July 13, 2012
BERLIN - Scientists have been wondering about why people kiss each other for more than 100 years. Psychoanalysis's founding father, Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freund (1856-1939) was convinced that kissing is innate – an instinct originated in every newborn's need to breastfeed that is never lost.
But in 1900, when Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) got his dog to drool at the sound of a bell, many psychologists took that as proof that behavior -- including human behavior -- was not a matter of instinct: it was learned. Human beings were the masters of their instincts, so kissing represented a conscious expression of love.
Modern science considers the will-or-nature debate outdated. Kissing is instinctive, but humans have different ways of behaving, is all.
Which would explain why some 650 million, or about 10% of humanity, don't kiss each other. On his travels, the father of evolutionary theory Charles Darwin (1809-1882) noticed that. So did French anthropologist Paul d'Enjoy who in 1897 noted that for the Chinese mouth-to-mouth kissing was considered an abomination, a form of cannibalism. Around this time Danish scientist Kristoffer Nyrop observed that among Finnish peoples couples enjoyed bathing together but never kissed each other.
In Mongolia, 90% of people kiss, 10% don't. Kissing is in our nature, whether we engage in kissing behavior or not. So where does it come from?
Where does kissing come from?
Freud's hypothesis is still relevant, along with a second one posited in 1960 by British zoologist Desmond Morris: kissing comes from early humans' habit of feeding mouth-to-mouth. Chimpanzees still do that. And when food was scarce, so the theory goes, ape parents pressed their lips to their offspring's mouths to reassure and calm them.
We know from the ancient Greeks that human beings used to feed each other mouth-to-mouth; and Austrian behavioral scientist Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, who founded the field of human ethology, has documented the behavior among certain African tribes such as the Himba in northern Namibia.
Just why the tendency to kiss, as opposed to not kissing, took the upper hand in evolutionary terms is another unresolved issue. Using up calories doesn't explain anything, although a normal kiss does use up 6.4 calories per minute or more depending on circumstances.
Research by neurologists and sexologists offers the possibility that kissing is a biological aid to partner selection. According to American scientist Sarah Woodley of the University of Duquesne in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, it is a way of running a check on a potential partner's immune system.
The illnesses to which a human is immune is coded in the MHC (major histocompatibility complex) genes -- and the smells and tastes of kisses pass this information on to us. The more different a kissee's MHC genes are to those of the kisser, the more likely the couple is to team up – because the wider the spread of immunity, the more diseases their offspring will be immune to and the higher the life expectancy of those children will be.
One of the tests scientists used to demonstrate the MHC theory was having men and women smell T-shirts that had been worn by others. Most subjects did in fact prefer the shirts worn by those with MHC genes different to their own. However, not all subjects did – which is why Woodley reached the conclusion that MHC genes are not the determining factor for why two people who like each other would mate or marry.
American sexologist Helen Fisher agrees that the MHC check helps in determining partner selection but that other bio-mechanisms are at play as well.
Gender differences in kissing
Another puzzle is the role played by the hormone oxytocin, which when released has a calming and relieving effect on humans and is considered to be the hormonal "glue" of partnership. Couples in love show higher levels of it. So it made sense to assume that levels of it would rise when people kissed.
Not so, say American psychologists Wendy Hill and Carey Wilson of Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. Levels only rise in men – not women. In fact, in women levels actually sink. From this, Hill and Wilson came to the conclusion that unlike men women need more than a kiss to feel bound to their partner.
Hill and Wilson also showed that, when men and women kissed, levels of cortisol went down sharply in both sexes. Cortisol causes feelings of stress, while kissing is a de-stresser – which may also explain why kisser and kissee are in no hurry to disengage.
The kiss will remain a subject of scientific research not least because lovers aren't the only ones kissing each other. The Pope kisses the ground of countries he visits. Churchgoers kiss the bishop's ring. East Germany's leader Erich Honecker and Russian leader Leonid Brezhnev famously kissed each other on the lips by way of greeting. And the French have traditionally kissed each other on the cheeks – with a kissing noise to accompany the ritual – to say hello and goodbye.
So it's entirely possible that the 10% of the world's non-kissers may soon join the 90% of those who do kiss. After all, we travel and emigrate more than ever before. In London-based American academic and writer Dr. Adrianne Blue's 1997 book On Kissing: Travels in an Intimate Landscape, she writes that a little over 20 years ago it would have been unheard of for British acquaintances meeting in public to kiss each other on the cheeks by way of greeting.
But by the late 1990s, Blue writes, the only issue in London is whether two or three smackers are the proper form. She believes in the globalization of the kiss – with the kissers winning out.
Read the original article in German.
Photo - happyhipposnacks
Die Welt ("The World") is a German daily founded in Hamburg in 1946, and currently owned by the Axel Springer AG company, Europe's largest publishing house. Now based in Berlin, Die Welt is sold in more than 130 countries. A Sunday edition called Welt am Sonntag has been published since 1948.
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Will flying be greener? More comfortable? Less frequent? As the world eyes a post-COVID reality, we look at ways the airline industry has been changing through a pandemic that has devastated air travel.
October 17, 2021
It's hard to overstate the damage the pandemic has had on the airline industry, with global revenues dropping by 40% in 2020 and dozens of airlines around the world filing for bankruptcy. One moment last year when the gravity became particularly apparent was when Asian carriers (in countries with low COVID-19 rates) began offering "flights to nowhere" — starting and ending at the same airport as a way to earn some cash from would-be travelers who missed the in-flight experience.
More than a year later today, experts believe that air traffic won't return to normal levels until 2024.
But beyond the financial woes, the unprecedented slowdown in air travel may bring some silver linings as key aspects of the industry are bound to change once back in full spin, with some longer-term effects on aviation already emerging. Here are some major transformations to expect in the coming years:
Cleaner aviation fuel
The U.S. administration of President Joe Biden and the airline industry recently agreed to the ambitious goal of replacing all jet fuel with sustainable alternatives by 2050. Already in a decade, the U.S. aims to produce three billion gallons of sustainable fuel — about one-tenth of current total use — from waste, plants and other organic matter.
While greening the world's road transport has long been at the top of the climate agenda, aviation is not even included under the Paris Agreement. But with air travel responsible for roughly 12% of all CO2 emissions from transport, and stricter international regulation on the horizon, the industry is increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel.
Fees imposed on the airline industry should be funneled into a climate fund.
In Germany, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the world's first factory producing CO2-neutral kerosene recently started operations in the town of Wertle, in Lower Saxony. The plant, for which Lufthansa is set to become the pilot customer, will produce CO2-neutral kerosene through a circular production cycle incorporating sustainable and green energy sources and raw materials. Energy is supplied through wind turbines from the surrounding area, while the fuel's main ingredients are water and waste-generated CO2 coming from a nearby biogas plant.
Farther north, Norwegian Air Shuttle has recently submitted a recommendation to the government that fees imposed on the airline industry should be funneled into a climate fund aimed at developing cleaner aviation fuel, according to Norwegian news site E24. The airline also suggested that the government significantly reduce the tax burden on the industry over a longer period to allow airlines to recover from the pandemic.
High-flying ambitions for the sector
Hydrogen and electrification
Some airline manufacturers are betting on hydrogen, with research suggesting that the abundant resource has the potential to match the flight distances and payload of a current fossil-fuel aircraft. If derived from renewable resources like sun and wind power, hydrogen — with an energy-density almost three times that of gasoline or diesel — could work as a fully sustainable aviation fuel that emits only water.
One example comes out of California, where fuel-cell specialist HyPoint has entered a partnership with Pennsylvania-based Piasecki Aircraft Corporation to manufacture 650-kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell systems for aircrafts. According to HyPoint, the system — scheduled for commercial availability product by 2025 — will have four times the energy density of existing lithium-ion batteries and double the specific power of existing hydrogen fuel-cell systems.
Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce is looking to smash the speed record of electrical flights with a newly designed 23-foot-long model. Christened the Spirit of Innovation, the small plane took off for the first time earlier this month and successfully managed a 15-minute long test flight. However, the company has announced plans to fly the machine faster than 300 mph (480 km/h) before the year is out, and also to sell similar propulsion systems to companies developing electrical air taxis or small commuter planes.
New aircraft designs
Airlines are also upgrading aircraft design to become more eco-friendly. Air France just received its first upgrade of a single-aisle, medium-haul aircraft in 33 years. Fleet director Nicolas Bertrand told French daily Les Echos that the new A220 — that will replace the old A320 model — will reduce operating costs by 10%, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 20% and noise footprint by 34%.
International first class will be very nearly a thing of the past.
The pandemic has also ushered in a new era of consumer demand where privacy and personal space is put above luxury. The retirement of older aircraft caused by COVID-19 means that international first class — already in steady decline over the last decades — will be very nearly a thing of the past. Instead, airplane manufacturers around the world (including Delta, China Eastern, JetBlue, British Airways and Shanghai Airlines) are betting on a new generation of super-business minisuites where passengers have a privacy door. The idea, which was introduced by Qatar Airways in 2017, is to offer more personal space than in regular business class but without the lavishness of first class.
Aerial view of Rome's Fiumicino airportcommons.wikimedia.org
Rome's Fiumicino Airport has become the first in the world to earn "the COVID-19 5-Star Airport Rating" from Skytrax, an international airline and airport review and ranking site, Italian daily La Repubblica reports. Skytrax, which publishes a yearly annual ranking of the world's best airports and issues the World Airport Awards, this year created a second list to specifically call out airports with the best health and hygiene standards.
The pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards contactless traveling, with more airports harnessing the power of biometrics — such as facial recognition or fever screening — to reduce touchpoints and human contact. Similar technology can also be used to more efficiently scan physical objects, such as explosive detection. Ultimately, passengers will be able to "check-in" and go through a security screening anywhere at the airports, removing queues and bottlenecks.
Data privacy issues
However, as pointed out in Canadian publication The Lawyer's Daily, increased use of AI and biometrics also means increased privacy concerns. For example, health and hygiene measures like digital vaccine passports also mean that airports can collect data on who has been vaccinated and the type of vaccine used.
Auckland Airport, New Zealand
The billion-dollar question: Will we fly less?
At the end of the day, even with all these (mostly positive) changes that we've seen take shape over the past 18 months, the industry faces major uncertainty about whether air travel will ever return to the pre-COVID levels. Not only are people wary about being in crowded and closed airplanes, but the worth of long-distance business travel in particular is being questioned as many have seen that meetings can function remotely, via Zoom and other online apps.
Trying to forecast the future, experts point to the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks as at least a partial blueprint for what a recovery might look like in the years ahead. Twenty years ago, as passenger enthusiasm for flying waned amid security fears following the attacks, airlines were forced to cancel flights and put planes into storage.
40% of Swedes intend to travel less
According to McKinsey, leisure trips and visits to family and friends rebounded faster than business flights, which took four years to return to pre-crisis levels in the UK. This time too, business travel is expected to lag, with the consulting firm estimating only 80% recovery of pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
But the COVID-19 crisis also came at a time when passengers were already rethinking their travel habits due to climate concerns, while worldwide lockdowns have ushered in a new era of remote working. In Sweden, a survey by the country's largest research company shows that 40% of the population intend to travel less even after the pandemic ends. Similarly in the UK, nearly 60% of adults said during the spring they intended to fly less after being vaccinated against COVID-19 — with climate change cited as a top reason for people wanting to reduce their number of flights, according to research by the University of Bristol.
At the same time, major companies are increasingly forced to face the music of the environmental movement, with several corporations rolling out climate targets over the last few years. Today, five of the 10 biggest buyers of corporate air travel in the US are technology companies: Amazon, IBM, Google, Apple and Microsoft, according to Taipei Times, all of which have set individual targets for environmental stewardship. As such, the era of flying across the Atlantic for a two-hour executive meeting is likely in its dying days.
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SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
South China Morning Post (SCMP) is an English-language daily published in Hong Kong. Co-founded in 1903 by the British journalist Alfred Cunningham, the newspaper has an estimated circulation of 104.000. It is currently owned by Alibaba group.
La Repubblica is a daily newspaper published in Rome, Italy, and is positioned on the center-left. Founded in 1976, it is owned by Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso.
E24 NÃ¦ringsliv is a Norwegian, online business newspaper launched on 18 April 2006. In the course of the first week of operations it became the largest business web site in Norway. In week 46, 2008, it had 575,000 unique users per week.
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