Tag: Netherlands (page 1 of 4)

5 Cancer Myths Busted

Dr. E. Dahl, Prevent DiseaseCancer statistics are on the rise, and the growing numbers have moved the disease to a priority issue for the global community. AsThe Lancet reports, cancer deaths have increased 46% between 1990 and 2013. On Jan 1, 2016, new international development priorities called Sustainable Development Goals, will focus on decreasing premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by 2025.PreventDisease recently reported 5 cancer facts the cancer industry [...]

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NASA Releases New Pictures of Ceres

Bright spots on Ceres continue to puzzle astronomersExcerpt from sciencetimes.com NASA has released the most brilliant images of Ceres to date, truly showcasing the surface of the dwarf planet located in the asteroid belt.  The new images could...

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Did natural selection make the Dutch the tallest people on the planet?

Dutch national women's field hockey team



Excerpt from news.sciencemag.org
ByMartin Enserink

AMSTERDAM—Insecure about your height? You may want to avoid this tiny country by the North Sea, whose population has gained an impressive 20 centimeters in the past 150 years and is now officially the tallest on the planet. Scientists chalk up most of that increase to rising wealth, a rich diet, and good health care, but a new study suggests something else is going on as well: The Dutch growth spurt may be an example of human evolution in action.
The study, published online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, shows that tall Dutch men on average have more children than their shorter counterparts, and that more of their children survive. That suggests genes that help make people tall are becoming more frequent among the Dutch, says behavioral biologist and lead author Gert Stulp of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

"This study drives home the message that the human population is still subject to natural selection," says Stephen Stearns, an evolutionary biologist at Yale University who wasn't involved in the study. "It strikes at the core of our understanding of human nature, and how malleable it is." It also confirms what Stearns knows from personal experience about the population in the northern Netherlands, where the study took place: "Boy, they are tall."

For many years, the U.S. population was the tallest in the world. In the 18th century, American men were 5 to 8 centimeters taller than those in the Netherlands. Today, Americans are the fattest, but they lost the race for height to northern Europeans—including Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, and Estonians—sometime in the 20th century.

Just how these peoples became so tall isn't clear, however. Genetics has an important effect on body height: Scientists have found at least 180 genes that influence how tall you become. Each one has only a small effect, but together, they may explain up to 80% of the variation in height within a population. Yet environmental factors play a huge role as well. The children of Japanese immigrants to Hawaii, for instance, grew much taller than their parents. Scientists assume that a diet rich in milk and meat played a major role.

The Dutch have become so much taller in such a short period that scientists chalk most of it up to their changing environment. As the Netherlands developed, it became one of the world's largest producers and consumers of cheese and milk. An increasingly egalitarian distribution of wealth and universal access to health care may also have helped.

Still, scientists wonder whether natural selection has played a role as well. For men, being tall is associated with better health, attractiveness to the opposite sex, a better education, and higher income—all of which could lead to more reproductive success, Stulp says.
Yet studies in the United States don't show this. Stulp's own research among Wisconsinites born between 1937 and 1940, for instance, showed that average-sized men had more children than shorter and taller men, and shorter women had more children than those of average height. Taken together, Stulp says, this suggests natural selection in the United States pulls in the opposite direction of environmental factors like diet, making people shorter instead of taller. That may explain why the growth in average American height has leveled off.

Stulp—who says his towering 2-meter frame did not influence his research interest—wondered if the same was true in his native country. To find out, he and his colleagues turned to a database tracking key life data for almost 100,000 people in the country's three northern provinces. The researchers included only people over 45 who were born in the Netherlands to Dutch-born parents. This way, they had a relatively accurate number of total children per subject (most people stop having children after 45) and they also avoided the effects of immigration.

In the remaining sample of 42,616 people, taller men had more children on average, despite the fact that they had their first child at a higher age. The effect was small—an extra 0.24 children at most for taller men—but highly significant. (Taller men also had a smaller chance of remaining childless, and a higher chance of having a partner.)  The same effect wasn't seen in women, who had the highest reproductive success when they were of average height.  The study suggests this may be because taller women had a smaller chance of finding a mate, while shorter women were at higher risk of losing a child.

Because tall men are likely to pass on the genes that made them tall, the outcome suggests that—in contrast to Americans—the Dutch population is evolving to become taller, Stulp says. "This is not what we've seen in other studies—that's what makes it exciting," says evolutionary biologist Simon Verhulst of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, who was Stulp's Ph.D. adviser but wasn't involved in the current study. Verhulst points out that the team can't be certain that genes involved in height are actually becoming more frequent, however, as the authors acknowledge.

The study suggests that sexual selection is at work in the Dutch population, Stearns says: Dutch women may prefer taller men because they expect them to have more resources to invest in their children. But there are also other possibilities. It could be that taller men are more resistant to disease, Stearns says, or that they are more likely to divorce and start a second family. "It will be a difficult question to answer.”

Another question is why tall men in Holland are at a reproductive advantage but those in the United States are not. Stulp says he can only speculate. One reason may be that humans often choose a partner who's not much shorter or taller than they are themselves. Because shorter women in the United States have more children, tall men may do worse than those of average height because they're less likely to partner with a short woman.

In the end, Stearns says, the advantage of tall Dutchmen may be only temporary. Often in evolution, natural selection will favor one trend for a number of generations, followed by a stabilization or even a return to the opposite trend. In the United States, selection for height appears to have occurred several centuries ago, leading to taller men, and then it stopped. "Perhaps the Dutch caught up and actually overshot the American men," he says.

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Mummified monk revealed inside Buddha statue


635603189441117628-mummy-buddha



Excerpt from usatoday.com

The mummified remains of a monk have been revealed inside a nearly 1,000-year old Chinese statue of a Buddha.

The mummy inside the gold-painted papier-mâché statue is believed to be that of Liuquan, a Buddhist master of the Chinese Meditation School who died around the year 1100, researchers said. It's the only Chinese Buddhist mummy to undergo scientific research in the West.

The statue was on display last year at the Drents Museum as part of an exhibit on mummies. It was an cited as an example of self-mummification, an excruciating, years-long process of meditation, starvation, dehydration and poisoning that some Buddhist monks undertook to achieve enlightenment and veneration.

When the exhibit ended in August, a CT scan at the Meander Medical Center in the Netherlands revealed the seated skeleton. Samples taken from organ cavities provided one big surprise: paper scraps printed with ancient Chinese characters indicating the high-status monk may have been worshiped as a Buddha.

A CT scan has revealed a mummified Chinese monk inside a Buddha statue. The remains date back about 1,000 years. Video provided by Newsy Newslook
The finding was first reported in December but did not get wide notice. Irish Archaeology carried a report over the weekend, which apparently started the news ball rolling.

But the revelation is not, as some reports claim, "a shocking discovery," The History Blog notes: "It was known to be inside the statue all along ... that's why it was sent to the Drents Museum in the first place as part of the Mummies exhibition."

The mummy's existence was discovered in 1996 when the statue was being restored in the Netherlands, Live Science writes, explaining what was found, how its age was determined and when the first detailed skeletal imaging was performed.




DNA tests were conducted on bone samples, and the Dutch team plans to publish its finding in a forthcoming monograph.
Researchers still have not determined whether the monk mummified himself, a practice that was also widespread in Japan and that was outlawed in the 19th century. If he did, the process was gruesome, as Ancient Origins explains:
For the first 1,000 days, the monks ceased all food except nuts, seeds, fruits and berries and they engaged in extensive physical activity to strip themselves of all body fat. For the next one thousand days, their diet was restricted to just bark and roots. Near the end of this period, they would drink poisonous tea made from the sap of the Urushi tree, which caused vomiting and a rapid loss of body fluids. It also acted as a preservative and killed off maggots and bacteria that would cause the body to decay after death.
In the final stage, after more than six years of torturous preparation, the monk would lock himself in a stone tomb barely larger than his body, where he would go into a state of meditation. He was seated in the lotus position, a position he would not move from until he died. A small air tube provided oxygen to the tomb. Each day, the monk rang a bell to let the outside world know he was still alive. When the bell stopped ringing, the tube was removed and the tomb sealed for the final thousand day period of the ritual.
At the end of this period, the tomb would be opened to see if the monk was successful in mummifying himself. If the body was found in a preserved state, the monk was raised to the status of Buddha, his body was removed from the tomb and he was placed in a temple where he was worshiped and revered. If the body had decomposed, the monk was resealed in his tomb and respected for his endurance, but not worshiped
If you find yourself in Budapest before May, the Buddha mummy statue is on display at the Hungarian Natural History Museum.

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Star Disappears in a Warp In Space-Time


Time warp created by a pulsar



Excerpt from popsci.com

A star has slipped out of view thanks to the space-time warp it creates as it orbits.

The disappearing star is part of a binary star system called J1906. It's a pulsar, which means it's a rotating neutron star, the result of a massive star collapsing in on itself. Researchers have been studying the young pulsar for five years to determine what kind of companion star was orbiting around it. That is, until recently, when the pulsar vanished.

As a pulsar rotates, it emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation, sort of like light coming from a lighthouse. Scientists use radio telescopes that pick up on the pulses coming from the star. But as scientists watched J1906, the pulsar began to slip off the radar. It seems that as the pulsar spins around its companion star, the mass of the companion star makes it sink into a dip in space-time, so that its radio waves can no longer reach Earth. The concept is called geodetic precession, which, according to NASA, uses Einstein’s theory of relativity to understand how massive objects like the Earth curve the space around them, influencing the local space-time fabric.  

The video above illustrates the sinkhole in space created by the pulsar as it orbits the second star. As the warp increases, the pulsar's axis shifts (demonstrated by the arrows), so its radio pulses no longer aim toward Earth's radio telescopes.

But the pulsar won’t be out of sight for forever. Lead scientist Joeri van Leewuen from the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy estimates the star will come back into sight in less than 160 years.

The team’s findings were released Thursday in the Astrophysical Journal in conjunction with the American Astronomical Society’s 225th meeting.

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Did European scientists find dark-matter signal buried in X-rays?


Dark matter findings XMM-Newton
This illustration shows the ESA's XMM-Newton space telescope. Using X-ray data collected by the telescope, scientists say they may have identified a dark-matter signal. (D. Ducros / European Space Agency)


Excerpt from latimes.com

Scientists say they may have discovered a possible dark matter signal coded in the X-rays emanating from two bright objects in the sky. 

The findings, set to be published next week in Physical Review Letters, could offer tangible evidence for the existence of dark matter -- and help researchers build new tools to search for and study this mysterious stuff.

When it comes to matter in the universe, dark matter is like a backroom political power broker: You never see it, but behind the scenes, it’s been throwing its weight around. The effects of its gravitational influence can be seen in the large-scale structures of the cosmos. Dark matter makes up about 84.5% of the matter in the universe while all the stuff we actually see -- stars, galaxies, planets, ourselves -- makes up the remaining 15.5%.* The enormous galaxies and clusters of galaxies that populate the universe are bantamweights compared to the massive, unseen dark matter ‘halos’ that anchor them.
Dark matter’s formidable gravitational influence is the only way that the strange stuff can be detected, because it’s invisible -- it does not interact with light. Physicists have no idea what it’s made of, although they’ve looked for it by building detectors in underground former gold mines, sending satellites into space and other methods. 

But now, a team led by researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland say they’ve discovered a signal that could be a sign of dark matter. 

The scientists looked at X-ray emissions coming from the Andromeda galaxy and the Perseus galaxy cluster, collected by the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton space telescope. After accounting for all the light particles (called photons) emanating from known sources in the Andromeda galaxy, they were left with a strange set of photons that had no known source. The found the same light signature emanating from the Perseus cluster. And when they turned their attention to the Milky Way, they found signs of this signal in our home galaxy, as well.
“It is consistent with the behavior of a line originating from the decay of dark matter particles,” the authors wrote in a pre-print of the study.

This weird light signal, they think, could be coming from the destruction of a hypothetical particle called a sterile neutrino (which, if it exists, might help explain dark matter). But it's going to take a lot of follow-up study to determine whether this signal is a scientific breakthrough or an anomalous blip.

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World’s Oldest Art Identified in Half-Million-Year-Old Zigzag

A jagged line etched on a fossil mussel shell may be the oldest evidence of geometric art.Photograph by Wim Lustenhouwer, VU University Amsterdam(Reuters) - It's a simple zigzag design scratched onto the surface of a freshwater mussel shell on t...

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Is Mars One Ready to Colonize the Red Planet?

 Excerpt from  latimes.com A team of engineers at MIT that studies the technology needed for humans to live on other planets has determined that the Mars One plan to send four people to colonize the Red Planet by 2025 is not possible.&...

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Rosetta’s Comet Releasing Jets of Water

This artist's impression shows the Rosetta orbiter at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image is not to scale. Image Credit: ESA/ATG Medialabjpl.nasa.govComet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is releasing the Earthly equivalent of two glasses of water i...

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Arrest Warrants : Liens Filed Against G7 Central Banks

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2 May 2012

Written by David Wilcock Tuesday, 01 May 2012 11:33

Arrest warrants have now been issued against the international branches of the Federal Reserve -- the European Central Banks, BIS, Germany, France, Netherlands,...

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Binge drinking in the Netherlands

binge drinking

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Opening to Downloads in Dream States and Waking Consciousness

As we move further into the new time on planet Earth, many are receiving new downloads in consciousness. At times, these arrive in dreams and, at other times, in waking consciousness. Related posts: Dutch prince who suffered massive brain damage in ava...

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Sacred Silence – Roman Catholic childabuse in the Netherlands

The abuse of children within the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands was "serious". Related posts: Sacred Questions I Ask Myself… “We must continuously keep in mind that the world is a collective dream, and that we are engaged in dreaming...

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