Work + Friends + Shashlik: Pushchino July - August 2002

The purpose of my frequent visits to Pushchino is that its a great place to work, to get new insights into underlying generic properties and find helpful colleagues. Valentin Krinsky first exposed me to this. This year, Sasha Medvinsky, Emmanuil Shnol and Oleg Mornev helped me to understand better the nature of wave front formation under near-threshold excitation conditions - which possibly occur within the vulnerable period (which is why I"m drawn to this problem). The early work by Rushton, Kolmogorov, Noble and Fozzard addressed the concept of liminal regions - the minimal region required to be activated in order to initiate propagation and this concept seemed to me to be critical to understanding excitation under near-threshold conditions.

What is unstated in their results is that they assume rapid evolution from the initial response to stable propagation. It turns out that there are few studies of the actual mechanism of front formation and evolution of a propagating wave. Some simple numerical experiments revealed that the initial moments of front formation result in growth toward a separatrix (the stationary solution to Uxx + f(u) = 0 (FHN model). There is a period of slow front development at near zero velocity of propagation and then either rapid collapse - or rapid growth of the front. It is this near threshold condition that can exist with cardiac drugs and possibly within some regions during fibrillation/defibrillation. We found ourselves facing a very interesting problem: that of exploring the stability of solutions to nonlinear wave equations. We worked on characterizing this both analytically and numerically. Shown here is the response to near threshold excitation: wave collapse on the left, wave growth on the right. (click image to explore all these results).

This trip started with a small surprise from Delta - the Atlanta flight to JFK was late - leaving about 5 min to switch to the Moscow flight (Delta Flight DL 30). Fortunately, jogging with Josh paided off nicely and I was successful in finding the flight. The trip was fast - and I arrived at Sheremet'evo about noon. Here is the GPS route of DL 30 - and the path to Rafail's flat and then on to Pushchino and of course, our shashlik location. (The two waypoints marked PHOTO are places where many icebergs were clearly visible - as was part of Greenland seen during the return flight, Delta DL 31).

A digressions - photos from the return flight (DL 31) as we passed over Greenland (see way points on the GPS map) and of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge as we left New York's JFK Airport

After arriving at Sheremet'evo, I went through customs and met my friend Rafail - whose family spent a year with us in Chapel Hill as a Humphrey Fellow. As soon as we reached Rafail's flat, we located a small shop and bought a SIM card for my GSM phone - low cost ($20 from MTS) and the coverage area includes Pushchino. So we start with an introduction: Meet Rafail, Ira and their daughter, Zhenia:

The first night, Rafail and his family treated me to dinner at a really interesting club: Petrovitch - and sitting next to us was Misha who was sketching Zhenia - and agreed to a photo

The next day - we walked though many distracts of Moscow, looking at the old and looking at the new. There is a lot of "new" in Moscow. Remember the huge swimming pool in central Moscow - well it had replaced an old church - so now the swimming pool has been replaced by a new church.

There is a bridge next to Kievski Railway station that has been turned into a pedestrian bridge

Then that night, Zhenia and I went to see the musical: Nord Ost - an adaptation from the novel, Dva Kapitana (Two Captains). The technical production was really fantastic but my language prevented me from extracting the most from the production (zhal!!). On Sunday, Alexy came to Moscow and we drove back to Pushchino together.

Pushchino is a small town, about 100 km south of Moscow - on the south bank of the river Oka

Where ITEB (Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics) and the Insistute of Cell Biophysics live - and my flat in Ab-1 (and happy stove)

My Flat (Moi Dom) i my happy (smiling, can you see the smile) oven circa who knows? Maybe 1930? for boiling water for my happy tea with honey (sunny?).

Work at ITEB (Sasha Medvinsky, Emmanuel Shnol, me) and the group at the heart rate variability study (Elena, Nadia, Robert, me etc)

The shop across the street from ITEB and the morning tasty treats (dva keksa please, 4 rubles, 30 kopecks each)

Some views of Pushchino

where you can see many beautiful places in the quiet forests and fields:

and enjoy sunrise and sunset

One evening, I just decided to go to my favorite place on the hill overlooking the river, Oka, and make photos of the sun as it said "poka" - and made an interesting discovery - that taking the photos with the flash activated (left) resulted in a dark foreground and very interesting images of the river and the sun's reflection in the river. The right photos were bez flash. In the background you can see the highway bridge (M2) and the train bridge for the electric train to Serpukhov. click for a large sunset photo

Life in Pushchino is simple - Work at the Institute and work for survival. I met some new friends, Sergei and Olga - that have a wonderful home they built with their own hands (photos soon) - and they have a couple of cows and provide fresh milk to many people. I had some of Olga's tea made from plants near their home. They have a wonderful view of Oka - and can watch the sun set every evening. This is a favorite place of mine - quiet and watching the sun set.

Here is fresh milk, Sergei, Olga and their home and Cow


and morning chores at sunrise

Usual modes of transport

Usually, on Saturday and/or Sunday - folks take to the forest for shashlik. Valera, for me, is Professor Shashlik - and here is the story from preparing the fire to eating the best shashlik in Russia!!! First, Valera's family - compare sasha and his parents with their photo 2 years ago AND - for a more interesting comparision compare sasha's age with his photo 10 years ago

We started our weekend adventure with a trip to Polenovo, the home of a wonderful artist on the banks of the Oka:

And then to a place in the forest with a small lake and places for shashlik

and a swim before / after shashlik

There is an interesting array of radio-telescopes - of varying geometric design:


Pure Parabolic


And some friends from the Institute and Pushchino

Click to Visit Our Traditional Lab Shashlik Happening - on the bank of the Oka

Stay tuned for the next picnic - and if you're interested, click here to visit picnic/shashlik 2000

So here is our group - and, nu konechno - stay tuned for the next picnic

click for full photo

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Copyright 2002 C. Frank Starmer