November 7, 2019

Tom Scott visits Waterloopbos, a former open air laboratory to study the way water flows

Filed under: Nature,Science,Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 7:56 pm

YouTuber Tom Scott visited the Waterloopbos in Marknesse in the Noordoostpolder and had a little chat with Leo van Rijn, a specialist in modelling the flow of watercourses.

As wiki says: “The Waterloopbos [literally ‘Watercourse Forest’] was the property of Delft Hydraulics […]. In 35 large scale models of sea arms and harbours, such as the Deltaworks and the harbour of Lagos, tests were performed in order to learn how to predict the way large hydraulic systems influence the course of water.”

The laboratory closed in 1995 and the forest is now owned by Natuurmonumenten and is open to visitors from sunrise to sunset (Dutch). It is part of the Voorsterbos, the oldest forest in Flevoland, a province that was entirely reclaimed from the water.

Read more about Waterloopbos at

(Photo: screen capture of a video by Tom Scott / Youtube)

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February 12, 2018

‘Stop feeding ducks bread, it’s bad for everyone’

Filed under: Animals by Orangemaster @ 11:41 am

Feeding bread to ducks and other birds is part of the scenery in this country, but many of us don’t realise how bad it is for the birds and our water.

The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) is asking residents of the Netherlands to report (not rat out!) instances of feeding ducks (Google form) to get an idea of where and how often this happens. According to the NIOO-KNAW, there’s a discrepancy between what we say that we do and what we think the effect is, and they are trying to get a handle on it by asking people to help out.

Bread in water produces algae that is bad for the quality of the water and therefore for the birds. Bread is also bad food for ducks because besides not being a natural food source for them, it lack many nutrients ducks need and it’s full of salt.

Not feeding ducks is extremely easy to do as well.

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September 1, 2017

Tilburg school imposes water, parents upset

Filed under: Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 2:58 pm

A school in Tilburg, Noord-Brabant, together with the parent-teach association (PTA), voted and agreed on letting children drink only water at school, but are now complaining about it. No energy drinks, no lemonade, no fizzy drinks: water. And if school staff feel children are eating sugary foods, they’ll send them home with a note about it for the parents. One kid had brought apple juice and a piece of butter cake to school and got such a note.

Parents are upset for various reasons. They feel their kids eat well at home, one kid’s parents says their kid doesn’t like water and came home crying, and there’s the parent that said “water is for dogs”. I’d say the first two comments are socially acceptable, but the last one is silly and ignorant.

The picture I used for this story is one we used a previous story entitled ‘Badly chosen picture with health article’, showing a teenager eating ontbijtkoek (gingerbread full of sugar and fat) and a vending machine full of similar sugary granola bars. And the article quoted was about ‘healthy eating’.

Some of the parents feel the ‘ban’ on juice should apply to the fat kids, not theirs – ouch. In Amsterdam’s Nieuw-West district, which has a lot of obese children, there was even talk of banning fast food places close to schools a few years back. Instead, schools encourage and teach drinking water and eating proper food, and apparently that’s working. Surprise: encouraging works better than shaming.

I understand parents should decide what their kids eat, that’s their job. But when a parent says “water is for dogs”, then something’s wrong. I was brought up on juice because in 1970s we were told that was good for you, and I also hated water. Today I drink mostly water because we all know better now.

Water is not only for dogs, it’s for a healthy human existence.


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June 22, 2017

Dutch photographer uses camera with ‘water’ lens

Filed under: Photography by Orangemaster @ 4:49 pm


Dutch photographer Robin de Puy was approached by Belgian bottled water company Spa for a marketing campaign that involved taking pictures using a water droplet as a lens. This was done by combining fluid dynamics, electricity and optics in order to show how pure Spa’s water is. The ‘camera’ consists of a glass plate with a water-repellent coating, sitting atop a diaphragm, which is in turn sitting atop an image sensor.

Scientists worked together on this project and custom-built a special ‘water drop’ camera, explained in the Dutch video below (use the closed captions for English)

The photographs taken as a result have a soft focus feel to them. “Taking the portraits was a big challenge for me. I have to admit I had gotten quite spoiled working with the newest cameras, being used to the speed and convenience. For this project I had to start at the base again: a mirror, a diaphragm, a lens (the Spa droplet) and a sensor mounted on top of each other,’ explained De Puy.


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June 19, 2017

Dutch device collects water in the desert

Filed under: Design,Science,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 11:43 pm


Dutch company SunGlacier has built a device that collects water in hot and dry environments, such as here, in a desert in Mali where the company did some tests recently. SunGlacier’s Desert Twins harvester relies on condensation, as they explain, like the drops of water that appear on a soft drink can taken out of the fridge on a hot summer day. “The harvester comprises two separate devices – an energy unit, which draws and stores power from solar panels, and the water maker, which uses this energy to cool down a metal plate.”

Although the device was tested successfully in the Netherlands, the extreme environment of the Sahara Desert caused units to overheat and stop working, as well as water to evaporate within minutes of the harvester being opened. After a few days, they succeeded in cooling the ambient air inside the box so that condensation could take place and something other than steam was possible.

Find out more by watching the video


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April 18, 2017

Need peace and quiet? Buy a small Dutch island

Filed under: Nature by Orangemaster @ 11:57 am


Today nature area Vinkeveense Plassen (Vinkenveen Lakes), Utrecht is auctioning off 44 small islands, more specifically land strips in peat grounds where you can moor boats, called ‘legakkers’ in Dutch. Anyone who buys them is obliged to make sure they are well kept and do not wash away.

These small islands have been around since the last century. Their upkeep is expensive and selling them off to individuals seemed to be the best solution. However, nature organisations are very much against the sale, fearing that people will build houses on them and destroy the nature. But then again buying an island and then doing nothing with it isn’t a very attractive proposal and telling people what to do with their property is indeed quite shortsighted.

I wonder if people will buy more than one.

(Link:, Photo by Quistnix, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 1.0)

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July 20, 2016

A house that splits in two for the divorced

Filed under: Architecture by Orangemaster @ 4:07 pm


Getting divorced? Now you can split your house in half instead of inconveniencing all your friends and family with the gamble you took on a major life decision in the first place. Amsterdam’s Studio OBA’s ‘Prenuptial Housing’ offers a solution for marriages that end up in divorce.

The design consists of two prefabricated units that look like one – a bit like your marriage at some point. The building is made from lightweight carbon fibre elements and a semi-transparent wooden layer that enhances the unity – a bit like your marriage at some point. When couples feel they are drifting apart, the house initiates a ‘break up’ by detaching the two units which then go solo on the water – a bit like your divorce.

Remember, in the Netherlands, prenuptial agreements were being discussed in 2010, as community property (joint ownership) is still the norm. In fact, the term ‘prenup’ is something most people know from watching American televisions programs.

(Link and photo:

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March 15, 2016

Dutch cities do well as drug capitals

Filed under: General,Health by Orangemaster @ 8:55 pm

Testing waste water for drugs has again put Amsterdam at the top of the list of European drug capitals: it scored top marks for MDMA, the main ingredient of XTC, and cannabis. While London nabbed first place for cocaine with 737,3 milligrams per 1000 residents per day, Amsterdam is not far behind with 716,4 milligrams per 1000 residents per day. Amsterdam usually makes this list no matter what’s in the water, and that also seems to go for Utrecht and Eindhoven.

Number two for cannabis is Barcelona with 165,7 milligrams per 1000 residents per day, but apparently it doesn’t even come close to Amsterdam that has 469,4 milligrams per 1000 residents per day. The top 5 in cannabis also includes Utrecht and Eindhoven respectively fourth and fifth, with Antwerp in third place.

Scandinavian cities are still more into speed, but the top city in Europe for speed is Antwerp. In the Netherlands, Amsterdam is the speed capital, while Eindhoven is second in Europe after Antwerp.

(Link:,, Photo: DEA)

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September 14, 2015

Dutch engineers create huge artificial waves

Filed under: Sustainability,Technology by Orangemaster @ 5:37 pm

Delta works

Engineers at Deltares Research Institute, an independent institute for applied research in water and subsurface near Delft, South Holland are claiming to have created the largest artificial waves in the world.

Created in a huge concrete tank called the Delta Flume, the waves measure five metres high. The engineers say they can get even bigger waves. The tank holds nine million litres of water, pumped in from a reservoir at 1,000 litres a second. This new facility cost 26 million euro and took two years to build.

What’s the actual use of this facility? To be able to create waves to test life-size water defences. We’re always told that two-thirds of the Netherlands could be flooded, and back in 1953 it was heavily flooded, making water defences essential. Generating bigger waves is the only way to find out if flood defences can cope with rising tides.

(Link:, Photo of Delta Works by Coanri/Rita, some rights reserved)

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March 8, 2015

A new kind of waterfront home

Filed under: Architecture by Orangemaster @ 5:46 pm


Designed by Koen Olthuis at waterstudio, a studio specialised in water-related architecture, this residence was built following strict regulations on limiting the height of the single storey structure. It features subterranean floor space, providing extra surface within the limited dimensions of the building envelope.

Located in Westland, not too far from The Hague, the house has a minimalistic look and a back terrace. Oh, and a great view of the surrounding water landscape.

(Link and photo:

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