January 17, 2015

Scientist predicts more river floods in the Netherlands

Filed under: Nature,Science by Branko Collin @ 7:33 pm


University of Twente writes:

In the future, due to climate change and corresponding extremely high water levels, rivers in the Netherlands will be more likely to break their banks. This was the conclusion reached by Dutch researcher Suleyman Naqshband […]. River dunes in the major rivers of the Netherlands tend to persist and not flatten out, thereby increasing the risk of flooding.

River dunes in this case is the somewhat unfortunate name for sand structures at the bottom of the river. Apparently they are quite common in Dutch rivers. The university adds:

These river dunes can reach large sizes, growing to as much as one third of the total water depth. This restricts the flow of water, causing water levels in the area of river dunes to be much higher than in sections of the river in which they are absent. River dunes are also dynamic, growing rapidly in just a few days then flattening out or even disappearing completely at extremely high flow rates.

(Photo of the river Meuse overflowing in 1980: Martin Collin)

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November 8, 2014

The magic potion of the Hangover Information Center

Filed under: Food & Drink,Health by Orangemaster @ 3:09 pm


This fall Amsterdam opened a Hangover Information Center (HIC) in the Red Light District. Besides being very well lit but not too bright, it actually offers party-goers serious scientific information about how to prevent a hangover.

The HIC also sells RESET drinks at 5 euro a pop.

“After drinking alcohol the body needs additional water and food supplements, including vitamins and amino acids. RESET contains a combination of selected vitamins and amino acids as well as choline, which supports the liver’s clearing activity.”

Parool says the drink tastes bitter and the extra powder that needs to be added tastes salty. As long as you drink the product together with the same amount of water and alternate, it should do the trick. However, it does seem a lot to ask of someone before they go to bed drunk. You could also try and drink less, as the effects of a hangover are your body trying to send you a clear message about what you’re pouring into yourself.

(Link: www.amsterdamredlightdistricttour.com, Photo: Hangover Information Center)

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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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September 22, 2013

‘Underwater’ bridge for bicycles in Haarlem

Filed under: Automobiles,Bicycles by Branko Collin @ 3:24 pm

The city of Haarlem wanted to create a safer situation where a main road crossed another main road coming off a bridge.

For some reason all practical solutions turned out impossible (more likely someone couldn’t be bothered) so the city opted for a work-around, albeit a well designed one. They built a bicycle bridge that wraps around the underside of the other bridge and then partially submerged the bicycle bridge. The result is either a submerged bridge or an open air tunnel, your pick.

The bridge was designed by IPV who seem to be specializing in these sort of crazy work-arounds—check their bicycle roundabout hovering above Eindhoven.

Mark Wagenbuur, the bicycle vlogger, visited Haarlem and shot one of his trademark videos there.

(Photo: ipv Delft)

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October 16, 2010

How the shortest highway of the Netherlands disappeared

Filed under: Architecture,Bicycles by Branko Collin @ 12:37 pm

Or: the return of the city moat of Utrecht.

Mark Wagenbuur has a video up that explains how the city of Utrecht wanted to replace the old city moat with a ring road in the 1970s, and how this plan met with vehement protests, so much so that only a small part of the road was actually ever built—nicknamed the Shortest Motorway in the Netherlands. Forty years on that road is being ripped out again, to be replaced by the water that once flowed there.

Wagenbuur is that odd duck, a cycling activist in the Netherlands, so he says things like, “it is clear that heavy motorized traffic simply does not belong here” without explaining why this apparently clear thing is so clear (the cyclirati know why—because cars are Evil). But he forgets to mention that since the mid-1990s, the years of heavy river flooding, giving the Dutchman his water back has become very fashionable. You have to wonder what marvellous things a new old brook, canal or moat can do to property prices, and whether this influenced Utrecht’s decision in any way.

Nevertheless, Wagenbuur’s videos come as highly recommended as ever.

(Source video: YouTube)

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February 6, 2010

Airport on the North Sea

Filed under: Architecture,Aviation,Science by Branko Collin @ 3:07 pm

The way the Dutch viewed their national airport Schiphol has changed over the years. From the starting point of an adventure, it became the nuisance in the backyard. The Bijlmer disaster of 1992, when victims living (and dying) in Amsterdam’s biggest ghetto were pushed into a secondary role to El Al’s secret cargo, really helped define this latter view.

However, Schiphol’s own ambitions are radically different. Instead of becoming a smaller, gentler airport, it wants to become the major air traffic hub of this part of Europe. People therefore started to look at alternative locations for the airport, not as close to the most densely populated area of this densely populated country. An idea that keeps floating to the top is that of an airport in either the IJsselmeer or the North Sea, even though the Ministry of Transport and Water Management concluded in 2003 that a second national airport was superfluous, for now. Such a water-bound airport could be an artificial island, or a mega-floater.

In 2007 Haskoning and Van Oord, who helped build artificial islands before, proposed rotating, floating landing strips (see illustration). And last week, Jan van Kessel got his PhD for a study into the stability of mega-floaters made of hollow, upside down, concrete ‘shoe boxes’, apparently, 50% more stable than traditional barges.

And even though the government has declared the debate redundant, the Dutch keep dreaming of their airport at sea.

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October 17, 2009

Pillars supporting Amsterdam are slowly crumbling

Filed under: Architecture by Branko Collin @ 11:16 am

As you may know, Amsterdam was basically built in what can perhaps best be described as a swamp, and as it happens peat is not the best conceivable supporter for brick. Early Amsterdam residents got around this problem by driving huge wooden poles into the bog until it hit firmer ground and then building their houses on top of this wooden foundation.

It turns out, Parool says, that a changing climate is leading to longer droughts, which in turn lowers the water level and causes the poles to dry out and crumble.

It is mostly privately owned houses that are in danger of collapsing, as housing corporations have already replaced their pillars.

The Parool article quotes alderman Maarten van Poelgeest and a spokesperson of Waternet who both say that the situation is serious without going into much detail, although the latter says that “there is no need to panic, this won’t be an issue before 2040.”

(Photo by Wikipedia user Dohduhdah)

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August 26, 2009

Dutch tap water will be chlorinated

Filed under: Dutch first,Food & Drink,General,Nature,Science by Orangemaster @ 11:38 am
glass of water

I once had a Dutch roommate back in Québec in the 1990s who asked me why our tap water looked so afwul. I explained that it’s slightly cloudy because it’s full of chlorine, but tastes fine. Many people pour water into a jug fitted with a carbon filter and keep it in the fridge. Problem solved.

“Isn’t there chlorine in the water in the Netherlands?” “Oh, no” she said, “we have very clean water”. For years I thought the Dutch were water geniuses and that Quebeckers were water dummies.

It turns out Dutch water has a dirty little secret: it’s chock full of the bacteria that causes legionnaire’s disease. Professor Annelies van Bronswijk, Professor of Health Technology at Eindhoven University of Technology estimates that 800 people die of legionnaires’ disease every year, more than the dozens quoted in official statistics. “Since severe pneumonia is what most people with legionnaires’ disease die from, you can put two and two together and get a proper estimate of the problem.”

These days, Western countries chlorinate with monochloramine, a compound of chlorine, which doesn’t leave a taste.

(Link: rnw.nl, photo: ipeg.eu)

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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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August 12, 2008

Cannonball champ 2008 with eight metre splash

Filed under: Shows,Sports by Branko Collin @ 8:27 am

The national cannonball (“bommetje”) champion of this year is Freddy van der Pol who also won last year, according to De Pers (Dutch, video here). His splash at Zwembad Noord in Stadskanaal reached a height of 8.60 metres, not nearly enough to break the record of 12.4 metres. The status of the title is itself heavily contested as there is a competing championship that broke away from Zwembad Noord’s in 2001, organised by Sportfondsen. Their championship will be held September 5, and still has some wild cards to give away.

Matching summer hit on the grey web: Als het golft by De Dijk.

Photo by Sandra Forbes, some rights reserved.

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