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


One of the most remarkable buildings of Eindhoven is the former science museum of Eindhoven, 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


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:

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July 22, 2015

Single women unlawfully excluded from IVF treatment

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


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.


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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.


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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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March 12, 2015

Dance film shot in CERN Large Hydron Collider

Filed under: Dutch first,Film,Science by Orangemaster @ 11:13 am


‘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:, Photo of Large Hydron Collider by shotleyshort, some rights reserved)

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February 19, 2015

A cardigan that helps with patient rehabilitation

Filed under: Design,Science by Orangemaster @ 11:20 am


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:, Photo by Frank Mayne, some rights reserved)

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February 18, 2015

Bacteria that ring each other in the sea

Filed under: Animals,Science by Orangemaster @ 11:23 am

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:,, Photo by Macinate, some rights reserved)

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February 15, 2015

Hospital perfects donor organ machine

Filed under: Science by Orangemaster @ 9:22 pm

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.


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