July 31, 2019

Dutch recumbent bike designed to go 120 km/h

Filed under: Bicycles by Orangemaster @ 11:07 pm


The National Military Museum located on the former air base at Soesterberg had a special attraction recently that had nothing to do with old planes, helicopters, tanks or military equipment: a recumbent bike that is made to go 120 kilometres an hour.

The VeloX 9 recumbent bike – a bicycle that places the rider in a reclining position – was designed by 16 students of the Delft University of Technology and the University of Amsterdam for the World Human Powered Speed Challenge to be held September 8-14 in Nevada, in the United States. Team VeloX 9’s goal is to break the women’s record of 121.8 kilometres per hour with Dutch riders Rosa Bas from Utrecht and Jennifer Breet from Leiden.

The highest speed ever achieved in the Netherlands on the bike is 70 kilometres an hour purely due to lack of a free, straight track to be able to fully test it. Even at the airfield, it could only go 50 km. What must be a breeze to test in the United States is a space issue in the Netherlands, but that’s never stopped the Dutch before.

(Link: rtvutrecht.nl, Photo of Delft University of Technology by Gerard Stolk, some rights reserved)

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April 13, 2016

Dutch woman is world’s first-ever Professor of Fatherhood

Filed under: Dutch first,General by Orangemaster @ 10:04 am

In a few days Professor Renske Keizer of the University of Amsterdam, 32, will become the world’s first and only ‘Professor of Fatherhood’. Mother of three children herself, she researches the effect fathers have on children in different family configurations and opposes the ‘glorification’ of motherhood in the Netherlands, which constantly downplays the role of fathers in Dutch families regardless of their contribution.

Keizer explains that fathers of low income families play a lesser role than those of high income families and that a lack of affordable childcare, lack of paid and unpaid paternity leave and many other 1950s relics skew the balance between mothers and fathers, with fathers getting the short end of the stick. While Dutch fathers have voiced a desire to want to work part-time like most mothers do but cannot because they are expected to work full time and Dutch working mothers making less than working fathers, it’s tough to foster any change without taking a hard financial hit.

Dutch women entered the job market in the 1970s, decades later than their western counterparts, and the obstacles facing them today stem from the ingrained idea that women don’t need to work to support their families or develop themselves. “Men work to take care of their family, that’s their role. Many women see work as something that conflicts with what they do at home, clean and take care of the children. That’s Dutch culture. You’re a bad mother if you bring your children to daycare more than three times a week, but not a bad father. Society needs to make a change.”

Keize is attempting to see if being a father contributes to raising children in a unique way, but warns that maybe it does not. She explains that generally fathers speak to their children more like adults, while mothers tend to speak to their children more on their level in part because mothers tend to know their children’s capabilities better. However, fathers play a major role in increasing children’s vocabulary. The same goes with reading bedtime stories, something Keizer admits high income families do way more than low income ones: a mother reads a story as it is in the book, while dad makes stuff up as he goes along, triggering children’s creative thinking.

Keizer is also researching LBGTI parents and is very aware of the differences between white Dutch folks and other ethnic groups, hoping that she can attract more diversity to her study.

(Link: www.parool.nl, Photo by Eelke Dekker, some rights reserved)

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February 26, 2016

Groningen University wins bullshit bingo slogan award

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 10:31 am


Last November we told you about the Dunglish/bullshit bingo fest that made up Dutch university slogans, and we even had a favourite horse in the running.

“One sticks out above the rest in our view, it’s the RUG with ‘Born Leaders Reach For Infinity’ that has the flow of an acronym, but the appeal of an overflowing bin bag with rotten food begging to be taken out.”

We proudly picked a winner. I even did a search using the word ‘infinity’ to find our original posting.

The second place goes to the University of Amsterdam with ‘We are U’, ‘U’ here is the Dutch word for ‘you’ and a nod to the word university, which is oddly quite North American. Third place was taken up by Leiden University and their ‘Excel in Freedom’ albeit actually in their own language ‘Excelleren in vrijheid’, which is airy, like the clouds in the sky.

These awards are part of a debate about university financing because someone paid someone good money to come up with these ridiculous slogans while universities waste money badly mimicking businesses rather than act like proper universities.

(Link: platform-hnu.nl)

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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: phys.org, 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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May 25, 2015

Student awarded 9,500 euro for university failing to register him

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 5:31 pm

A Dutch court has ordered the University of Amsterdam to pay almost 10,000 euro in damages to a student who failed to register for his first year in 2012.

A technical malfunction of the university’s website on the last day of the registration period caused the student to have to wait a semester before he could start his studies, Parool reports. The student argued in court that the study delay would cause him to enter the job market half a year later than he would have if the registration system had worked properly. Dutch law suggests statutory damages for such delays through a ‘Directive for study delay related damages’.

The university argued that the student should have contacted them to clear things up, but the court wiped that argument off the table, saying the university had aggressively advertised the fact that “no registration = no education” and was therefore not in a position to shift the blame to the student.

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April 30, 2015

Salt water crops farmed on Texel island

Filed under: Food & Drink,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 1:44 pm

A team of farmers on the island of Texel are successfully farming salt water potatoes and other crops, as a sustainable solution for the increasing lack of viable farming land around the world.

Project ‘Salty Potato Farm’ was started some 10 years ago by team leader and farmer Mark van Rijsselberghe. Supported by the University of Amsterdam, the team has apparently planted 30 types of potatoes. Van Rijsselberghe says that, “anything that dies in the saline environment is abandoned, and anything that lives we try to follow up on.”

Experimental crops of carrots, strawberries, onions and lettuce are also being planted. Neither genetically modified organisms (GMOs), nor laboratories have been used for growing their crops in salt water environments. However, the price of the potatoes is still too high, with one kilo selling for five euro, compared to less than a euro for the same amount of regular potatoes, but one thing at a time.

(Link phys.org, Photo of Texel island by Searocket, some rights reserved)

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November 5, 2014

Device turns fizzy drink into drinking water

Filed under: Design,Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 11:45 am

glass water

Rotterdam based Helmut Smits designed a device that turns Coca-Cola into water, called ‘The Real Thing’.

“The installation developed with University of Amsterdam master’s student Martien Würdemann uses a simple distillation process. The Coca-Cola is boiled in a container, producing water vapour that is funnelled into a glass. Minerals are added at the end to make sure it is safe to drink.”

Originally conceived by Smits in 2006, the concept was turned into a complete distillation process for the Sense Nonsense exhibition at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, which opened in October during Dutch Design Week.

“When I looked at Coca-Cola that way, I saw dirty brown water, so it was logical to filter it back into clean drinking water, just as we do with all our waste water.”

(Link: www.dezeen.com, Photo of Glass of water by Cayusa, some rights reserved)

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June 21, 2013

The Dutch PhD ceremony: pomp and linguistic circumstances

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 11:34 am

I attended my first-ever PhD defense in the Netherlands at the University of Amsterdam this week. One of the candidates presented in English and the other in Dutch. In a ceremony open to the public attended by friends, family, colleagues and the curious, a master of ceremony (‘pedel’, a woman this time) with a ‘pedelstok’ (big staff with rattling bits on it) led a procession to bring the defense committee (‘opponents’) to their box seats wearing traditional black robes and caps. After an hour of Q&A chaired by the University’s rector with some tough questions the master of ceremony called ‘Hora est!’ (‘Time’s up!’ in Latin) and then the gang retreated for private consultation. It reminded me of church or court (we had to get up often), but it felt like being in an old Dutch painting.

Basically it’s a ceremony where the candidates have to defend some valid points that could surely be addressed in postdoctoral research, but then research is something that is never finished at any academic level.

The one thing that struck me as odd was that the English-speaking candidate was mostly asked if not only asked (if I remember correctly) questions in English to which they answered in English, while the Dutch candidate had to answer many questions in Dutch asked to her in English. In other words, the native Dutch speaker was technically at a disadvantage in their own country. As well, the native English speakers asked questions in English to which they could not really understand the Dutch answer. I find this proof positive of how much the Dutch have to continuously adapt to the use of English at the most important moments of their lives. The Dutch candidate was visibly more nervous as well.

We once wrote about the ceremony from an Australian blogger’s perspective.

Another post by a Chilean claiming that being exposed to public criticism shouldn’t be done at a purely ceremonial event.

And another post says the reception afterwards felt like a wedding reception (I agree), but it did feel like being ‘fired at’:

“Several months before you expect to get your degree you must finish your thesis and send it off for approval of your committee. When you get the “OK,” you are officially done with the analysis and writing! Now you can look forward to becoming your own personal party planner. ”

(Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Effeietsanders, some rights reserved)

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August 1, 2012

Vampire stars suck the life out of bright stars

Filed under: Science by Orangemaster @ 10:58 am

Hugues Sana of the University of Amsterdam explains that the brightest stars in the universe are getting the life sucked out of them by vampire stars, also called O stars. According to researchers, a third of the vampire-victim pairs are eventually expected to merge and become one.

“These stars are absolute behemoths,” said Sana, lead author of this study. “They have 15 or more times the mass of our Sun and can be up to a million times brighter. These stars are so hot that they shine with a brilliant blue-white light and have surface temperatures over 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit.”

(Link: www.theregister.co.uk)

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December 3, 2009

Amsterdam University library gets redesigned

Filed under: Design by Orangemaster @ 11:40 am


Amsterdam designers Studio Roelof Mulder and Bureau Ira Koers (both sites under construction, almost a pun) have won the Serve and Facilitate (Public) Great Indoors Award for their project University Library of the University of Amsterdam. You have to see all the pictures to get a feel for it.

It claims the date of completion is August 2009, but that has to be a typo.

(Link and photos: dezeen.com)

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