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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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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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Be carefull! It is possible to read someone else’s WhatsApp conversations without getting caught

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Social media came into our lives a few years ago and they are here to stay: Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp are essential applications for many of us nowadays, and we don’t imagine our smartphones lacking any of them. They are useful to communicate in our daily life with our family or coworkers, and they help us to easily catch up on what is happening in our long-distance friends’ lives by simply scrolling down their timelines. And while it is true that social media can be very useful in many cases, it is also true that there are situations where we’d like we could go a little further and use them to investigate. Let’s be honest: at some point, we all have wished we could spy whatsapp to find out what a certain person does –in order to corroborate if what they are telling us is real, or to know what they say about us when they talk to their friends.

Since everyone uses Whatsapp, Instagram or Facebook to have private conversations, it is easy to imagine the different reasons that could lead a person to want to read someone else’s private conversations. In the case of couples, if you think that your partner may be cheating on you, it is probably not enough for you to ask them questions to find out what you want to know, which will make very important for you to figure out what they might be hiding in their phone. Another frequent case are parents who fear for the safety of their adolescent children and want to know who they relate to through social media and what type of content they send and receive to make sure they stay safe from drugs, sexual predators, or bullies .

But the recurring question asked by most of the crowd who are trying to spy on someone else’s social media is: Is it actually possible to hack an smartphone to be able to read their conversations and see their pictures without getting caught? Fortunately for the “spys” –and unfortunately for their target’s privacy, there’s no system that can not be hacked by an experienced hacker. And even if you are not one, hacking WhatsApp without getting caught is now easier than ever with this guide on how to spy on WhatsApp Android.

There some free ways that you can use to spy on someone else’s WhatsApp: from the oldest software capable of intercepting conversations through WiFi, to more rudimentary methods such as scanning the WhatsApp’s QR code from the person whom you want to spy on and opening their session on another device. But the problem with all these methods is that you run the chance of being caught because they always leave a trail. Therefore, it is more advisable to use untraceable methods such as SpySocial, which is 100% undetectable.

The success of their system is based on a lot of hard work, and a very simple concept: you can’t get caught if you are not directly connected to the target’s phone.  The “spionage” is done through their servers, so you don’t even need to be close to the phone you want to spy on. Thus, as the entire system works through third-parties, you can spy on their online activities without there ever being a link between you and their phone. Plus, the company doesn’t keep any access logs at all, so they can’t know who you are – meaning the person you are spying on can’t figure it out either. The only thing you need to know and provide is the target’s phone number. With just this, you’ll have access to their WhatsApp chat messages and images, and you’ll also be able to see their location and cameras in real time, and also have their future WhatsApp calls recorded for you.

Besides WhatsApp, with this tool you can also easily spy on Instagram accounts, Facebook. You’ll have access immediately to their messages, pictures and private stories in Instagram, or to all the information that a Facebook profile can provide: personal information, photos and videos, status updates, Friends list and even watch them use Facebook in real-time. If you are not interested that much on the profile but you’d like to see who they speak to most regularly on Facebook Messenger, you will be able to do so, as well as downloading the photos and videos sent via Facebook Messenger and spying on their Facebook Messenger chats as they happen.

Sounds cool, right? The process is easy: you enter the target’s WhatsApp phone number, Instagram username or their Facebook URL, wait for the Spysocial servers to connect to their device, and then they create a connection package for you. After that, just enter your details, download the associated file install the connection tool… And let the spying begin.

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Nanomaterials: the biotechnology of today and tomorrow

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Nano technology

There is a huge amount of interest in the development and use of nanomaterials, across a wide range of sectors. The properties of the micro-sized particles are perfect for application in everything from medical and pharmaceutical to clothing creation and the manufacture of filters, produced using the method of electrospinning.

Electrospinning, sometimes known as EHDP is method for the production of nano and micro-structures, and has huge benefits in industry. It can also be used for a range of materials to suit the intended purpose.

What are the benefits of using nano materials?

There are many benefits to electrospinning processes to produce nanomaterials. For example the surface area to volume ratio of nanofiber, due to the nanodimension of the fibers, is very high. Different materials, such as polymers, metals and ceramics can be spun together to give excellent results.

There is also a huge cost saving benefit. Although at the forefront of modern technology, setting up a lab or a clean room to carry out electrospinning is very cheap when compared with the set up of other industrial processes. Several companies have even scaled up the production of the nanofibrous membrane, to enable mass production at low cost. And setting up an electrospinning company is surprisingly simple, as staff can be upskilled quickly and efficiently to manage the process. Especially as there are machines now with incredibly easy user controls.

How does it work in practice?

If those who are are unfamiliar with the method behind electrospinning of nanomaterials can understand the process relatively simply. It involves using an electrical force to pull charged threads of polymer melts or solutions.

The solution of polymers, solvents and the other components is prepared. At this stage molecular chair entanglement takes place. Next is the electrospinning itself. The solution is fed through the capillaries and a high voltage is applied which creates a jet. The jet is then whipped and stretched into fibers. It is at this point the solvent is evaporated.

Finally the dry fiber is formed into a membrane or material, depending on the intended use. This can be quite wide ranging, and so although the science behind it all remains exactly the same, the electrospinning machines must be correct for the type of usage as defined by the manufacturer.

What are nanomaterials actually used for?

The materials are huge versatile. The limit for future innovations is only as small as the next person’s imagination.  It is currently used across medicine, for example growing artificial tissues that can mold with living tissue for example in place of a skin graft, or to create a barrier around an organ. It is also used in biomedical implants that sit under the skin and release a slow stream of drugs into the body.

They are of course also used in the production of fabric, particularly whether that fabric needs to be lightweight and breathable. In fact the initial development of electrospinning and micro or nano materials was initially developed by the textile industry. Especially where the wearer needs to be protected by toxic substances. It is the perfect way to make seamless non-woven garments.

It is also often used as coatings for other items, for example furniture, or pharmaceutical drugs. The process helps give products protection from the environment around it but also maintain the quality of the interior product within.

This is because of the properties of nanofiber. The previously mentioned high surface to volume ratio, and the fact that due to the electrospinning process at a molecular level the material is virtually defect free.

It is vital that, in order to achieve outstanding results, the chosen manufacturer of machinery is of the highest quality. It is very important. Particularly when trusting the machinery to produce highly technical fibers, with the right polymers, but the right equipment.

Nano materials bring to humanity technological advances that revolutionize industries, such as medicine, that greatly benefit the health of human beings. At the forefront of modern technology and its development and production, the potential for vastly improving human quality of life is huge. Even the current uses are just the tip of the iceberg as to what could be achieved in the future.

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