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Icelandic drinking horn changes our historic understanding of St. Olav

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Drinking horns were status symbols and widely used as gifts, both in the Middle Ages and in the centuries after the Reformation. The picture shows one of the few drinking horns that have remained in Icelandic possession, called the "Three kings horn." It shows Saint Olav juxtaposed with Old Testament kings Solomon and David. Photo: National Museum of Iceland

After the Reformation, Norway's Olav Haraldsson was no longer supposed to be worshipped as a saint. An Icelandic drinking horn offers some clues on how the saint’s status changed over time. Drinking horns were considered valuable objects, and were imbued with great symbolic value in the Middle Ages. Among other things, it was said that these kinds of horns came from the foot or claw of the fabled griffin. Drinking horns often had names, and were status symbols and collector’s items. Some were stolen and many ended up in princely cabinets. “Mediaeval drinking horns are scattered in collections throughout northern Europe. They were coveted collectibles. Mediaeval art often remained in churches until it went out of fashion or was removed due to errors in iconography, whereas drinking horns ended up in princely collections and cabinets and have kept their status to the present day,” says Associate Professor Margrethe Stang, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) Department of Art and Media Studies.

 

Antarctica: Everyone wants it, but no one owns it

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Antarctica. Photo: Pablo Ruiz, Instituto Antártico Chileno (INACH)

 

For over 70 years seven different countries have claimed sovereignty over parts of Antarctica. But are these claims legitimate? This issue is now going to be considered by a group of philosophers. Queen Maud's Land constitutes one sixth of Antarctica, and Norway has claimed this territory since 1939, but this has never been approved by the rest of the world. The same applies to the claims of six other countries; New Zealand, Australia, France, Great Britain, Chile and Argentina have all made territorial claims over different parts of Antarctica. All of these countries also believe that they have an entitlement to the South Pole. A group of philosophers from Norway, Ireland, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Chile are now getting to grips with this matter. They believe that it is high time to look at these claims from a moral point of view.

 

First Global Guidance for HPV Vaccination for Cervical Cancer Prevention

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The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) today issued a clinical practice guideline on human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination for the prevention of cervical cancer. This is the first guideline on primary prevention of cervical cancer that is tailored to multiple regions of the world with different levels of socio-economic and structural resource settings, offering evidence-based guidance to health care providers worldwide. The guideline includes specific recommendations according to four levels of resource settings: basic, limited, enhanced and maximal. The levels pertain to financial resources of a country or region, as well as the development of its health system — including personnel, infrastructure and access to services. The guideline complements ASCO’s two other global, resource-stratified guidelines on cervical cancer, also stratified to these four levels of resources.1,2

 

Pacemaker Program Can Reduce Dangerous Fainting Episodes

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Patients with recurrent fainting episodes (syncope) who received a pacemaker delivering a pacing program designed to detect and stop the abnormal heart rhythms that precede syncope had a seven-fold reduction in fainting compared with patients in a placebo pacing group, according to research presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 66th Annual Scientific Session. The study—the first prospective double-blind placebo-controlled trial to show robustly positive results for the pacing program, known as Closed Loop Stimulation (DDD-CLS), in patients with recurrent syncope—met its primary endpoint of a significant reduction in fainting episodes with DDD-CLS compared to placebo pacing.

 

“Smartflower”: l’impianto fotovoltaico “girasole”che produce il 40% di energia in più…

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Lo “Smartflower”, è un innovativo impianto fotovoltaico ideato e realizzato da Alexander Seatek. E’ una sorta di fiore meccanico “intelligente”, che si comporta proprio come un girasole: al tramonto o in condizioni di forte vento, per evitare danneggiamenti, i suoi petali restano in posizione di riposo, ma all’alba, si riaprono automaticamente, a ventaglio, e formano una corolla che segue i raggi del sole, li incamera e li trasforma in preziosa energia elettrica pulita. Anche in presenza di tempo nuvoloso, però, il “fiore” hi-tech è in grado di svolgere la sua funzione.

 

Il ritorno del morbillo. Numeri impressionanti nel 2017

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In questi ultimi giorni la rete italiana di malattie infettive sta registrando un incremento di pazienti giovani adulti (età 15-35 anni) che si ricovera in ospedale con un morbillo in fase acuta. Nel mese di gennaio di quest’anno i casi di morbillo segnalati sono stati tre volte più numerosi rispetto al gennaio 2016. E questo nonostante esista una vaccinazione estremamente efficace in grado di prevenire la comparsa della malattia. “Per l’esattezza, il Ministero della Salute ha rilevato ben 238 casi soltanto nel mese di gennaio 2017, contro i 77 osservati nello stesso mese dello scorso anno. La maggior parte dei casi si è verificata in Piemonte, Lombardia, Lazio e Toscana. È il dato più alto osservato in gennaio dal 2013, l’anno in cui il morbillo ha iniziato a ridare segno di sé nel Paese ” dichiara il Prof. Massimo Galli, Vicepresidente SIMIT, Professore Ordinario di Malattie Infettive all'Università di Milano. Nel 2016, infatti, erano stati denunciati 844 casi di morbillo, spesso in adulti e con forme gravi per alcune delle quali si è reso necessario un ricovero ospedaliero. “Solo in gennaio, quindi, abbiamo già avuto più di un quarto dei casi visti durante tutto l’anno scorso” continua il prof. Galli. Il fatto che molte persone abbiano dovuto ricorrere al ricovero  testimonia che “il decorso può essere particolarmente grave, tanto che in alcuni casi è stato necessario ricorrere alla terapia intensiva” afferma il Prof. Massimo Andreoni, Past President SIMIT e Professore Ordinario di Malattie Infettive all’Università Tor Vergata di Roma. “Ogni anno il morbillo determina la morte di diverse decine di migliaia di persone nel mondo; questa crescente diffusione in Italia non può essere sottovalutata”.

 

Securing the future of cattle production in Africa

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Boran Cattle in Africa

 

A ‘world-first’ study of the genomes of indigenous cattle in Africa has revealed vital clues that will help secure the future of cattle production on the continent. Cattle are an increasingly important resource in Africa as sustainable sources of food, milk, traction and manure. With its human population growing and the economy and subsequent wealth predicted to expand greatly, there will also be a huge increase in demand for livestock. Now Professor Olivier Hanotte from The University of Nottingham and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Ethiopia, with Professor Heebal Kim from Seoul National University, have mapped the genomes of five breeds of African cattle and discovered some unique genetic adaptations that could inform and improve future breeding programs. The research is published in the journal Genome Biology.

 

How Do Ebola Virus Proteins Released in Exosomes Affect the Immune System?

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Cells infected by the deadly Ebola virus may release viral proteins such as VP40 packaged in exosomes, which, as new research indicates, can affect immune cells throughout the body impairing their ability to combat the infection and to seek out and destroy hidden virus. The potential for exosomal VP40 to have a substantial impact on Ebola virus disease is examined in a review article published in DNA and Cell Biology, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the DNA and Cell Biology website until April 13, 2017.

 

Yuan Chang and Patrick Moore win prize for the discovery of two cancer viruses

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Scientists looking for new tumor viruses have to keep an eye out for the virus genes rather than the viral particles. This year's winners of the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize were twice successful with this strategy.

Two Americans, Yuan Chang and Patrick S. Moore, will receive the 2017 Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize today in Frankfurt's Paulskirche for their discovery of the tumor viruses HHV-8 and MCV by means of a clever subtraction strategy. HHV-8 is the human herpesvirus 8, and MCV stands for Merkel cell polyomavirus.  "With their decision to search for the viral genes rather than the viral particles, the prizewinners have taken a major step forward in the hunt for new human tumor viruses and have laid the foundation for further discoveries. The discovery of further human tumor viruses in future remains a distinct possibility," wrote the Scientific Council in substantiating its decision. One in every six cancers in the world is related to a viral infection However, the risk of cancer from a viral infection is lower in the Western industrial countries than in the developing world. Yuan Chang is Professor of Pathology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. Patrick Moore is Professor and Director of the Cancer Virology Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. They are a wife and husband team.

 

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