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Dubna, Russia : A Universal Model
for Cities along the New Silk Road and the World Landbridge!

by Benoît Odille and Stephan Hochstein
November 2015

The authors represented both the Schiller Institute in France (Benoit Odille) and the Schiller Institute in Germany (Stephan Hochstein). They produced a 15 minute video report on their visit, which can be found at the end of this article.

We were invited by the Russian Federal agency Rosssotrudnichestvo as delegates from the Schiller Institute to visit and tour the city of Dubna from the 26th to 30th of October 2015, along with 11 representatives of media, business, and social organizations from China, India, South Africa, Bosnia, Serbia, Slovenia, Britain, Colombia and France. The invitation came as a followup to our relationship with the “BRICS Youth Forum” organizers in Ufa in August 2015, when Sébastien Drochon and Kai-Uwe Ducke presented our vision of the World Landbridge.

We naturally accepted this cordial invitation to Dubna with great confidence that we would see something exceptional and a different spirit than that of today's Europe, where austerity is seen as a remedy for economic decline and investments in human creativity as an unbearable cost. We also wanted to see how the BRICS alliance is functioning, and on what physical economic basis they were building their common future. The science city of Dubna must be regarded as a spearhead of Russia, of the BRICS and, more broadly, of the world, because it features the most advanced activities of man in nuclear physics, machine-tool design, medical treatment, advanced electronics, nanotechnologies, new material design, aircraft equipment and the rocket industry, but is also capable of investing in human cultural values that shape the morality of its population : the regular practice of Classical music, sports, and numerous educational programs aimed at spreading knowledge and getting people accustomed to transmitting it.

Our visit included the following: a visit to the city's most remarkable sites; a meeting with the mayor M. Mukhin; a cultural evening with a concert of Dubna's Boys' Choir; a visit to the new Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and some factories; a visit to the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR); a cultural evening with a concert by a string quartet from Dubna's Symphonic Orchestra; and a meeting at the Moscow regional government building with deputy chairman M. Boutsaev.

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The science city of Dubna, Russia, and its coat of arms : rivers, trees and atoms!

A city built for researchers

Dubna city is located on a territory surrounded by three rivers (the Volga, Dubna and Sister) and the Moscow canal (built from 1932 to 1937). This land was chosen after World War II, in 1956, for setting up the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) because of protected location, being on an "island" surrounded by water. From this date on, the city was built around the JINR to welcome all the best researchers of the Soviet Union and give them a peaceful environment in which they could freely discover new laws of physics! Everything had to be built from scratch. All the infrastructure had to be developed to transform this piece of nature into a liveable place.

The JINR was the most advanced nuclear research center of the Soviet Union and was considered an international intergovernmental center that would unite the most talented people in the field of nuclear and particle physics from allied nations. From its location, the JINR established the biggest Synchrophasotron of human history to study the most hidden secrets of matter. The principle of this device was to accelerate small particles, like protons, in a 9000-ton ring of copper magnets, and make them interact with other elements to find out their properties, their composition, synthesize new elements heavier than Uranium, and help solving theoretical problems of particle physics.

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The biggest Synchrophasotron in history, built in 1957 to conduct experiments on the composition of matter. It is now decommissionned.

Great names of physics were part of this fascinating adventure : D. Blokhintsev (father of the first atomic power station in the world); N. Bogoliubov (theoretician of the hadron quark model); V. Veksler (founder of the synchrophasotron concept); I. Franck (specialist in neutron physics); B. Pontecorvo (neutrino specialist); G. Flerov (whose name is given to element 114, Flerovium); and many others. These scientists opened the way for the even more ambitious programs that are currently being developed. Hence, the JINR is not a "museum" where one can only see the achievements of the past; it is a very active center, at the forefront of technology, with state-of-the-art facilities, that is still contributing a great deal to the progress of mankind. Today, 4500 scientists, engineers, and technicians from all over the world are working for the JINR, among whom are 300 Doctors of science and 1000 holders of PhDs. Among the 100 most quoted Russian scientists, 24 are from JINR.

To show the vigorousness of its research, let's get a little deeper into some of the breakthroughs that the JINR has made, or is about to realize.

· Since its early years, the JINR has been developing a method of medical treatment of cancer using accelerated proton beams to target tumors, with such precision that they don't hit the surrounding cells. This method increases the chances of success and survival for the patient, beyond that of conventional radiation therapy. As the machinery for this treatment is a research device, only 100 patients per year can benefit from this ever-improving technology. But worldwide, 20 medical centers are equipped with such proton therapy devices; they can thus treat 1000 patients a year, and 15 more facilities are under construction. At a cost of $200 million a device, one has to understand that it is not the markets that will decide on whether more are made available, but whether we have the political will to provide the best treatments of our time to the population.

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A JINR's scientist explains to our delegation the functionning principles of the proton therapy device.

Scientists of the JINR have actively participated in the success of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a challenging project of the 21st century built under ground in Geneva, Switzerland, that should reveal the mysteries of the composition of matter. They provided "highly estimated improvements to the detectors of the LHC, fundamental technical upgradings, data collection and calculating methods that enabled to get new physics results". Utilizing this experience, the JINR is preparing the construction in Dubna of a new superconducting collider called NICA, that will further investigate the behavior of matter and its tranformation by making elements "run on one another!” Don't worry--the particles won't suffer. And the cost of the collider will be highly reduced thanks to the use of titanium superconductor magnets, that have, once cooled at -269°C, a higher electromagnetic effect for less volume of material, and ten times less electricity consumption, than the huge copper magnets of the 1950s. Density is the key !

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The Nuclotron, JINR's new superconducting particle accelerator, crucial element of the future NICA collider.

Talking about cooperation, the neutron detector DAN aboard the Martian rover Curiosity was constructed at JINR, where the Neutron physics department is world-famous.

The JINR is well-known for its synthesizing of new super-heavy long-lived elements with the atomic numbers 113, 114, 115, 116, 117 and 118, above the "natural" frontier of Uranium (heavier elements are very rare in nature or inexistent). Scientists have discovered that beyond this limit existed a "stability zone" for elements, even if they weren't produced in nature. This zone is known today as the "stabillity island" because before and after it there are instability zones. This "new continent" has been opened by Dubna's physicists. As a sign of recognition, elements 105 and 113 have been dubbed "Dubnium" and "Flerovium" (after its discoverer G. Flerov). This is still a dynamic area of research that can unveil a lot of secrets yet unknown. Scientists have also synthetized more than 40 new isotopes (atoms which have a given number of protons but different numbers of neutrons).

A representation of the “island of stability” on an isotopic table. On the left, the number of protons of the atom's nucleus, on the bottom, its number of neutrons.

One of the virtues of accelerated particle beams is that they interact with all the matter you put in their path. That's why they are used in JINR to test the resistance of biological tissues to radiation (for medical purposes and for future manned space exploration missions), to treat radioactive wastes from nuclear power plants by favoring their transmutation (transformation from one element to another), to fabricate nano-holes in membranes and use them, for example, to filtrate blood or water and remove bacteria, viruses, and unwanted microelements, etc. One current experiment in astrobiology consists in bombarding a piece of meteorite with radiation beams and see if certain "bricks of life" molecules are generated... And it seems that it is the case ! So it could explain the role of cosmic radiation in the development of life, something that the Russian scientist Vladimir Vernadsky would appreciate, despite the fact that he insisted that life couldn't be created out of non-life.

· The JINR is also a pioneer in information technology and early on, established a long-distance fast communication channel between Dubna and Moscow (120 km) with a data flux of 20 Gbits/second, which is even today a great performance. All the laboratories in Dubna are connected with a 10 Gbits/s network.

In fact, all the most advanced fields of research necessary for the progress of our species are represented at JINR. And you can feel in every person you meet that this challenge is a deep-rooted part of their identity, that they're profoundly proud of it. And we should be proud of them too.

The University of Dubna, created only 20 years ago after the collapse of the Soviet Union, represents the hope of the city because 60% of graduated students stay in Dubna to work! This occurs because there's a wide-spread sentiment that all the research conducted in Dubna is absolutely fundamental for the future of society, and that they, as students, have a responsibility to contribute to make this progress possible. All of them are in quasi-constant contact with researchers because they are the professors! The scientific domains of study are over-represented among the students, at the expense of more “humanitarian” domains like law or economics. But it is fairly surprising to see a lot of young women choosing this scientific path. How come? “All the students have parents who work either for JINR or a technology company so, at home, all the kids are acquainted very early on with science, physics and technology. They get their passion from there,” explained the rector of the University, Dmitry Fursaev.

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The rector of Dubna's University, M. Fursaev, receiving a Russian-translated copy of Helga Zepp-LaRouche's introduction to the World Landbridge report by one of Schiller Institute's delegates.

One young woman, a student in particle physics, simply answered : “The world's made of physical things, we're part of a larger galaxy. We're made of atoms! We can't ignore these realities. And in everything I look at there's always something unknown that I can explore. It's very challenging.” Maybe gender has nothing to do with the story. It may be simply, that when human beings are teased with interesting subjects and they see around them their family, relatives, friends and official also fascinated with these questions, it pushes them to explore and discover more !

A city for innovation

In 2016, the city was chosen as the site of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The Russian Federation counts 4 SEZ for Innovation (including Dubna), 4 Industrial SEZ (automotive industry, titanium production, etc.), 3 Port SEZ, and 8 SEZ for Tourism and Recreation. The SEZ for Innovation principle is very simple: each company that wishes to establish a high-tech sector with a very active R&D department can benefit from ready-made infrastructure (electricity, gas, transport, water, heating, telecommunication); a discount on land acquisition; customs preferences for imports and exports, and important tax cuts. These offers should attract and nurture the most developed international companies onto the Russian territory.

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The Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of Dubna.

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An employee of Svyaz' Engineering explains to our delegation how his factory produces high-quality circuit-boards.

Because of the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the set-up of companies, with their factories, was delayed in the beginning, but since 2010, more and more pioneer companies have decided to take a "risk" and settle their activities in Dubna. Among them we could cite :

But that's only the beginning since the SEZ is to be completed in 2020. New companies will come, like BioGenius in 2017. Created by Russian scientists from Moscow who discovered a new medical treatment for blood diseases, this company had only small laboratories and needed a production plant. Dubna was the choice dictated by their reason... and their hearts, as it is evident for blood specialists! The city is constantly under construction and 3 new projects are underway : the IT center for high-tech companies (on 135 ha), a residential area for IT workers called "the Town of Programmers" (3000 residents on 300 ha), and the New Industrial zone (on 50 ha). After these improvements, the SEZ Dubna will have 224 resident companies with 8000 workers. The city expects to have nearly 100.000 inhabitants by around 2020. But not more, because the city government voted a law to limit the growth of the city and keep it to a "human" size!

At the forefront, we can see a model of the planned construction of the IT center and the “Town of Programmers”

The mayor of Dubna, Vyacheslav B. Mukhin, is very proud of his current 75,200 inhabitants. They represent the hope that all the sufferings of the 1990s will disappear as the economic renaissance goes ahead. Two statistics show the vitality of Dubna : only 1% unemployment and 42% of workers employed in technology jobs (figures that would make European leaders dream!).

Our delegation meets with Dubna's mayor M. Mukhin.

As the rector of Dubna's University stated, "Russia tries to find its own way in history and it's difficult", but the people of Dubna are showing a lot of the talents that can help the country solve its dire problems, and also those of the world. For example, after the recent intervention of the Russian army in Syria and knowing that the "Raduga" factory in Dubna is producing missiles, we asked the mayor if these missiles could solve the situation there, or if one needed more than that. He responded: "Our missiles are only for defense, not attack. And we share the wish of the Syrian people to rapidly reconstruct their country. Dubna city can and will help."

A city of culture

One interesting aspect of Dubna, which is surprising for a science city, is that culture is consciously promoted to elevate the moral standard of the population. As M. Mukhin said: "The crime rate in Dubna is the lowest in the Moscow region; kids can go to school on their own." And "a good cultural policy makes sure that youth don't fall into alcohol and drugs," two plagues that are still crippling Russian society today. Classical culture, sports, and constant education of the population are the ingredients of this policy that we warmly recommend for any city of the future.

Dubna's Boys' Choir performing Classical and popular pieces.

We were offered two exceptional concerts during our stay. The first evening we attended the Boys' Choir concert ( This Choir is the pride of the city. The boys of the Choir have a commitment and a discipline which coexists with an eagerness to play and make the sounds live beyond their literal sense. The “Gloria” of Mozart's Coronation Mass opened the way with brio to Russian popular songs, full of melancholic beauty, to finish with the famous Korobeiniki song, honoring the work of these fellow peddlers travelling across the country with trays to sell basic utensils, books, and food to the population in pre-revolutionary Russia. What enthusiasm from these youth! The second evening, we had the chance to hear a string quartet from Dubna's Symphonic Orchestra. The quality of performance was stunning, properly outstanding. You could feel the passion of the musicians between all the notes! They had energy to give and it made a very strong impression on our minds. Beauty is so necessary today to lift our thoughts above the tragedy of everyday life; thus we can only encourage these kinds of practices.

We visited the brand new sport complex of the University, built 3 years ago, where students spend several hours a week practicing 8 sports over 3 years. Unlike many universities in the world, in Dubna the utilization of the sport complex is free because the government of the city wants youth to be healthy and learn discipline, team work and self-esteem. The complex is very modern, and it shows how cultural infrastructure is as important as basic technology infrastructure.

To finish the presentation of this city of Dubna, we wanted to highlight the different programs of scientific education aimed at constantly inundating the population with new thoughts on new discoveries. Two of them are notable:

Teachers from all over Russia come to JINR to know more about practical methods of scientific experiments.

A typical joyful moment at the JINR's Physics days!

All in all, we can see that art and science are two sides of the same coin and are equally promoted by the government of Dubna. Perhaps that government is following Friedrich Schiller’s wise words in his Aesthaetical Letters, IX : “Art, like science, is emancipated from all that is positive, and all that is humanly conventional; both are completely independent of the arbitrary will of man." And "thanks to their essential vigor and indestructible life, the true and the beautiful make a victorious fight, and issue triumphant from the abyss." This is the way we can raise citizens, independent of thought and above the arbitrariness of laws, and create a people that can elevate the dignity of Man and respect its creative nature.

A city for the future

There is something of genius in this city of Dubna. It is like the element number 105 of the periodic table of Mendeleev, the Dubnium, name after the city where it was first synthesized: it is a complete project of Man, not Nature, but meanwhile it has a legitimate place in Nature as a creative work of human beings. It has a universal aspect to it, a purpose and a concept that serves the future. It has been called a "science city" since 2001, but we should call it a "universal creative city" because its role as a Russian city goes beyond the borders of its country and beyond its achievements in science. It is a place where any person can acquire a universal idea of Man and be happy to participate in its improvement over the years, decades, and centuries. Though it has proved a lot in the past, this city has even more to prove to the world in the future! And it has its place in the New Silk Road strategy, as well as in the Schiller Institute's World Land-bridge project.

Our delegation in front of Dubna's city hall.