A 500,000-year-old shell found on Java in Indonesia is said to feature the oldest ever engraved geometrical pattern. The zig zag pattern, which can only be seen with oblique lighting, is said to be older than the weathering processes on the shell arising from fossilisation. As well, the study excluded the possibility that the pattern was created by animals or natural weathering processes.
The shell will be on display in the Naturalis museum in Leiden from 4 December onward.
By applying two dating methods, researchers at the VU University Amsterdam and Wageningen University have determined that the shell with the engraving is minimally 430,000 and maximally 540,000 years old.This means that the engraving is at least four times older than the previously oldest known engravings, found in Africa. An international team of researchers, led by Leiden archaeologist José Joordens, published this discovery on 3 December in the periodical ‘Nature’.
(Link and photo: www.sciencedaily.com)
Tags: engraving, Leiden, shell
As of today Jumbo supermarkets in the cities of Groningen and Haren will start selling edible insects products. ‘Buggy balls’, ‘buggy burgers’ and even ‘buggy crisps’ (great, more junk food) will be available. Many parts of the world apparently eat insects either as a delicacy or because they’re poor. The Western world hasn’t joined in yet except for special events.
I can’t listen to the health arguments for selling these protein-rich products because supermarkets sell us tons of junk food and have forfeited their say in people’s health ages ago. I can’t listen to the lame argument of eating bugs as an alternative to eating meat because there are vegetarians and vegans out there doing just fine without it.
Eating bugs is expensive (one portion of ‘buggy balls’ costs between 5,95 and 6,79 euro), which doesn’t make them an alternative to anything. The price won’t go down if more people buy because if that were true, the price of veggie burgers would have gone down. And if you eat peanut coated chocolates that contain red E120 colouring, you’re already eating bugs.
Bonus argument: Belgium is one of Europe’s top suppliers of insects, but its production is illegal yet tolerated. Sound familiar?
(Links: www.z24.nl, nos.nl, Photo of Grasshoppers by ad454, some rights reserved)
Poker player Jorryt van Hoof from Eindhoven finished third this week at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, beating last year’s seventh place scored by Dutch trailblazer Michiel Brummelhuis. Now the highest ranked Dutchman ever in this event, Van Hoof goes home with 3,8 million USD (over 3 million euro).
Although Van Hoof prefers playing PLO (pot-limit Omaha) cash games, he still surprised many by having made it to the ‘November Nine’, the nine players who get to participate in the WSP. In fact, Van Hoof even started out as the chip leader.
After being eliminated Van Hoof tweeted ‘Thank you all for the amazing support, I truly appreciate it! It’s been one heck of a ride and a unique experience’. First place went to Sweden’s Martin Jacobson and second place to Norway’s Felix Stephensen.
(Links: www.ed.nl, www.pokernews.com, Photo by Jam Adams, some rights reserved)
Tags: Eindhoven, Las Vegas, poker
Dutch record label Black Hole Recordings has opened an online online pop-up store where people can get free tracks, ringtones and the likes by paying with a tweet. Started on 11 November, the pop-up store will be online for 30 days. Follow Black Hole Recordings on Twitter at @Blackholerec by placing a tweet with the hashtag #paywithatweet and the article you want, and it will be sent to you for free. You’ll get a direct message about you purchase.
Black Hole Recordings claims this is a world first and sells music and merch from artists such als Ferry Corsten, Tiësto and New World Punx.
Tags: pop-up store, Tiësto, Twitter
From December 4 to 7 the second edition of the Blood & Thunder Roller Derby World Cup will be held in Dallas, Texas, and Team Netherlands will be participating for the very first time. Notice that this World Cup doesn’t contain the word ‘women’ in it because roller derby is predominantly a women’s sport: it’s the men that have to append an extra word to their World Cup.
Not even a year old, Team NL has been working towards Dallas from the very beginning, with about half the players hailing from the country’s first team, the Amsterdam Derby Dames, and the rest from the Rotterdam Death Row Honeys, Utrecht’s Dom City Dolls, Enschede’s Eastside Rock’n Rollers, Groningen’s Northern Lightning Rollerdgirls and Eindhoven’s Rockcity Rollers.
Today it has been announced that Team NL’s first tournament game will be against World Champion Team USA. Contrary to many other international sports, the US and Canada (ranked 2nd) dominate the sport because since the era of modern-day roller derby that coincidentally started in Texas in 2001, these two countries were pretty much the only ones playing the sport. Since then roller derby has grown exponentially, and countries such as England, France and Germany are now approaching the level of competitiveness driven by the US and Canada.
Some of the Team NL girls will be travelling to the US for the first time and are as excited as can be.
(Disclosure: I skate with the Amsterdam Derby Dames. Photos of Team NL training by Branko Collin)
Tags: Eindhoven, Enschede, Groningen, roller derby, Rotterdam, Team Netherlands, Texas, Utrecht
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: bike paths, 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