‘Blockchain’.

Finally, this technology it is no longer associated only to the crypto coins world, and experts are starting to notice its likely application in other fields. In congresses such as the annual IoT World Congress by Digitalizing Industries, -coming in october 2019-, we will witness the actual implementation of many projects based on ‘blockchain’, which will try to solve the challenges still faced by technology in different fields such as banking and insurance. It will also be a decisive year for the deployment of ‘decentralised organisations’ operating around smart contracts.

5. Advanced analytics

‘Big data’, is taking a step further with this trend, which combines this technology with artificial intelligence. Automatic learning techniques will transform the way data analysis is developed, shared and consumed. It is estimated that the capabilities of advances analytics will soon be widely adopted not only to work with information, but also to implement them in business applications of the departments of Human Resources, Finance, Sales, Marketing or Customer Service, in order to optimize decisions through a deep analysis of data.

6. Digital twins

Digital Twins are one of the disruptive technologies that will have more impact on the simulation and analysis of industrial processes. A digital twin is the virtual representation of a real-world entity or system capable to maximize the benefits of the digital transformation of companies. Many companies and organizations are already implementing these representations and will develop them over time, improving their ability to collect and visualize the right data, apply improvements to it, and respond effectively to business objectives.

7. Enhanced Edge Computing

Edge computing is a trend mostly applied to the Internet of Things. It consists of the location of intermediate points between connected objects in order to process information and perform other tasks in places closer to the reception of content by the user, in order to reduce traffic and latency in responses. This is a way to keep processing near the endpoint rather than on a centralized cloud server. However, instead of creating a new architecture, cloud computing and perimeter computing will evolve as models complementary to cloud services, managed as a centralized service that runs not only on centralized servers, but on local distributed servers and on the perimeter devices themselves.

8. Immersive experiences in intelligent spaces

Chatbots integrated into different conversation platforms and voice assistants are transforming the way people interact with the digital world, as are virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR). The combination of these technologies will lead to a profound change in the perception of everything that surrounds us through the creation of intelligent spaces where more immersive, interactive and automated experiences can be lived for a specific group of people or for specific scenarios in an industry.

9. Digital ethics and privacy

Digital ethics and privacy are issues of increasing interest to individuals, organizations and governments. It is no coincidence that people are increasingly concerned about how their personal information is being used by public and private sector entities, so in the coming months companies will be proactively addressing these concerns and to gain the trust of users.


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You haven’t virtualized yet – why you should do so as soon as possible

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keyboard laptop virtualization

Virtualization is not a new thing, it has been around for some time now, and is one of the key ways a business can protect their IT infrastructure and reduce costs.

Opting for cloud vdi (virtual desktop infrastructure), is absolutely the way forward for businesses, but there could be many reasons why you haven’t been able to make the change yet.

Maybe you have not had a good enough network to support externally hosted desktops and applications, or you are a smaller business that is only just beginning to think of moving to a virtual enterprise structure. It could also be that you are suffering from the hangover of an older infrastructure with your own onsite servers and just coming to the end of the asset life time. Either way your next move should be to look at virtualization and here is why.

The savings can be substantial

Without a doubt the biggest reason is the cost savings you will make. Any company or business needs to be fully aware of the bottomline, and while the project to virtualize will need a little investment, long term it will save your business a lot more.

For example, you will no longer need onsite servers. Hardware is expensive to replace, and in order to keep up with technological investment they need to be replaced every few years. They also need to be upgrades, require server engineers to manage them, a specialised location to store them with adequate cooling and they use a lot of electricity. And this is before you even begin to think about the licences for the operating systems and applications.

Increased reliability and security

With security becoming so much more important, especially if you are holding any personal data, you need to be sure that you have adequate security measures in place to protect your IT services. Through application virtualization a data centre via the cloud, you can make sure that those provisions meet exactly what you need.

You can also increase the uptime and availability for your users, through better mirroring and failover provisions. Data centres are geared towards maximum uptime, and even should something go wrong with a server, users will like never even know as the services move over to alternative servers. To create and host this type of infrastructure yourself will require a whole IT department!

Increased productivity for your workforce

By moving to desktop virtualization your employees will be able to access their documentation and applications from almost any device. From mobile devices, tablets, laptops they will be able to do whatever they need, whenever and wherever they need it. For companies operating internationally or with a lot of travel involved this is absolutely vital.

It can also set the scene for flexible working – already proved to make the workforce much more productive. It also means that should a device breakdown, it is simple enough to switch to another.

Management of company devices is also a lot simpler, with setup and deployment happening remotely. All your installations, updates and patches, back ups and virus scans can be controlled centrally. It also means much better management of software assets.

In addition your service provider should be able to provide a whole range of support for your IT teams, with access to many disciplines and expertise to keep you running at your maximum 24 hours a day if needed.

Desktop virtualisation is definitely the way forward for any business. It makes end user environments much more secure. Reliability and uptime is better, which also keeps those end users happy and productive in their own work. No more lost working hours due to broken servers. Approached strategically, this can revolutionise your business and its operations well into the future.

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Concerns and Limitation of Cyber Warfare

Alexandra Goman

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cyberwarfare stuxnet

The discovery of Stuxnet, a malware that targeted a nuclear facility, was somewhat revolutionary and groundbreaking. It targeted ICS which monitor and run industrial facilities. Before that, most of malicious programs were developed to steal information or break-in into financial sector to extort money. Stuxnet went beyond went and targeted high-level facilities. It is not hard to imagine what damage it could have inflicted if the worm were not detected. What is more worrisome, the technology is out. It might not be perfect, but it is definitely a start. Regardless of the intentions behind Stuxnet, a cyber bomb has exploded and everyone knows that cyber capabilities indeed can be developed and mastered.

Therefore, if they can be developed, they will probably be. The final goal of Stuxnet was to affect the physical equipment which was run by specific ICS. It was done in order to manipulate computer programs and make it act as an attacker intended it to act. Such a cyberattack had a particular motivation; sabotage of industrial equipment and destruction could have been one of the goals. So, if they were indeed the goals, it might have been an offensive act, conducted by an interested party, presumably, a state for its political objective. Yet, there are certain limitations when it comes to so-called “cyber weapons” (malware that might be employed for military use or intelligence gathering). 

One of the main concerns of cyber offence is that code may spread uncontrollably to other systems. In terms of another physical weapon, it is like a ballistic missile that anytime can go off-course and inflict damage on unintended targets and/or kill civilians. Cyber offensive technology lacks precision, which is so valued in military. For example, in ICS and SCADA systems one may never know what can backfire because of the complexity of the system.  The lack of precision consequently affects military decisions. When launching a weapon, officers should know its precise capabilities; otherwise, it is too risky and is not worth it. 

In case of Stuxnet, the program started replicating itself and infected computers of many countries. For this moment we do not know if it were planned in that way.  However, provided that that target was Natanz facility, it is unlikely. Symantec Corporation started analyzing the case only with external help; it did not come from Natanz. This exacerbates the case if a country decides to launch an offensive cyberattack.

If the military planning cannot prevent cyber technology to go awry or to go out in the public, it brings more disadvantages than advantages.  Moreover, given a possibility of the code being discovered and broke down to pieces to understand what it does, it may potentially benefit an opposing party (and any other interested party along the way). This is unacceptable in military affairs.

Similarly, when the code is launched and it reaches the target, it can be discovered by an opponent. In comparison to nuclear, when a bomb explodes, it brings damage and destruction, but its technology remains in secret. In case of cyber, it may not be the case, as when a malware/virus is discovered, it can be reverse engineered to patch vulnerability. By studying the code, an enemy would find out the technology/tactics used that could be unfavourable in the long-run for the attacker.

Additionally, it should be said that not every malware is meant to spread by itself. In order to control the spread, vulnerability can be patched, meaning updating the software which had that vulnerability. An anti-malware can also be introduced; this will make the computer system immune to that particular vulnerability. Nonetheless, if the malware spreads uncontrollably, there is nothing much that an attacker can do. It is not possible to seize the attack. In this scenario, an attack may only release information about this certain vulnerability so that someone else can fix it. However, a state is highly unlikely to do so, especially if the damage is extensive. It would not only cost the state diplomatic consequences, but also it might severely impact its reputation.

An AI-enabled cyberattack could perhaps fulfill its potential. That means involvement of artificial intelligence. AI systems could make digital programs more precise, controlling the spread. In contrast, it could also lead to a greater collateral damage, if a system decides to target other facilities that may result in human death. Similar concerns are raised in the area of autonomous weapon systems in regard to the need of leaving decision-making to humans and not to technology. AI technology has a potential to make existing cyberattacks more effective and more efficient (Schaerf, 2018).

Aforementioned concern leads to another and affects the end result. When a certain weapon is employed, it is believed to achieve a certain goal, e.g. to destroy a building. With cyber capabilities, there is no such certainty. In the case of Stuxnet, the malware clearly failed to achieve its end goal, which is to disrupt the activities of the industrial facility.

Alternatively, the true costs of cyberattacks may be uncertain and hard to calculate. If that is so, an attacker faces high level of uncertainty, which may also prevent them from a malicious act (particularly, if nation states are involved). However, the costs and the benefits may always be miscalculated, and an attacker hoping for a better gain may lose much more in the end (e.g. consider Pearl Harbour).

Another concern refers to the code becoming available to the public. If it happens, it can be copied, re-used and/or improved. Similar concerns in regards to proliferation and further collateral damage emerged when Stuxnet code became available online.  An attacker may launch a cyberattack, and if it is discovered, another hacker can reverse engineer the code and use it against another object. Moreover, the code can be copied, improved and specialized to meet the needs of another party. Technology is becoming more complex, and by discovering a malware developed by others, it also takes less time to produce a similar program and/or develop something stronger. (For instance, after Stuxnet, more advanced malwares were discovered – Duqu and Flame).

Furthermore, there are other difficulties with the employment of cyber offensive technology. In order to maximize its result, it should be supported by intelligence. In case of Stuxnet, an offender needed to pinpoint the location of the facility and the potential equipment involved. It has to find zero-days vulnerabilities that are extremely rare and hard to find[1]. Cyber vulnerability is all about data integrity. It should be reliable and accurate. Its security is essential in order to run an industrial infrastructure.

After pinpointing vulnerability, security specialists need to write a specific code, which is capable of bridging through an air-gapped system. In case of Stuxnet, all of abovementioned operations required a certain level of intelligence support and financial capability. These complex tasks involved into development were exactly the reason why Stuxnet was thought to be sponsored and/or initiated by a nation state. If intelligence is lacking, it may not bring a desirable effect. Moreover, if cyber offense is thought to be used in retaliation, malicious programs should be ready to use (as on “high-alert”) in the event of necessity.

Regardless of some advantages of cyber offence (like low costs, anonymity etc), this technology appears to be unlikely for a separate use by military. There is a high level of uncertainty and this stops the army of using technology in offence. Truth is when you have other highly precise weapons, it does not make sense to settle for some unreliable technology that may or may not bring you a wanted result. Yet, other types of cyberattacks like DDoS attacks can give some clear advantages during military operations and give an attacker some good cards in case of a conflict. When such attacks used together with military ground operations, they are much more likely to bring a desired result.


[1] For better understanding, out of twelve million pieces of malware that computer security companies find each year, less than a dozen uses a zero-day exploit.

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