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August 20, 2016

Lose friends fast by being an organic food snob

Filed under: Food & Drink,Health,Science by Orangemaster @ 9:55 am

The Dutch are not a food country: the motto here is food as fuel, like the hearty cheese sandwiches I’ve grown accustomed to over the years. However, like most humans, they love tasty food and as of late, are flexing their great trading skills by trying to combine junk foods and also trying to counter food waste.

I just read a letter sent in to newspaper Trouw in which a couple actually believe that ‘normal’ food is poisonous and expensive organic and bio-organic food is the dog’s bollocks. I’m thinking they did not grow up with organic and bio-organic food because it’s not been readily available for that long, and read something somewhere about it and now act as if they are in a higher social class. I’m picturing a white Dutch couple with some education, 30s, where the woman cuts off the man when he’s talking, especially since he’s the only one making sense, as you’ll see. And he’s going along with it because he can’t be arsed to find another partner at the moment and I bet eats dirty poisonous food when she’s away at her mother’s.

The couple wanted to know if it is OK to ask their friends to cook them organic food at dinner parties and wonder if it’s not too annoying for them to ask for ‘non-poisonous food’. The man thinks it’s inappropriate, while the woman has asked friends before and it has gone well, but still they get invited less. I hope they realise their friends fed them normal food and are going to avoid them like poison in the future until the guy splits up with his girlfriend and finds a new shiny one who eats everything under the sun.

The answer the couple got starts with: “it is quite arrogant to ask your friends to serve you expensive organic/bio-organic food. […] Your menu demands are very different than those of vegetarians or from people with a specific allergy because normal supermarket food is not poisonous.” It goes on to say there’s no scientific proof whatsoever that normal food is poisonous and called the couple ‘bonkers’ to conclude that their friends serve them ‘poisonous meals’, which is horribly arrogant and incorrect. The author would invite them over, serve them normal food and never invite them again, too, with a smile.

The man of the couple believes that being with friends is more important than the food they eat, but his partner isn’t getting the message. I think food and dinner party etiquette isn’t this couple’s biggest problem.

(Link: www.trouw.nl, Photo by FotoosVanRobin, some rights reserved)

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December 14, 2015

Killing mosquitoes using human foot odour traps

Filed under: Science,Weird by Orangemaster @ 11:37 am

In 2006 Dutch scientist Bart Knols observed that malaria-carrying mosquitoes are attracted to smelly human feet, convincing fellow scientist Renate Smallegange’s to follow in his smelly footsteps devising mosquito traps using human foot odour. Knols figured out that when standing up, mosquitoes would go for people’s feet, prompting Smallegange to zoom in on this discovery. At Wageningen University she collects people’s smelly socks to carry out research on trapping mosquitoes who transmit malaria through their bite, affecting millions of people every year.

According to this radio interview, carbon dioxide is what first attracts mosquitoes to people, however since 2006, we also know that smelly feet do that as well. She explains that clean socks are not attractive at all to mosquitoes, smelly socks are very attractive, but when you add carbon dioxide, you could trap roughly 45 to 75% of all malaria-carrying mosquitoes. And the sock only needs to be worn for a day!

No, foot odour doesn’t work on ‘regular’ mosquitoes, and yes, the idea is to design traps with a specific built-in odour, not some African villager’s dirty socks or shipping socks over to Africa.

(Link: www.improbable.com, Image by A.E. Goeldi, in the public domain)

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November 30, 2015

Young men disadvantaged by forced dropping out in the Netherlands

Filed under: Health,Science by Branko Collin @ 11:47 pm

Girls’ brains develop faster than those of boys, and as a result boys aren’t always ready when it is crunch time in college, a literature review by researchers of Maastricht University and the University of Amsterdam concludes.

In 2009 Dutch institutions of higher education were given the right to ‘fire’ students with low grades (iudicium abeundi). The researchers fear that this measure unfairly disadvantages male adolescent students because their studying skills are less developed than those of female students of the same age. The study finds the non-cognitive brain functions favoured in today’s education, such as motivation, initiative and a talent for introspection, develop earlier in girls.

The study also finds large differences in non-cognitive skills within each gender, which is why the researchers recommend that interventions be aimed at both boys and girls. What these interventions could look like is too early to tell, the study reports.

The study entitled The Boys Against the Girls was commissioned by the Ministry of Education and was released earlier this month.

(Link: ANS, photo of a lightbulb by Emil Kabanov, some rights reserved)

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September 21, 2015

Cancer patient dies building app for fellow patients

Filed under: Health,Science by Orangemaster @ 1:07 pm
consult

Dutchman Frederik van den Broek who died last month of cancer was key in helping neurologists build MindApp, being dubbed as the world’s most advanced mobile-based app for cancer patients.

Available for Android and iPhone, MindApp will help users track and update appointments, manage their doctors and the quantities of pills they need to take, and much more.

Van den Broek said that he had received a printout from the hospital of all the appointments, medicine and information, but then lost the printout within an hour. “These things happen when you’ve lost a large part of your brain and your short-term memory has gone to pieces,” he explained.

According to neurologist Jaap Reijneveld of the Free University Medical Centre (VUMC) in Amsterdam involved in building the app, patients have a massively complicated treatment schedule, and this app will help them remember things and give constant feedback to doctors on the patient’s condition.

Find out more about what Van den Broek started MindApp in this video.

(Link: phys.org)

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August 29, 2015

1960s promo of science museum Evoluon (video)

Filed under: Science,Technology by Branko Collin @ 12:38 pm

evoluon-carillon-screenshotThe Eindhoven science museum Evoluon had to close its doors in the 1980s, but a 12-minute-long promotional film made in 1968 provides a fascinating insight into the experience for those who never got to see the real thing.

Visitors would enter a UFO-like building perched on top of a glass frame, pay at turnstiles and take an elevator to the saucer section. There they would be greeted by exhibits about motion, magnetism, engineering, the human body, sound, light, society and more. The basement had a popular electronic speech synthesizer that could be made to say the word ‘koffie’ (‘coffee’) using different inflections.

A lot of the exhibits were operated by the visitors themselves.

The film would find an unexpected audience in the UK as it had been selected by the BBC as one of its 158 colour trade test films which were broadcast during intervals in the regular BBC2 programming. The idea was to give electronics store owners a chance to show off their colour TV sets to shoppers.

The film was produced by Ted de Wit and director Ronny Erends and the music was made by Jaap Hofland and the Moonliners.

See also: Evoluon architect Leo de Bever dies.

(Image: crop of the video)

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August 18, 2015

Evoluon architect Leo de Bever dies

Filed under: Architecture,Science,Technology by Branko Collin @ 3:59 pm

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One of the most remarkable buildings of Eindhoven is the former science museum Evoluon. The building was designed by architect Leo de Bever who died last Friday, and ‘light architect’ Louis Kalff.

De Bever came from a family of architects responsible for many buildings in Eindhoven. He worked on banks, hospitals and schools all over Noord-Brabant. De Bever studied architecture at the Academie voor Bouwkunst in Tilburg and at Cornell University, Ithaca, USA. In 2007 he and his brother Loed sold their architecture business to Leo’s son Stefan and to Heleen van Heel.

The Evoluon building housed Philips’ science museum from 1966 to 1989. When Philips started with cutbacks in the 1980s, Evoluon was, as a non-essential part of the home electronics giant, a logical victim. Keeping the exhibit up-to-date was considered costly and was highlighted as an important reason to close the museum. Since then Evoluon has operated as a conference center, but its lasting futuristic appeal has not gone unnoticed. In recent years, Evoluon was home of Kraftwerk concerts, Tedx conferences and science exhibitions.

De Bever died aged 85.

(Photo by Daniel Volmer, some rights reserved)

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August 11, 2015

Dutchman designs DIY surgical robot

Filed under: Design,Science,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:34 am

OpenSurgery

London-based Dutch designer Frank Kolkman, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, has built an open-source device that could enable ordinary people to perform keyhole surgery on themselves, aptly entitled ‘Open Surgery’.

This DIY surgical robot was made using 3D printing and laser cutting technologies, and would be suited to do surgery on the lower abdomen, procedures including prostate surgery, appendectomies or hysterectomies. The device would normally be controlled by a person and in this case, using a PlayStation 3 controller to be able to move in all directions.

“Open Surgery investigates whether DIY surgical tools outside regulated healthcare systems could plausibly provide a more accessible version of healthcare,” Kolkman explains. His idea is to demonstrate that medical innovation can come from outside the medical field, as more and more people from first world countries turn to medical hacks that can be found on YouTube.

It cost Kolkman 5,000 USD to make the device, and at the time of filming, he claims that an appendectomy in the US costs 10,000 USD, while a professional surgery robot costs 2 mln USD.

(Link and screenshot: www.dezeen.com)

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July 22, 2015

Single women unlawfully excluded from IVF treatment

Filed under: Health,Science by Orangemaster @ 9:58 am

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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)

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May 21, 2015

Science still a man’s world in the Netherlands

Filed under: Science by Orangemaster @ 11:26 am

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)

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April 6, 2015

Smart liquid wound dressing could trigger rapid healing

Filed under: Health,Science by Branko Collin @ 10:19 pm

gel-henningklevjerA 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)

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