In 2011 we had a story about a Dutch bike path with solar panels to be built in Krommenie, North Holland by SolaRoad in 2012, but apparently construction is happening right now in October 2014.
A straight stretch of 70 metres of bike path is being fitted with a concrete base, topped with a 1 cm thick layer of crystalline silicon solar cells. The solar cells will be protected by a thick, heavy-duty glass surface strong enough to drive a truck over it.
The Netherlands’ 140,000 kilometres of bike paths could be built out of 400 to 500 km2 of solar cells, which would provide a much bigger surface than the total roof surface of all Dutch houses, to give you an idea of future possibilities.
(Link: motherboard.vice.com, Photo: SolaRoad)
Tags: solar cells
The court of Groningen handed down a ‘historical verdict’ last Thursday by refusing to punish two cannabis growers who ‘safely and responsibly’ carry out their work, only selling to coffee shops and even paying taxes. While the court found the growers guilty of cultivating weed, it refused to punish them for doing so, underlying the Dutch hypocrisy of punishing ‘the back door’ while turning a blind eye to selling through ‘the front door’. Weed sold in coffee shops is ‘tolerated’ and still illegal, but it continues to be supplied illegally, which is often challenged.
“Coffee shops must supply themselves and so cultivation must be done to satisfy these demands,” the Groningen court said, “but the law does not state how this supply should be done.” What growers do is illegal, but allowing the sale of cannabis since 1976 in coffee shops is very hypocritical and blatantly encourages crime.
The government enjoys the tax money it gets from legitimate businesses like coffee shops, and now the back door has now been left open. Other growers could also soon go unpunished, en route to the legal supply of cannabis for coffee shops.
(Links: phys.org, www.voc-nederland.org)
Tags: cannabis, coffee shops, Groningen, marijuana, weed
Next week, the Universiteit van Amsterdam will hold its very first formal speech in Dutch sign language, which will be translated into spoken language (no confirmation of which ones) by two interpreters, something that does happen in countries like the United States.
Fluent in sign language but not deaf, Professor Beppie van den Bogaerde sees this event as a gesture towards the deaf community. Usually people give speeches and have it translated into sign language, but this time it will be the other way round. I still don’t get why two interpreters are needed, but my best guess would be either they relay each other or there’s a Dutch and English version.
Van den Bogaerde points out that the deaf have each other’s full attention when they communicate because they have to look at each other, which she feels gives the deaf and hard of hearing a better sense of the here and now. My personal take on this from university is that we can speak about 150 words a minute but can understand 450 (three times as much), which means although we are easily distracted, it explains how interpreters can listen and talk at the same time.
The Netherlands has five sign language dialects because they five different schools decided to do their own thing. Based on French sign language, Dutch sign language is not officially recognised and is different than Flemish sign language, which has an unclear origin.
Enjoy a video of Happy by Pharrell Williams, performed and translated into sign language by the American Deaf Camp.
(Link: www.trouw.nl, Photo of Universiteit van Amsterdam by NiederlandeNet, some rights reserved(
Tags: deaf, sign language, Universiteit van Amsterdam
Next to Amsterdam’s Artis Royal Zoo in the East of the city where you can sometimes spot the heads of giraffes moving slowly in the distance you’ll find Micropia, billed as “the world’s first interactive microbe zoo”, opened yesterday by Queen Máxima.
And instead of looking at sizable animals like giraffes, the goal of Micropia is to display “micro-nature,” says director Haig Balian, who believes microbes have been underestimated ever since Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, known as ‘the father of microbiology’ observed these microscopic creatures in the 17th century.
“Much of the museum looks like a laboratory, complete with rows of microscopes connected to giant television screens. Visitors can look through a window at a real-life laboratory where different kinds of microbes are being reproduced in Petri dishes and test tubes.”
To get you started – or off your lunch – here’s an A to Z of lots of microbes.
(Link and photo: www.news24)
Tags: Artis, microbes, Micropia, zoo
The court of Amsterdam has handed down a ruling today that the entire Dutch media was waiting for about Zwarte Piet (‘Black Pete’, Saint Nicholas’ holiday time helper): it turns out he’s deemed “offensive to black people” and “racist” after all.
Although it was argued by many that Zwarte Piet is just some black figure and that he had nothing to do with slavery, a point that can surely be made, the blackface clown with exaggerated red lips and golden earrings apparently encourages a “negative stereotyping of black people”. In Dutch, when someone is made out to be the ‘bad guy’ in a situation, it is called to be the ‘Zwarte Piet’, which says a lot already about how he is viewed.
Today’s verdict only applies to Amsterdam and it remains to be seen what the rest of the country will make of such a strong and old tradition being struck down. Internet comments are not the nicest at the moment, blaming a few people for ruining it for everybody else and that sort of thing.
I wonder if Zwarte Piet is worth being the perpetual ‘bad guy’ and ‘whipping boy’ for a deeper discussion about racial stereotypes that needs to happen and will see where history will collectively take the Netherlands on this one.
(Link: www.nieuws.nl, Photo: tobysterling.net)
Tags: Sinterklaas, Zwarte Piet
As of 1 July 2014 the country’s new Transgender Law comes into effect, allowing transgenders to change the gender stated in their passport and other documents without having to plead their case to a judge first or undergo surgery to be rendered permanently infertile. Transgenders now only need an expert statement to receive new ID with the ‘correct’ gender, which technically applies to anyone over 16 and does have fees attached to it.
After eight years of struggling, Transgender Netwerk Nederland and COC Nederland are celebrating this milestone of Dutch law, calling it ‘finally having a say about one’s own gender’.
(Link: transgendernetwerk.nl, Photo of Gay flag by sigmaration, some rights reserved)
Tags: gender, transgender
Started on Monday 12 May, 3FM radio DJ Giel Beelen has broken the world record for the longest, continuous radio show with 190 hours, breaking the older record of 189 set by Belgian radio DJ Lennart Creël only two weeks ago.
To celebrate Beelen’s 10 year anniversary on the airwaves with his morning show, going for a world record seemed fitting. Although the show was non-stop, he was allowed to sleep five minutes an hour if needed and every second day he could get three hours of shut eye.
Giel Beelen is well known by the Dutch audience for regularly taking part in the Glass House (‘Het Glazen Huis’), a glass house with a radio broadcast set up on main squares in different cities every year a week before Christmas. The DJs go without anything to eat to collect money for Red Cross projects.
Tags: DJ, Giel Beelen, Guinness Book of World Records, radio
The 10th annual Swim Cup Eindhoven, held from 10 to 13 April, will feature the world premiere competition use of the Omega Backstroke Start Device (video in English).
Backstroke swimmers will no longer have to worry about their feet or toes slipping at the start of a race, which has been an issues for ages.
Starting platforms for swimmers are constantly being adapted so that swimmers don’t slip, so I can imagine it’s about time the backstroke crowd got their ‘starting device’ as well.
(Link: www.ed.nl, Photo of Olympic pool by diamond geezer, some rights reserved)
Tags: Eindhoven, swimming
On Tuesday 1 April legislation kicked in that made the partner of lesbian mothers gain equal rights as the parent of their child. For the longest time, the ‘second’ mother (or co-mother) had to go through a costly adoption procedure in order to become the legal parent of their partner’s child. The procedure lasted at least 6 months, cost at least 1000 euro and was very stressful. If something happened to the child in the mean time, the co-mother had no rights whatsoever, turning the child into an orphan. Thanks to this change in the law, children of lesbian parents have rights that equal those of children born of heterosexual couples.
Before, only the birth mother was considered the mother and a second mother had no legal rights. When a heterosexual couple adopted a child or went through artificial insemination, the father just had to sign some papers and never had to go through any kind of adoption procedure like gay women did.
Once marriage is made legal for homosexuals, the next step is taking care of such parenting issues, so foreign countries, take note.
(Links: www.welingelichtekringen.nl, www.coc.nl, Photo of Crying baby by Chalky Lives, some rights reserved)
Tags: lesbians, rights
The UMC Utrecht hospital has recently implanted a 3D printed skull (pic) made of plastic into a 22-year-old woman, a world’s first according to the hospital that claims it is a revolutionary procedure that has never been done before.
The hospital says that the patient suffers from a rare affliction where the skull bone steadily thickens, placing too much pressure on the brain. The woman’s surgeon, Bon Verweij, says she has been losing the ability to make facial expressions, and that it was only a matter of time before she would lose other crucial brain functions and eventually pass away.
UMC Utrecht has performed several operations replacing sections of skull bone, but this is the first time they attempted an entire cranium. The hospital waited a few months before announcing the operation, making sure it was successful first. “The patient has regained her capacity for facial expression, is free of complaints, is back to work and it is nearly impossible to see she was ever operated on”, Verweij says.
The UMC Utrecht thinks this technique of 3D printing can also be used for patients with different bone abnormalities, repairing skulls after accidents, or with tumors.
A year ago Leiden University was developing the 3D printing of skin for medical purposes.
News item in Dutch, but the visuals tell the story:
(Link: www.nltimes.nl, Photo of an Ultimaker 3D printer)
Tags: 3D printing, bone, skull, UMC Utrecht, Utrecht