A survey conducted by women’s magazine ‘Opzij’ showed that single women are refused IVF treatment at 19 out of the 39 Dutch hospitals they researched, indicating discrimination. They are often told to go somewhere else with better facilities like a sperm bank or with counselling to avoid telling them flat out they won’t treat single women. The hospitals’ moral view is often that ‘a child should have two parents’, but it is illegal to refuse someone based on their single ‘lifestyle’. On the other hand, a history of abuse or addiction is a good reason to refuse treatment to someone.
Frank Broekmans of the Dutch association of gynaecologists and obstetrician says hospitals that refuse to perform IVF are not acting unlawfully because enough hospitals can cater to single women and it’s not necessary medical attention. He also believes a child is not well-served by having only one parent, but again, that’s discrimination even if it is a widely-held belief.
Bart Fauser of the UMC Utrecht hospital, the same hospital where Broekmans works and the most friendly towards single women looking for IVF treatment, says that there is no scientific proof that children of a single parent have a worse time of it. Once Fauser tried to screen a couple before an IVF treatment and he was heavily criticised, leading him to believe that couples always seem to have the right to decide what’s best for them, but not single women.
All I know is that Belgium has more IVF clinics, and like for many procedures including childbirth (if I can continue to believe the people around me), Dutch residents cross the border to get treated without the hassles they experience in the Netherlands.
(Links: www.volkskrant.nl, www.opzij.nl)
Tags: discrimination, hospitals, IVF, single women, women
Out of 66 countries surveyed for a recent American study at Northwestern University, the Netherlands came out on top for perpetuating gender stereotypes that men are scientists and women, not so much. Other ‘emancipated’ countries such as Denmark and Norway known for their gender equity also perpetuate these gender stereotypes.
“Dutch men outnumbered Dutch women by nearly four to one among both science majors and employed researchers,” David I. Miller, lead author of the study noted. “The strong stereotypes in the Netherlands, therefore, reflect the reality of male dominance in science there.”
Miller also mentions the importance of teachers having to quote someone more contemporary than Marie Curie, as if women hadn’t done anything noteworthy in science since the 1900s. Marie Curie won a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903 together with her husband Pierre Curie, and was the only woman to win twice, with a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1911 all on her own. Curie must have had an influence on her daughter Irène Joliot-Curie who won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935 together with her husband Frédéric Joliot-Curie. Both Joliot-Curie children, a daughter and a son also become scientists in their own right.
The more women there are in science, the less gender stereotyping there should be in the long run, Miller points out.
I recommend reading soviet writer Natalya Baranskaya’s ‘A Week Like Any Other’ from 1969. You’ll find out about Olga, a full-time research scientist, wife and mother of two and all her female colleagues who went into science because it was the best place to work, albeit not without its own problems.
(Links: phys.org, en.wikipedia.org-2)
Tags: chemistry, gender stereotypes, Marie Curie, Nobel Prize
A two million euro grant could see professor Alan Rowan of Radboud University turn so-called super gel into a band-aid on steroids (figuratively, of course).
The Nijmegen-based professor of molecular chemistry accidentally discovered super gel in 2013 when his team put a jar of polymers in the fridge. Instead of gelling, the polymers dissolved completely into water, but when the researchers took the jar out of the fridge, the solution turned into a gel again.
According to Kennislink the super gel “acts the same as the extracellular matrix (ECM) in the human body. This matrix is a network of molecules connecting the cells, providing fibres with both support and elasticity. The most important constituents of ECM are the natural polymers collagen and fibrin.”
Companies from all over the world sent professor Rowan their ideas of what the new gel could be used for, from letting sports bras firm up when the wearer gets warmer to slowly releasing pesticides after they have been sprayed on plants. “Companies want a finished raw material, but we did not know anything about the gel. We needed to know whether we can guarantee the quality, whether the polymer is poisonous, how long it lasts and if the human body can digest it.”
The two million euro grant was one of five grants awarded by the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) on 5 February.
(Photo by Wikipedia user Henningklevjer, some rights reserved; link: Radboud University)
Tags: band aids, gels, Radboud University, super gel, supergels
‘Symmetry’, a new film by Dutch film-maker and former dancer of the Nederlands Dans Theater Ruben van Leer, transforms a particle accelerator with its scientists in hard hats into a experimental dance fest. On Saturday 14 Match the show will premiere at the Cinedans Film Festival in the EYE film institute in Amsterdam for anyone who is in town.
According to Van Leer his first challenge was writing a film script for dance, which he had never done before. The main character is called Lukas played by himself, a scientist/dancer, who, by way of a soprano voice in his head sung by Claron McFadden, begins to doubt his rational thinking.
There is also a making of you can watch as well.
(Link: thecreatorsproject.vice.com, Photo of Large Hydron Collider by shotleyshort, some rights reserved)
Tags: CERN, dance, Large Hydron Collider, physics
The Vigour cardigan is a collaboration between Pauline van Dongen, the TextielMuseum in Tillburg, and fellow PhD candidate at Eindhoven University of Technology, Martijn ten Bhömer. Van Dongen is also known for her long-lasting bioluminescent lamp.
Vigour has integrated stretch sensors that monitor upper body movement. The garment enables geriatric patients, physiotherapists and family to gain more insight into the exercises and progress of a patient’s rehabilitation. The sensors collect data that is then sent to an application installed on a tablet, so it can be analysed to help provide feedback from professionals.
The video is in English.
Vigour from STS CRISP on Vimeo.
(Link: www.dezeen.com, Photo by Frank Mayne, some rights reserved)
Tags: cardigan, Eindhoven University of Technology, elderly, sensors, Tilburg
A joint Dutch-Belgian study of the NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) has shown that there are bacteria in the North Sea that send signals to each other, much like using a telephone, over long distances. The bacteria are able to do so by using electrical signals with alternating current. Earlier researchers discovered that micro-oganisms could talk to each other, but their calls were usually local.
“We already knew that long-winding cable bacteria were living in the seafloor of the North Sea, which are capable of establishing an electrical current across centimeter distances,” explains team leader Professor Filip Meysman. “The really exciting discovery is that these bacteria are capable of adapting their electrical current generation, which enables signal transmission in the seafloor. This way the electricity-generating cable bacteria are essentially functioning as telephone cables.”
The discovery could mean all kinds of useful future applications. “Maybe within some years, solar panels or smartphones will harbor minuscule conducting wires of bacterial origin,” adds Meysman.
(Links: nieuws.nl, www.nioz.nl, Photo by Macinate, some rights reserved)
Tags: bacteria, North Sea
The University Medical Center Groningen has developed a special machine to repair organs such as lungs and livers that have been deemed unsuitable for transplant, which could significantly shorten donor waiting lists. These machines imitate blood circulation through the organs, ‘reanimating’ damaged organs. As well, organs could be conserved for 24 hours instead of the usual seven hours.
Professor of experimental surgical transplants Henri Leuvenink estimates the machines would increase organ transplants by 30%. According to the UMCG, they are the first hospital in the world with such technology.
Tags: donor, Groningen, medicine
University of Twente writes:
In the future, due to climate change and corresponding extremely high water levels, rivers in the Netherlands will be more likely to break their banks. This was the conclusion reached by Dutch researcher Suleyman Naqshband [...]. River dunes in the major rivers of the Netherlands tend to persist and not flatten out, thereby increasing the risk of flooding.
River dunes in this case is the somewhat unfortunate name for sand structures at the bottom of the river. Apparently they are quite common in Dutch rivers. The university adds:
These river dunes can reach large sizes, growing to as much as one third of the total water depth. This restricts the flow of water, causing water levels in the area of river dunes to be much higher than in sections of the river in which they are absent. River dunes are also dynamic, growing rapidly in just a few days then flattening out or even disappearing completely at extremely high flow rates.
(Photo of the river Meuse overflowing in 1980: Martin Collin)
Tags: Maas, Meuse, rivers, University of Twente, water, water management
Last year was a record year for the number of organ donations from the deceased in the Netherlands, according to the Dutch Transplantation Foundation. The count was 271 people, 11 percent more than in 2013. The number of people who donated part of their liver or a kidney for transplantation while alive was 533 in 2014 as compared to 522 in 2013. Since 2007 the number of donors has risen by 20 percent.
Over the past year, organ donation has made headlines a few times, particularly in 2007 when hoax reality television show
The Big Donor Show fooled people around the world into believing that a terminally ill woman was prepared to donate a kidney to one of 25 people who needed one. Although shocking to many, the goal to achieve greater awareness about the urgent need for organ donors obviously had some effect, as did, I’m sure, many other regular campaigns.
Recently, a man from Almere with kidney disease found a kidney donor after an appeal on Facebook about a year ago. The transplantation apparently has a 90% chance of succeeding.
Tags: Facebook, kidney, organ donation
Traditional fishing village Volendam is the butt of jokes for many things including hard drugs and ‘palingsound’ (‘eel sound’), a type of pop music from Volendam, referring to their smoked eel speciality. Then there’s the New Year’s Eve fire of 2000 where fresh pine trees branches (yup, illegal) were used as decoration on the ceiling of a cafe overflowing with people that caught fire because of a sparkler and caused deaths and serious injuries.
Nevertheless, the jokes about inbred villagers aren’t jokes. Three quarters of locals who want to have children get themselves checked out for a total of four hereditary diseases. One out of three villagers is a carrier, and if two carriers get together, that’s a 25% chance of hitting the jackpot. The 22,000 villagers all come from the same seven to twenty original families that settled the village, which explains many of the health issues, but not their ‘eel sound’.
‘Palingpop’ as the music is also called, started in the mid 1960s with easy listening tunes that resembled the American and British bands of the era. The term was coined by a radio station (video in Dutch) that would receive smoked eel as a present every time someone from Volendam would visit them. Acts such as The Cats and BZN as well as more contemporary singers such as Jan Smit and Nick & Simon are quite famous throughout the country and beyond.
(Link: www.parool.nl, Photo of Volendam by quantz, some rights reserved)
Tags: eel, palingpop, palingsound, smoked eel, Volendam