Science Round-Up: Circumcised men more prone to emotional instability and borderline sexual behaviour – study

Danes, meanwhile, are more likely to prefer dark chocolate and crispy fries for a good reason, and the answer can be found on their tongues

Academics from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital have recently led a study assessing the long-term psychological effect of circumcision.

The study questioned 619 American men, of whom 408 were circumcised within the first month of their lives and the remainder not circumcised.

Over half of all American men are circumcised, but the number is falling: in 1981 the rate was 64.9 percent of new-borns, in 2007 it stood at 55.4 percent.

Borderline sexual behaviour
It found that circumcised men are more likely to have stronger sexual drives, lower stress thresholds and more difficulties attaching themselves to their partner.

In short, the results, which have been published in the journal Heliyon, conclude that circumcised men are more likely to be emotionally unstable and exhibit borderline sexual behaviour. 

Bitter-sweet findings of study of Chinese and Danish tongues
A study by the University of Copenhagen suggests that Danes and Chinese tongues are anatomically different. As a result, it contends, Danes are not as good at tasting bitter tastes as the Chinese, who are far more sensitive to them. This is  due to the Danes having fewer small buds called papillae on their tongue. It might also explain why they like dark chocolate, as their tongues do not appreciate the full strength. Additionally, the study also revealed that 77 percent of Chinese people prefer food that needs to be chewed very little, while 73 percent of Danes prefer foods with a harder texture, which might explain why they prefer crispy French fries over the soggy British variant. 

Greenhouse effect: Heavy cost of growing indoors tomatoes to our climate
A University of Southern Denmark study concludes that tomatoes grown in the open produce just one eighth of the CO2 emitted by their counterparts in greenhouses. Open-air tomatoes emit on average 80 kilos of CO2 per tonne, compared to 700 kilos for those grown in greenhouses and, even when transport is factored in, choosing tomatoes grown in warmer climes is far more preferable. The SDU research project, ‘Mapping the EU tomato supply chain from farm to fork for greenhouse gas emission mitigation strategies’, maps the global tomato supply chain and climate footprint. In 2016, Denmark imported 35,226 tonnes of fresh tomatoes (mostly from the Netherlands and Spain) and 48,300 tonnes of processed tomatoes (mainly from Italy and Germany). Of the 18 million tonnes produced in Europe, only 11 million ended up being eaten.

Duck-billed platypus study could answer questions about our own evolution
A study carried out by a research team led by the University of Copenhagen has mapped the genome of the duck-billed platypus, the semi-aquatic, toothless, egg-laying Australian mammal that looks like it has a shoehorn as a mouth and has ten sex chromosomes, so eight more than humans. Genetically, it revealed, the duck-billed platypus is a mixture of mammals, birds and reptiles. It was contended before the study that the study would enable a better understanding of the evolution of other mammals – including humans. Furthermore, the academics contend the research confirms that mammals owe their ability to produce milk to a common ancestor 170 million years ago.

Effectively using biowaste as a substitute for agriculture fertilisers
University of Copenhagen researchers have been involved in a large EU project to develop technology to easily convert biowaste into fertiliser that can be used in farming. European cities produce more than 100 million tonnes of biowaste every year, but much of it is handled inefficiently, and it goes on to emit greenhouse gases and ammonia that harms the climate and our health. The project will continue until 2023. 

Brewer funding study to find Denmark’s oldest beer
The Carlsberg Foundation is funding the research of a team made up of university and museum academics who hope to determine whether beer was brewed during the Stone Age in Denmark. Previously, the beer boffins lacked the necessary technology to confirm the malting of residue barley found in various receptacles, but all that has changed, as the funding will pay for an electron microscope, which will officially be owned by Nationalmuseet. Soon, the team hopes it will be able to confirm the approximate year in which the first Danish beer was brewed.

Nordic universities take over operation of Nordic Optical Telescope
Aarhus University and Finland’s University of Turku have taken over the operation of the Nordic Optical Telescope on the island of La Palma in the Canaries. The telescope, which at an altitude of 2,400 metres has an ideal vantage point, has been integral to the training and research of Nordic astronomers for three decades. And with a diameter of 2.56 metres, it is among the 50 largest in the world. 

Generous funding from Innovation Fund for digital research centre
The Innovation Fund has confirmed 100 million kroner of funding for DIREC (Digital Research Center Denmark), a digital research, teaching and innovation centre that will aim to speed up Danish development within research, education and innovation in the IT area. All eight of the country’s universities are involved.  Thomas Riisgaard Hansen, formerly of UC Berkeley and Aarhus University, took over leadership of DIREC on January 1. 

Refugees and migrants hit disproportionately hard by pandemic – study
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit refugees and migrants disproportionately hard, according to a World Health Organization report compiled in collaboration with academics across the world, including researchers from the University of Copenhagen. The report, ‘ApartTogether’, was released late last month. At least 50 percent of the participants in the study have reported a deterioration in their mental health, with a quarter of these turning to drugs and alcohol as a result.