Amsterdam and surely many other Dutch cities have lots of rats, what with these damp, age-old canals and all. And no, not the cute little grey mice that could adorn some Anton Pieck painting, but the bigguns that a posh neighbourhood like Amsterdam South is not expected to have running around.
According to newspaper De Telegraaf, the Marie Heinekenplein is “swarming” with them. The square has many outdoor cafés as well as a supermarket where a woman claimed to have seen about 30 of them in one go. As usual, businesses and locals have complained about the situation, but are being ignored by the city. Although everyone is responsible for making sure there’s no food left around, the city apparently does not pick up the trash often enough, which doesn’t help. Amsterdam’s innercity garbage collection is mostly done by stacking it someone twice and week as if it were the suburbs, which is not something other big European cities do.
And poisoning them is an option, but apparently about 39% of these rats can take it. “Research done by Wageningen University shows a large number of rats in the Netherlands have a genetic make-up which allows them to develop resistance more quickly.”
(Links: telegraaf.nl, www.dutchnews.nl, Photo of Brown rat by Jean-Jacques Boujot, some rights reserved)
Tags: Amsterdam, poison, rats, Wageningen University
Weird science! The Ig Nobel awards are tongue-in-cheek awards given to the people doing very serious scientific studies that make you laugh before they make you think. Last Thursday, the 2007 awards were presented at MIT in the US.
Prof. Dr. Johanna van Bronswijk of the Eindhoven University of Technology came to pick up the prize she had won in the category biology for doing a census of all the mites, insects, spiders, pseudoscorpions, crustaceans, bacteria, algae, ferns and fungi with whom we share our beds each night. See also “Huis, Bed en Beestjes” (House, Bed and Bugs), J.E.M.H. van Bronswijk, Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde, vol. 116, no. 20, May 13, 1972, pp. 825-31.
Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, of Universitat de Barcelona in Spain, won the award for Linguistics by showing that rats sometimes cannot tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards. See also “Effects of Backward Speech and Speaker Variability in Language Discrimination by Rats,” Juan M. Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, vol. 31, no. 1, January 2005, pp 95-100.
Other winners were the US military apparatus for trying to make a bomb that turns its victims into homosexuals (no-one turned up to accept the award); Mayu Yamamoto, from Japan, for developing a method to extract vanilla fragrance and flavouring from cow dung; Brian Wansink of the UK for investigating the limits of human appetite by feeding volunteers a self-refilling, “bottomless” bowl of soup; and more.
Tags: Dutch language, Eindhoven University of Technology, experiments, Japanese language, rats