Nobel laureate says Russia needs 50 years to revive sciences

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The sciences in Russia need at least 50 years of heavy investment to match international levels, Russian-born Nobel Laureate Andre Geim said Thursday, dismissing an invitation to return.

"If two to three percent of the budget go to the sciences, it will reach adequate levels in 50 years time," Geim, who won the Nobel prize for physics with his research partner Konstantin Novoselov this week, told the Echo of Moscow radio.

"For things to change in the Russian sciences, the infrastructure needs to be changed, which cannot be done in five to 10 years," he said. "You need a long investment programme to create wonderful conditions for science."

Geim, a Dutch citizen who now works at Britain's University of Manchester, added that while nothing was stopping Russian science from again becoming competitive on the world stage, he had no interest in returning to Russia.

"I don't have a Russian passport, I am a citizen of Holland. Have people over there lost their minds?," he said of an offer to join the new project Skolkovo, promoted by President Dmitry Medvedev to develop Russian science and technology.

"Do they think that if they offer a bag of gold then they can invite anybody?" Geim said to another station, the Russian News Service radio.

A representative of the Kremlin-backed Skolkovo foundation had Wednesday invited Geim and Novoselov to participate in plans to create the cutting-edge centre for innovation in Russia.

But Geim slammed the invitation: "It is stupid to import big names, one needs to grow their own," he told the Echo of Moscow radio.

Geim and Novoselov were awarded the Nobel prize on Wednesday for pioneering work on graphene, an ultra-thin material that could become the future of electronics.

Both have worked in Manchester, Great Britain, since 2001, though Geim left Russia for the Netherlands in the early 1990s.

Medvedev lamented on Wednesday that the scientists had left Russia before making their discovery, calling the government efforts to improve research facilities a "huge failure."

© 2010 AFP

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