Ultra-Thin Wires Could Revolutionize Computers

Atom-sized wires could lead to extremely small electronics and quantum computers.

Scientists said Thursday they have designed tiny wires, 10,000 times thinner than a human hair but with the same electrical capacity as copper, in a major step toward building smaller, more potent computers.
The advance, described in the US journal Science, shows for the first time that wires one atom tall and four atoms wide can carry a charge as well as conventional wires.

Scientists forged atom-sized wires in silicon using a technique called scanning tunneling microscopy. 
Simmons et al., University of New South Wales
That could lead to even tinier electronic devices in the future as well as new steps toward quantum computing, an industry still in its infancy, which would create powerful computers that could sift through massive amounts of data faster than current digital computers which use binary code.
"Driven by the semiconductor industry, computer chip components continuously shrink in size allowing ever smaller and more powerful computers," said researcher Michelle Simmons of the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia.
"We are on the threshold of making transistors out of individual atoms. But to build a practical quantum computer we have recognized that the interconnecting wiring and circuitry also needs to shrink to the atomic scale."
Scientists were able to forge atom-sized wires in silicon using a technique called scanning tunneling microscopy, whereby they placed chains of phosphorus atoms within a silicon crystal.
"This technique not only allows us to image individual atoms but also to manipulate them and place them in position," said researcher Bent Weber, the lead author of the study.
The nano-wires they built this way ranged from 1.5 to 11 nanometers thick.
But even though the circuits were smaller, scientists observed no increased difficulty in coaxing an electric charge through them -- what has previously been considered a major obstacle to quantum computing.
In an accompanying Perspective article, David Ferry of the School of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering at Arizona State University called the findings "good news for the semiconductor industry."

A Nanotech Teabag Delivers Potable Water for Less than a Cent

My hat goes off to the researchers at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, who developed this nano-fiber-filled tea bag. It can safely filter a liter of water, and it costs less than a cent.

The filter itself isn't reusable—or ready for mass production—and even at a fraction of a cent, it could be too expensive for those who need it most. However, it does have the potential to help deliver potable water in a scalable way.
In the following video you can see how it would work in conjunction with a reusable water bottle.

Creating Artificial Muscles More Powerful Than Anything In Nature

By observing the inner workings of an octopus's leg or an elephant's trunk, scientists have created muscles from carbon nanotubes that could one day power machines.
“Nature has been developing her technologies for many hundreds of millions of years," said Ray Baughman. “By looking at the way in which nature has solved problems like muscles, we can advance our own technologies.”  Baughman is Director of the NanoTech Institute at the University of Texas at Dallas. His lab creates very tiny artificial muscles by spinning filaments of invisibly small carbon nanotubes into an extraordinary yarn.  Pound per pound, this nano-yarn is stronger than steel, yet is so light it almost floats in air.

Penn Physicists Observe “Campfire Effect” in Blinking Nanorod Semiconductors

PHILADELPHIA — When semiconductor nanorods are exposed to light, they blink in a seemingly random pattern. By clustering nanorods together, physicists at the University of Pennsylvania have shown that their combined “on” time is increased dramatically providing new insight into this mysterious blinking behavior.
The research was conducted by associate professor Marija Drndic’s group, including graduate student Siying Wang and postdoctorial fellows Claudia Querner and Tali Dadosh, all of the Department of Physics and Astronomy in Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences. They collaborated with Catherine Crouch of Swarthmore College and Dmitry Novikov of New York University’s School of Medicine.

Their research was published in the journal Nature Communications.
When provided with energy, whether in the form of light, electricity or certain chemicals, many semiconductors emit light. This principle is at work in light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, which are found in any number of consumer electronics.
At the macro scale, this electroluminescence is consistent; LED light bulbs, for example, can shine for years with a fraction of the energy used by even compact-fluorescent bulbs.  But when semiconductors are shrunk down to nanometer size, instead of shining steadily, they turn “on” and “off” in an unpredictable fashion, switching between emitting light and being dark for variable lengths of time. For the decade since this was observed, many research groups around the world have sought to uncover the mechanism of this phenomenon, which is still not completely understood.
“Blinking has been studied in many different nanoscale materials for over a decade, as it is surprising and intriguing, but it’s the statistics of the blinking that are so unusual,” Drndic said. “These nanorods can be ‘on’ and ‘off’ for all scales of time, from a microsecond to hours. That’s why we worked with Dmitry Novikov, who studies stochastic phenomena in physical and biological systems. These unusual Levi statistics arise when many factors compete with each other at different time scales, resulting in a rather complex behavior, with examples ranging from earthquakes to biological processes to stock market fluctuations.”  
Drndic and her research team, through a combination of imaging techniques, have shown that clustering these nanorod semiconductors greatly increases their total “on” time in a kind of “campfire effect.” Adding a rod to the cluster has a multiplying effect on the “on” period of the group.
“If you put nanorods together, if each one blinks in rare short bursts, you would think the maximum ‘on’ time for the group will not be much bigger than that for one nanorod, since their bursts mostly don’t overlap,” Novikov said. “What we see are greatly prolonged ‘on’ bursts when nanorods are very close together, as if they help each other to keep shining, or ‘burning.’”
Drndic’s group demonstrated this by depositing cadmium selenide nanorods onto a substrate, shining a blue laser on them, then taking video under an optical microscope to observe the red light the nanorods then emitted. While that technique provided data on how long each cluster was “on,” the team needed to use transmission electron microscopy, or TEM, to distinguish each individual, 5-nanometer rod and measure the size of each cluster.
A set of gold gridlines allowed the researchers to label and locate individual nanorod clusters. Wang then accurately overlaid about a thousand stitched-together TEM images with the luminescence data that she took with the optical microscope. The researchers observed the “campfire effect” in clusters as small as two and as large as 110, when the cluster effectively took on macroscale properties and stopped blinking entirely.
While the exact mechanism that causes this prolonged luminescence can’t yet be pinpointed, Drndic’s team’s findings support the idea that interactions between electrons in the cluster are at the root of the effect.
“By moving from one end of a nanorod to the other, or otherwise changing position, we hypothesize that electrons in one rod can influence those in neighboring rods in ways that enhance the other rods’ ability to give off light,” Crouch said. “We hope our findings will give insight into these nanoscale interactions, as well as helping guide future work to understand blinking in single nanoparticles.”
As nanorods can be an order of magnitude smaller than a cell, but can emit a signal that can be relatively easily seen under a microscope, they have been long considered as potential biomarkers. Their inconsistent pattern of illumination, however, has limited their usefulness.
“Biologists use semiconductor nanocrystals as fluorescent labels. One significant disadvantage is that they blink,” Drndic said. “If the emission time could be extended to many minutes it makes them much more usable. With further development of the synthesis, perhaps clusters could be designed as improved labels.”
Future research will use more ordered nanorod assemblies and controlled inter-particle separations to further study the details of particle interactions.
This research was supported by the National Science Foundation.
Evan Lerner | elerner@upenn.edu |             215-573-6604      
June 22, 2011

Speed of Light Lingers in Face of New Camera - Işık Hızında Çalışan Bir Fotoğraf Makinesi

More than 70 years ago, the M.I.T. electrical engineer Harold (Doc) Edgerton began using strobe lights to create remarkable photographs: a bullet stopped in flight as it pierced an apple, the coronet created by the splash of a drop of milk.

Di Wu and Andreas Velten, MIT Media Lab
SLOW DOWN M.I.T.'s camera captures light particles seemingly in motion by using repeated exposures, creating a “movie” of a nanosecond-long event.

Now scientists at M.I.T.’s Media Lab are using an ultrafast imaging systemto capture light itself as it passes through liquids and objects, in effect snapping a picture in less than two-trillionths of a second.
The project began as a whimsical effort to literally see around corners — by capturing reflected light and then computing the paths of the returning light, thereby building images coming from rooms that would otherwise not be directly visible.
“When I said I wanted to build a camera that looks around corners, my colleagues said, ‘Pick something that is more safe for your tenure,’ ” said Ramesh Raskar, an associate professor of media arts and sciences at the Media Lab. “Now I have tenure, so I can say this is not so crazy.”
Dr. Raskar enlisted colleagues from the chemistry department to modify a “streak tube,” a supersensitive piece of laboratory equipment that scans and captures light. Streak tubes are generally used to intensify streams of photons into streams of electrons. They are fast enough to record the progress of packets of laser light fired repeatedly into a bottle filled with a cloudy fluid.
The instrument is normally used to measure laboratory phenomena that take place in an ultra-short timeframe. Typically, it offers researchers information on intensity, position and wavelength in the form of data, not an image.
By modifying the equipment, the researchers were able to create slow-motion movies, showing what appears to be a bullet of light that moves from one end of the bottle to the other. The pulses of laser light enter through the bottom and travel to the cap, generating a conical shock wave that bounces off the sides of the bottle as the bullet passes.
The streak tube scans and captures light in much the same way a cathode ray tube emits and paints an image on the inside of a computer monitor. Each horizontal line is exposed for just 1.71 picoseconds, or trillionths of a second, Dr. Raskar said — enough time for the laser beam to travel less than half a millimeter through the fluid inside the bottle.
To create a movie of the event, the researchers record about 500 frames in just under a nanosecond, or a billionth of a second. Because each individual movie has a very narrow field of view, they repeat the process a number of times, scanning it vertically to build a complete scene that shows the beam moving from one end of the bottle, bouncing off the cap and then scattering back through the fluid. If a bullet were tracked in the same fashion moving through the same fluid, the resulting movie would last three years.
“You can think of it as slow motion,” Andreas Velten, a postdoctoral researcher who is a member of the design team, said during a recent technical presentation. “It is so much slow motion you can see the light itself move. This is the speed of light: there’s nothing in the universe that moves faster.”
Dr. Raskar says the technology has a variety of promising commercial applications. Last year, for example, one of his graduate students, Jaewon Kim, published a thesis envisioning portable CAT-scanning devices.
Dr. Raskar said he could also envision smartphone software that would capture and interpret reflections from, say, fruit. “Imagine if you have this in your phone about 10 years from now,” he said. “You will be able to go to your supermarket and tell if your fruit is ripe.”
Until now, picosecond speeds have largely been the province of an elite group of scientists clustered at the nation’s weapons laboratories.
At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Gary Jones is an optical physicist who builds ultrafast imaging systems that help characterize the first microseconds of events like laser fusion and nuclear explosions. “To get a two-dimensional image within a picosecond means you have to have a lot of electronics moving really fast,” he said.
For Dr. Raskar — who optimistically calls the project “femto photography,” using the term for quadrillionths of a second — it is about more than just engineering or science. “We were inspired by looking at the world in a unique way just because we could,” he said.
The system allows the naked eye to see information that has until now been rendered as data and charts. The proper analogy is to the way astronomers use instruments like radiotelescopes to create images with “fake” colors to see things in new ways — or to the original inspiration of Eadweard Muybridge, the 19th-century British photographer who achieved a new understanding of a horse’s gait by creating a camera array with electromagnetic shutters set off by tripwires.
“We’re still trying to get our heads around what this means,” Dr. Raskar said, “because no one has been able to see the world in this way before.”

Ellen Dunham-Jones: Retrofitting suburbia

What About the Suburbs?

History is full of examples of shrinking cities — from collapsed empires to abandoned rural towns that failed to maintain adequate infrastructure, diversify their economy or adjust to changing demographics. The popular suburbs that ring Detroit’s hollowed center are but an extreme example of how our society relied on cheap oil to fuel leapfrog growth, instead of reinvesting in existing places. What’s perhaps more remarkable today are shrinking suburbs — and the specter of the end of cheap oil.

Courtesy of Toledo-Lucas County Public LibraryToledo, Ohio, circa 1949.

Vacancies have proliferated along aging commercial strip corridors and new “zombie” subdivisions at the foreclosure fringes. The oversupply of platted vacant lots in states like Arizona, Florida and Idaho that may never be developed prompts us to ask: Will planned shrinkage become the new normal? Planned growth — such as the resilient 1811 Commissioners Plan to grid Manhattan with walkable blocks — is a necessary strategy for rapidly urbanizing areas, but in the U.S. today we must move quickly to design plans to better utilize already urbanized land and reduce car-dependency.
Rising oil prices contributed to escalated foreclosure rates and the Great Recession. How will they affect American households over the long term? New research reveals that in 2008 a median income household living in a location-efficient neighborhood spent 12.6 percent of their income on transportation, versus 35.8 percent for those stuck far from jobs and transit. “Drive ‘til you qualify” affordability is no longer sustainable. Instead, we need to use cheap land for food and energy production, redirect growth inward, ease the production of affordable infill housing and retrofit our shrinking suburbs.
Ellen Dunham-Jones and June WilliamsonAmes Lake in the Phalen neighborhood of St. Paul.
Failed commercial properties could be regreened into parks to help increase adjacent property values, like the former City Center mall in Columbus, Ohio, or into reconstructed wetlands to mitigate flooding and restore ecological habitat, as at Ames Lake in St. Paul, site of the former Phalen Shopping Center. Transit-served properties could be targeted for redevelopment into mixed-use, walkable nodes and corridors, as near Northgate Mall in Seattle and along Columbia Pike in northern Virginia. More modest revitalization can occur through the re-inhabitation of former strip malls with libraries, schools and other community-serving uses like the Jackson Medical Mall in Jackson, Miss.
Incentives for filling in and re-using urban land must be balanced with more robust disincentives to urbanize additional land at the fringes. First steps include revising local zoning and subdivision regulations and conducting greyfield audits of underused parking lots and vacant land. More systemic changes include a combination of large-scale land acquisition strategies, incentives like place-based underwriting protocols and targeted infrastructure spending, and regulatory changes like complete streets standards and eliminating Freddie, Fannie, FHA and HUD restrictions on mixed-use development.
In recognizing shrinkage as the new normal we not only prepare for the end of cheap oil by better managing our metropolitan fringes, but also boost opportunities for improved quality of life in existing communities and encourage the retrofitting of our most auto-dependent suburban properties into more healthy and sustaining places.

How to Fix That Ugly Strip

Which automobile-dependent landscapes in the U.S. are the most forsaken? Where would the pedestrian-oriented European strategies seem most out of place and yet potentially have the greatest impact on increasing affordability, health and livability while reducing greenhouse gases and re-using existing infrastructure? Commercial strip corridors.
Top of the list of unloved, underperforming and ubiquitous places, they were engineered for the single purpose of swiftly moving cars. But overzoned for commercial uses, they are now clogged with cars on both local and through trips. They provide access to cheaper land and “drive till you qualify” affordable housing – but then eat up the savings as transportation costs have risen to 20 to 40 percent of household budgets. They are aging with little prospect of funding for maintenance. And their high vacancy rates just add to the dispiritedness of a failed public realm.
Can they be retrofitted into attractive, transit boulevards lined with trees, sidewalks and affordable housing and anchored by mixed-use centers with a public life to be proud of? June Williamson and I are tracking over 35 North American corridors that are being redesigned not to make driving miserable, but to recognize the multiple social, environmental, economic and transportation purposes that great streets serve. Their integration was highlighted in the grassroots-led temporary re-striping of Ross Avenue as “Ross Ramblas” in Dallas this week at Build a Better Boulevard. Participants employed several techniques of Tactical Urbanism, including pop-up shops, chairbombing and dumpster pools.
More typical is the ongoing 10-year revitalization of a five-mile stretch of Columbia Pike in Arlington County, Va. It exemplifies the intelligent use of tight form-based codes to grow from one-story strip buildings in parking lots to mid-rise mixed-use buildings fronting tree-lined sidewalks at nodes on major intersections. The site-specific code quickly tapers heights where the new development faces the existing neighborhoods and new bike lanes on the less busy streets. This strategy retains the existing affordable housing in between the nodes while the tax revenue from the new density goes toward supporting a streetcar.
Cambie Corridor in Vancouver is employing similar techniques but has upped the ante with some stunning modern mixed-use buildings and a highly efficient district energy system that balances out daytime commercial energy demands with the residential night-time peak loads.
Aiding these efforts is the new street design manual for walkable urban thoroughfares. It is the first officially recommended practice that does not refer to sidewalks as “vehicle recovery zones”! El Paso recently adopted the manual to connect its implementation of Bus Rapid Transit with redevelopment of outdated properties along five major corridors. Imagine if all 50 DOTs followed suit and revised their Level of Service Standards accordingly! We might see more transformations of urban highways to boulevards and Complete Streets.
Funding remains an obstacle and demand for Sustainable Communities Partnershipfederal planning grants far outstrips supply. Can private real estate developers fund streetcars as they did early in the 20th century? Can the public again support public sector investments in infrastructure, as it did mid-century? How else can we provide an alternative to our broken system of “drive till you qualify” affordable housing, accommodate changing demographics and markets and make our least sustainable landscapes into places worth caring more about?

Ellen Dunham-Jones is a professor in the School of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology. June Williamson is an associate professor at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at The City College of New York. They are co-authors of "Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs."
UPDATED JUNE 27, 2011, 4:58 PM

Car Clash: Europe vs. the U.S.

The notion that European cities are different from American cities because they discourage automobile use in certain places obscures larger similarities.

It is true, for example, that because of policies favoring pedestrian streets, fewer parking spaces, resident-only permit zones and a battery of other measures, it is much more difficult to drive through central Madrid than it used to be. These measures have widespread support within this immediate area because central Madrid, like many European cities, has experienced a dramatic surge of gentrification.
The core, with its very high land prices, is increasingly home to affluent residents, high-end businesses, government officials and tourists who are willing to walk, use taxis and transit and forgo the use of their cars for short daily trips because any inconvenience is vastly outweighed by the benefits of restricting noise and pollution along old, narrow streets and, not incidentally, stemming the tide of automobiles owned by working class suburbanites who must commute into the central city.
However, central Madrid occupies only a small and diminishing part of the urban area. As is the case with virtually all European cities, as population at the core has dropped, population in the periphery has boomed. Between the censuses of 1991 and 2001, for example, the population of the central city dropped over 2% while the five suburban rings increased by 19% to 90%. Along with that shift toward lower densities and single family houses went a dramatic increase in automobile ownership and use. Between 1995 and 2001 alone car ownership rose from 372 automobiles per 1,000 residents to 478. Because of the construction of a vast new system of subways and superhighways, however, average vehicle speeds actually increased.
Concentrating on pedestrian zones at the center and ignoring the new freeways at the periphery obscures one of the real differences between American cities and European cities: the Europeans' willingness to pay for new public infrastructure of all kinds. Whether it has spent too much is another issue.
Robert Bruegmann is a professor of art history, architecture and urban planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the author of "Sprawl: A Compact History."
UPDATED JUNE 29, 2011, 10:52 AM

For Turkey, Lure of Tie to Europe Is Fading - Türkiye Artık Avrupa'ya Muhtaç Değil

ISTANBUL — As economic contagion tarnishes the European Union, a newly assertive Turkey is increasingly looking east instead of west, and asking a vexing question: Should Turkey reject Europe before Europe rejects Turkey?

When Recep Tayyip Erdogan , the charismatic prime minister, first swept to power in 2002, he made Turkey’s entry into the European Union his overriding goal. Determined to anchor the country to the West, Mr. Erdogan’s Muslim-inspired Justice and Development Party tackled thorny issues like improving minority rights and easing restrictions on free speech to move Turkey closer to Western norms.

But Turkey’s bid was greeted with skepticism and even disdain by some members of the union, not least because of Turkey’s large, almost entirely Muslim population. The negotiations dragged on endlessly without ever yielding a clear pathway to membership.
Now it is Turkey that has soured on the idea, analysts here say. With Europe shaken by a spiraling credit crisis and the tumult of the Arab Spring creating opportunities for Turkey to wield new clout as a regional power, people here are weighing a step that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago: walking away from the European Union altogether.
“Prime Minister Erdogan wanted to be the first conservative Muslim leader who would bring Turkey to the West, but after Europe betrayed him, he abandoned those ambitions,” said Erol Yarar, the founder of a religiously conservative business group of 20,000 companies that is close to the prime minister. “Today, the E.U. has absolutely no influence over Turkey, and most Turks are asking themselves, ‘Why should we be part of such a mess?’ ”
Turkey’s increasingly muscular foreign policy in the Middle East was in evidence last week when it imposed tough sanctions on Syria and made preparations for possible military intervention. And Turkey has become a powerful voice of regional outrage over Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, especially since it froze its ties with Israel over a commando raid on a vessel that tried to reach Gaza from Turkey.

Daniel Etter for The New York Times
A singer performing in the trendy rooftop restaurant and bar 360 in downtown Istanbul, which is an abidingly cosmopolitan city.

Meanwhile, Turkish officials say relations with the European Union have reached a state of hopeless disrepair, made worse by the prospect of Cyprus taking over the rotating presidency of the union next year.
Turkey has been locked in an intractable political fight with Cyprus since 1974, when it invaded the island to prevent a proposed union with Greece and set up a rival government in the ethnic Turkish part of Cyprus that only it recognizes. In London last month, President Abdullah Gul disparaged Cyprus as “half a country” that would lead a “miserable union,” Milliyet, a Turkish newspaper, reported. Then, when France took the unusual step last week of proposing that Turkey be invited to take part in a meeting of the union’s foreign ministers to discuss Syria, Cyprus vetoed the idea.

A century ago when the Ottoman Empire was crumbling, Turkey acquired the unwelcome nickname “the sick man of Europe.” Now many Turks cannot help but gloat that Turkey’s economy is forecast to grow at a 7.5 percent rate this year while Europe is sputtering.
“Those who called us ‘sick’ in the past are now ‘sick’ themselves,” Zafer Caglayan, Turkey’s minister of economy, said recently. “May God grant them recovery.”

Levent business district at night.

It is all but certain that Turkey’s membership talks, which have made scant progress in many areas since 2006, will make none at all when Cyprus takes over the union’s rotating presidency in July 2012, because the Turkish government has said it will boycott the presidency, effectively freezing negotiations. If the talks are still deadlocked in 2014, Turkish officials say privately, they could be abandoned.
Public opinion in Turkey has already turned away. According to surveys by the German Marshall Fund, 73 percent of Turks saw membership as a good thing in 2004, but only 38 percent felt that way by 2010.
The country’s minister for European Union affairs, Egemen Bagis, said in an interview that Turkey remained committed to joining. With its young and dynamic work force, large domestic market and growing regional role, he said, Turkey would be a bigger asset than ever to the teetering union.
“Hold on, Europe,” he said, “Turkey is coming to the rescue.”
But business people in Turkey, who have long supported membership, are finding it harder to make the case.
Mr. Yarar, the business group leader, owns 404, a chemical company, and Lezzo, a food company, which makes the country’s well-known apple tea. He noted that Turkey’s trade patterns were shifting eastward: though Europe still bought about 56 percent of Turkey’s exports in 2010, some 20 percent went to the Middle East, compared with 12.5 percent in 2004. “It may take 10 years, but the Arab Spring will make these markets even more attractive,” he said.
Cooler relations with Turkey are costing Europe influence in the Arab world, where Turkey, a NATO member bordered by Iran, Iraq and Syria, is fast becoming an important interlocutor for the West. For the first time in decades, analysts say, Europe needs Turkey more than Turkey needs Europe.
To the protesters in the streets of Cairo or Homs, Mr. Erdogan, a pious Muslim leading a prosperous country of 78 million, is a powerful symbol of the compatibility of democracy and Islam, while Europe’s perceived hostility to its Muslim residents undercuts its influence in the region.
Senior Turkish officials say that Mr. Erdogan has turned away from Europe and embraced Washington instead, a development signaled when Turkey announced sanctions against Syria. While Mr. Erdogan coordinated closely on the issue with President Obama, the officials said, Europe played only a supporting role.
The waning of European influence may also corrode Turkey’s ambition to be a model of democracy for the Arab world. Human rights advocates say that without the viable prospect of European Union membership to motivate restraint, the Turkish government’s authoritarian streak is growing unchecked. A report by the European Commission in November said that 64 journalists were in jail in Turkey, and one prominent media group that has criticized the ruling party was hit with a $2.5 billion tax fine.
In this abidingly cosmopolitan city, though, even ambitious and well-educated young people are fed up with the European Union. At a bustling cafe on the western side of the Bosporus, the strait that cuts through the city and separates Europe from Asia, Tugce Erbad, 19, a student of international finance, said her generation of Turks was not interested in joining a sinking European Union. Yet she insisted that she and her friends were still more drawn to Europe than to the Arab world.
“I would rather go to Paris than Beirut,” she said, before quickly adding: “Turkey is neither east or west. We are moving in our own direction.”

Avrupa Birliği ekonomik bir salgınla boğuşurken Türkiye sesini giderek yükselten bir güç olarak yüzünü batıdan çok doğuya dönüyor ve kendine soruyor: Avrupa beni geri çevirmeden önce ben mi onu geri çevirmeliyim?
2002'de güçlü bir şekilde iktidara gelen karizmatik başbakan Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, öncelikli hedef olarak Türkiye'nin AB'ye girmesini belirlemişti. Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi de Türkiye'yi Batılı normlara yaklaştırmak için azınlık haklarının geliştirilmesi ve ifade özgürlüğü üzerindeki sınırlamaların kaldırılması gibi tartışmalı sorunlara el atmıştı. Fakat Türkiye'nin çabaları bazı AB üyeleri tarafından şüphe, hatta küçümsemeyle karşılandı ve bunda elbette ki ülkenin neredeyse tümüyle Müslüman olan, kalabalık bir nüfusa sahip olmasının payı vardı. Sonuçta bitmek bilmeyen müzakereler kesin üyeliğe giden bir yola bile giremedi.

Şimdiyse Avrupa kısır döngüye giren bir kredi kriziyle sarsılıyor ve Arap Baharı'nın yarattığı fırsatlar Türkiye'ye bölgesel güç olarak yeni bir nüfuz kazandırıyor. Türkler ise birkaç yıl önce akla bile gelmeyen bir seçeneği, Avrupa Birliği'nden tamamen vazgeçmeyi değerlendiriyor.

20 bin şirketin üye olduğu, muhafazakâr bir işadamları derneğinin kurucusu olan Erol Yarar, "Başbakan Erdoğan Türkiye'yi Batı'ya yaklaştıran ilk Müslüman lider olmak istiyordu ama Avrupa ona ihanet ettikten sonra böyle bir arzusu kalmadı" diyor. "Bugün AB'nin Türkiye üzerinde hiçbir nüfuzu kalmadı ve Türklerin çoğu kendilerine, 'Böyle bir kargaşaya girmenin ne anlamı var?' diye soruyor."

Türkiye'nin Ortadoğu'da giderek güçlenen dış politikası, geçen ay Suriye'ye uygulanmaya başlayan sert yaptırımlar ve olası bir askeri müdahale hazırlıklarıyla kanıtlandı. İsrail'in Filistinlilere olan tutumuna karşı da Türkiye bölgede güçlü bir ses olarak doğdu. Bu arada Türk yetkililer, AB'yle ilişkilerin onulmaz bir noktaya ulaştığını, dönemsel başkanlığın 2012'de Kıbrıs'a geçecek olmasının durumu daha da güçleştirdiğini belirtiyorlar. Türkiye 1974'te adaya çıkarma yapmış ve etnik Türk olan kuzey kesiminde rakip bir hükümet kurmuştu. O günden beri de Kıbrıs'la siyasi bir kavga yaşanıyor.

Bir Türk gazetesinin haberine göre Cumhurbaşkanı Abdullah Gül, geçen ay Londra'da Kıbrıs'ı "yarım bir ülke", başkanlık edeceği birliği de "sefil bir birlik" olarak nitelemişti. Osmanlı İmparatorluğu'nun dağıldığı yüz yıl önce Türkiye, "Avrupa'nın hasta adamı" olarak anılıyordu. Şimdiyse Türk ekonomisinin bu yıl yüzde 7,5 büyümesi bekleniyor ve Avrupa da tekliyor. Ekonomi Bakanı Zafer Çağlayan geçtiğimiz günlerde, "Eskiden bize 'hasta' diyenler şimdi kendileri 'hasta' oldu" dedi.

Türk yetkililer özel demeçlerinde üyelik müzakerelerinin 2014'te hâlâ önünün açılmaması halinde görüşmelerden çekilebileceklerini belirtiyor. Düşünce kuruluşu German Marshall Fund'un anketlerine göre 2004'te Türklerin yüzde 73'ü AB üyeliğine olumlu bakarken, 2010'da bu oran yüzde 38'e düştü. Bir röportajda, tam üyelik hedefine bağlı kaldıklarını ifade eden AB Bakanı Egemen Bağış, genç ve dinamik bir işgücüne, büyük bir iç pazara ve artan bir bölgesel nüfuza sahip olduklarını, dolayısıyla bocalayan birlik için her zamankinden daha çok değere bindiklerini belirtti. "Dayan, Avrupa" dedi. "Türkiye imdadınıza yetişiyor." Fakat üyeliği uzun süredir desteklemiş olan Türk işadamları artık bundan o kadar emin değil. 2010'da Türkiye ihracatının yüzde 56'sı Avrupa'ya, yüzde 20'sini de (2004'te bu oran yüzde 12'ydi) Ortadoğu'ya yaptı.

Yarar, "Belki 10 yıl alır ama Arap Baharı bu pazarları daha cazip bir hale getirecektir" diyor. Türkiye'yle ilişkilerin soğuması, Avrupa'nın Arap dünyasındaki nüfuzunu da etkiliyor. Oysa İran, Irak ve Suriye'ye sınırı olan NATO üyesi Türkiye'nin bir aracı olarak Batı için önemi hızla artıyor. Uzmanlar, onlarca y ıldır i lk k ez A vrupa'nın Türkiye'ye olan ihtiyacının, Türkiye'nin Avrupa'ya olan ihtiyacından daha fazla olduğunu belirtiyor. Üst düzey Türk yetkililer de Erdoğan'ın artık Avrupa yerine Washington'a öncelik verdiğine, Türkiye'nin Suriye'ye uyguladığı yaptırımların da bunu yansıttığına dikkat çekiyor.

Erdoğan konuyla ilgili olarak Başkan Obama'yla yakın temas halindeyken Avrupa'nın ancak yardımcı rolünde olduğunu ifade ediyorlar. İnsan hakları savunucularıysa somut bir AB üyeliği hedefi olmadan Türk hükümetindeki otoriter damarın denetimsiz kalacağından endişeleniyor. İstanbul'da, Avrupa'yla Asya'yı ayıran Boğaziçi'nin batı yakasındaki hareketli bir kafede oturan 19 yaşındaki uluslararası finans öğrencisi Tuğçe Erbad, kendi kuşağının iflas eden bir Avrupa Birliği'ne girmek istemediğini söylüyor. Fakat ısrarla belirttiğine göre o da, arkadaşları da kendilerini Arap dünyasından çok Avrupa'ya yakın hissediyor. Yine de, "Türkiye ne doğu, ne batıdır. Biz kendi yolumuzda ilerliyoruz" diyor.