August 15, 2015

Wepod, a self-driving car with ambitions

Filed under: Automobiles by Branko Collin @ 10:33 pm


The province of Gelderland will try to achieve a world first in May 2016 when it hopes to run a shuttle service on public roads using self-driven vehicles.

The vehicles are called Wepods and should drive guests of the University of Wageningen from the nearby rail station of Ede-Wageningen to the university and back. Currently however the vehicle laws of the Netherlands don’t allow self-driven cars on the road. The province hopes to convince the relevant ministries during a demonstration in October. The first Wepod, produced by Ligier in France, was delivered in June.

Rotterdam was the first city in the Netherlands allowing self-driven vehicles on its territory. The Rivium shuttle bus however does not mix with other traffic and has its own road — it operates a bit like a train without the rails.

(Link: Smart Driving; photo:

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March 9, 2015

Weed-flavoured ice cream sold in Wageningen

Filed under: Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 12:38 pm

Besides pistachio, Antonio ice cream parlours in Ede and Wageningen are also selling ‘perfectly legal’ cannabis-flavoured ice cream imported from Italy. Owner Antonio Mulder says that it tastes like caramel and is made with cannabis seeds.

Like many other weed-flavoured Dutch products such as weed sauce for fries, it’s more about the idea of flirting with an illegal substance than hoping it could get you high.

Mulder adds that it’s probably not a good idea to suggest this flavour of ice cream to children, as it is more of a gimmick than anything else.

Photo by Eric Caballero, some rights reserved)

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March 27, 2014

Government buys into harnessing electricity from plants

Filed under: Nature,Sustainability,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:58 am


Plant-e , founded by David Strik and Marjolein Helder in 2009, is a spin-off company of the Environmental Technology of Wageningen University. After obtaining her PhD in November 2012 Helder became the CEO of Plant-e, while Strik works as an assistant professor at the university, supporting Plant-e’s research and development one day a week.

On March 12, coinciding with Dutch Arbour Day (‘Nationale Boomfeestdag’), Plant-e signed a deal with the Dutch government to build a plant-driven power plant. The plants will be grown on the Hembrug military terrain in Zaandam, North Holland and will be used for outdoor lighting and charging mobile phones.

Thanks to photosynthesis, a bioenergetic process used by plants to convert light into energy, plants create organic material. The roots of these plants contain bacteria that breaks down organic material, giving off electrons. Plant-e has created technology that captures these electrons as carbon electrons, which can be used directly as electricity.

Just this month we told you about a table that uses plant energy to charge mobile phones.

Watch the promo video (in English):

(Link:, Photo of Charging station by Katja Linders, some rights reserved)

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March 13, 2014

Artwork gives compliments to passers-by in Wageningen

Filed under: Art by Orangemaster @ 8:00 am


Yesterday artists Robbert Kamphuis and Laurens van der Zee unveiled their ‘compliment machine’, placed on the side of a downtown building in Wageningen, Gelderland.

Unsuspecting passers-by are given a compliment, randomly selected from a collection of 751 compliments. While some 600 of them are in Dutch, some 50 are in English and about 10 others in eleven other languages a piece to emphasise the international vibe of the city and its body of foreign students.

This art project celebrates 750 years of city rights for Wageningen. If you click on the above-mentioned link to see the machine, it looks like a wooden icon version of Facebook’s thumb’s up.

(Link:, Photo Photo of thumb’s up by cait loper’s photography, some rights reserved)

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April 15, 2010

One million euro to research eating bugs

Filed under: Animals,Science by Orangemaster @ 8:25 pm

Our current governement is on its way out, and there are elections in early June. This means no major decisions can be taken, and it’s more about tying up loose ends and cleaning out desks. But hey, let’s stir things up and give one million euro for research into eating bugs. Nom!

For the next three years, the Wageningen University & Research Centre gets to research which insects are worth eating. And then, the clichés: scientists say they’re just as good for you as meat, it’s good for the environment, and also my favourites, people in Asia and Africa eat them, they’re good with chocolate (bye bye health argument) and so on.

Why not just ask the Asians and Africans for recipes and/or their research instead of throwing all that money out the window? No, wait, why not start a marketing campaign to eat bugs? Wait, we don’t eat bugs, and unless we totally run out of food, we’re not going to consider eating bugs any time soon.

I grew up near one of the only, if not the only place where you can gawk at insects and then eat some: the Montréal Insectarium. If only they did that at the farm with burgers. Or maybe fast food chains should sell bug burgers. Nom!

(Link:, Photo of Worms by Wahj, some rights reserved.)

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October 24, 2008

Amsterdam 200 years older than previously believed

Filed under: History,Science by Branko Collin @ 7:55 am

Amsterdam is 200 years older than is commonly assumed, says historical geographer Chris de Bont. The settlement was originally started in 1000 AC instead of 1200 AC, which is still pretty young. De Bont bases his conclusion on the patterns formed by old brooks. “I found the same patterns elsewhere in the region where farmers lived around the time,” De Bont told print daily Metro, “so it’s logical to assume that farmers also created the patterns in Amsterdam.”

According to Volkskrant, De Bont also claims that parts of the rivers Amstel and Zaan were dug, and that the IJ used to be a big swamp instead of a waterway. De Bont’s assertions are part of his PhD thesis which he gets to defend next Tuesday at Wageningen University.

Illustration: one of the earliest city maps of Amsterdam (1544) by Cornelis Anthonisz. after one of his own paintings. Check the larger version at Wikimedia Commons, it’s pretty detailed and a great demonstration of how little the inner city has changed in 500 years (they built a McDonald’s in the Kalverstraat and that new-fangled ‘palace’ on Dam Square, and that’s about it).

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March 24, 2007

Food that tastes like less

Filed under: Food & Drink,Health,Science by Orangemaster @ 9:23 am

Scientists in Wageningen are developing a new generation of foods that can help prevent obesity by getting people to eat less. The Top Institute Food and Nutrition is also developing food ingredients which can stop obese people from developing diabetes. Such nutrients could eventually be used in any kind of food. The Dutch public health agency concluded in a research report last year that 25% of deaths and serious illness caused by overweight and obesity would be avoided if adults shed 3 kg.

Eating right and exercising is pretty straight forward, but accommodating the obese seems more lucrative. As the article states, “such innovative products have higher margins than those of selling a tomato or a bottle of milk.”


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