Archive for the ‘Switzerland’ Category

In desolate caves throughout Brazil live insects that copulate for days, the female’s penetrating erectile organ sticking fast in a reluctant male’s genital chamber until he offers a gift of nutritious semen. Neotrogla seems to be unique among species with reversed sex roles — with choosy males and aggressive, promiscuous females — in also having swapped anatomy, researchers report.

Not all animal species have a male penis, but because the evolution of body parts usually works through slow modification of existing structures, there would need to be a good reason for a female to develop a penetrating organ, says entomologist Kazunori Yoshizawa of Hokkaido University in Japan, a co-author of the study.

Yoshizawa and his colleagues think that they have found that reason in Neotrogla, which was first described in 2012. The insects were originally spotted in Brazilian caves by ecologist Rodrigo Ferreira from the Federal University of Lavras in Brazil. Entomologist Charles Lienhard at the Geneva Museum of Natural History in Switzerland recognized them as a new genus — and also as possessing unusual genitalia. The team’s work describing the reproductive practices of four separate species of Neotrogla is published today in Current Biology.

When the flea-sized winged insects mate, the female mounts the male and penetrates deep into a thin genital opening in his back. Membranes in her organ swell to lock her in, and multiple spiky spines act as grappling hooks to anchor her tightly to the male. (When researchers tried to pull apart two mating insects, the female was gripping so tightly that the male was accidentally ripped in half, leaving his genitalia still attached to the female.) The tip of the female’s penis fits neatly into the male’s genitalia to allow her to receive a large, teardrop-shaped sperm capsule over their 40–70 hours of copulation.

The key to the anatomy and role reversal might be simple hunger. Neotrogla species live in extremely dry caves, says Ferreira, where there is not much in the way of food, save for bat guano and the occasional dead bat. A female needs enough nourishment to make eggs and reproduce, though, so she likely found another source of nutrition, Yoshizawa says: her mate’s semen capsule. In some other insects, males expend personal resources to create highly sought-after ‘nuptial gifts’ of sperm and nutrients that they bestow upon their mate during copulation. Although it’s not clear whether Neotrogla couples do likewise, the females accept seminal gifts and drain them even when they’re too young to reproduce, Yoshizawa says, so it’s obvious they’re using the sperm capsules for more than mere reproduction.

If Neotrogla males need to spend valuable resources producing their sperm packets, it’s likely they would be choosy about their mates, Yoshizawa says, which would help explain why the females have evolved a penis well designed to hold down reluctant mates long enough to wring out all their gifts. This might be a combination unique to Neotrogla, he says: Although other animals have swapped sex roles where the female is the promiscuous aggressor (the scorpion fly, for example), and others have swapped anatomy where the female penetrates the male (seahorses, for example), none appears to have developed both reversed sex roles and a female penis with grappling hooks.

The authors make a “convincing case” that this female penis is associated with sex-role reversal where males are choosy, as would be expected under sexual-selection theory, says William Eberhard, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Costa Rica in San Pedro.

If Neotrogla can be observed in captivity, they might be good models for studying how and why male and female roles and anatomy can get switched around during copulation, he adds.

Yoshizawa and his colleagues are now working to establish a healthy population in the lab, but the biggest challenge will be finding a suitable food to replace the cave-bat droppings, Yoshizawa says. Flour, yeast and skimmed milk are all under consideration. to replace the cave-bat droppings.

http://www.nature.com/news/female-insect-uses-spiky-penis-to-take-charge-1.15064

Thanks to Dr. Lutter for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

Switzerland may start paying every adult (whether they work or not) a salary of over $2000 per month, based on the idea that their citizens will have more time to devote to things they are intrinsically interested in, instead of spending the majority of their time worrying about how they are going to survive, as many individuals with entry level positions find it hard to meet their needs. The income initiative promises every Swiss citizen a living wage , so they can always survive without basic financial worry.

The 2,500 francs would work out to be an income of 30,000 Swiss francs per year. Statistics released by the European Union in 2002 showed that Switzerland was the third most expensive country in Europe, after Norway and Iceland, to live in. Switzerland currently has a population of 8.02 million people, equivalent to that of large cities such as the San Francisco Bay Area which has a population of 7.15 million. They pay particularly high prices for meat, cooking oil, fish and vegetables. Basic utilities (electricity, heating, water, garbage) are around 200 francs per month, and the average rent of a one bedroom apartment in the city center runs about 1,400 francs.

“Imagine you are being born and society tells you ‘Welcome, you will be cared for, and asks you what you want to do with your life, what is your calling? Imagine that feeling, that’s a whole different atmosphere “ – Daniel Straub, Co-founder, Basic Income Initiative

Parliament was presented with a petition signed by over 100,000 people, proposing to afford every citizen, regardless if they are working or not, a monthly paycheck of 2,500 Swiss francs. To mark the day, a truck full of 8 million five-cent coins was deposited on the square and spread out in front of the Swiss Parliament in Bern, supporters gathered around and spread the coins out using shovels. A typical fast-food worker in the US earns roughly $1,500 per month. Anything less than that specified amount of 2,500 francs, would be deemed illegal, even for people working in one of the lowest paid jobs.

A date for the vote itself is yet to be confirmed, however, it could take place before the end of this year, depending on the decision of the Swiss government. The money to fund the measure would likely be supplied by the Swiss social insurance system, so in other words it would be taken from taxpayers. We know that the government has no money itself, everything that it gives to others it must first take from others or print it out of thin air. But, are individuals who receive these funds going to be participating tax payers as well? If not, is it safe to assume that the more individuals who rely on this system, and the fewer who are contributing and fueling it, the more unlikely it is to run out of funds? Is this only possible due to Switzerland’s low population and impressive bank profits?

This new system will force business owners to pay their workers a certain wage, regardless if their labor is considered worth less than the stipulated amount. This idea aims to set the minimum standard of living higher, and that is admirable. But this might prompt business owners to take their company elsewhere, to where they have more freedom over the decision of what wages they are going to pay. Of course this would also mean they get no cut whatsoever of the Swiss market. And on the other hand, the new income may also allure new business owners to the country in looks of attracting those new consumers. One prominent CEO in Switzerland has stated that if the measure passes, he would seriously contemplate moving his company out of the country:

“I can’t believe that Switzerland would cause such great harm to its economy,” Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg told the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation.

The unemployment rate currently remains at 3 percent in Switzerland. Switzerland is arguably one of the most stable economies in the world. The nation has built the reputation of having some of the most friendly laws toward foreign investors. Will this measure make more money flow, by putting liquidity in the hands of those more prone to putting it back in the economy, or will it drive investors away and cause the Swiss economy to stumble?

http://themindunleashed.org/2014/03/swiss-pay-basic-income-2500-francs-per-month-every-adult.html

Thanks to Jody Troupe for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

humandiamond

An Treviso, Italian man’s 20-year-old son died in a car accident a few months ago and had already been buried. However, his father had his son’s remains exhumed, then cremated and finally had his remains turned into a remembrance diamond.

Corriere del Veneto reports that the owner of a Treviso funeral parlor said the 55-year-old father had visited his parlor to make funeral arrangements for his mother.

At that time, the man found some marketing material for a Swiss company called Algordanza, who offer the bizarre service of transforming human remains into artificial diamonds. From their website, it can be seen that they offer this service in quite a few countries in the world.

Silvia Zanardo, one of the partners of the funeral company, said that they explained the idea to the father and he asked them to help him, which they then did.

The funeral company then exhumed the son’s remains and cremated them, as the first step in the transformation process. After an eight-month waiting period, the father has finally received the diamond.

Apparently Algordanza has been operating in Italy since 2009, creating the “remembrance diamonds.”

Christina Sponza, a marketing representative for the company, explained how it works.

“The human body is formed in part by carbon, the same molecule that makes up the diamond.”

“With the cremation process, you get the carbon graphite. In Switzerland, the graphite is then pressed and held in very high temperatures, which simulate the pressure under which real diamonds are formed.”

“Finally, we deliver to relatives the diamond in a box, a sort of eternal funeral urn.”

The video below gives more detail of the process:

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/odd%20news/italian-man-has-son-s-remains-turned-into-a-remembrance-diamond/article/364546#ixzz2oy8oOL89

zurich-opens-drive-in-sex-boxes

A series of wooden sheds have been constructed in Zurich, Switzerland as part of an initiative to regulate prostitution.

They look like garages or shelters but are being called by the locals ‘drive-in sex boxes’.

The idea is that men wanting to pay for sex can drive into one of the sheds having picked up a prostitute from an approved area.

Project director Michael Herzig said the boxes should improve security for sex workers.

“We’ve had a problem here which has been getting worse over the last few years, especially regarding Roma women, some of whom were being forced into prostitution. This was a degrading situation which we really had to stop.”

It is hoped the sex boxes will persuade prostitutes to sell their services away from residential areas, in a safe environment – the sheds are all equipped with alarms.

“This solution has several advantages: the support service for the women is better because we are directly here on site. The infrastructure is better. The women can come to us and use the shower and the toilets. We can talk to them without other people listening and the area is closed and observable,” said Ursula Kocher, of the Flora Dora centre for women:

The million euro project was approved by voters in Zurich last year in a referendum. The site is only open to drivers of cars and will operate from early evening until 5am each day.

http://www.euronews.com/2013/08/19/zurich-opens-drive-in-sex-boxes/

2-bionic-handsBionic-handv1

The first bionic hand that allows an amputee to feel what they are touching will be transplanted later this year in a pioneering operation that could introduce a new generation of artificial limbs with sensory perception.

The patient is an unnamed man in his 20s living in Rome who lost the lower part of his arm following an accident, said Silvestro Micera of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland.

The wiring of his new bionic hand will be connected to the patient’s nervous system with the hope that the man will be able to control the movements of the hand as well as receiving touch signals from the hand’s skin sensors.

Dr Micera said that the hand will be attached directly to the patient’s nervous system via electrodes clipped onto two of the arm’s main nerves, the median and the ulnar nerves.

This should allow the man to control the hand by his thoughts, as well as receiving sensory signals to his brain from the hand’s sensors. It will effectively provide a fast, bidirectional flow of information between the man’s nervous system and the prosthetic hand.

“This is real progress, real hope for amputees. It will be the first prosthetic that will provide real-time sensory feedback for grasping,” Dr Micera said.

“It is clear that the more sensory feeling an amputee has, the more likely you will get full acceptance of that limb,” he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston.

“We could be on the cusp of providing new and more effective clinical solutions to amputees in the next year,” he said.

An earlier, portable model of the hand was temporarily attached to Pierpaolo Petruzziello in 2009, who lost half his arm in a car accident. He was able to move the bionic hand’s fingers, clench them into a fist and hold objects. He said that he could feel the sensation of needles pricked into the hand’s palm.

However, this earlier version of the hand had only two sensory zones whereas the latest prototype will send sensory signals back from all the fingertips, as well as the palm and the wrists to give a near life-like feeling in the limb, Dr Micera said.

“The idea would be that it could deliver two or more sensations. You could have a pinch and receive information from three fingers, or feel movement in the hand and wrist,” Dr Micera said.

“We have refined the interface [connecting the hand to the patient], so we hope to see much more detailed movement and control of the hand,” he told the meeting.

The plan is for the patient to wear the bionic hand for a month to see how he adapts to the artificial limb. If all goes well, a full working model will be ready for testing within two years, Dr Micera said.

One of the unresolved issues is whether patients will be able to tolerate having such a limb attached to them all the time, or whether they would need to remove it periodically to give them a rest.

Another problem is how to conceal the wiring under the patient’s skin to make them less obtrusive. The electrodes of the prototype hand to be fitted later this year will be inserted through the skin rather than underneath it but there are plans under development to place the wiring subcutaneously, Dr Micera said.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/a-sensational-breakthrough-the-first-bionic-hand-that-can-feel-8498622.html

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

 

Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reports that a woman starved to death after embarking on a spiritual diet that required her to stop eating or drinking and live off sunlight alone.

The Zurich newspaper reported Wednesday that the unnamed Swiss woman in her fifties decided to follow the radical fast in 2010 after viewing an Austrian documentary about an Indian guru who claims to have lived this way for 70 years.

Tages-Anzeiger says there have been similar cases of self-starvation in Germany, Britain and Australia.

The prosecutors’ office in the Swiss canton (state) of Aargau confirmed Wednesday that the woman died in January 2011 in the town of Wolfhalden in eastern Switzerland.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/swiss-women-dies-giving-water-food-thought-live-sunlight-article-1.1067359#ixzz1tFY0yuar