March 19, 2019

University student bequeaths record amount

Filed under: Dutch first,Science by Orangemaster @ 4:05 pm

An alumna of Utrecht University from Rotterdam has left 1.2 million euro to the university, making it the biggest amount ever bequeathed to it in Dutch history.

Annie van Leerzem studied medicine in the 1950s in Utrecht, as Rotterdam did not have a faculty of medicine back then. Although she graduated, she never practiced medicine, as the care of both her parents fell on her shoulders.

A fund has been set up in her name, the Familie van Leerzemfonds. The money will be used for young clinical researchers in general medicine.

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

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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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September 8, 2018

Dutch and Flemish poetry now all in one database

Filed under: Literature by Orangemaster @ 1:56 pm


On the website run by Utrecht University, Dutch-language specialist Kila van der Starre has been attempting to inventory all public poetry in the Netherlands and Flanders for a year and a half now, and is already headed towards 2000 entries from 957 different poets.

The fun part is, everybody can participate by adding their findings in a database that is searchable by title and author. The author with the most entries so far is Ida Gerhardt with 35 poems.

Great stuff for anyone into Dutch-language poetry, as I’m assuming they’re only noting those ones – and rightly so. There are surely poems in other languages and dialects throughout the country.

(Link:, via, (Illustration: Dutch-American poet, artist and scientist Leo Vroman by Leo Vroman, self-portrait)

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February 6, 2015

Utrecht researchers study why cats love boxes

Filed under: Animals by Orangemaster @ 10:11 am


Researchers Claudia Vinke and Ruth van der Leij of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Utrecht University have studied why cats like to get into boxes. It appears that hiding in a box significantly reduces the stress level of a cat, although many cats just like to play in them, as proven by the multitude of Internet videos.

Studies were carried out in an animal shelter to monitor cats’ behaviour in quarantine for two weeks. Half of the cats were given a box to hide in and the other half was not. The stress level of the cats in the room with a box was significantly lower than the ones without a box. Cats with a lower stress level get used to their new environment more quickly, and a more relaxed cat also does not get sick as quickly. Boxes are good for cats.

On a related note, one of Amsterdam’s cat related attractions is the ‘Poezenboot’ (‘Cat boat’), a cat shelter on a houseboat in one of Amsterdam’s main canals founded back in the late 1960s.

(Link:, Photo of Cat in a box by Hehaden, some rights reserved)

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June 30, 2013

Dutch woman suffers from ‘foot orgasms’

Filed under: Health by Branko Collin @ 6:21 pm

International Business Times writes about an anonymous 55-year-old woman who experienced spontaneous orgasms that started in her left foot:

The woman, known in the study as Mrs A., said the sensations started after she received treatment on her foot a year and a half ago from a sepsis infection. Doctors said her foot may have experienced ‘partial nerve regeneration’ whereby the brain may misinterpret foot stimulation as originating from the vagina, according to the study’s results.

Doctors said the woman’s MRI scans showed no foot abnormalities, but another test showed differences between the nerves of her right and left foot.

One Dr Waldinger of Utrecht University has been treating the problem with an anaesthetic. The woman has been foot-orgasm-free for eight months.

(Photo of a Fernando Botero statue in The Hague by Photocapy, some rights reserved)

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