Volvo Group calls off layoffs.
Volvo Group cancelled plans to lay off 600 employees after striking a deal with Swedish unions to reduce their working hours instead, the company said in a May 28 statement. Volvo Group, which makes trucks, buses and construction equipment, issued a notice to just over 1,500 employees on April 22, saying they would lose their jobs because of a collapse in global demand for its products. After negotiations with union officials, however, the company said it would save 600 jobs in the Volvo Powertrain division, which produces engines and gearboxes. Under the agreement with IF Metall, the Swedish metal workers union, the company would reduce hours 20 percent and cut pay by a maximum of 8.0 percent for the period from June 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010. A Volvo Group spokesman said employees normally work around 37 hours a week on average. The company also promised no further layoff notices in the Powertrain division until the end of March 2010, the statement said.

Swedish economy shrinks in first quarter.
The Swedish economy contracted 0.9 percent during the first three months of the year, pushing the annual rate to its biggest drop since at least 1993, the country's statistics agency said May 29. Statistics Sweden said the economy shrank 6.5 percent compared with the same period a year earlier, due mainly to falling business inventories, exports and industrial production. Agency spokeswoman Katarina Edin said the economy has not shrunk that much on an annual basis since 1993, when it started to present seasonally adjusted figures, but it could very well be the largest drop ever if earlier figures could be properly compared. "In the 1970's and 1980's there were no figures this low," she said. "As far as it is possible to make out, it looks like the lowest we've seen.”

Iraq-born teen cracks math puzzle.
A 16-year-old Iraqi immigrant living in Sweden cracked a mats puzzle that stumped experts for more than 300 years, Swedish media reported May 27. In just four months, Mohamed Altoumaimi found a formula to explain and simplify the so-called Bernoulli numbers, a sequence of calculations named after the 17th century Swiss mathematician Jacob Bernoulli, daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter said. Altoumaimi, who came to Sweden six years ago, said teachers at his high school in Falun were not convinced about his work at first. "When I first showed it to my teachers, none of them thought the formula I had written down really worked," Altoumaimi told the Falu Kuriren newspaper. He then got in touch with professors at Uppsala University, one of Sweden's top institutions, to ask them to check his work. After going through his notebooks, the professors found his work was indeed correct and offered him a place in Uppsala. For now, however, Altoumaimi is focusing on his school studies and plans to take summer classes in advanced mathematics and physics this year. "I wanted to be a researcher in physics or mathematics; I really like those subjects. But I have to improve in English and social sciences," he told the Falu Kuriren.

Fuglesang brings dalahäst to space.
On August 6 he’ll be at it again, Swedish Christer Fuglesang. Then it’s time for another trip to outer space with the spaceship Discovery. All astronauts are allowed a limited number of objects. The following items will go into Fuglesang’s Official Flight Kit: A chess piece, a DIF banner (DIF=Djurgårdens IF, a famous Swedish soccer club), a dalahorse, a medal from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, a copy of a Nobel Peace medal, a banner from the Royal Swedish Opera, a miniature Frisbee and a silver spoon from the Sami Parliament of Sweden. All objects will be returned along with certificates that they’ve indeed been in space.

More female Nazis
They protest and they scream. They have mommy dates and arrange play dates for their children. There are more women in Swedish nazi circles today than ever before. The Swedish nazi movement is rather divided, after several internal fights. But one thing they all seem to agree on is family; right-winged extremists are arranging many family-oriented activities. Why? Because more and more mommies and their children are participating. “It’s getting more common for women to join nazi movements,” says Maria Blomquist, who together with journalist Lisa Bjurwald has taken a closer look at the image of the Swedish nazi woman. Through secret lists and interviews with women who have left the movement, we get a glimpse at what the nazi female is like. “They are attracted to the message, they are well prepared, they have read ‘Mein Kampf’ and know the ideology,” Bjurwald explains. More and more families are “nazi families” but how many children are growing up with nazi parents is impossible to say at the moment.

Westling's transplant increases donations
Daniel Westling, Princess Victoria’s husband-to-be, recently went through a kidney transplant. Westling was born with his kidney problem (and it is not hereditary, as Swedish media is quick to point out). His father donated a kidney to him. After news about the operation broke, many Swedes called to say they were willing to donate their kidneys, too. These are donations to be made after death. People, who are willing to donate an organ while still alive, are more rare. “There was an enormous rise in calls after Daniel’s transplant became known”, says Susanne Kato, who works at the donations registry. “Usually we get about 100 calls per day, but that day we received some 300 calls.” Westling, and others who undergo a kidney transplant, are expected to live a normal life after the operation.

Handy exchange
The newest spare parts for the human body are super smart. Swedish researchers at Lund University are currently creating a hand prosthesis that functions almost like a real hand. It is guided by the power of thought and the connection is made through the brain as if the feelings were real. “Thanks to advancements in electronics, the batteries are smaller and the computers faster so research has finally passed a threshold, and can create artificial limbs that are really good,” says Fredrik Sebelius, researcher in Lund. With colleagues at the clinic for hand surgery at Malmö University hospital, he is now in the final phase of the project Smart Hand. Ideas to create an artificial hand that is governed by thought have been around since 1948, but have been technologically possible only in recent years. American researchers have tried connecting straight to the patients’ brains to direct the artificial hands, but that’s not how Sebelius and his team work. They are instead using two other alternatives. One is to physically connect sensors in the hand with small motors that push the skin at certain spots. The other connects the equipment straight into the nerves of the arm. The experience of feeling is important in using an artificial limb. A prosthesis can never be as good as a real hand, because the hand is such a sensitive instrument. Researchers are trying to map how the brain interacts with other limbs of the body. “You can already buy the mechanic part of this hand from an Italian company for 350,000 SEK ($45,701),” says Sebelius. “But a prototype where the intelligence is also integrated will not be ready until the end of this year.”