advertisement

November 24, 2014

The art and science of locked letters on video

Filed under: History,Science by Orangemaster @ 5:57 pm

The Historical Museum of The Hague is currently holding an exhibition entitled ‘Courtly Rivals: Elizabeth Stuart and Amalia van Solms’ that features locked letters of the 17th century. The letters have been brought to life thanks to some videos made by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). MIT Libraries’ conservator, Jana Dambrogio and others helped film six videos on the science of 17th century letterlocking.

‘Courtly Rivals’ is based on Dutch professor Nadine Akkerman’s publication by the same name, exploring the tense relationship between two of the most influential women in the Dutch Republic during the 17th century – Elizabeth Stuart, sometime Queen of Bohemia and her former lady-in-waiting Amalia von Solms, who became Princess of Orange in 1625. Elizabeth’s corpus of over 2,000 letters shows she was an astute politician, with a vast network of kings, queens, generals, ministers, church leaders, courtiers, and spies. Amalia’s correspondence has just come to light, but it appears she was no different. Both ladies, their secretaries, and their correspondents resorted to intricate methods to lock their letters shut.

(Links: www.haagshistorischmuseum.nl, libraries.mit.edu)

Tags: , , ,

November 4, 2014

Ambulance drone could drastically reduce response times

Filed under: Health,Science by Orangemaster @ 11:29 am

Belgian engineering student Alec Momont, a graduate at the Delft University of Technology, has developed an ‘ambulance drone’, a defibrillator which can fly at 100 km/h able to reach heart attack victims very quickly. It uses the GPS of emergency calls to navigate.

This drone or ‘Unmanned Aerial Vehicle’ (UAV), can get a defibrillator to a patient within a 12 km2 zone within a minute, reducing the chance of survival from 8 percent to 80 percent. Momont explains that it is the relatively long response time of emergency services of around 10 minutes, while brain death and fatalities occur with four to six minutes, which makes the fatality rate so high.

I’m easily convinced. It reminds me of an evening in the pub recently chatting outdoors and watching an ambulance trying to find an address in Amsterdam West with their GPS but having to ask us for directions. The police was following them, got lost as well and asked us for those same directions. I’m sure that wasted at least 10 minutes.

One drone is expected to cost around 15,000 euro and could also carry other medical tools.

(Link: phys.org)

Tags: ,

September 23, 2014

Dutchman fought to keep amputated leg, made a lamp

Filed under: Science,Weird by Orangemaster @ 7:00 am

Needing an amputation, Leo Bonten wanted to keep his right leg after the operation because he wanted to make a lamp out of it, claiming it would help him deal with his loss. Ethical clinician Erwin Kompanje and pathologist Frank van de Goot have a discussion about it with Bonten in attendance (see video).

The hospital said ‘no’ to Bonten keeping his right leg, but the law actually has nothing to say about it, only what to do with corpses. Kompanje was surprised at the hospital’s answer, which was entirely baseless. “Your body is your property, unless you give it away,” he explains. The ethical clinician compares it to leaving the hair from your haircut on the floor at the salon: you give permission to have it sweeped up by leaving it there, while you could ask for it and bring it with you.

Van de Goot, who prepared the leg for amputation, says social safety issues must be taken into account like hygiene and infection, which Bonten agrees with as well, although not an issue in his case. Van de Goot agrees with Kompanje that Bonten could keep his leg. He tells of people keeping their baby teeth in a box or gallstones they have had removed, so why not a leg.

However, Bonten was told that he could only get his amputated leg back after it had been buried to follow the letter of the law, which was costly never mind a bit ridiculous. Bonten refused and was initially refused the amputation by the hospital. It was eventually sorted out, but Bonten had to fight for a right he already had to keep his own leg and make the lamp he wanted. “The hospital didn’t have a leg to stand on,” says Bonten jokingly.

The big unanswered question is, what constitutes a corpse, because this kind a situation could very well happen again and the law apparently has no clear answer.

(In Dutch)

(Link: www.improbable.com)

Tags: ,

August 6, 2014

Lab meat inspires futuristic cookbook

Filed under: Animals,Food & Drink,Science by Orangemaster @ 4:07 pm

Back in early 2012 we told you about lab produced meat being made, and in late 2013 about the meat finally hitting the grill. Now it’s time to level up with a test-tube cookbook called ‘The In Vitro Meat Cookbook” written by Dutch-based scientists, chefs and artists and recently presented in Amsterdam.

“While some dishes are innovative and delicious, others are uncanny and macabre,” such as roast raptor, dodo nuggets and oysters grown from meat stem cells.

The idea was not to get people cooking so much as letting people imagine future possibilities.

(Link: phys.org)

Tags: , ,

July 11, 2014

Data storage speeds up by a factor of 1000

Filed under: Science,Technology by Orangemaster @ 11:23 am
Binary code

Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology and the FOM Foundation have recently presented a new technology that potentially allows data to be stored 1,000 times faster with ‘spin current’ using ultra-short laser pulses.

Data is conventionally stored using magnetization, making bits 1 or 0, but the limits of this technology have been reached, and researcher Sjors Schellekens of the Technical University of Eindhoven says that it’s time for new data storage technology.

The ‘spin current’ is able to cause a change in magnetization, which is 1,000 faster than what is possible with today’s technology. The new method has also been hailed as step towards future optical computer chips, which Eindhoven University of Technology is now working on thanks to a Dutch grant of close to 20 million euro.

In 2009 The University of Twente was on to something in the same field with spin polarisation achieved at room temperature, which also sped up the reading of a hard disk.

(Link: phys.org)

Tags: ,

June 21, 2014

Store keeper prosecuted for selling ‘Mein Kampf’

Filed under: History,Science by Branko Collin @ 2:44 pm

mein-kampf-adam-jonesThe Totalitarian Art Gallery in Amsterdam lives up to its name and trades in ‘totalitarian memorabilia’.

As far as memorabilia go, things don’t get much more totalitarian than Adolf Hitler’s book ‘Mein Kampf’ (‘My Struggle’). That book is said to be illegal in the Netherlands and if it is not, we will soon find out.

Last Friday at noon exactly a pair of detectives entered The Totalitarian Art Gallery at the Singel canal in Amsterdam and ascertained that, yes, store keeper Michiel van Eyk did indeed own a copy of Mein Kampf and yes, he did intend to sell it. The detectives proceeded to confiscate the book and to hand Van Eyk a summons, AT5 reports.

Last January Van Eyk was interrogated for “about an hour” at an unnamed police station about his motives for selling the controversial book. He told AT5 back then: “I don’t want to defend myself, I want this to go to court.” His wish is now granted, a first session has been planned for 26 August. Van Eyk will get to defend himself against charges of hate speech.

Mein Kampf’s legality is yet to be tested in the Netherlands, but hasn’t been much of an issue so far. The copyright to the book is held by the government of the state of Bavaria in Germany and will only run out in 2016. In 1997 Winnie Sorgdrager, then Minister of Justice, told parliament that the act of selling the book would expose a person to prosecution on the basis of article 137e of the Dutch criminal code, which forbids hate speech. She added that a publication was conceivably legal in a “scientifically responsible publication”, which she interpreted as “a publication in which the publisher or editor [...] distance themselves of the contents of the original text”. That must have been the dumbest take on science that I have seen in at least a week. (Yes, it’s been a slow week).

(Photo by Adam Jones, some rights reserved)

Tags: , , , , , ,

May 30, 2014

Gas extraction reports should be available in Dutch

Filed under: Literature,Science by Orangemaster @ 8:15 am

A group of residents from Groningen are demanding that Minister Kamp of Economic Affairs translate all English-language reports about gas extraction, something that concerns many home owners, into Dutch. Besides the reports being in English — and who knows what the quality of those reports are — the scientific language in them is probably difficult to understand. Should the minister ignore their request, the group plans to take their complaint to court.

First of all, I wouldn’t trust the original report linguistically or otherwise, knowing that the goal is to make it look like it’s safe to extract gas when houses have been known to show cracks in their foundations up in Groningen. Second, the average Dutch person probably can’t truly and fully understand these reports in English and it is safe to assume they would not understand the Dutch version either, at least not 100%. Third, if the original were to be quickly translated into Dutch, the quality of the text will only deteriorate.

Out of principle the Dutch should have the right to read public documents in their own language, and the argument of ‘pfff, everybody understands English’ is not true at all, especially if they are older. It’s that kind of overconfident attitude, which often remains unchallenged, that keeps me and other natives in business in the first place.

(Link: www.rtvnoord.nl)

Tags: , ,

May 29, 2014

Dutch cities top drug use chart

Filed under: General,Science by Orangemaster @ 9:16 am

Out of 42 European cities in 21 countries, three Dutch cities show up in the top 10 for drug use, according to the European Drug Report 2014 of the EMCDDA.

The trio of Eindhoven, Utrecht and Amsterdam can be described as the ‘MDMA capital cities of Europe’, respectively in positions 1, 2 and 3. Eindhoven is off the charts as far as speed is concerned, probably because it is often dumped directly into the sewers by makers.

The number one cannabis smoking wonderland isn’t Amsterdam, although Amsterdam is number two. Number one is Novi Sad in Serbia. Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Utrecht are numbers two, seven and thirteen for cocaine use.

We told you a while back that Amsterdam’s sewers are full of hard drugs.

(Links: www.volkskrant.nl, www.nu.nl)

Tags: , , , , ,

May 7, 2014

New satellite images of the Netherlands

Filed under: Photography,Science by Orangemaster @ 3:10 pm

imagesentine

This image over the coast line of the Netherlands is one of the early radar scans taken by the Sentinel-1A satellite, launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) on 3 April, which is said to be able to provide imagery under any weather conditions, day or night.

You can see Amsterdam on the centre-right side of the image, and in the lower part there’s Rotterdam, with its huge port extending to the left. As well, “Sentinel-1’s radar will also be used for monitoring changes in agricultural land cover – important information for areas with intensive agriculture like the Netherlands”.

(Link: phys.org, Photo: ESA)

Tags: , ,

March 3, 2014

Leo Vroman, artist, poet, scientist, dies at age 98

Filed under: Art,Literature,Science by Branko Collin @ 2:58 pm

leo-vroman-self-portraitTwo weeks ago Dutch-American poet, artist and scientist Leo Vroman died at his home in Fort Worth, Texas, nu.nl reports.

Although Vroman emigrated to the US after WWII, he wrote poetry in Dutch until the very end. Somebody posted the following poem called Einde (‘The End’) to his blog after his death, a poem he wrote on 10 February (translation by me):

It probably looks less,
this lovingly gathered
pile of chips from my thoughts,
like me than like a mountain.

What then will this raging* figure
of me consist of
and where did this already late
first spark come from?

Holly Moors reviews Vroman’s book Leo Vroman Tekenaar which explores the many forms his art took. As a biologist Vroman studied the way blood works (the Vroman Effect was named after him, as Elsevier points out in its eulogy).

Nu.nl writes that in 2010 Vroman wrote his own ‘in memoriam’ for the magazine Tirade: “Will we miss him? Not easily. His books will still be lurking everywhere and his Effect is lasting.” The news site points out that in the Netherlands Vroman was best known for his poem ‘Vrede’ (‘Peace’). He won numerous literary awards (and one science award), and was named honorary citizen of Gouda in 1990.

*) Or furious, burning, blazing: the Dutch word ‘laaiende’ is often used to denote anger, but when talking about a fire it means ‘blazing’.

(Illustration: Leo Vroman, self-portrait)

Tags: , , , , ,

Older posts »