November 19, 2020

Dutch data award for major bird database

Filed under: Animals,Science,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:51 am

Led by Antica Culina and Marcel Visser of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Studies of Populations of Individuals (SPI-Birds) is a network of researchers who collect, secure and use long-term breeding population data of 1.5 million individually recognisable birds, an amount that keeps increasing. SPI-Birds have recently been awarded the Dutch Data Incentive Prize for the Medical and Life Sciences and very recently published their first scientific paper in the Journal of Animal Ecology, which coincides with them receiving the award. They’ve got the wind under their wings.

“Behind the paper describing our initiative, there are around 120 people and 1.5 million individually marked birds from 80 populations and 19 species. And an army of people who have been collecting these data, in sunshine and rain, adding up to over 2000 seasons of fieldwork.” explains Culina.

Having access to this database means preventing lost data and increasing future data quality with a community-supported standard. “SPI-Birds is important, because it allows comparative studies among populations by making the data FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable). Converting the various data formats into a single standard data format, especially, really facilitates the use of the data.” says Visser.

The first SPI Bird paper aims to describe the network for new members and stakeholders, and its ‘lessons learned’ in order to inspire other communities. “We hope SPI-Birds will serve as an encouragement to other research communities to create their own standards,” Culina adds.


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February 27, 2019

More fraudulent research from Tilburg University

Filed under: General,Religion,Science by Orangemaster @ 2:09 pm

Back in 2011, we told you about Professor Diederik Stapel who was disgraced from the Tilburg University for making up a whopping pile of research, and eventually went corporate in 2013.

The Tilburg University is back in the news with another PhD student making up research. Mohammad Nazar Soroush obtained his PhD with research into the lives of young Salafists in the Netherlands. However, he was caught faking conversations as well as visits to mosques that never happened, but may keep his PhD title. Professor Ruben Gowricham who helped Soroush can no longer be involved with granting PhDs and Soroush’s doctoral advisor has been reprimanded as well.

Gowricham has a business that makes money from doctoral candidates such as Soroush to the tune of thousands of euro a year. As well, Gowricham would receive 35,000 euro from Tilburg University per successful doctoral candidate. Two Islamist associations complained about the PhD, saying things in it were fabricated. Soroush used a supposed Salafist logo that is in fact not used by Salafists, and more of these kinds of details raised many red flags.

Although Soroush may keep his title, he has been asked not to distribute his thesis. He has also been asked to publish the fact that his thesis is based on insufficient evidence. People are surprised that he can still keep his title at this point, but the university claims that revoking it goes a bit too far. His credibility is definitely questionable, which will follow him around for a long time.


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November 8, 2018

Dutch scientists to spend millions studying lettuce

Filed under: Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 4:44 pm

An amount of 5.7 million euro is going to be spent doing research on 500 types of lettuce. The goal is to come with new kinds of lettuce. This project is called… LettuceKnow (yup, in English – in Dutch, lettuce is ‘sla’), which will be subsidised to the tune of 4 million euro, while a company that provides seeds will shell out 1.7 million euro.

“With this research, we want to find out how lettuce grows exactly and how we can ensure that its resilience against pathogens and climate conditions can be improved,” explains Professor Guido van den Ackerveken from Utrecht University. “Maize [corn] and tomatoes have been properly researched and new types have been created. Now it’s lettuce’s turn,” he adds.

Puns aside, the lettuce shown here, Valerianella olitoria aka corn salad, is one of my favourites, which I had never seen before moving to Europe.

(Link:, Photo of Valerianella olitoria lettuce by Rasbak, some rights reserved)

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November 2, 2015

Religious rural youth more violent than urban youth

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 3:10 pm


In his recently published article entitled ‘Taking the Conservative Protestant thesis across the Atlantic’ published in the British Journal of Criminology, Don Weenink of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Amsterdam claims that ‘Conservative Protestant rural youth are more often involved in violent crimes than their counterparts in urban areas, who also use less violence than average’. Less violence is possibly correlated with a total lack of nightlife, which in turn could also explain all the drinking and drugs.

Weenink collected data from 8000 Dutch young people aged 15 to 30. According to him, drinking alcohol is often seen as harmless pleasure by parents and young people in rural areas, whereas in urban areas it is often associate alcohol use with antisocial behaviour. As well, Protestant villages in the Dutch Bible belt have young people taking matters into their own hands in conflict situations. We only know the Bible Belt as a place where quacks suggest grinding oysters shells as medicine and children suffer and even die of measles for ‘religious reasons’.

Religious places like Urk and Volendam, also fishing villages, are often pointed out by many as full of bored kids that drink until they drop and take lots of drugs, usually cocaine. In 2012 quaint Volendam has more people snorting coke than cities like Paris, London and Milan. According to a 2003 Dutch television documentary ‘Fish, drugs and rock n’ roll’, the youth become drug addicts and alcoholics at a very young age and their religious leaders either thump Bibles or suggest they spend Saturdays playing board games with their parents. The documentary tells of Urk youth going to church to take and deal drugs.

(Link:, image an early 2000 Dunglish advert that wanted to say ‘if you drink more, you will think less, but managed to say the exact opposite)

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November 26, 2010

Stop snoring by learning the didgeridoo

Filed under: General,Music,Science by Orangemaster @ 11:46 am

Boffins over at the sleep research centre of the Canisius-Wilhelmina hospital in Nijmegen have concluded that learning how to play the Australian musical instrument didgeridoo helps reduce snoring. The specific training of the mouth and throat muscles to play this instrument apparently help reduce sleep apnea, which causing snoring.

Some 50 people were given a didgeridoo training for four months, which was not easy as one third quit, claiming they were not able to sustain the necessary circular breathing, never mind the time committment. No definite conclusions were drawn with such a small bit of research, but the boffins could be on to something. The Dutch were inspired by the Swiss who did something similar and obtained similar results.

To wipe away the associations some of us have of digireedoo players being Caucasian dreadlock-wearing backpackers who play on the street as they need cash while on vacation in major cities during the summer, have a look at the cool, modern sounding didgeridoo player jamming with South African rapper Jack Parow live at De Nieuwe Nor in Heerlen a few weeks back.


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December 9, 2008

HEMA essential brand, followed by 8 o’clock news

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 9:06 am

The Dutch cannot part with their HEMA department stores, a recent EURIB study revealed. Some 81% of the population thinks the cheap retailer with a sense for design is indispensable. The number two and three positions are taken up by Blokker (housewares) and Kruidvat (cosmetics). Among men, NOS Journaal—the state-run TV news show—took the top position (77%), among women HEMA leads (91%), with Pickwick (tea) taking second place.

The researchers determined three factors that could explain the indispensability of a brand:

  1. Consumers see a brand as a part of Dutch culture
  2. Consumers can interact with the brand
  3. Consumers are exposed to a brand on at least a weekly basis

I think HEMA’s perceived indispensability is caused by the fact that nearly everybody buys their underwear there. Ipso facto, the Dutch are an underwear wearing people. Free scientific analysis from the 24 Oranges’ towers, there ya go.

The study (Dutch, PDF) can be downloaded at the EURIB website.

See also:

Via Blik op Nieuws (Dutch). Photo by Hans Vandenbogaerde, some rights reserved.

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November 15, 2008

Electro-magnetic suspension makes cars zoom

Filed under: Automobiles,Science by Eric @ 2:43 pm

If it’s up to doctoral student Laurenţiu Encică, cars of the future will zoom by on electro-magnetic suspension. This system shall replace the combination of shock absorbers and springs used in today’s cars, which is cheap, but not optimal.

Encică’s reseach focused on using a combination of permanent magnets and electro-magnetic coils. The permanent magnets provide passive suspension, much like the good old mechanical suspension system. The electro-magnetic coils add an active component to the mix, allowing the system to respond to changing road conditions much faster than current systems.

Don’t expect Encică’s electro-magnetic suspension to be under your car any time soon, though. Measuring about 20 by 80 centimeters, the prototype he built is still a bit too bulky to fit under an average car and further research will be neccessary to make the design smaller and less energy consuming. Encică expects it will take another five to ten years for his system to hit the road.

(Link: TUE, Photo: Quasimondo)

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October 19, 2007

Let’s watch people eat

Filed under: Food & Drink,Science by Orangemaster @ 2:26 am

“Does service with a scowl put you off at lunch? Will you eat more greens if you are surrounded by plants? Does romantic, pink lighting encourage you to linger over your fruit salad?”

a) It puts me off all the time!
b) No. What an odd thought.
c) Again, what an odd thought.

“A new research centre dubbed the “restaurant of the future” at the Dutch University of Wageningen hopes to help answer these questions and more by tracking diners with dozens of unobtrusive cameras and monitoring their eating habits. We can ask the staff to be less friendly and visible or the reverse,” he said. “The changes must be small. If you were making changes every day it would be too disruptive. People wouldn’t like it.”

Making changes everyday, like, I dunno, changing the menu?
Has anyone noticed that they have “meatball day” and “fries day” at so many corporate canteens?

Wow. Let’s watch people eat, what they don’t eat (how’s that even possible) and if service (duh!) makes a difference.

“The researchers say they watch how people walk through the restaurant, what food catches their eye, whether they always sit at the same table and how much food they throw away.”

Nothing about the actual food they’re eating, if they use their utensils properly, if they have bad habits… that would be fun.

(Link: Manorama)

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June 2, 2007

Harvested meat for mortals and astronauts

Filed under: Food & Drink,Science,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 5:13 pm

Dutch researchers in the city of Utrecht are trying to grow pork meat in a laboratory with the goal of feeding millions without the need to raise and slaughter animals. According to Bernard Roelen, veterinary science professor at Utrecht University, the goal is make meat without killing animals. Although it is in its early stages, the idea is to replace harvesting meat from livestock with a process that eliminates the need for animal feed, transport, land use and the methane expelled by animals, which all hurt the environment, he said.

Research is also under way in the US, including one experiment funded by Nasa to see whether meat can be grown for astronauts.

(Link: Times of India, via Netherlands Post)

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