Scientists make battery from paper.
Paper could hold the key to eco-friendly power, accordding to a group of Swedish scientists. Research scientist Albert Mihranyan and colleagues at Uppsala University said scientists have been trying to develop light, ecofriendly inexpensive batteries consisting entirely of non-metal parts. The most promising materials include so-called conductive polymers or "plastic electronics." One conductive polymer, polypyrrole, known as PPy, showed promise, but was often regarded as too inefficient for commercial batteries. However, Mihranyan and his colleagues realized coating PPy on a large surface area substrate and carefully tailoring the thickness of the coating, they could dramatically improve both the charging capacity and discharging rates. The researchers said their battery recharges faster than conventional rechargeable batteries and appears well-suited for applications involving flexible electronics, such as clothing and packaging. The research is described in the Oct. 14 issue of the journal Nano Letters.

Nordic countries go on weapons shopping spree.
Whether buying or selling, Scandinavian countries are in an arms deal frenzy: Sweden is the main seller as it looks to broker a deal for 36 Saab Gripen multi-role fighters with Brazil. Denmark is the main buyer as it looks to modernize its army and re-equip its contingent serving in Afghanistan. Sweden wants to sell at least 36 Gripen fighter and is competing with France's Dassault Rafale and the American F/A-18E/F Super Hornet for the contract valued at anywhere between $4 billion and $7 billion. Sweden recently updated its bid with an offer to provide technology transfer, a move that had brought rival France ahead of the pack. The Danes, meanwhile, are looking to buy naval helicopters, anti-explosive devices and drones to update its military and boost its 700 troops in Afghanistan, Lt. Col. Per Lyse Rasmussen, the Danish defense industry attache, said at a conference in Washington. Denmark also wants to make its armed forces lighter and more mobile, cutting back mainly on heavy equipment such as tanks, jet fighters and heavy artillery. Instead, it wants to buy more products like Raven, a drone produced by AeroVironment. The drone has helped safeguard a Danish battle group in Afghanistan that is fighting alongside British soldiers in the volatile Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan. Denmark is also looking to buy electronic military equipment, including radios, night-fight equipment and devices to detect, jam and dispose of roadside bombs.

'Skånskan' – a threatened language.
Impossible to understand? Ugly? Beautiful? Or just plain weird? Author PC Jersild once asked that skånskan – the Scanian dialect of the south of Sweden – ought to be dubbed when on TV, and that people who speak it should try to get rid of it. He is probably not too happy about recent events. Skånskan has landed on Unesco’s list of threatened languages (much to the exasperation of Swedish linguists). “There are neither linguistic nor practical reasons why Scanian should be counted as a language,” said Carl-Einar Lundbladh, head of the Dialect and Place-Names Archive (Dialekt- och ortnamnsarkivet, DAL) in Lund. Members of the Scania Future Foundation (Stiftelsen Skånsk Framtid), however, are thrilled with the Unesco designation, which adds support for their contention that the Scanian dialect is a language, and an endangered one at that. They want to see 'Skånska' added to the list of Sweden's protected minority languages. Yet no one knows exactly why, “Scanian”, which scholars consider a Swedish dialect, is now clearly listed on Unesco's interactive homepage as “unsafe”. Lundbladh and Ulf Teleman, Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Nordic Languages, are in agreement as to why Scanian may not be considered a language. Every language should have a written equivalent, which Scanian lacks. Additionally, a language should be sufficiently distinguished from other languages – in this case, Swedish. Lundbladh insists that he has never seen any material, which would even facilitate a qualified comparison between Scanian and Swedish. It is unclear, for instance, which of the Scanian variants could be considered as norms for the language. “People don't see the use in it. So that work seems fruitless and surprising because I just can't see any reason to waste effort on it,” Lundbladh said. Professor Teleman agrees, however, that Scanian and other dialects are worth preserving. “Part of a person's identity is in the way they speak. People think it’s charming when they meet other people from different parts of the country,” he concluded.

Blew up wrong house.
A group of elite Swedish soldiers made an enormous mistake during a demolition exercise the other day, when they blasted their way into the wrong house. The incident took place during what was supposed to be a routine training operation, for a group of soldiers from Sweden's Life Regiment Hussars (K3), an elite cavalry division involved in intelligence and paratrooper training. On its website, the Life Regiment Hussars characterize themselves as “light, highly mobile units with substantial strike power.” Among other credentials, the Hussars also boast of having “long experience in the area of intelligence.” But something nevertheless went wrong for the soldiers involved in an exercise, which took place in Röjdåfors in northern Värmland, near the Norwegian border. The mission, performed in conjunction with the Swedish home guard (Hemvärnet), called for the soldiers to capture a house. However, the elite unit somehow managed to hit the wrong target, and instead bombarded a house located about 200 meters from their intended target. Collateral damage included blown out doors and window frames, before the soldier's discovered their mistake. “I think we've already cleaned up after ourselves. And we have, of course, contacted the owner. There are no hard feelings between us,” K3's public relations officer said.

8 Swedish films at Hamptons Film Festival.
Hamptons International Film Festival, which takes place October 8-12, has a Nordic focus this year with lots of goodies for lovers of Swedish film in particular. Five feature films (among them Lukas Moodysson’s “Mammut” and Niels Arden Oplev’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”), two short films and a special screening of Stig Björkman’s documentary about Ingmar Bergman called “Bilder från lekstugan”. For more info:

Swedes among top women in world business.
Would we be better off if more women were in charge? Many prominent people in business believe so. Financial Times recently published a list with the top 50 women in world business as a celebration of diversity and women themselves, and we’re happy to report that there are some Swedish women up there. Annika Falkengren, CEO of SEB (Svenska Enskilda Banken) takes the 7th spot. Falkengren has been with SEB for most of her working life, she began her career there as a trainee in 1987, worked in the trading and capital markets divisions until 2000, and headed several global departments before becoming chief executive in late 2005. She admits her rise to the top hasn’t been easy. “In Sweden, to be a truly successful woman you should have a good job, look after your children – of which you should have three – make good food, go to the spa, see your female friends and take care of your husband. When I look at my career, there were sacrifices. Between 30 and 40 I did not have any children [she had a daughter in 2005] … People don’t really talk about it in Sweden, but you cannot do it all and you cannot get it all.” The 13th most powerful businesswoman is Antonia Ax:son Johnson, owner of the company Axel Johnson, and number 34 is Cristina Stenbeck, chairman of Kinnevik. Topping the list is Indra Nooyi, an Indian woman who is the chairman and chief executive of PepsiCo.

Obama shuts down Öresund Bridge.
President Barack Obama isn’t even going to set foot in Sweden, yet he’s already causing some havoc. Obama’s planned visit to Copenhagen is expected to bring headaches to Malmö-area businesses and commuters. The Öresund Bridge Consortium announced that the bridge, which carries both rail and road traffic between Malmö and Copenhagen, will be closed in conjunction with Obama's visit to the Danish capital. The decision to shut down the major traffic artery at one of the busiest times of the day confounded Henrik Andersson, a representative for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Southern Sweden (Sydsvenska Industri- och Handelskammaren). "It will cause a lot of problems," he said. "I find it peculiar that they are shutting the bridge down. A lot of people will have to adjust their schedules." And representatives of Skånetrafiken, the organization charged with managing public transportation in the area, were also frustrated that they only received word a few days ahead of the expected closure. “We were...surprised. Let's put it like that,” said spokesperson Ulrika Mebeius. Skånetrafiken is now scrambling to come up with alternate arrangements for Swedish travelers who need to make their way to Denmark during the presidential visit.