Picture: Wonderful Purple

Kyoto: Spring Flower, originally uploaded by micpohling.

OECD: Pedestrian in Road Traffic Accidents

The table above shows the number of persons killed and injured (per 100 000 population) as pedestrian involved in road traffic accidents. Out of 100 000 persons, 3.4 Hungarian, 2.68 Portugese and 2.43 Greek pedestrians are killed in accident. Iceland, Netherlands, Sweden and Norway are the safe place for pedestrians, which all less than 1 persons died as pedestrian in road traffic accidents.

On the other hand, Portugese has highest number of people injured as pedestrian in traffic accident: 71.4 out of 100 000 population. The unusual high number is also observed in UK (63.5 persons) and Austria (54.4 persons). Again, Netherlands is the safest place for pedestrian among these countries: only 12.9 persons out of 100 000 will get injured as a result of road traffic accidents, or almost 5.5x lower the probability compared to Portugal.

This table shows the breakdown of pedestrian killed according to major age group. Overall, 5.6% of persons killed are children aged 0-9 years old, 16.2% of 10 to 24 years old,  39.1% 25 to 64 years old and 43.8% for senior citizen more than 65 years old. It is noted that old folks are subjected to the risk of high fatality. The countries which have more than 50% of their fatalities attributed from age group >65 are Austria (50.9%), Greece (56.0%) and Switzerland (58.8%).

Overall, the pedestrians injured in road traffic accidents according to the age group breakdown are as below: 13.1 % for children 0-9 yo, 30.7% adolescent/young adult 10-24 yo, 38.5% adult and 20.7% of senior citizens aged 65 or more. This is probably more consistent to the breakdown of age in the demography.

Source: UNECE, Statistic of Road Traffic Transport in Europe and North America, 2001 to 2003

Gene: Schizophrenia

Source: New Medical Research, 12-09-2006

Baby girls who possess a specific immune gene that too closely resembles their mothers’ immune gene are significantly more likely to develop schizophrenia later in life, say scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles. The gene, HLA-B, is linked to other prenatal complications such as pre-eclampsia and low birth weight, says a report in the American Journal of Human Genetics (Oct).

The whole article is here, and the abstract:

Schizophrenia and human leukocyte antigen (HLA) matching between couples or between mothers and offspring have independently been associated with prenatal/obstetric complications, including preeclampsia and low birth weight. Here, we report the results of a family-based candidate-gene study that brings together these two disparate lines of research by assessing maternal-fetal genotype matching at HLA-A, -B, and -DRB1 as a risk factor of schizophrenia. We used a conditional-likelihood modeling approach with a sample of 274 families that had at least one offspring with schizophrenia or a related spectrum disorder. A statistically significant HLA-B maternal-fetal genotype–matching effect on schizophrenia was demonstrated for female offspring (P=.01; parameter estimate 1.7 [95% confidence interval 1.22–2.49]). Because the matching effect could be associated with pregnancy complications rather than with schizophrenia per se, these findings are consistent with the neurodevelopmental hypothesis of schizophrenia and with accumulating evidence that the prenatal period is involved in the origins of this disease. Our approach demonstrates how genetic markers can be used to characterize the biology of prenatal risk factors of schizophrenia.

On the other hand, a method called Whole Genome Association (WGA) is used to determine potential susceptibility genes for the disease, from this article, 21-03-2007.

A genetic basis for schizophrenia found on both the X and Y chromosomes, is presented online in Molecular Psychiatry. Todd Lencz and colleagues examined over 500,000 genetic markers through WGA method.

The results from this analysis show a link with schizophrenia from a marker located in a chromosomal region called pseudoautosomal region 1 (PAR1), which is on both the X and Y chromosomes, and was located adjacent to two genes, CSF2RA and IL3RA. These genes, previously thought to play a role in inflammation and autoimmune disorders, produce receptors for two cytokines, GM-CSF and interleukin-3.

Abstract available online.

Quote: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Some quotes from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel:

What experience and history teach is this — that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it.


Life has a value only when it has something valuable as its object. -source: Lectures on the Philosophy of History (1832)

More on Hegel.

Picture: Whitey White

Etter snøfall, originally uploaded by randihausken.

Oh yeah, I love this kind of scenery 🙂

OECD: Type of Traffic Accidents (II)

The data on:

  • Number of accidents,
  • Number of persons injured and,
  • Number of persons killed

In 3 main types of accidents such as (a) accidents between vehicle and pedestrian, (b) single vehicle, and (c) accidents between vehicles, are compiled and analysized. The raw data on these 3 main types accidents and its impact of number of cases, number of persons killed or injured is listed in Table 1 to 3 as below:

Table 1: Number of accidents and its breakdown on different types of accident.

Table 2: Number of persons killed and its breakdown on different types of accident.

Table 3: Number of persons injured and its breakdown on different types of accident.

The graphs below illustrate the percentage disribution of each type of accidents onto parameters like total cases, number of persons killed or injured and comparison among the selected countries.

Overall, the accidents between vehicles is the major contribution to total number of accidents, number of persons killed or injured in accidents. This is followed by single vehicle and lastly vehicle vs. pedestrian. However, the scenario of latter two types of accidents might not neccesarily true for all the countries, as will be pointed out later.


Graph 1: Percentage distribution of different type of accidents in total cases.

Switzerland has the highest % of total accidents cases caused by accidents between vehicles, as high as slightly over 80% while Iceland has roughly48.4% this type of accident. Switzerland, UK and Portugal has slightly higher % of accident cases caused by vehicle vs pedestrian than single vehicle accidents. Overall, the mean % for each type of accidents is 64.5% (between vehicles), 23.3% (single vehicle) and 12.2% (vehicle vs pedestrian).

Graph 2: Percentage distribution of different type of accidents in number of persons killed.

Again, Switzerland has the highest % of number of person killed in accidents caused by accidents between vehicles, as high as 72.9% while Luxembourg, the lowest in this group, has roughly48.4% this type of accident. Switzerland is the only country which has slightly higher % of number of persons killed in accident caused by vehicle vs pedestrian (16.9%) than single vehicle accidents (10.2%). Overall, the mean % for each type of accidents is 52.6% (between vehicles), 32.9% (single vehicle) and 14.5% (vehicle vs pedestrian).

Graph 3: Percentage distribution of different type of accidents in number of persons injured.

And again, Switzerland has the highest % of number of person injured in accidents caused by accidents between vehicles, 83.7% while Iceland and Finland, the lowest 2 in this group, has roughly54.0%  and 59.9% of this type of accident. Apparently, Switzerland (again) is the only country which has slightly higher % of number of persons injured in accident caused by vehicle vs pedestrian (8.6%) than single vehicle accidents (7.7%). Overall, the mean % for each type of accidents is 68.7% (between vehicles), 21.8% (single vehicle) and 9.6% (vehicle vs pedestrian).

Source: UNECE, Statistics of Road Traffic Accidents in Europe and North America, 2001-2003

Gene: Don’t like to Eat Greens?

Source: Don’t eat greens? It’s all in the genes, 17-09-2006

In the new study Mari Hakala and Paul Breslin, of Monell Chemical Senses centre in Philadelphia, suggest that a dislike of certain vegetables has evolved in some people because their ancestors lived in areas where eating them was potentially damaging.

Glucosinolates, chemicals in vegetables such as broccoli, turnips and horseradish, can partially block the uptake of iodine into the thyroid gland. The element is vital to growth and sexual development. Among people with low iodine intakes — mainly in areas far from the sea, such as the Andes in South America — vegetables containing glucosinolates would increase the risk of stunted growth and mental retardation.

The findings showed that there were two versions of the gene, one sensitive and one insensitive. People with two sensitive genes found broccoli horribly bitter, while those with two insensitive ones enjoyed it.

The findings will be published this week in the journal Current Biology.

More information from other article:

In the new work, researchers were able to show that different genetic versions of this same receptor, known as hTAS2R38, specifically determine people’s perception of plants that synthesize glucosinolates. In their experiments, the researchers divided a test array of vegetables into those that contain glucosinolates, such as broccoli and turnips, and those that do not contain known glucosinolates. The researchers found that individuals possessing two copies of a “sensitive” version of the hTAS2R38 gene rated the glucosinolate-containing vegetables as 60% more bitter than did subjects possessing two copies of an “insensitive” version of the receptor gene. In comparison, individuals possessing one copy of each version of the gene rated the bitterness of glucosinolate-containing vegetables at an intermediate level.

The researchers found that the differences in bitterness perception by the “sensitive” and “insensitive” hTAS2R38 groups reached statistical significance for six vegetables: watercress, mustard greens, turnip, broccoli, rutabaga, and horseradish.

Picture: Birch and Blue sky

Birch and Blue sky, originally uploaded by micpohling.

Finland, winter time.

Math! How much can the tree or forest sequester CO2?

Yes, I am intrigued by such question: how much really a tree or forest can capture or sequester the CO2 released anthropogenically (fossil fuel and natural gas being the primary target)?

Thus, I set out to search for the calculations, and awared that a lot of people are using tree/plant for CO2 sequesteration program, like in the carbon offset bussiness. This whole bussiness thing is a complex one, and my question is relatively a simple or crude one: how much CO2 is absorbed or sequestered by tree/plant or forest in a quantitative way?

Few values or data related to this field are found. Let’s start with the number from established organization like Environmental Protection Agency, US:

Claim#1: Afforestation: 0.6 to 2.6 metric tons of C per acre per year.
             Reforestation: 0.3 – 2.1 metric tons of C per acre per year.

Next, in this report, it is claimed that:

Claim#2 (a): … 1 m3 of growth in forest biomass (stem, roots, branches, etc.) absorbs 0.26 tCe (Brown et al., 1986), … the average rate of growth is 15 m3/ha/year. And,

Claim#2 (b): This is equivalent to 815 million (m^3) bone-dry tonnes of wood, which in turn corresponds to 0.41 GtCe.

Claim#2 (c): Assuming a yield for hardwoods of 35 m3/ha/year, this would mean sequestering about 9 tCe of CO2 /ha/year.

According this paper:

Claim#3: In addition, the rate of C sequestration based on biomass change in vegetation was recorded to assess the optimum land use that can absorb the carbon dioxide emitted by the power project. These are as follows: (a) tree plantations (10.09 tC/ha/yr) >coconut (4.78 tC/ha/yr) >brushland (4.29 tC/ha/yr) > (b) natural forest (0.92 tC/ha/yr).

Ok, now it is time to make all these data comparable, if possible:

Thus, let’s say if I need to plant the tree to capture or sequester the CO2 which spewed by my car, as calculated here, with a daily mileage of 25km and emitted roughly 1104.1 kg CO2, or 301.1 kg of Carbon equivalent (1 tonne Carbon equivalent = 3.667 tonnes CO2) per year, I would need:

Claim#1 (a): Afforestation area = 0.301 ÷ 3.633 = 0.0828 ha = 828 m^2.

Claim#1 (b): Afforestation area = 0.301 ÷ 15.873 = 0.0190 ha = 190 m^2.

Claim#2 (c): Hardwood plant area = 0.301 ÷ 9.00 = 0.0334 ha = 334 m^2 .

Claim#3 (a): Tree plantation area = 0.301 ÷ 10.09 = 0.030 ha = 300 m^2.

Claim#3 (b): Natural forest area = 0.301 ÷ 0.920 = 0.327 ha = 3270 m^2.

Claim#2 (a): Biomass volume required = 0.301 ÷ 0.260 = 1.157 m^3.

Claim#2 (b): Biomass volume of bone-dry woods required = 0.301 ÷ 0.503 = 0.598 m^3.

So, an area ranging from 190 m^2 to 3270 m^2, depending on the efficiency of carbon sequesteration rate (which in turn a lot of factors are playing in) is required to absorb/capture the amount of CO2 emitted via my car. I wonder how much do I have to spend if I bought the land in Malaysia in order to do this? And if 26 millions of Malaysians need to do this, how much land area is required, per year? Hmmmm….

Gene: Intelligence and Schizophrenia

Source: That which makes us clever, make us mad , 09-02-2007

One of the most devastating types of mental illness could be a by-product of the evolution of human beings’ uniquely sophisticated intelligence, a new genetic study has suggested.

Scientists have discovered that a common version of a particular gene appears both to enhance a key thinking circuit in the brain, and to be linked to a raised risk of schizophrenia.

The findings, from a study by the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), provide fresh evidence for the theory that schizophrenia is the price that some people pay for our species’s peculiarly advanced intellectual abilities.

In the study, the NIMH team examined a common variant of a gene called DARPP-32. Three quarters of the subjects studied had inherited at least one copy of the variant.

Daniel Weinberger, of NIMH, said it was possible that while a more efficient link between the prefrontal cortex and striatum normally improves cognitive ability, it may have a negative effect when other genetic and environmental factors interfere. The result could be a predisposition to schizophrenia, which is known to be caused by a combination of genes and a person’s environment.

Details of the study are published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Picture: Thousands of Red and Yellows

Thousands of red and yellows, originally uploaded by Kelapa.

This is so overwhelmingly beautiful…

OECD: Type of Traffic Accidents (I)

The data on 3 main types of traffic accidents are compiled and analyzed:

  • Accidents between vehicle and pedestrian
  • Single vehicle accidents
  • Accidents between vehicle

Number of incidents, persons killed and persons injured in each type of traffic accidents were compared, between year 2001-2003.

 Table A

Table A shows that for overall (3 types accidents combined), Greece has the highest number of people killed (99.6) per 1000 accidents occured. This is closely followed by Luxembourg (81.5). On the other hand, UK has the lowest number of persons killed in accidents (15.6), while Canada, Germany and US are seeing less than 20 persons killed per 1000 accidents.

On the other hand, for single accident happen, Spain is seeing 1.496 persons injured, Iceland 1.490 and Luxembourg 1.450. Ireland has the lowest number of persons injured per accident: as low as 0. 780, almost as 2x lower than Spain.

 Table B

For traffic accidents type between vehicle and pedestrians, 92.2 persons died in 1000 such cases in Greece, 87.2 for Hungary and 73.8 persons for Finland. The number for such case is extremely low in Iceland, about 13.3 persons killed in 1000 cases, or the probability of someone will died due to this type of accidents is 1.33%.

As for the number of persons injured in such accidents, Sweden has 1.118 persons, closely followed by Italy (1.116) and Spain (1.109). Overall the number of persons injured is relatively low, but Ireland is making it exceptionally low at 0.646 persons injured for each such case. The same case go to Hungary which has low number of persons injured, but high in casualties/deaths.

 Table C

It is noted that the fatality is much higher for single vehicle type accidents.  It is Greece again, 198.8 persons died per 1000 this type of accidents. France, 116.8 persons and Luxembourg 104.3 persons ranked #2 and #3 in such fatality.

Iceland sees 1.436 persons injured per incident for this type of accidents. Followed closely by Spain 1.434 and Hungary 1.417 persons. Ireland is seeing very low number of injured persons for this type of accidents.

 Table D

It is surprised to note that the number of persons killed in accidents between vehicles is lower than single vehicle accidents. 74.8 of Greeks will die in this type of accidents for each 1000 cases while 72.2 and 62.8 persons in Luxembourg and Hungary respectively. UK, Germany and Canada has very low fatalities in such accidents, accounted only 12.1, 13.6 and 13.9 persons in 1000 accidents respectively.

Luxembourg has the highest number of persons injured (1.754) in between vehicle type accidents. This is followed by Iceland, 1.662. Ireland is the only country has lower than 1 person injured in this type of accident, and as a matter of fact, in every type and overall road/traffic accidents.

Source: UNECE, 2001-2003

Gene: Breast Cancer

Source: Huge drug trial to defeat breast cancer , 09-02-2007

One of the first specific cancer genes to be identified, in 1994, was the rogue breast cancer gene BRCA1.

The discovery of BRCA1 was followed by BRCA2, and women who carry a faulty version of either gene have a much higher risk of developing the disease — about 50-80 per cent over their lifetime. Faults in these DNA-repair genes may account for 5-10 per cent of breast cancers. Women with a history of it in their family seem to have a big risk of developing it themselves if a close relative, such as a mother or sister, had it before 50, or if two or more relatives have been affected.

On another note, the gene involved in breast tumour is found: Gene hope for breast cancer.

Scientists from the University of South Alabama and the University of Wales College of Medicine have found that a gene involved in making cells stick together is less active in aggressive breast tumours than in those that develop more slowly. The gene, called ALCAM (activated leucocyte cell adhesion molecule) is linked with cell migration. The more free the cells are to move, the quicker the potential spread of the cancer.

Reporting in Breast Cancer Research, Dr Judy King and colleagues compared the expression of the ALCAM gene in normal breast tissue and in tissue samples from primary breast tumours.

Picture: Momiji at Imperial Palace

Imperial Palace Momiji, originally uploaded by micpohling.

Think I will really miss this when I am gone… 😦

OECD and Malaysia : Vehicle, Road Accidents and Deaths

The data here shows the normalized number (divide by the population of respective country) of vechicle, passenger car, number of accidents, deaths and number of person injured due to road traffic accident are compared here among selected OECD countries.

US has the highest number of vehicles and passenger cars (779, 765 respectively) while Malaysia as a developing nation has the lowest number (254, 222).

US has the highest number of accidents per 1000 persons (6.90), followed by Austria and Canada (5.36 and 5.04 respectively). On the other hand, Finland and Denmark have low number of accidents per 1000 persons: 1.25 and 1.28 accidents per 1000 persons.

Greece has the highest number of deaths:19.62 persons out of 100 000 population died due to road accidents. Portugal followed closely: 17.11 persons per 100 000 population. On the other hand, Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands and UK have low road accidents fatalities, less than 7 people died per 100 000 population.

US has the highest number of persons injured in road accidents: 10.21 persons out of 1000 people were injured in traffic accidents. Canada and Austria have relatively high number as well: 7.18 and 1.02 respectively. On the other hand, Denmark has the least number of people injured in traffic accidents, 1.59 persons, almost 6.5x lower than US’s number. This is followed by Finland, 1.64. On average, 4.39 people out from 1000 population injured due to road accidents.


Both number of vechicles and passenger cars have positive impact on causing the higher number of accidents happening, but it seemed that passenger cars factor is stronger (as strong as 0.65, 1 is the perfect) than vehicle factor.  This is also true in number of person injured in traffic accident. However, the deaths caused by road traffic accidents does not show any increase or decrease with the number of vehicle or passenger cars around.

1) UNECE, Road Traffic Accidents
2) WHO DALY Deaths
3) World Bank Data: Infrastructure

Gene: Type 2 Diabetes

Source: Gene test to spot adults who might get diabetes , 12-02-2007

An international team of scientists has identified five different genetic variants that are linked to the condition, which is caused both by family inheritance and lifestyle factors such as poor diet, obesity and smoking. The five variants are thought together to account for about 70 per cent of the genetic risk of type 2 diabetes, the form of the disease that generally strikes in adulthood.

Such a test could be used in a screening programme to pick up those who are most at risk, who could then alter their diet and exercise patterns accordingly. Professor Philippe Froguel of Imperial College, London, one of the leaders of the study, said: “The two major reasons why people develop type 2 diabetes are obesity and a family link. Our new findings mean that we can create a good genetic test to predict people’s risk of developing this type of diabetes.

One of the five genes, SLC30A8, is involved in transporting the mineral zinc in the body, and is known to be involved in secreting insulin, a hormone that is important to metabolising sugar.

Picture: White Tulip

Winner 2006 Albany Times Union Photo Contest., originally uploaded by JaxPhotography.

ii desu ne… 😛

OECD: Divorce

3 Data on divorce topic is compiled and compared among OECD countries: crude divorce rate (2001, 2004), number of divorce in 100 marriages (2000) and mean marriage duration at divorce (2000).

1) Crude divorce rate:

On average, the crude divorce rate for the selected OECD countries is 2.16 in year 2001 and increase to 2.26 for year 2004. Ireland, Italy and Spain are seeing relatively low crude divorce rate compared to others while United States has the highest crude divorce rate, as high as 4.0 and 3.7 divorces per 1000 inhabitants/population for year 2001 and 2004 respectively. These numbers are seeing as high as 5x than Ireland’s crude divorce rate: 0.7 (2001) and 0.8 (2004). Coincidentally, Ireland, Italy and Spain are the countries which are predominantly Roman Catholics.

Graph above shows the change in crude divorce rate between year 2001 and 2004. Switzerland is seeing a great increase in crude divorce rate, 0.9, followed by Belgium (0.4) and Portugal (0.3). On the other hand, Netherlands and United States are seeing a drop/improvement in the crude divorce rate (0.3) followed by Finland and Sweden (0.2). Japan, Iceland, Australia and Austria see no changes.

2) Number of divorces in 100 marriages, 2000 and 3) mean marriage duration at divorce, 2000.

Belgium has the highest number of divorces in 100 marriages – about 60 out of 100 married couple will end up in divorce. The high number also go to Sweden, roughly 54 married Swedish couples could not make it and 53.2 for Finnish. Italy is seeing the lowest number of divorces among married couple: only 13.2% of married couple will part away. The relatively low number also goes to Spain (18.0%) and Switzerland (26.4%).

It is also interesting to note that how long does a marriage can last before the couple divorce. Again, Italy is seeing the longest marriage survival time (16.7 years) before the couple decided to part away.  Portugal followed closely behind, 14.5 years and Iceland 14.1 years. On average, the selected countries have their marriage lasted 13.0 years before divorce. United States, Japan and United Kingdom are seeing relatively shorter marriage duration, 10.2, 10.3 and 10.9 years respectively.


  1. Crude divorce rate 2001 and 2004: Statistic Finland, World Figure and tallied with divorce statistic from each statistic bureau from respective country.
  2. Number of divorces in 100 marriages and mean age of marriage duration, 2000, from OECD Social Indicators – 2006 Edition: General context indicator.

Gene: Eyes and Personality

Source: An instant guide to someone’s personality? The eyes have it,  18-02-2007

THE eyes are the window to the soul, it is said. Now scientists have found that the patterns in someone’s iris may give important clues about their personality, ranging from how warm and trusting they are to whether they are impulsive or neurotic.

“Our results suggest people with different iris features tend to develop along different personality lines,” said Mats Larsson, a behavioural scientist who led the study at Orebro University in Sweden.

For the new study, which is awaiting publication in the journal Biological Psychology, scientists at Orebro and at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm analysed the eyes of 428 people and tested their personalities.

The researchers argue that as much as 90% of the differences in people’s irises are due to genetic variation and they are particularly interested in one gene called Pax6, which helps to set the formation of the iris in embryos. Other research has shown that a mutation in this gene is linked to impulsiveness and poor social skills.

Abstract here:

Variable and person-oriented analyses were used to explore the associations between personality and three previously untested general iris characteristics: crypts, pigment dots and contraction furrows. Personality data, as measured by the NEO PI-R and ratings of iris characteristics from 428 undergraduate students were collected. Crypts were significantly associated with five approach-related behaviors, i.e., feelings, tendermindedness, warmth, trust and positive emotions, whereas furrows were associated with impulsiveness. These findings suggest that because Pax6 induces tissue deficiencies in both the iris and the left anterior cingulate cortex, Pax6 may influence the extent people engage in approach-related behaviors. The results from using a person-oriented analysis suggested that people with different iris configurations tend to develop along different personality trajectories. Future longitudinal studies, twin-studies and genetic association studies, may benefit from collecting iris data and testing candidate genes for crypts and furrows.

Keywords: Personality; Iris characteristics/crypts/pigment dots/contraction furrows; Candidate genes/Pax6/Six3/Lmx1b; Anterior cingulate; Hemispheric asymmetries

Some blog discussed about it, like here and here.

Picture: Daisy!

Kyoto: Spring Flower, originally uploaded by micpohling.

… Welcoming the arrival of Spring! …

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