November 30, 2020

Why do old windmills turn left and new ones turn right?

Filed under: Architecture,General,History,Nature by Orangemaster @ 2:37 pm

Every once in a while it’s good to ask ourselves some deep questions, and this one popped up as news recently. Why do old Dutch windmills turn left and newer ones turn right? It has nothing to do with the wind or with most millers being right-handed – let’s get that out of the way now.

The material that older blades are made from provide a more precise explanation. The two rods that form a cross to which the blades are attached are made from a tree trunk. As it was growing and needed sun to do so, the trunk would rotate to the right because the sun rises in the East, then moves to the South and sets in the West, and the tree would follow.

By turning the blades to the left, counter-clockwise, it would turn avoid splintering the wood. The wood needs to be super solid and ideally be of high quality, which could sometimes come from trees that grow very straight in forests, but not all the time.

Taking physics into account, there is no reason why modern-day windmills should have a preferred rotation direction. For example, wind turbines are manufactured in factories that use the same type and angle of blades, making them standardised and so they turn the same way – to the right. They could all be made to turn left if for some reason the world decided to do so.

Old Dutch windmills were not standardised and unique, which makes them nice to visit.

(Link: nu.nl)

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November 11, 2019

Dutch town smells like poo because of trees

Filed under: Nature,Weird by Orangemaster @ 8:31 pm

It has gone quite wrong with planting gingko biloba trees in Valkenswaard, Noord-Brabant. The female trees are dioecious, with separate sexes, and the female trees produce seeds that contain a type of acid that ‘smells like rancid butter or vomit’, although the residents of the city say it smells like poo.

The goal was to plant male trees that look slightly different and don’t have an odour, but that got messed up, and some streets apparently smell really disgusting. Residents are cleaning up the seeds, but even after putting them in the bins, they continue to stink the place up. The trees will not be replaced, but the seeds will be cleaned up by the city more often.

(Link: waarmaarraar.nl, Photo of Ginko biloba tree by BM Begovic Bego, some rights reserved)

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November 7, 2019

Tom Scott visits Waterloopbos, a former open air laboratory to study the way water flows

Filed under: Nature,Science,Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 7:56 pm

YouTuber Tom Scott visited the Waterloopbos in Marknesse in the Noordoostpolder and had a little chat with Leo van Rijn, a specialist in modelling the flow of watercourses.

As wiki says: “The Waterloopbos [literally ‘Watercourse Forest’] was the property of Delft Hydraulics […]. In 35 large scale models of sea arms and harbours, such as the Deltaworks and the harbour of Lagos, tests were performed in order to learn how to predict the way large hydraulic systems influence the course of water.”

The laboratory closed in 1995 and the forest is now owned by Natuurmonumenten and is open to visitors from sunrise to sunset (Dutch). It is part of the Voorsterbos, the oldest forest in Flevoland, a province that was entirely reclaimed from the water.

Read more about Waterloopbos at Holland.com.

(Photo: screen capture of a video by Tom Scott / Youtube)

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September 29, 2019

Netherlands’s biggest dike being heavily reinforced

Filed under: Nature,Science,Technology by Orangemaster @ 6:08 pm

afsluitdijk

The Afsluitdijk, a 32-kilometer dike that is 87 years old, is one of the key water defences against the sea, located between the provinces of North Holland and Friesland. Due to climate change, which causes rising sea levels and storms, the dike is being thoroughly renovated through 2023. You’ll notice that at least the parties involved believe in climate change – they’re not taking any chances. “The Netherlands is currently the safest delta in the world,” the government said. “We want to keep it that way.” Although sea levels have been rising for years, the levels are rising more quickly.

Engineers are strengthening the Afsluitdijk, including laying thousands of custom-made concrete blocks and raising parts of it. They are also improving the highway that runs over the narrow strip of human-made land which lies between the shallow Wadden Sea and the Ijsselmeer inland sea and which, despite its name, is technically a dam rather than a dike because it separates water from water.

This kind of innovation and the constant care needed to maintain the Netherland’s thousands of miles of dikes and levees does not come cheap. The government has earmarked nearly 18 billion euros ($20 billion) to fund such projects for the period from 2020-2033.

(Link: phys.org; photo: lc.nl)

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August 7, 2019

Newly discovered mushroom in NL gets a Dutch name

Filed under: Dutch first,Nature by Orangemaster @ 12:43 pm

In the Drents-Friese Wold National Park in the province of Drenthe, mycologists have discovered a type of mushroom never seen before in the Netherlands, the Pycnoporellus fulgens. It’s currently being referred to by its Latin name because there’s no Dutch name for it yet, but it won’t stay without a name for very long.

Normally, this type of mushroom is found only in old spruce wood forests, something more akin to Scandinavia than here. It is also odd that the Pycnoporellus fulgens has not appeared in the neighbouring countries of Germany and Belgium. The Dutch Mycology Association is not only trying to figure this mystery out, but also wants to give the mushroom a name, and are leaning towards ‘oranje sparrenhoutzwam’, or ‘orange spruce wood mushroom’.

(Links: nu.nl, Photo: naturetoday.com)

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May 25, 2019

Counting insects as only the Dutch can

Filed under: Dutch first,Nature,Science by Orangemaster @ 5:38 pm

Thanks to amateurs and experts at waarneming.nl, the Netherlands is currently the only country in the world that is able to properly and automatically count insects, and plans to spend this summer doing so.

Using 100 camera traps that will be placed throughout the country specifically developed to automatically count and recognise insects, Software will be ‘trained’ using a photo database containing several million photos. The size and quality of this database is apparently unique in the world.

Counting and identifying insects gives researchers insight into the numbers of insects nationally as well as the effectiveness of measures being applied to restore biodiversity. According to recent publications in scientific research, there’s an alarming drop in numbers of insects in Western Europe and in Dutch nature reserves. Regular folks like myself often see adverts about the lack of bees, with garden centres selling seed mixtures for plants that attract bees and butterflies.

Using camera traps is a bid deal because they can count and cover more ground as it were. The Netherlands apparently leads the field automatic image recognition of insects and the technique, sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, will now be delivered in time for the summer.

(Link: phys.org, Photo of Bee swarm by quisnovus, some rights reserved)

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January 9, 2019

Dutch ‘Rambo’ tulips at the Golden Globe Awards

Filed under: Film,Nature by Orangemaster @ 2:59 pm

The Dutch flower bulb company Borst from the wee town of Obdam, North Holland are now world famous for having provided the bouquets of tulips for the Golden Globe Awards, with a whopping 10,000 individual tulips having been ordered.

When the company received the order for the tulips from the United States, which doesn’t happen very often, they were kept in the dark about what they were for. Soon after the event aired, they got a message about what they were for and saw their product all over the news.

The fun part is, the Golden Globe opted for a type of tulip called ‘Rambo’, like the movie. “It’s a tulip that is heavy and gives big flowers,” explains Menno Boots from Borst.

(Link and photo: nhnieuws.nl)

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July 17, 2018

Night-blooming cereus in Utrecht ready to bloom

Filed under: General,Nature by Orangemaster @ 1:55 pm

For the first time in eleven years, a night-blooming cereus at the Oude Hortus in Utrecht is ready to bloom, and when it does, it does so at night.

The flower that blooms from the plant can be up to 30 cm. The experts say that it is the tropical weather we’re having in the Netherlands that is encouraging the plant to come out after more than a decade.

Over the next few days, one flower should come out, but when, nobody knows for sure.

(Link: rtvutrecht.nl)Photo of Night-blooming cereus by Sumita Roy Dutta, some rights reserved)

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February 4, 2018

Groningen Rhapsody, protest song about earthquakes by Maartje & Kine

Filed under: Music,Nature,Sustainability by Branko Collin @ 4:37 pm

The ninth largest gas field in the world is located under the Dutch province of Groningen and extensive exploitation has led to an instability of the ground. In 2015 local comedy duo Maartje & Kine wrote this parody of a famous rhapsody in which they lament the troubles the region has seen.

groningen-rhapsody-maartje-kineThe lyrics are in Dutch, but you could try your luck with YouTube’s automated translation. Here are some quotes to get you going.

“Open your eyes, look at your barn and see… [a crack].”
“Our cows only produce milkshake these days.”
“He is the minister, evil and sinister.”

Last month, Groningen was hit by a gas exploitation induced earthquake that registered 3.4 on the Richter scale. It was the strongest quake in Groningen since 2012 and the fifth quake that month. As a result, 3,000 citizens filed insurance claims, on top of the 100,000 claims made earlier.

(Illustration: partial screenshot of the video, YouTube / Maartje & Kine)

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December 13, 2017

Cat narrates nature film about Amsterdam

Filed under: Animals,Film,Nature by Orangemaster @ 1:40 pm

From the makers of ‘De Nieuwe Wildernis’ (‘The New Wilderness’), a documentary about wildlife in the Oostvaardersplassen (‘the lakes of those who sailed to the East’) that got 400,000 people to the cinema in just a month, comes ‘De Wilde Stad’ (‘The Wild City’), with all the amazing wildlife you can find in Amsterdam.

The film is ‘narrated’ by a cat called Abatutu that runs into many animals, including those crayfish we keep telling you about.

From seagulls that steal your fries to the grey mice found everywhere in Amsterdam, the movie’s trailer was released this week and gives us a glimpse of what’s to come on 1st March 2018, a later release date than originally planned, when Dutch cinemas will be showing the film. Music in the trailer by Dutch band The Kik, with ‘Ik zie je in stad’.

(Link: parool.nl, Photo of Brown rat by Jean-Jacques Boujot, some rights reserved)

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