Do Japanese have a different pelvis position than Europeans?

Do Japanese have a different pelvis position than Europeans?

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I was watching a show that made the claim that European women's pelvis is tilted more forward compared to Japanese women's which places their butts higher up.

Is this information accurate?

According to this study there are significant pelvic position differences between Caucasian and Asian populations. However the biggest difference is lumbar lordosis (the curve at the small of the back) where Caucasians have almost 10 degrees more curve. The study doesn't explicitly say it but that would suggest Caucasians butts are higher.

Anatomical Directional Terms and Body Planes

Anatomical directional terms are like the directions on a compass rose of a map. Like the directions, North, South, East and West, they can be used to describe the locations of structures in relation to other structures or locations in the body. This is particularly useful when studying anatomy as it provides a common method of communication that helps to avoid confusion when identifying structures.

Also as with a compass rose, each directional term often has a counterpart with converse or opposite meaning. These terms are very useful when describing the locations of structures to be studied in dissections.

Anatomical directional terms can also be applied to the planes of the body. Body planes are used to describe specific sections or regions of the body. Below are examples of some commonly used anatomical directional terms and planes of the body.

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John Mock, an anthropologist at Temple University’s Japan campus, told me.

Perhaps as a result, fewer students in Japan struggle and drop out of school—the country’s high-school graduation rate, at 96.7 percent, is much higher than the OECD average and the high-school graduation rate in the United States, which is 83 percent. Plus, poorer children in Japan are more likely to grow up to be better off in adulthood, compared to those in countries like the U.S. and Britain (though Scandinavian countries lead in this regard). “It’s one of the few [education] systems that does well for almost any student,” Andreas Schleicher, who oversees the OECD's work on education and skills development, told me, adding, “Disadvantage is really seen as a collective responsibility.”

For instance, in the village of Iitate, which was evacuated after being contaminated by radiation after the Fukushima nuclear-power-plant disaster in March 2011, many families still have not come back. Piles of contaminated soil, covered up, still dot the landscape, and many homes are shuttered. The local primary school has just 51 students, compared to more than 200 before the accident. Yet the quality of education given to returnees is top-notch. The government built a new school for students outside the radiation zone, in a town called Kawamata, and though the classes are still very small—first grade has only two students—the school is well staffed. In a classroom I visited, all five second-graders in the school watched a teacher demonstrate flower-arranging as three other teachers surrounded them, helping them with each step. In another, a math teacher quizzed students on odd and even numbers, and as the students split into groups to discuss a problem on the board, another teacher leaned in to help. Walking around the school, it almost seemed there were as many teachers as students.

“The quality of education is better than before March 11th [2011],” Tomohiro Kawai, a parent of a sixth-grader and the president of the school’s parent-teacher association, told me, citing the low student-teacher ratio. Many of the children who returned to the area are from single-parent families, a group prone to struggling economically some parents moved back to Iitate because they needed help from their own parents in watching their children, according to Satoko Oowada, one of the school’s teachers. But the federal government takes pains to prevent economic hardship from affecting the quality of students’ education. It gave a grant to Iitate so that all students in the school would get free lunch, school uniforms, notebooks, pencils, and gym clothes. “Equality of education is very important for children in Iitate Village,” the school’s principal, Takehiko Yoshikawa, told me. Everywhere, students receive the same education.”

The equity in Iitate stands in stark contrast to a place like New Orleans, which was also hit by a disaster. While Japan’s national government tried to ensure that students in the affected area got more resources after the accident, officials in New Orleans disinvested in the public educational system in their city. Public-school teachers were put on leave and dismissed, many students disappeared from schools’ rolls, and the New Orleans system now consists almost entirely of charter schools. (To be sure, New Orleans is something of an outlier—districts in New York and New Jersey, for example, received federal money to help deal with Hurricane Sandy’s impact on education.)

There are a number of reasons why Japan excels in providing educational opportunities. One of them is how it assigns teachers to schools. Teachers in Japan are hired not by individual schools, but by prefectures, which are roughly analogous to states. Their school assignments within the prefecture change every three years or so in the beginning of their careers, and then not quite as often later on in their careers. This means that the prefectural government can make sure the strongest teachers are assigned to the students and schools that need them the most. “There’s a lot going on to redirect the better teachers, and more precious resources, towards the more disadvantaged students,” Schleicher said.

It also means that teachers can learn from different environments. Young teachers are exposed to a series of different talented peers and learn from their methods. That’s a big contrast to some place like the United States, said Akihiko Takahashi, a onetime teacher in Japan and now an associate professor of elementary math at DePaul University’s College of Education. “Here in the U.S., the good teachers go to the good schools and stay there the whole time,” he told me.

Japan’s educational equality is also a matter of how funds are distributed. Teacher salaries are paid from both the national government and from the prefectural government, and so do not vary as much based on an area’s median household earnings (or, more often, property values). The same goes for the funding of building expenses and other fees—schools get more help from the national government than they would in the U.S. According to Takahashi, the Japanese educational system aims to benefit all students. “Their system is really carefully designed to have equal opportunity nationwide,” he said. This contrasts with the U.S. education system, he said, which he judges to raise up the best students but often leave everyone else behind.

What’s more, Japan actually spends less on education than many other developed countries, investing 3.3 percent of its GDP in education, compared to the OECD average of 4.9 percent. It spends $8,748 per student at the elementary school level, compared to the $10,959 that the United States spends. But it spends the money wisely. School buildings are not much to look at. Textbooks are simple and printed in paperback, and students and teachers are responsible for keeping schools clean. Japan also has fewer administrators on campuses—there is usually just a principal and a few vice principals, and not many others in the way of staff.

Despite the country’s relatively low spending on education, Japan’s teachers are paid more than the OECD average. And the profession has high barriers to entry: Much like the bar exam for American lawyers, Japan’s teacher entrance exams, which are administered by prefectures, are very difficult. Oowada told me she took the Fukushima Prefecture teaching exam five times before she passed it. She’s now a permanent teacher, guaranteed a pension and a job in the prefecture until age 60 she said that the year she passed, 200 people took the test, and only five passed. (Her co-teacher, Yuka Iinuma, had still not passed the test, and was working as a one-year contract teacher, moving from school to school each year. Many people who think they want to become teachers eventually give up when they can’t pass the exam, Oowada and Iinuma told me.) And even after their full certification, teachers have an incentive to perform better and better, as every three years they get reviewed for a promotion.

There are of course some downsides to being a teacher in Japan. Because they feel responsible for all students in their classes, teachers often spend lots of time outside of normal hours helping students who are falling behind. Yoshikawa, the school principal, told me of a teacher from Iitate who, when there was a gasoline shortage that prevented him from driving, rode his bike 12 miles to school each day from the evacuation zone to Kawamata, which includes an impressively hilly stretch. One teacher in Tokyo I talked to, who didn’t want her name used, said it wasn’t uncommon to work from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and said some teachers stayed until 9 at night. (There are teachers’ unions in Japan, but their power has eroded somewhat in recent years.)

Still, Japanese teachers are rewarded with a great deal of autonomy on how to improve student outcomes, Takahashi said. In a process called a “lesson study,” teachers research and design a new lesson over a set time period, and then present it to other teachers, who give feedback. Teachers also join together to identify school-wide problems, and organize themselves into teams to address those problems, sometimes writing a report or publishing a book on how to solve them, he said. “It’s not about an individual star teacher, but about teamwork,” he said.

Schleicher says that teachers’ focus on pedagogy contributes to the Japanese education system’s equality. The emphasis, he says, is not as much on absorbing content as it is on teaching students how to think. “They really focus on problem-solving, which means the ability to attack problems they had never seen before,” Takahashi said. In subjects like math, Japanese teachers encourage problem-solving and critical thinking, rather than memorization. For instance, Japanese students were explicitly taught how to solve just 54 percent of the problems on the international Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) test, but received an average score of 565, according to the Lesson Study Alliance, an education nonprofit. Students in the U.S. were explicitly taught how to solve 82 percent of the problems, yet received a lower average score, 518. Ironically, some of these Japanese teaching methods came from the United States—in particular, from an American group, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, which urged American teachers to change their methods throughout the 1980s. But it was Japanese teachers who listened to this advice.

Indeed, in the math class I attended in Kawamata, there was a great deal of back and forth between the students and the teacher, who was asking the students increasingly difficult questions. Even after the bell rang, the discussion continued, with students running up to the board to try their hand at the problems. The teachers seemed particularly good at helping students develop complex problem-solving skills, and Schleicher theorizes that this is why the persistence of Japan’s “cram schools”—programs that many students attend after the school day to study for high-school or college entrance exams—doesn’t entirely disadvantage students who can’t afford to attend them when students are taught how to think, they can still excel in tests on math, science, and reading.

Of course, there are other reasons that Japanese schools are more equitable than American ones—reasons that have more to do with features of the U.S.’s system. Japan has an extremely homogeneous population, which means that the racial segregation that persists in U.S. schools is a nonissue there. Japan also doesn’t track students into gifted programs, which means that all students share the same classroom, and better students are expected to help ones that are struggling. Tracking students may help the sharpest American students thrive, but it can also leave other students behind.

And wealthy students in Japan do hold several advantages over poorer ones. Child poverty is growing in Japan—about 20 percent of kids in Tokyo live in poverty, according to a recent government survey. I visited Kid’s Door, an organization in Tokyo that provides tutoring and after-school programs for children from low-income families. Yumiko Watanabe, the founder of Kid’s Door, told me that some poor students in Japan drop out of school because they can’t afford expenses like field trips or school uniforms. When I asked her about the OECD’s data indicating that Japan’s schools performed well in equally educating rich and poor students, she said that this might be true in elementary schools, but that as they get older, poor children get less help on homework from their parents since their parents are working. These families are also less likely to be able to afford tutors or other outside help. “There's a natural tendency to fall behind because they are not getting the support that wealthier children get,” she said.

One single mother, Shinobu Miwa, whose 16-year-old son attends programs at Kid’s Door, told me she was frustrated that she couldn’t send him to cram school and worried he’d be at a disadvantage. “He’s in a weak position compared to other families,” she said. He’ll likely face even more problems if he decides to go to college Japan’s colleges are very expensive, and there are fewer scholarships available to poor students than there are in the U.S.

Japan’s schools can also be extremely stressful places for students, who are sometimes bullied if they fall behind. “As long as I performed well in school, things were okay. But once I started to deviate just a little—they [parents and teachers] went to the extreme and started treating me incredibly coldly,” one student told Anne Allison, a cultural anthropologist at Duke University who has written extensively on Japan. Japanese students are also expected to belong to after-school clubs for sports or dance, which can keep them at school until 6 p.m. “When they come home, it's already dark and all they have left to do is eat dinner, take a bath and do their home assignment and sleep,” the Tokyo teacher told me.

Despite these flaws, Japan’s educational system still sets an example for other countries to follow. That’s partly because Japan has different goals for its schools than somewhere like the United States does. “The Japanese education system tries to minimize the gap between the good students and everyone else,” Takahashi told me. That means directing more resources and better teachers to students or schools that are struggling. It also means giving teachers the freedom to work together to improve schools. This could be difficult to transplant to the United States, where education has long been managed on a local level, and where talk of sharing resources more often leads to lawsuits than it does to change. But Japan’s success is relatively recent, according to Schleicher. About 50 years ago, Japan’s schools were middling, he said. Countries can make their schools more equitable. They just need to agree that success for all students is a top priority.

This story is part of a series supported by the Abe Fellowship for Journalists, a reporting grant from the Social Science Research Council and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.

The Female Orgasm: How it Works

It's the only thing that feels better than diving into a cool lake on a sweltering day, biting into a juicy cheeseburger when you're starving, or even getting your wallet back after losing it on vacation abroad. An orgasm is that good. Which is why it bites that it doesn't happen more often. According to several major surveys, only 25 percent of women always climax during sex with a partner. The rest of us either hit &mdash or miss &mdash depending on the night, or never experience a female orgasm during intercourse at all. Compared to the male version (more than 90 percent of men get their cookies off 100 percent of the time), the female "O" is a fleeting phenomenon. The question is: Why? What the hell was Mother Nature thinking?

Check out 14 mind-blowing facts about orgasms in our animated video:

That's what evolutionary biologists have been trying to figure out &mdash with little success. The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution by Elisabeth Lloyd, Ph.D., a biology professor at Indiana University, shoots holes in virtually every theory that has ever attempted to pinpoint an evolutionary purpose to the female climax. "The clitoris has the indispensable function of promoting sexual excitement, which induces the female to have intercourse and become pregnant," Dr. Lloyd says. "But the actual incidence of the reflex of orgasm has never been tied to successful reproduction." Translation: Because women can and do get pregnant without climaxing, scientists can't figure out why we orgasm at all.

The good news is that most scientists do agree on the how. Here's what they know, so far &mdash and how that knowledge can help the average girl hit her peak more often. Because even if the female orgasm does turn out to be pointless in terms of sustaining the species, it still feels pretty damn good.

While You Were Blissing Out.

When in the throes of an orgasm, you wouldn't notice if your dog, your cat, and your cockatiel started rearranging the furniture. Which makes it unlikely that you could track all the subtle changes that are happening in your body. Luckily, famous sex researchers William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson have done it for you in their seminal work, Human Sexuality. Here's what they found:

That warm, sexy rush you feel during foreplay is the result of blood heading straight to your vagina and clitoris. Around this time, the walls of the vagina start to secrete beads of lubrication that eventually get bigger and flow together.

As you become more turned on, blood continues to flood the pelvic area, breathing speeds up, heart rate increases, nipples become erect, and the lower part of the vagina narrows in order to grip the penis while the upper part expands to give it someplace to go. If all goes well (i.e., the phone doesn't ring and your partner knows what he's doing), an incredible amount of nerve and muscle tension builds up in the genitals, pelvis, buttocks, and thighs &mdash until your body involuntarily releases it all at once in a series of intensely pleasurable waves, aka your orgasm.

The big bang is the moment when the uterus, vagina, and anus contract simultaneously at 0.8-second intervals. A small orgasm may consist of three to five contractions a biggie, 10 to 15. Many women report feeling different kinds of orgasms &mdash clitoral, vaginal, and many combinations of the two. According to Beverly Whipple, Ph.D., coauthor of The G-Spot and Other Discoveries About Human Sexuality, the reason may simply be that different parts of the vagina were stimulated more than others, and so have more tension to release. Also, muscles in other parts of the body may contract involuntarily &mdash hence the clenched toes and goofy faces. As for the brain, a recent small-scale study at the Netherlands' University of Groningen found that areas involving fear and emotion are actually deactivated during orgasm (not so if you fake it).

After the peak of pleasure, the body usually slides into a state of satisfied relaxation &mdash but not always. "Like their male counterparts, women can experience pelvic heaviness and aching if they do not reach orgasm," says Ian Kerner, Ph.D., a certified sex therapist and author of She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman. In fact, Dr. Kerner says, "many women complain that a single orgasm isn't enough to relieve the buildup of sexual tension," which can leave us with our own "blue balls." Don't worry: Like the male version, it's harmless.

So what goes wrong on those nights when the fuse gets lit but the bomb never explodes? "Nine times out of 10 it's because [the woman isn't] getting enough continuous clitoral stimulation," Dr. Kerner says. Often, "A woman will get close to orgasm, her partner picks up on it, and [then he either] orgasms immediately or changes what he was doing."

That's why Dr. Kerner frequently recommends the woman-on-top position. Because you control the angle and speed of the thrusts (try a back-and-forth motion so that your clitoris rubs against your partner's abdomen), it allows for the most constant clitoral stimulation. Another solution is to find a position that mimics how you masturbate. If you have solo sex by lying on your belly and rubbing your clitoris with your hands tucked beneath you, then your man can enter you from behind in that position. By watching you he'll also get a better sense of the stimulation you need.

"Spectatoring" is another problem that can trip women up. "It's when a woman is too concerned with her appearance and/or performance to actually enjoy herself," Dr. Kerner says. There's no way you're going to have an orgasm if you're fretting about your cellulite or stressing over whether your newest as-seen-on-late-night-cable moves feel good for him. Instead, you have to let the erotic sensations register in your mind. Focus. Breathe. Let go. "It may seem counterintuitive," he says, "but you need to relax to build sexual tension."

The best preparation for a big orgasm is probably a long, steamy shower, full-body massages by and for your man &mdash or 10 minutes of steady oral sex, if you can get it. It's not so much your body that needs the R&R as your mind. "Many women need a transition period between dealing with the stress of everyday life and feeling sexual," Dr. Kerner says. "A few minutes of foreplay usually isn't enough." Doing something ritualistic and soothing that will clear your head of to-do lists, work issues, family problems, and whatever else might be distracting you from connecting with your body is essential to feeling ecstatic.

A Hormone Worth Getting Excited About

The most fascinating orgasmic side effect of all happens in the brain. During the big moment, the hypothalamus releases extra oxytocin into your system. Called the "cuddle hormone," oxytocin has been correlated with the urge to bond, be affectionate, and protect (new moms are drunk on the stuff). Since an increase in oxytocin has been shown to strengthen the uterine contractions that transport sperm to the egg, those findings are giving evolutionary biologists new hope. According to Dr. Lloyd, it's conceivable that the additional oxytocin gives enough of a boost to contractions that orgasm could play a part in conception after all. "Of all the avenues of orgasm research, I think the oxytocin avenue is the most promising," she says. It's even been hypothesized that having an orgasm and releasing that tide of oxytocin is a woman's subconscious way of approving of her partner as a potential dad.

The latest news is that this cuddle hormone might also be linked to our ability to trust. In a recent study at the University of Zurich, scientists asked 178 male college students to play an investment game with a partner they'd never met. Half of the students used an oxytocin nasal spray (not yet available in the United States) beforehand half used a placebo. Those with the spray containing oxytocin were more than twice as likely to feel comfortable giving all of their money to their anonymous (but legitimate) partner. If oxytocin can help women feel more at ease about letting go and intensify orgasmic contractions, we might all want a bottle of the stuff stashed in our bedside drawers someday soon.

The history of biological warfare

During the past century, more than 500 million people died of infectious diseases. Several tens of thousands of these deaths were due to the deliberate release of pathogens or toxins, mostly by the Japanese during their attacks on China during the Second World War. Two international treaties outlawed biological weapons in 1925 and 1972, but they have largely failed to stop countries from conducting offensive weapons research and large-scale production of biological weapons. And as our knowledge of the biology of disease-causing agents—viruses, bacteria and toxins—increases, it is legitimate to fear that modified pathogens could constitute devastating agents for biological warfare. To put these future threats into perspective, I discuss in this article the history of biological warfare and terrorism.

During the [Second World War], the Japanese army poisoned more than 1,000 water wells in Chinese villages to study cholera and typhus outbreaks

Man has used poisons for assassination purposes ever since the dawn of civilization, not only against individual enemies but also occasionally against armies ( Table 1 ). However, the foundation of microbiology by Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch offered new prospects for those interested in biological weapons because it allowed agents to be chosen and designed on a rational basis. These dangers were soon recognized, and resulted in two international declarations—in 1874 in Brussels and in 1899 in The Hague—that prohibited the use of poisoned weapons. However, although these, as well as later treaties, were all made in good faith, they contained no means of control, and so failed to prevent interested parties from developing and using biological weapons. The German army was the first to use weapons of mass destruction, both biological and chemical, during the First World War, although their attacks with biological weapons were on a rather small scale and were not particularly successful: covert operations using both anthrax and glanders ( Table 2 ) attempted to infect animals directly or to contaminate animal feed in several of their enemy countries (Wheelis, 1999). After the war, with no lasting peace established, as well as false and alarming intelligence reports, various European countries instigated their own biological warfare programmes, long before the onset of the Second World War (Geissler & Moon, 1999).

Table 1

1155Emperor Barbarossa poisons water wells with human bodies, Tortona, Italy
1346Mongols catapult bodies of plague victims over the city walls of Caffa, Crimean Peninsula
1495Spanish mix wine with blood of leprosy patients to sell to their French foes, Naples, Italy
1650Polish fire saliva from rabid dogs towards their enemies
1675First deal between German and French forces not to use 'poison bullets'
1763British distribute blankets from smallpox patients to native Americans
1797Napoleon floods the plains around Mantua, Italy, to enhance the spread of malaria
1863Confederates sell clothing from yellow fever and smallpox patients to Union troops, USA

It is not clear whether any of these attacks caused the spread of disease. In Caffa, the plague might have spread naturally because of the unhygienic conditions in the beleaguered city. Similarly, the smallpox epidemic among Indians could have been caused by contact with settlers. In addition, yellow fever is spread only by infected mosquitoes. During their conquest of South America, the Spanish might also have used smallpox as a weapon. Nevertheless, the unintentional spread of diseases among native Americans killed about 90% of the pre-columbian population (McNeill, 1976).

Table 2

DiseasePathogenAbused 1
Category A (major public health hazards)  
AnthraxBacillus antracis (B)First World War
  Second World War
  Soviet Union, 1979
  Japan, 1995
  USA, 2001
BotulismClostridium botulinum (T)
Haemorrhagic feverMarburg virus (V)Soviet bioweapons programme
 Ebola virus (V)
 Arenaviruses (V)
PlagueYersinia pestis (B)Fourteenth-century Europe
  Second World War
SmallpoxVariola major (V)Eighteenth-century N. America
TularemiaFrancisella tularensis (B)Second World War
Category B (public health hazards)  
BrucellosisBrucella (B)
CholeraVibrio cholerae (B)Second World War
EncephalitisAlphaviruses (V)Second World War
Food poisoningSalmonella, Shigella (B)Second World War
  USA, 1990s
GlandersBurkholderia mallei (B)First World War
  Second World War
PsittacosisChlamydia psittaci (B)
Q feverCoxiella burnetti (B)
TyphusRickettsia prowazekii (B)Second World War
Various toxic syndromesVarious bacteriaSecond World War

Category C includes emerging pathogens and pathogens that are made more pathogenic by genetic engineering, including hantavirus, Nipah virus, tick-borne encephalitis and haemorrhagic fever viruses, yellow fever virus and multidrug-resistant bacteria.

1 Does not include time and place of production, but only indicates where agents were applied and probably resulted in casualties, in war, in research or as a terror agent. B, bacterium P, parasite T, toxin V, virus.

In North America, it was not the government but a dedicated individual who initiated a bioweapons research programme. Sir Frederick Banting, the Nobel-Prize-winning discoverer of insulin, created what could be called the first private biological weapon research centre in 1940, with the help of corporate sponsors (Avery, 1999 Regis, 1999). Soon afterwards, the US government was also pressed to perform such research by their British allies who, along with the French, feared a German attack with biological weapons (Moon, 1999, Regis, 1999), even though the Nazis apparently never seriously considered using biological weapons (Geissler, 1999). However, the Japanese embarked on a largescale programme to develop biological weapons during the Second World War (Harris, 1992, 1999, 2002) and eventually used them in their conquest of China. Indeed, alarm bells should have rung as early as 1939, when the Japanese legally, and then illegally, attempted to obtain yellow fever virus from the Rockefeller Institute in New York (Harris, 2002).

The father of the Japanese biological weapons programme, the radical nationalist Shiro Ishii, thought that such weapons would constitute formidable tools to further Japan's imperialistic plans. He started his research in 1930 at the Tokyo Army Medical School and later became head of Japan's bioweapon programme during the Second World War (Harris, 1992, 1999, 2002). At its height, the programme employed more than 5,000 people, and killed as many as 600 prisoners a year in human experiments in just one of its 26 centres. The Japanese tested at least 25 different disease-causing agents on prisoners and unsuspecting civilians. During the war, the Japanese army poisoned more than 1,000 water wells in Chinese villages to study cholera and typhus outbreaks. Japanese planes dropped plague-infested fleas over Chinese cities or distributed them by means of saboteurs in rice fields and along roads. Some of the epidemics they caused persisted for years and continued to kill more than 30,000 people in 1947, long after the Japanese had surrendered (Harris, 1992, 2002). Ishii's troops also used some of their agents against the Soviet army, but it is unclear as to whether the casualties on both sides were caused by this deliberate spread of disease or by natural infections (Harris, 1999). After the war, the Soviets convicted some of the Japanese biowarfare researchers for war crimes, but the USA granted freedom to all researchers in exchange for information on their human experiments. In this way, war criminals once more became respected citizens, and some went on to found pharmaceutical companies. Ishii's successor, Masaji Kitano, even published postwar research articles on human experiments, replacing 'human' with 'monkey' when referring to the experiments in wartime China (Harris, 1992, 2002).

Although some US scientists thought the Japanese information insightful, it is now largely assumed that it was of no real help to the US biological warfare programme projects. These started in 1941 on a small scale, but increased during the war to include more than 5,000 people by 1945. The main effort focused on developing capabilities to counter a Japanese attack with biological weapons, but documents indicate that the US government also discussed the offensive use of anti-crop weapons (Bernstein, 1987). Soon after the war, the US military started open-air tests, exposing test animals, human volunteers and unsuspecting civilians to both pathogenic and non-pathogenic microbes (Cole, 1988 Regis, 1999). A release of bacteria from naval vessels off

. nobody really knows what the Russians are working on today and what happened to the weapons they produced

the coasts of Virginia and San Francisco infected many people, including about 800,000 people in the Bay area alone. Bacterial aerosols were released at more than 200 sites, including bus stations and airports. The most infamous test was the 1966 contamination of the New York metro system with Bacillus globigii— a non-infectious bacterium used to simulate the release of anthrax—to study the spread of the pathogen in a big city. But with the opposition to the Vietnam War growing and the realization that biological weapons could soon become the poor man's nuclear bomb, President Nixon decided to abandon offensive biological weapons research and signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) in 1972, an improvement on the 1925 Geneva Protocol. Although the latter disallowed only the use of chemical or biological weapons, the BTWC also prohibits research on biological weapons. However, the BTWC does not include means for verification, and it is somewhat ironic that the US administration let the verification protocol fail in 2002, particularly in view of the Soviet bioweapons project, which not only was a clear breach of the BTWC, but also remained undetected for years.

Even though they had just signed the BTWC, the Soviet Union established Biopreparat, a gigantic biowarfare project that, at its height, employed more than 50,000 people in various research and production centres (Alibek & Handelman, 1999). The size and scope of the Soviet Union's efforts were truly staggering: they produced and stockpiled tons of anthrax bacilli and smallpox virus, some for use in intercontinental ballistic missiles, and engineered multidrug-resistant bacteria, including plague. They worked on haemorrhagic fever viruses, some of the deadliest pathogens that humankind has encountered. When virologist Nikolai Ustinov died after injecting himself with the deadly Marburg virus, his colleagues, with the mad logic and enthusiasm of bioweapon developers, re-isolated the virus from his body and found that it had mutated into a more virulent form than the one that Ustinov had used. And few took any notice, even when accidents happened. In 1971, smallpox broke out in the Kazakh city of Aralsk and killed three of the ten people that were infected. It is speculated that they were infected from a bioweapons research centre on a small island in the Aral Sea (Enserink, 2002). In the same area, on other occasions, several fishermen and a researcher died from plague and glanders, respectively (Miller et al., 2002). In 1979, the Soviet secret police orchestrated a large cover-up to explain an outbreak of anthrax in Sverdlovsk, now Ekaterinburg, Russia, with poisoned meat from anthrax-contaminated animals sold on the black market. It was eventually revealed to have been due to an accident in a bioweapons factory, where a clogged air filter was removed but not replaced between shifts ( Fig. 1 ) (Meselson et al., 1994 Alibek & Handelman, 1999).

Anthrax as a biological weapon. Light (A) and electron (B) micrographs of anthrax bacilli, reproduced from the Centers of Disease Control Public Health Image Library. The map (C) shows six villages in which animals died after anthrax spores were released from a bioweapons factory in Sverdlovsk, USSR, in 1979. Settled areas are shown in grey, roads in white, lakes in blue and the calculated contours of constant dosage of anthrax spores in black. At least 66 people died after the accident. (Reprinted with permission from Meselson et al., 1994 © (1994) American Association for the Advancement of Science.)

The most striking feature of the Soviet programme was that it remained secret for such a long time. During the Second World War, the Soviets used a simple trick to check whether US researchers were occupied with secret research: they monitored whether American physicists were publishing their results. Indeed, they were not, and the conclusion was, correctly, that the US was busy building a nuclear bomb (Rhodes, 1988, pp. 327 and 501). The same trick could have revealed the Soviet bioweapons programme much earlier ( Fig. 2 ). With the collapse of the Soviet Union, most of these programmes were halted and the research centres abandoned or converted for civilian use. Nevertheless, nobody really knows what the Russians are working on today and what happened to the weapons they produced. Western security experts now fear that some stocks of biological weapons might not have been destroyed and have instead fallen into other hands (Alibek & Handelman, 1999 Miller et al., 2002). According to US intelligence, South Africa, Israel, Iraq and several other countries have developed or still are developing biological weapons (Zilinskas, 1997 Leitenberg, 2001).

Detecting biological warfare research. A comparison of the number of publications from two Russian scientists. L. Sandakchiev (black bars) was involved, as the head of the Vector Institute for viral research, in the Soviet project to produce smallpox as an offensive biological weapon. V. Krylov (white bars) was not. Note the decrease in publications by Sandakchiev compared with those by Krylov. The data were compiled from citations from a PubMed search for the researchers on 15 August 2002.

Apart from state-sponsored biowarfare programmes, individuals and non-governmental groups have also gained access to potentially dangerous microorganisms, and some have used them (Purver, 2002). A few examples include the spread of hepatitis, parasitic infections, severe diarrhoea and gastroenteritis. The latter occurred when a religious sect tried to poison a whole community by spreading Salmonella in salad bars to interfere with a local election (Török et al., 1997 Miller et al., 2002). The sect, which ran a hospital on its grounds, obtained the bacterial strain from a commercial supplier. Similarly, a right-wing laboratory technician tried to get hold of the plague bacterium from the American Tissue Culture Collection, and was only discovered after he complained that the procedure took too long (Cole, 1996). These examples clearly indicate that organized groups or individuals with sufficient determination can obtain dangerous biological agents. All that is required is a request to 'colleagues' at scientific institutions, who share their published materials with the rest of the community (Breithaupt, 2000). The relative ease with which this can be done explains why the numerous hoaxes in the USA after the anthrax mailings had to be taken seriously, thus causing an estimated economic loss of US $100 million (Leitenberg, 2001).

These examples clearly indicate that organized groups or individuals with sufficient determination can obtain dangerous biological agents

Another religious cult, in Japan, proved both the ease and the difficulties of using biological weapons. In 1995, the Aum Shinrikyo cult used Sarin gas in the Tokyo subway, killing 12 train passengers and injuring more than 5,000 (Cole, 1996). Before these attacks, the sect had also tried, on several occasions, to distribute (non-infectious) anthrax within the city with no success. It was obviously easy for the sect members to produce the spores but much harder to disseminate them (Atlas, 2001 Leitenberg, 2001). The still unidentified culprits of the 2001 anthrax attacks in the USA were more successful, sending contaminated letters that eventually killed five people and, potentially even more seriously, caused an upsurge in demand for antibiotics, resulting in over-use and thus contributing to drug resistance (Atlas, 2001 Leitenberg, 2001 Miller et al., 2002).

One interesting aspect of biological warfare is the accusations made by the parties involved, either as excuses for their actions or to justify their political

Cuba frequently accused the USA of using biological warfare

goals. Many of these allegations, although later shown to be wrong, have been exploited either as propaganda or as a pretext for war, as recently seen in the case of Iraq. It is clearly essential to draw the line between fiction and reality, particularly if, on the basis of such evidence, politicians call for a 'pre-emptive' war or allocate billions of dollars to research projects. Examples of such incorrect allegations include a British report before the Second World War that German secret agents were experimenting with bacteria in the Paris and London subways, using harmless species to test their dissemination through the transport system (Regis, 1999 Leitenberg, 2001). Although this claim was never substantiated, it might have had a role in promoting British research on anthrax in Porton Down and on Gruinard Island. During the Korean War, the Chinese, North Koreans and Soviets accused the USA of deploying biological weapons of various kinds. This is now seen as wartime propaganda, but the secret deal between the USA and Japanese bioweapons researchers did not help to diffuse these allegations (Moon, 1992). Later, the USA accused the Vietnamese of dropping fungal toxins on the US Hmong allies in Laos. However, it was found that the yellow rain associated with the reported variety of syndromes was simply bee faeces ( Fig. 3 Seeley et al., 1985). The problem with such allegations is that they develop a life of their own, no matter how unbelievable they are. For example, the conspiracy theory that HIV is a biological weapon is still alive in some people's minds. Depending on whom one asks, KGB or CIA scientists developed HIV to damage the USA or to destabilize Cuba, respectively. Conversely, in 1997, Cuba was the first country to officially file a complaint under Article 5 of the BTWC, accusing the USA of releasing a plant pathogen (Leitenberg, 2001). Although this was never proven, the USA did indeed look into biological agents to kill Fidel Castro and Frederik Lumumba of the Democratic Republic of Congo (Miller et al., 2002).

Hmong refugees from Laos, who collaborated with the American armed forces during the Vietnam War, accused the Soviet Union of attacking them with biological or chemical weapons. However, the alleged toxin warfare agent known as yellow rain matches perfectly the yellow spots of bee faeces on leaves in the forest of the Khao Yai National Park in Thailand. (Image reprinted with permission from Seeley et al., 1985 © (1985) M. Meselson, Harvard University).

We are witnessing a renewed interest in biological warfare and terrorism owing to several factors, including the discovery that Iraq has been developing biological weapons (Zilinskas, 1997), several bestselling novels describing biological attacks, and the anthrax letters after the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001. As history tells us, virtually no nation with the ability to develop weapons of mass destruction has abstained from doing so. And the Soviet project shows that international treaties are basically useless unless an effective verification procedure is in place. Unfortunately, the same knowledge that is needed to develop drugs and vaccines against pathogens has the potential to be abused for the development of biological weapons ( Fig. 4 Finkel, 2001). Thus, some critics have suggested that information about potentially harmful pathogens should not be made public but rather put into the hands of 'appropriate representatives' (Danchin, 2002 Wallerstein, 2002). A recent report on anti-crop agents was already self-censored before publication, and journal editors now recommend special scrutiny for sensitive papers (Mervis & Stokstad, 2002 Cozzavelli, 2003 Malakoff, 2003). Whether or not such measures are useful deterrents might be questionable, because the application of available knowledge is clearly enough to kill. An opposing view calls for the imperative publication of information about the development of biological weapons to give scientists, politicians and the interested public all the necessary information to determine a potential threat and devise countermeasures.

. virtually no nation with the ability to develop weapons of mass destruction has abstained from doing so

Intimate interactions of hosts and pathogens. (A) The face of a smallpox victim in Accra, Ghana, 1967. (Photograph from the Center of Disease Control's Public Health Image Library.) (B) A poxvirus-infected cell is shown to illustrate just one of the many intricate ways in which pathogens can interact with, abuse or mimic their hosts. The virus is shown in red, the actin skeleton of the cell in green. Emerging viruses rearrange actin into tail-like structures that push them into neighbouring cells. (Image by F. Frischknecht and M. Way, reprinted with permission from the Journal of General Virology.)

The current debate about biological weapons is certainly important in raising awareness and increasing our preparedness to counter a potential attack. It could also prevent an overreaction such as that caused in response to the anthrax letters mailed in the USA. However, contrasting the speculative nature of biological attacks with the grim reality of the millions of people who still die each year from preventable infections, we might ask ourselves just how many resources we can afford to allocate in preparation for a hypothetical human-inflicted disaster.

Science and genetics: Instruments of modern racism

Despite the scientific consensus that humanity is more alike than unlike, the long history of racism is a somber reminder that throughout human history, a mere 0.1% of variation has been sufficient justification for committing all manner of discriminations and atrocities. The advances in human genetics and the evidence of negligible differences between races might be expected to halt racist arguments. But, in fact, genetics has been used to further racist and ethnocentric arguments—as in the case of the alt-right, which promotes far-right ideologies, including white nationalism and anti-Semitism.

Considered a fringe movement for years, the alt-right gained considerable attention and relevance during Trump’s presidential campaign. Indeed, Steve Bannon, the current senior counselor and chief strategist to President Trump and the former chief executive officer of Trump’s campaign, has notable ties to the alt-right. Once relegated to obscure internet forums, the alt-right’s newest pulpit is the White House.

Members of the alt-right are enthusiastic proponents of ancestry testing as a way to prove their “pure” white heritage (with Scandinavian and Germanic ancestry being among the most desirable) and to rule out undesired descent from any other groups (including, unsurprisingly, Africans and the Ashkenazi Jews, but even certain European groups, such as Italians and Armenians). The belief in white superiority, and the need to preserve it, drives the alt-right movement—and genetics is both the weapon and battle standard of this new, supposedly “scientific” racism.

Those who disagree with alt-right ideologies may assume that the alt-right is merely spewing ignorant nonsense. This is certainly true for some of the alt-right. What is perhaps a more difficult truth is that many of the alt-right do, in fact, understand biology and genetics to an impressive extent, even if this understanding is flawed.

For instance, alt-right proponents have stated, correctly, that many people with European and Asian descent have inherited 1-4% of their DNA from Neanderthals ancestors, and those of African descent do not have Neanderthal heritage. They are similarly correct that Neanderthals had larger skulls than humans. Based on these facts, some within the alt-right have claimed that Europeans and Asians have superior intelligence because they have inherited larger brains from their Neanderthal ancestors.

However, this claim ignores that while there is evidence for the effect of Neanderthal DNA on certain traits, there has been no evidence for its effect on intelligence. Furthermore, scientific research indicates that the Neanderthals were not necessarily more intelligent simply because they had larger skulls. Unsurprisingly, the alt-right tends cherry-pick the ideas that align with their preconceived notions of racial hierarchies, ignoring the broader context of the field of human genetics.

Girl On Top

When it comes to sex positions, we'll take them all. But our go-to is the clitoris-pleasing cowgirl. When you're on top, facing him, you control the angle and depth of penetration, and you're free to grind your hips whichever way works best at any given moment. Bonus: Because you're more likely to move back and forth than up and down (which stimulates his penis more intensely), your partner will last longer. Here's how to rock this all-time best position.

1. He lies on his back, enjoying the view of your gorgeous bod and engaging in romantic eye contact.

2. Rock or slide your hips back and forth to drum up some delicious clitoral friction.

3. Tilt your pelvis forward to maximize contact between your clitoris and his abdomen.

4. Make his night by reaching behind you and stroking his testicles.

5. Ask for a breast massage or have him place his hands on your hips or butt &mdash the more erogenous zones that are being stimulated, the bigger the orgasm you're likely to have.

6. Lean back, resting your hands on his upper thighs, to bring the tip of his penis in contact with your G-spot.

PhD programs in the UK (and rest of Europe) take around 3 to 4 years to complete. In the US, a PhD may take up to 5 or 6 years.

After a PhD in the UK, students generally go on to their postdoctoral research. After a PhD in the US, students tend to go directly from graduation to academia or research jobs without a postdoc.

In many UK (and European) universities, there are firm guidelines on just how long a PhD takes and those are more important than individual decisions by a student’s advisers. In comparison, in the US, some students can fly through their PhD in 3 years with tremendous amounts of research, while others can take as long as 8 to 10 years to complete their PhD.

There are different systems within Europe.

In Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, a PhD takes 4 to 5 years and includes additional teaching duties. Students in these schools are considered as employees. They receive monthly salaries which are comparable to the salaries earned by graduate students working in various industries and are taxable as well. A PhD student is allowed to either present or attend at least one conference anywhere in the world, expenses for which are taken care of by the research group.

In Germany, a 4-year PhD is considered too long and funding might not be available after the first three years of the PhD program.

Yes, There Are 11 Different Types of Orgasms. Here's How to Have Each

Any type of orgasm feels incredible, and there&rsquos nothing wrong with sticking to the strokes and touches that you know bring you to the brink every time. But variety really is the spice of life. You wouldn't eat the same three meals every day, nor would you wear the same outfit over and over. So why not expand your sexual horizons and explore the 11 different types of orgasms the female body is capable of?

Before getting started, it helps to understand what an orgasm actually is. &ldquoAn orgasm is a physical reflex that occurs when muscles tighten during sexual arousal and then relax through a series of rhythmic contractions,&rdquo Sherry Ross, MD, a California-based ob-gyn, tells Health. Each climax can feel different in terms of intensity and duration, depending on how and what part of your body is being aroused, she says. Besides providing a physical release, it's also an emotional one&mdashallowing you to feel closer to your partner or simply de-stress after a tough day.

Some kinds of orgasm focus on the vagina only others allow you to feel earth-quaking intensity in places you never thought of as erogenous zones. You owe it to yourself to find out the pleasure your body can experience&mdashallow us to get you up to speed with all the different Os out there.

The Most Innovative Countries In Biology And Medicine

It’s a threat deeply rooted in the American psyche, placed there sometime between Thomas Edison and Sputnik: the idea that we’re losing our scientific and technological edge over the rest of the world. Intel founder Andy Grove said it in 2003 Time Magazine said it in 2006 former Lockheed Martin chief executive Norm Augustine said it this year. Hardly a month goes by that we don’t hear that we’re losing this edge or that, falling behind in one way or another. Is it true? And if it is, why haven’t we fallen behind yet?

To delve into this a little bit, I decided to go to SciVal Analytics, a consulting group at the giant publisher Elsevier that has access to a database called Scopus, which contains more than 18,000 scientific journals --- just about the entire scientific publishing universe. They ran three analyses for me: which countries produce the most publications in biology and medicine, which are tops in information technology, and which do the most in clean technology. I’m publishing the biology and medicine data today. Come back tomorrow for a look information tech, and Friday for clean tech. I’ll also wrap up what I’ve learned from the data dump.

Of almost 3,000 articles published in biomedical research in 2009, 1,169, or 40%, came from the United States. As the line graph below demonstrates (that’s the number of publications on the Y axis, and the year of publication on the X axis), the output of every other single country in the world is dwarfed by what America produces. The closest contender is Great Britain, which comes in at about 300 articles. (Per the comments below, I'm waiting for more explanation of these numbers.)

But aren’t the other countries catching up? Actually, the number of publications from the U.S. is grew about 7% between 2005 and 2009, which is a little above average. It’s true that countries like South Korea (annualized growth: 32%), China (26%), and Ireland (22%) are growing a lot faster, but they are also starting from a smaller base.

It’s certainly possible that the U.S. is publishing entirely low quality data, but another data point, the citation score, seems to indicate that isn’t true. The citation score is the number of times an average paper was referenced by other scientific papers. In the graph below, the Y axis is the citation score and the X axis is the number of publications in total. The U.S. doesn’t come through with flying colors – Switzerland and the Netherlands score higher on citation score – but that’s probably partly because it publishes so much more than other countries, with volume tending to bring down the average.

Another interesting stat: not only is the U.S. producing more research, it is producing a greater share of those publications with other countries. The bar chart below shows how many of the total papers produced over a five-year period involved co-authorship between different countries (for instance, between the U.S. and China, or Japan and Germany). Papers published by U.S. researchers were much more likely to have had foreign co-authors, which the SciVal analysts think means that the U.S. is more collaborative as well as being a bigger research force.

So when it comes to biology and medicine, U.S. researchers are publishing more than those in other countries. And this probably shouldn't come as much of a shock. You can see the effect of the U.S. dominance in biology and medicine in the behavior of big drug companies. Novartis, a Basel, Switzerland-based drug giant, nonetheless chose to place its research headquarters in Cambridge, Mass., near Harvard and MIT, and to put a Harvard doctor and biologist, Mark Fishman, in charge of R&D. Sanofi-Aventis gives nearness to the U.S. research hubs as one of the reasons behind its pending purchase of Genzyme, the U.S. biotechnology giant.

And pushes to establish other countries as research challengers to the U.S. in medicine have often proceeded with fits and starts. For a while, it appeared that South Korea was making a go of it when it came to stem cells and cloning, but then it turned out that one of its leading researchers, Hwang Woo Suk, had faked results. There is a big movement to move some drug research to China -- Pfizer just moved its antibiotic research to Shanghai -- but the bulk of the work is still very much U.S.-centered. There may be threats to America's position in biomedicine, but at best they are hoof beats in the distance, not imminent dangers.

Come back tomorrow, and we'll see whether the same applies to information technology.

Watch the video: Japan Travel Ban for International Students October - When will Japan open its border? New Updates (May 2022).