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June 30, 2014

Futuristic bicycle bridge connects city to nature

Filed under: Architecture,Nature by Branko Collin @ 8:36 am

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The A15 motorway south of Rotterdam is not a nice road to cross if you are a pedestrian or cyclist. Eight lanes of terrifying motorized menace are bordered by a double railway on one side and another road on the other.

To help you escape the city without having to play a game of humanFrogger, this bridge, which appears to have come straight from the set of a science fiction film, was built earlier this month. All 190 metres of it connect the city of Rotterdam to the nature preserve of Rhoon.

The bridge, called ‘De Groene Verbinding’ (‘The Green Connection’) was designed by Marc Verheijen, an architect employed by the public works department of Rotterdam. If you want more photos and information, Mark Wagenbuur has an extensive write-up including pictures and videos.

The photo above comes from the Province of South Holland who have also dedicated a page to the bridge.

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April 10, 2014

The Anne Frank tree in Amsterdam is branching out

Filed under: History,Nature by Orangemaster @ 10:08 am
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Back in 2010 the world famous Anne Frank chestnut tree had blown over and broke. In an effort to save something of this tree mentioned in Anne Frank’s diary, branches were take in order to try and grow saplings.

Today, one of the saplings is big enough to be planted, and its prestigious destination will be the Capitol in Washington, DC, the seat of the United States Congress. This is not the first time the United States has planted saplings from the Anne Frank tree; in fact 11 have already been planted throughout the country.

The sapling will be planted on the Capitol’s west front lawn on April 30.

(Link: www.miamiherald.com, Photo: annefranktree.com)

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March 27, 2014

Government buys into harnessing electricity from plants

Filed under: Nature,Sustainability,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:58 am

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Plant-e , founded by David Strik and Marjolein Helder in 2009, is a spin-off company of the Environmental Technology of Wageningen University. After obtaining her PhD in November 2012 Helder became the CEO of Plant-e, while Strik works as an assistant professor at the university, supporting Plant-e’s research and development one day a week.

On March 12, coinciding with Dutch Arbour Day (‘Nationale Boomfeestdag’), Plant-e signed a deal with the Dutch government to build a plant-driven power plant. The plants will be grown on the Hembrug military terrain in Zaandam, North Holland and will be used for outdoor lighting and charging mobile phones.

Thanks to photosynthesis, a bioenergetic process used by plants to convert light into energy, plants create organic material. The roots of these plants contain bacteria that breaks down organic material, giving off electrons. Plant-e has created technology that captures these electrons as carbon electrons, which can be used directly as electricity.

Just this month we told you about a table that uses plant energy to charge mobile phones.

Watch the promo video (in English):

(Link: www.plant-e.com, Photo of Charging station by Katja Linders, some rights reserved)

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February 25, 2014

Dutch authorities let nature have its island back

Filed under: Animals,Nature by Orangemaster @ 10:00 am

Considering how much land the Dutch have reclaimed over the years, giving an island back to nature is definitely newsworthy.

Back in 2012 we told you about how two lucky people could apply as a tandem to watch birds on the island of Rottumeroog as a summer job. Unfortunately, last December, a storm apparently weakened the dunes around the house, which has now been destroyed, leaving the island uninhabited.

Only last month the only trail on Rottumeroog was officially named ‘Jan Brandspad’. The island’s municipality, Eemsmond, had to give the trail a name as required by law. There were even plans to put up a street sign.”

(Link: www.iamexpat.nl, Photo of Texel island by Searocket, some rights reserved)

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December 30, 2013

Artist records the sound the Earth makes 9 kilometres down

Filed under: Art,Music,Nature by Orangemaster @ 8:00 am

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Amsterdam-based artist Lotte Geeven has recorded the sound the Earth makes from the ‘deepest hole in the world’, which is apparently nine kilometres deep, near the Czech border. Seismologists, geophysicists and engineers helped her with this project, resulting in a series of sound installations.

It reminds me of some classic industrial music, probably Lustmord or a loop of 1980s Zoviet France. It’s soothing but eerie at the same time.

(Link: www.designboom.com, Photo of Seismograph by Hitchster, some rights reserved)

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December 27, 2013

Woman finds twin pearl in oyster during Christmas dinner

Filed under: Food & Drink,Nature by Orangemaster @ 10:28 am

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In Yerseke, Zeeland, a small Dutch fishing village, Hannah van den Boomgaard crunched on something hard while eating oysters only to realise she had found a twin pearl, two pearls grown together, which look like a big tooth or even a good luck doll, as Van den Boomgaard said herself.

Earlier this year in Arnhem a chef found a pearl in an oyster, which was rare, but the double pearl is of course, even more rare.

Oyster make pearls around grands of sand or other irritants as self-protection using nacre, the same substance its shell is made of, but then usually round. Cultured pearls are made by putting irritants in the oyster so that they will produce a pearl around it.

(Link: www.rtlnieuws.nl, wonderopolis.org)

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December 1, 2013

Tropical parakeets thrive in cold Amsterdam, Brussels, London

Filed under: Nature by Branko Collin @ 1:40 pm

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If you look at the places from where the rose-ringed parakeet originates, you’ll note that these are some of the hottest spots on the planet. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that large groups of these birds thrive in much colder climes.

Certainly the gardens behind my apartment aren’t part of the tropics, at least not last time I checked, which is when I took this photo.

Wikipedia claims the four largest cities in the country—Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and especially The Hague—are home to about 10,000 of these parakeets. It is assumed the birds are the descendants of parakeets once kept as pets. The male bird sports a red ring around its neck, hence the name rose-ringed parakeet.

A statue of philosopher Baruch Spinoza unveiled in Amsterdam in 2008 contains images of roses, rose-ringed parakeets and sparrows, representing Spinoza himself, immigrants and native citizens.

Other cities north of the Mediterranean with large rose-ringed parakeet populations are Brussels and London.

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November 23, 2013

It almost never rains in the Netherlands

Filed under: Bicycles,Nature by Branko Collin @ 10:33 pm

At hetregentbijnanooit.nl (it almost never rains dot nl) avid cyclist Gerard Poels from Grave near Nijmegen keeps track of how many of his bicycle commutes get rained on.

In the past five years it rained during an average of 9.4% of Poels’ rides, each of which took 40 minutes each way. Poels counts every little shower even if it rains for just a few minutes. He claims it happens only 4 or 5 times each year that it rains during the entire ride. During those five years Poels rode his bike to and from work 1,482 times.

Poels set up his site to counter the excuse “I am not going to take the bike to work because it always rains [in the Netherlands]“.

Eamelje.net points out that Peter Siegmund of the Dutch meteorological office (KNMI) calculated the probability that you will get wet if you stay outdoors (PDF). If you stay outdoors for an hour in the Netherlands, there is a 12% chance that you will get rained on. If you stay out for four hours, that probability increases to about 25%, and you will have to stay out for at least a fortnight to be absolutely sure to get wet. Siegmund adds that fans of camping are most likely to stay dry in June. Even then the probability of rain during a single week is still 91%.

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November 3, 2013

Documentary De Nieuwe Wildernis draws 400,000 visitors

Filed under: Nature by Branko Collin @ 1:33 pm

Dutch nature documentary De Nieuwe Wildernis has managed to lure 400,000 people to the cinema in just a month, Vroege Vogels wrote last Monday.

The documentary about wildlife in the Oostvaardersplassen (‘the lakes of those who sailed to the East’) was released on 26 September 2013. For feature films 400,000 visitors is considered pretty successful, but for a documentary it’s practically a miracle. As a comparison, last year Hollywood blockbuster The Hunger Games took the number 13 spot with 458,816 visitors.

Part of the attraction of Ruben Smit’s De Nieuwe Wildernis may be that there is very little original nature left in the Netherlands. Biodiversity is at an all time low in this country, the Mean Species Abundance having dropped from 40% in 1900 to 15% in 2000. The average MSA for Europe is 40%.

The nature reserve Oostvaardersplassen came about by accident. It is situated on the north end of Flevoland, the largest artificial island in the world. Originally reclaimed in 1986, the area was to be bordered by another artificial island, Markerwaard, and intended for housing business parks, but in 1986 the national government decided not to build the extra island. With businesses also staying away, nature took over. In 1986 the area was designated a national nature reserve.

See also: Searching and capturing that elusive horse wind.

(Photo: crop from the video)

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August 22, 2013

Creative camping in fancy design objects

Filed under: Design,Nature by Orangemaster @ 10:47 am

From 16 August to 30 September visitors can stay in one of the ‘creative shelters’ created by contemporary industrial designers. Each of the 15 mobile units on the campground are equipped with a comfortable bed and some of them have a bit more space that doubles as a small living space. The accommodation shown here is ‘Polaris’ designed by Boris Duijnevel of MUD projects.

Prices range from 20 to 80 euro a night, depending on the accommodation, and in the Story Caravan designed by Nancy Wiltink, she’ll throw in a bedtime story for an extra 55 euro between 10-11 pm that is either romantic or filled with horror so you will ‘sleep poor’, most probably no pun intended, just bad English (it should be ‘poorly’, Dutch adjectives and adverbs are often written the same way).

In addition, urban campsite offers guests a zone for campfires, hammocks to relax, a wood-fired sauna, and a picnic spot in front of each installation. the site also provides the visitors with general amenities — a restaurant, a well-stocked shop, laundry and a shower. the creative expression stop stop at the art objects: temporary photo exhibitions will be shown on the grounds, one of the fields will be arranged as a sculpture garden, and the terrain’s decoration will be changed regularly.

(Link: www.designboom.com, Photo of Polaris by MUD projects)

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