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May 17, 2016

Growing food for Mars and the Moon

Filed under: Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 11:20 am

The Dutch are already involved in getting to Mars, but researchers at Wageningen University feel people need to be able to grow their own food if they ever plan on living there.

Wageningen University wants to grow vegetables in soils similar to those found on the Moon and Mars, but getting those soils is a tall order. However, NASA actually makes ground similar to that on the Moon from sand found in an Arizona desert, while Mars’ crimson ‘soil’ is scooped from a volcano in Hawaii. The first experiments started in 2013 after the university received an order of 100 kilos of NASA’s imitation ‘space soil’, which cost 2,000 euro.

Wieger Wamelink of Wageningen University decided to grow tomatoes, peas, cress and other plants in pots containing the simulated soil. The imitation ground wasn’t big on being watered at first, but soon turned out to be good potting soil. “In the Martian soil, plants were growing fast and well. They even started to flower, something that we never anticipated,” Wamelink said. The 50-day experiment was written up in the science journal PLOS One in August 2014.

The vegetables however are not necessarily safe to eat. Wamelink suggested growing other plant species such as violets to absorb the poisons. Water should be no problem as it is found as ice on both the Moon and Mars, said Wamelink. Other questions which need answers include the presence of friendly bacteria to help plant growth and what happens to plants that grow in low gravity. It’s still all very theoretical and cannot be tested in actual Martian and lunar conditions.

Part of me wonder if earthlings so fond of all kinds of foods, wouldn’t go bonkers from a steady diet of boring, never mind a lack of meat for some, alcohol and chocolate. The first person to open up a snack bar is going to rule the planet.

(Link: timesofindia.indiatimes.com)

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May 15, 2016

Dutchman snaps shop cats in China

Filed under: Animals,Photography by Orangemaster @ 12:42 pm

Chinese-cats

Dutchman Marcel Heijnen, originally from The Hague, lives in Hong Kong, China and likes to take pictures of shop owner’s cats. You can follow him at @ChineseWhiskers on instagram.

Surprised at how successful his cat pics are, he is planning on publishing a book, called ‘Hong Kong Shop Cats’ this September, with a book on Hong Kong market cats to follow by the beginning of next year. Both books will feature a haiku by Singaporean poet Ian Row, as well as an essay by Hong Kong-based British writer Catharine Nicol.

Shop owners have told Heijnen that they keep cats to repel rodents, but then they do that in The Netherlands as well. Heijnen, who previously lived in Singapore, said he is always careful not to identify the specific location of the businesses he visits so they are not bombarded with visitors.

(Link: www.scmp.com, Photo: @ChineseWhiskers on instagram)

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May 13, 2016

Building in Arnhem nominated for international prize

Filed under: Architecture by Orangemaster @ 9:17 am

800px-Rozet_Arnhem

The Rozet building in Arnhem has been nominated for the RIBA International Prize of the Royal Institute of British Architects alongside 29 other buildings from around the world.

Designed by Neutelings Riedijk architects and opened by Princes Beatrix in 2013 when she was no longer queen, the Rozet is a cultural centre that houses various cultural and educational institutions such as the public library, the Volksuniversiteit and To Art Kunstuitleen. It’s called Rozet because all the ‘rozet’ (rosette) patterns that can be found in different shapes on the building.

The Rozet won Best Building of the Year 2014, an award for Dutch architects, but it is now up against some stiff international competition, including two buildings designed by the late Zaha Hadid. The RIBA International Prize is to be awarded in December.

(Links: edition.cnn.com, www.gelderlander.nl, Photo of Rozet, Arnhem by Pauline Bergsma, some rights reserved)

May 11, 2016

Van Gogh painting replicated using plastic bottles

Filed under: Art,General by Orangemaster @ 1:41 pm

A painting by Vincent van Gogh, ‘The Starry Night’, has been replicated by a Taiwanese company using four million colourful plastic bottles with the goal of promoting recycling.

Taking up 53 hectares of the Starry Paradise park on the outskirts of Keelung City, the installation was opened to the public early this year to mark the 125th anniversary of van Gogh’s death.

“We were thinking of combining the idea of environmental protection with PET bottles and this landscape to create a piece of art, so that everyone can get to know another side of recycling,” explained Aisin Yeh, of the Unison Developing Co. Ltd, which undertook the project.

The project cost USD 2.6 mln and took four months to complete, according to the video. Have a look:

(Link: www.reuters.com)

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May 10, 2016

Dutch Eurovision rehearsal video leaked by Russia

Filed under: Music by Orangemaster @ 1:29 pm

We told you about the Dutch Eurovision entry from 23-year-old Douwe Bob from Amsterdam and we thought this year there wouldn’t be any fuss about wardrobe malfunctions or plagiarism, but oh no, there’s a scandal.

Apparently the Russian jury members leaked a video of them rating Douwe Bob’s entire performance at the general rehearsal, which was not supposed to happen. Большое спасибо, Russia!

Some people are pissed that the video was leaked, others like the bookies get some inside information about Douwe Bob’s chances. As we said recently, ‘Slow Down’ is nice, but not an earworm.

UPDATE: Douwe Bob has made it to the final.

Here’s the leaked video:

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(Link: www.rtvnh.nl, Photo of Microphone by visual dichotomy, some rights reserved)

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May 7, 2016

Citizens’ fingerprints adorn windows of new Deventer city hall

Filed under: Architecture by Branko Collin @ 6:06 pm

stadhuis-deventer-portraitTwo weeks ago the city of Deventer officially got a new city hall.

One of its prominent features is an artwork by Loes ten Anscher called Raamwerk Deventer which consists of the blown-up metal fingerprints of 2,264 citizens that cover windows both on outside and inside walls.

An early design for a new city hall had a number of difficulties to overcome. It was protested ten years ago for being obtrusive and the brouhaha even brought down two successive city governments. The architects of that design, Neutelings Riedijk from Rotterdam, were asked to return to their drawing boards, which they did. They came up with something better, something that impressed NRC.next: “Design driven by political noise usually ends up being a tepid compromise or an outright failure […]. But the City Hall Quarters, as the collection of old and new buildings is called, has become an exemplary complex in both an architectural and an urban design sense. The city hall is an example of how well a new building can function in an old city centre.”

Loes ten Anscher hopes that by using their fingerprints, the citizens will come to feel that the new building also belongs to them.

A more cynical person, like me, might see the usage of thousands of fingerprints more like a celebration of the utter disdain with which Dutch governments sometimes treat their citizens’ right to privacy. But hey, it looks really pretty, right?

(Photo: Deventer Stadhuiskwartier)

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May 5, 2016

Pancakes with fries and more in Rotterdam

Filed under: Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 10:27 am
fries1

Last weekend in Paris, a French woman asked me at the dinner table what food was like in the Netherlands. Examining the party of eight around me with a Dutch cook on my right (from Limburg, where they actually enjoy food), I diplomatically answered that the Netherlands have great basic ingredients, but seem to struggle to put them together nicely.

In an environment where snack food goes disco and having a romantic dinner at a junk food chain went viral, here’s a questionable junk food mashup: a pancake with ‘friet speciaal’ (fries topped with chopped onions, mayonnaise and curry ketchup), which can be had at a mini-golf course in Rotterdam.

“It’s not a joke and it’s very tasty,” claims cook Brian de Jong. They call it the ‘pannenkoek Xtra speciaal’, which goes for €7,50 and was in fact inspired by the disco snack food mentioned above. In case you got hit hard by a wayward golfball during your stay, you can also order the pancake Turkish pizza (aka ‘lahmacun’) or the pancake satay.

(Link: www.hln.be)

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May 4, 2016

Dutch take measures against neighbouring nuclear reactors

Filed under: Health by Orangemaster @ 10:00 am

Last week, the Dutch government announced it was going to hand out 15 million iodine pills to protect people living near worrisome ageing Belgian and German nuclear reactors. The seven Belgian reactors in Doel and Tihange were built in the late 1960s to late 1970s, with closures planned for 2022 to 2025, while Germany’s Emsland plant, built in 1982, is scheduled to shut down in 2022. As a contrast, the Netherlands only has one operational nuclear power plant in Borssele, Zeeland, built in 1974, with no plans to close, except rumours of ‘possibly before 2033’.

First Belgium announced its plan to distribute iodine pills to its population of 11 million people in 2017 in case of a nuclear accident after which Dutch health minister Edith Schippers announced that her government would distribute its share of pills to the Dutch. Once tablets are distributed to children and pregnant women, the rest of the 15 million could be made available to everyone caught up in a potential accident, including tourists, visitors and workers, Schippers explained. Iodine pills help reduce radiation build-up in the thyroid, and tablets are available to everyone aged 40 and under within 20 kilometres of a plant.

“Belgium’s creaking nuclear plants have been causing safety concerns for some time after a series of problems ranging from leaks to cracks and an unsolved sabotage incident.” And if that wasn’t enough cause for concern, investigators last year found surveillance footage of a Belgian nuclear official in the apartment of a suspect linked to the Brussels and Paris attacks.

(Link: phys.org, Photo by Tom Varco, published under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license)

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May 3, 2016

King’s Day was also about collecting urine

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 9:41 am
Urilift

Some 23,000 litres of urine were collected at three locations during King’s Day in Amsterdam this year in order to make phosphate fertiliser. The urinals were placed at the Nassau Festival, Kingsland and in Vondelpark, and the old 1928 Olympic Stadium collected some urine as well. The urine was then brought to a phosphate factory in Amsterdam-West.

By collecting urine in urinals where no additional water is used, the urine stays ‘pure’. The phosphate is needed to produce fertiliser, which is apparently becoming increasingly more difficult to acquire from natural sources, so much so that urine may one day be the only solution.

And so the urine produced after – I’m just guessing here! – the drinking of quite a bit of beer by men is being turned into manure. Phosphate in Amsterdam has been collected from sewage since 2013, enough to fertilise some 10,000 football pitches.

(Link: nos.nl, photo: urilift)

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May 2, 2016

John Cleese opens Silly Walks tunnel in Eindhoven

Filed under: Architecture,Art,General by Orangemaster @ 3:34 pm

SillyWalks

Hundreds of fans of British comedy legend John Cleese huddled in the cold today to greet the man who played a bowler hatted civil servant working for the The Ministry of Silly Walks. Handshakes and autographs were handed out by the 76-year-old actor, invited by Studio Giftig to officially open the renovated Dommel tunnel where graffiti artists have painted all kinds of references to the famous Monty Python sketch.

Cleese showed up in some sort of Australian slippers with no socks, having said that nobody would show up to such a ‘meaningless event’, but he was apparently surprised by all the fuss. Cleese didn’t perform any silly walks himself, also claiming he never was a fan of the sketch in question. Don’t let that rain on your parade and watch the full sketch.

(Link: www.ad.nl, Screenshot of YouTube sketch)

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