Science Round-Up: Biomass dominates renewable energy in Denmark, but nearly a half of the population don’t know what it is

An even bigger percentage, meanwhile, do not know if it is really green energy

Biomass is muesli, innit (photo: GIZ Bush Control and Biomass Utilisation Project)
September 28th, 2022 6:04 pm| by Ben Hamilton
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Some 45 percent of Danes do not know what biomass is, according to a University of Copenhagen study, despite it accounting for 48 percent of the country’s total renewable energy supply.

Biomass, the burning of plant-made material (typically wood pellets and wood chips, of which over a half is imported) at heat and power plants, is integral to the country’s goal of being emission-free by 2050, even though CO2 emissions are released during the process.

And this clearly confuses a lot of people.

A transitional solution
Many accordingly see it as a transitional solution in the green transition, so a good alternative to fossil fuels, but not a long-term solution like wind and solar energy.

Around 45 percent of the public are undecided whether wood biomass should be used as an energy source.

A further 78 percent said they were concerned about climate change to either a moderate, high or extreme degree. 


Taking a leap appears to be paying off, concludes study
A pilot project involving four public schools using LEAPS principles (Learning and Engagement through Authentic Projects with a focus on Science) since 2018 has yielded strong results so far, according to Aalborg University. LEAPS, which tends to involve a great deal of project-based learning and problem-solving, has been shown to strengthen the students’ interest in science and in school in general. Its main focus is on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. A further six schools started using LEAPS in August. The LEAPS initiative was initiated by the Kata Foundation, a non-profit organisation. 

Aiming to create an artificial blood vessel that doesn’t get blocked
Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark and Odense University Hospital, with 40 million kroner in funding over four years, are working on the creation of an artificial blood vessel that is susceptible to neither blockage nor inflammation – problems typically encountered in medicine today. Artificial blood vessels are commonly used in dialysis or bypass surgery, but they are more or less unchanged since their advent over 50 years ago. In dialysis, 70 percent of artificial blood vessels start to fail within a year of their use. The EU has donated 32.4 million and the UK government 3 million kroner. 

Timing of ADHD diagnosis crucial in predicting nature of affliction
When a child is diagnosed with ADHD, it’s more likely it’s an overlap with autism, whereas adult diagnoses tend to correlate more with depression, according to research carried out at the national psychiatry project iPSYCH. Around 5 percent of children in Denmark have ADHD, or at least symptoms. Two-thirds will continue to be afflicted into adulthood. Among adults, the incidence is 3 percent. The full results have been published in Nature Genetics.

Plans to establish diabetes centre in Faroese capital
The Novo Nordisk Foundation has announced plans to establish a specialised diabetes centre on the Faroe Islands. The Steno Diabetes Center will be based at the national hospital in the capital Torshavn. It follows the establishment of six centres in each of the five regions plus Greenland. The centres enable people in the kingdom to access the best possible research-based treatment and disease prevention. As part of a collaboration with the Heilsumálaráðiráð, the islands’ ministry of health, the foundation has granted 123 million kroner over ten years towards treatment efforts. Around 5,000 of the 53,000 islanders are thought to suffer from diabetes. The foundation has donated 7.8 billion kroner since 2016 to the efforts. 

Another golden jackal sighting imminent
The golden jackal – an animal that closely resembles the wolf but is smaller – could be on its way to Denmark again. It was last seen in 2017, when two dead ones showed up after sightings a year earlier in Lille Vildmose in northern Jutland. A number are now prowling northern Germany, reports jv.dk, where a couple with three pups have been observed in Uelzen, just 133 km from the border. Adult golden jackals can grow over a metre long and weigh up to 15 kilos. They are protected in Denmark, so hunters cannot shoot them without permission.

European champions in cyber ​​security
Denmark can consider itself European champions in cyber ​​security. The cyber national team, led by Professor Jens Myrup Pedersen from Aalborg University, grabbed gold at the European Cyber ​​Security Championships in Vienna on Friday, seeing off 32 other countries over two days of competition. Pedersen applauded the result, which greatly pleased the defence minister, Morten Bødskov, contending that it “seriously puts Denmark and cyber security on the world map”.

Young Danish scientist hailed for innovative idea
Konrad Basse Fisker, a 19-year-old gymnasium student at Roskilde Katedralskole, has won the gold award for young searchers handed out by the EU Contest for Young Scientists. His project looked into how the genetics of edible algae could be changed to enable people to eat it on Mars. Genetic alterations would protect them from the Red Planet’s harmful rays. He won gold ahead of 131 researchers from 33 countries. “His idea is fantastic, innovative and creative,” noted the jury.

Stressed out by creepy apps
Research carried out by the University of Copenhagen reveals that many people who use apps do so uncomfortably. Users feel stressed if they think the app is acquiring too much information, according to Professor Irina Shklovskiat at the Department of Computer Science, who oversaw a study involving 751 participants and then wrote the scientific article ‘Still Creepy After All These Years: The Normalisation of Affective Discomfort in App Use’. “You would almost think that we consider the feeling of discomfort an inevitable part of the user experience,” she said. “Somehow we have been trained to live with being emotionally stressed.”

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