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A radioactive isotope one billion times older than the Universe! An international team of researchers, including six scientists from the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra (FCTUC), was able to measure for the first time the longest average lifetime of a radioactive isotope recorded by a device of measurement. This extraordinary fact is published (April 25), as the main piece on the cover, in Nature, the most prestigious of all scientific journals. The isotope in question is Xe 124 and its average lifetime is approximately one billion times older than the Universe. The Universe is about 14 billion years old, a period of time inconceivable when compared to the scale of human life. As if that alone did not cause enough amazement, there are radioactive isotopes (unstable elements that change over time emitting radiation) whose average life happens on scales much greater than the existence of the Universe itself. "The fact that we can directly measure such a rare process as this demonstrates the extraordinary scope of our measurement system, even when it was not made to measure these events, but rather dark matter," stresses José Matias, coordinator of the Portuguese team in this effort international and researcher of the Laboratory of Instrumentation, Biomedical Engineering and Radiation Physics (LIBPhys) of FCTUC. In fact, this measurement was only possible thanks to the XENON1T system, the most sensitive instrument ever produced by mankind for the detection of dark matter. It is installed in the National Laboratory of Gran Sasso (Italy), the largest underground laboratory in the world, under 1300 meters of rock to shield the system from cosmic rays existing on the surface. The study published by Nature shows that, after all, "XENON1T was also able to measure other rare physical phenomena, such as double electronic capture. In this case, the nucleus captures two of the electrons that orbit it in the atom, transforming two of the protons that constituted it into neutrons and emitting radiation in the form of two neutrinos. The energy released in this process forms the signal that the system registers, despite the extreme difficulty in being detected by its rarity, and can be generally masked by the omnipresent "normal" radiation ", affirms the also vice president of the Higher Institute of Engineering of Coimbra (ISEC). The average life span of Xe 124 Only with the detailed knowledge of the sources of radiation recorded by the detector was it possible to observe 126 events of double electron capture of the isotope Xe 124 and thus to determine for the first time its average life time of 2.5 x 1022 years (25 thousand millions of billions of years). This is the longest physical process ever measured directly by mankind. In fact, there is a register of phenomena with a longer average life (isotope Te 128) in the Universe, but that was inferred indirectly from another process. For the time being, it is not possible to predict the implications of this discovery that opens new horizons in human knowledge. The XENON consortium consists of 160 scientists from 27 research groups from the US, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Israel and Abu Dhabi. Portugal has been a partner in this collaboration since its inception in 2005 through the LIBPhys team. Cristina Pinto University of Coimbra • Faculty of Science and Technology Translated from the Portuguese version Ekaterina Santos

James (Jon) Castle - 7 December 1950 to 12 January 2018

Over four decades Captain Jon Castle navigated Greenpeace ships by the twin stars of ‘right and wrong’, defending the environment and promoting peace. Greenpeace chronicler, Rex Weyler, recounts a few of the stories that made up an extraordinary life.

Captain Jon Castle onboard the MV Sirius, 1 May 1996

James (Jon) Castle first opened his eyes virtually at sea. He was born 7 December 1950 in Cobo Bay on the Channel Island of Guernsey, UK. He grew up in a house known locally as Casa del Mare, the closest house on the island to the sea, the second son of Robert Breedlove Castle and Mary Constance Castle. 

Young Jon Castle loved the sea and boats. He worked on De Ile de Serk, a cargo boat that supplied nearby Sark island, and he studied at the University of Southampton to become an officer in the Merchant Navy. 

Jon became a beloved skipper of Greenpeace ships. He sailed on many campaigns and famously skippered two ships during Greenpeace’s action against Shell’s North Sea oil platform, Brent Spar. During his activist career, Jon spelt his name as "Castel" to avoid unwanted attention on his family.

Right and wrong

Jon had two personal obsessions: he loved books and world knowledge and was extremely well-read.  He also loved sacred sites and spent personal holidays walking to stone circles, standing stones, and holy wells.  

As a young man, Jon became acquainted with the Quaker tradition, drawn by their dedication to peace, civil rights, and direct social action. In 1977, when Greenpeace purchased their first ship - the Aberdeen trawler renamed, the Rainbow Warrior - Jon signed on as first mate, working with skipper Peter Bouquet and activists Susi Newborn, Denise Bell and Pete Wilkinson.

In 1978, Wilkinson and Castle learned of the British government dumping radioactive waste at sea in the deep ocean trench off the coast of Spain in the Sea of Biscay. In July, the Rainbow Warrior followed the British ship, Gem, south from the English coast, carrying a load of toxic, radioactive waste barrels. The now-famous confrontation during which the Gem crew dropped barrels onto a Greenpeace inflatable boat, ultimately changed maritime law and initiated a ban on toxic dumping at sea.

After being arrested by Spanish authorities, Castle and Bouquet staged a dramatic escape from La Coru?a harbour at night, without running lights, and returned the Greenpeace ship to action. Crew member Simone Hollander recalls, as the ship entered Dublin harbour in 1978, Jon cheerfully insisting that the entire crew help clean the ship's bilges before going ashore, an action that not only built camaraderie among the crew, but showed a mariner's respect for the ship itself. In 1979, they brought the ship to Amsterdam and participated in the first Greenpeace International meeting.

In 1980 Castle and the Rainbow Warrior crew confronted Norwegian and Spanish whaling ships, were again arrested by Spanish authorities, and brought into custody in the El Ferrol naval base.

The Rainbow Warrior remained in custody for five months, as the Spanish government demanded 10 million pesetas to compensate the whaling company. On the night of November 8, 1980, the Rainbow Warrior, with Castle at the helm, quietly escaped the naval base, through the North Atlantic, and into port in Jersey.

In 1995, Castle skippered the MV Greenpeace during the campaign against French nuclear testing in the Pacific and led a flotilla into New Zealand to replace the original Rainbow Warrior that French agents bombed in Auckland in 1985.

Over the years, Castle became legendary for his maritime skills, courage, compassion, commitment, and for his incorruptible integrity. "Environmentalism: That does not mean a lot to me," he once said, "I am here because of what is right and wrong. Those words are good enough for me."

Brent Spar   Action at Brent Spar Oil Rig in the North Sea, 16 June 1995

One of the most successful Greenpeace campaigns of all time began in the summer of 1995 when Shell Oil announced a plan to dump a floating oil storage tank, containing toxic petroleum residue, into the North Atlantic. Castle signed on as skipper of the Greenpeace vessel Moby Dick, out of Lerwick, Scotland. A month later, on 30 April 1995, Castle and other activists occupied the Brent Spar and called for a boycott of Shell service stations.

When Shell security and British police sprayed the protesters with water cannons, images flooded across world media, demonstrations broke out across Europe, and on May 15, at the G7 summit, German chancellor Helmut Kohl publicly protested to British Prime Minister John Major. In June, 11 nations, at the Oslo and Paris Commission meetings, called for a moratorium on sea disposal of offshore installations.

After three weeks, British police managed to evict Castle and the other occupiers and held them briefly in an Aberdeen jail. When Shell and the British government defied public sentiment and began towing the Spar to the disposal site, consumers boycotted Shell stations across Europe. Once released, Castle took charge of the chartered Greenpeace vessel Altair and continued to pursue the Brent Spar towards the dumping ground. Castle called on the master of another Greenpeace ship, fitted with a helideck, to alter course and rendezvous with him. Using a helicopter, protesters re-occupied the Spar and cut the wires to the detonators of scuppering charges.

One of the occupiers, young recruit Eric Heijselaar, recalls: "One of the first people I met as I climbed on board was a red-haired giant of a man grinning broadly at us. My first thought was that he was a deckhand, or maybe the bosun. So I asked if he knew whether a cabin had been assigned to me yet. He gave me a lovely warm smile, and reassured me that, yes, a cabin had been arranged. At dinner I found out that he was Jon Castle, not a deckhand, not the bosun, but the captain. And what a captain!"

With activists occupying the Spar once again, Castle and the crew kept up their pursuit when suddenly the Spar altered course, heading towards Norway. Shell had given up. The company announced that Brent Spar would be cleaned out and used as a foundation for a new ferry terminal. Three years later, in 1998, the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) passed a ban on dumping oil installations into the North Sea.

"There was no question among the crew who had made this possible, who had caused this to happen," Heijselaar recalls. "It was Jon Castle. His quiet enthusiasm and the trust he put into people made this crew one of the best I ever saw. He always knew exactly what he wanted out of a campaign, how to gain momentum, and he always found the right words to explain his philosophies. He was that rare combination, both a mechanic and a mystic. And above all he was a very loving, kind human being."

Moruroa

After the Brent Spar campaign, Castle returned to the South Pacific on the Rainbow Warrior II, to obstruct a proposed French nuclear test in the Moruroa atoll. Expecting the French to occupy their ship, Castle and engineer, Luis Manuel Pinto da Costa, rigged the steering mechanism to be controlled from the crow's-nest. When French commandos boarded the ship, Castle stationed himself in the crow's-nest, cut away the access ladder and greased the mast so that the raiders would have difficulty arresting him.

Eventually, the commandos cut a hole into the engine-room and severed cables controlling the engine, radio, and steering mechanism, making Castle's remote control system worthless. They towed the Rainbow Warrior II to the island of Hao, as three other protest vessels arrived. 

Three thousand demonstrators gathered in the French port of Papeete, demanding that France abandon the tests. Oscar Temaru - leader of Tavini Huiraatira, an anti-nuclear, pro-independence party - who had been aboard the Rainbow Warrior II when it was raided, welcomed anti-testing supporters from Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Sweden, Canada, Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the Philippines, and American Samoa. Eventually, France ended their tests, and atmospheric nuclear testing in the world's oceans stopped once and for all.

“Moral courage”

Through these extraordinary missions, Jon Castle advocated "self-reflection" not only for individual activists, but for the organisation that he loved. Activists, Castle maintained, required "moral courage." He cautioned, "Don't seek approval. Someone has to be way out in front... illuminating territory in advance of the main body of thought."

He opposed "corporatism" in activist organisations and urged Greenpeace to avoid becoming "over-centralised or compartmentalised."  He felt that activist decisions should emerge from the actions themselves, not in an office. We can't fight industrialism with "money, numbers, and high-tech alone," he once wrote in a personal manifesto. Organisations have to avoid traps of "self-perpetuation" and focus on the job "upsetting powerful forces, taking on multinationals and the military-industrial complex."

He recalled that Greenpeace had become popular "because a gut message came through to the thirsty hearts of poor suffering people ... feeling the destruction around them."  Activists, Castle felt, required "freedom of expression, spontaneity [and] an integrated lifestyle."  An activist organisation should foster a "feeling of community" and exhibit "moral courage." Castle felt that social change activists had to "question the materialistic, consumerist lifestyle that drives energy overuse, the increasingly inequitable world economic tyranny that creates poverty and drives environmental degradation," and must maintain "honour, courage and the creative edge."

Well loved hero

Susi Newborn, who was there to welcome Jon aboard the Rainbow Warrior way back in 1977, and who gave the ship its name, wrote about her friend with whom she felt "welded at the heart: He was a Buddhist and a vegetarian and had an earring in his ear. He liked poetry and classical music and could be very dark, but also very funny. Once, I cut his hair as he downed a bottle or two of rum reciting The Second Coming by Yeats."

Newborn recalls Castle insisting that women steer the ships in and out of port because, "they got it right, were naturals." She recalls a night at sea, Castle "lashed to the wheel facing one of the biggest storms of last century head on. I was flung about my cabin like a rag doll until I passed out. We never talked about the storm, as if too scared to summon up the behemoth we had encountered. A small handwritten note pinned somewhere in the mess, the sole acknowledgment of a skipper to his six-person crew: ‘Thank You.’” Others remember Castle as the Greenpeace captain that could regularly be found in the galley doing kitchen duty.

In 2008, with the small yacht Musichana, Castle and Pete Bouquet staged a two-man invasion of Diego Garcia island to protest the American bomber base there and the UK's refusal to allow evicted Chagos Islanders to return to their homes. They anchored in the lagoon and radioed the British Indian Ocean Territories officials on the island to tell them they and the US Air Force were acting in breach of international law and United Nations resolutions. When arrested, Castle politely lectured his captors on their immoral and illegal conduct.

In one of his final actions, as he battled with his failing health, Castle helped friends in Scotland operate a soup kitchen, quietly prepping food and washing up behind the scenes.  

Upon hearing of his passing, Greenpeace ships around the world - the Arctic Sunrise, the Esperanza, and the Rainbow Warrior - flew their flags at half mast.

Jon is fondly remembered by his brother David, ex-wife Caroline, their son, Morgan Castle, born in 1982, and their daughter, Eowyn Castle, born in 1984. Morgan has a daughter of eight months Flora, and and Eowyn has a daughter, Rose, who is 2.   

ELS'19 - 12th European Lisp Symposium Hotel Bristol Palace Genova, Italy April 1-2 2019 In cooperation with: ACM SIGPLAN In co-location with 2019 Sponsored by EPITA and Franz Inc. http://www.european-lisp-symposium.org/ Recent news: - Submission deadline extended to Friday February 8. - Keynote abstracts now available. - registration now open: https://2019.programming-conference.org/attending/Registration - Student refund program after the conference. The purpose of the European Lisp Symposium is to provide a forum for the discussion and dissemination of all aspects of design, implementation and application of any of the Lisp and Lisp-inspired dialects, including Common Lisp, Scheme, Emacs Lisp, AutoLisp, ISLISP, Dylan, Clojure, ACL2, ECMAScript, Racket, SKILL, Hop and so on. We encourage everyone interested in Lisp to participate. The 12th European Lisp Symposium invites high quality papers about novel research results, insights and lessons learned from practical applications and educational perspectives. We also encourage submissions about known ideas as long as they are presented in a new setting and/or in a highly elegant way. Topics include but are not limited to: - Context-, aspect-, domain-oriented and generative programming - Macro-, reflective-, meta- and/or rule-based development approaches - Language design and implementation - Language integration, inter-operation and deployment - Development methodologies, support and environments - Educational approaches and perspectives - Experience reports and case studies We invite submissions in the following forms: Papers: Technical papers of up to 8 pages that describe original results or explain known ideas in new and elegant ways. Demonstrations: Abstracts of up to 2 pages for demonstrations of tools, libraries, and applications. Tutorials: Abstracts of up to 4 pages for in-depth presentations about topics of special interest for at least 90 minutes and up to 180 minutes. The symposium will also provide slots for lightning talks, to be registered on-site every day. All submissions should be formatted following the ACM SIGS guidelines and include ACM Computing Classification System 2012 concepts and terms. Submissions should be uploaded to Easy Chair, at the following address: https://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=els2019 Note: to help us with the review process please indicate the type of submission by entering either "paper", "demo", or "tutorial" in the Keywords field. Important dates: - 08 Feb 2019 Submission deadline (*** extended! ***) - 01 Mar 2019 Notification of acceptance - 18 Mar 2019 Final papers due - 01-02 Apr 2019 Symposium Programme chair: Nicolas Neuss, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany Programme committee: Marco Antoniotti, Universita Milano Bicocca, Italy Marc Battyani, FractalConcept, France Pascal Costanza, IMEC, ExaScience Life Lab, Leuven, Belgium Leonie Dreschler-Fischer, University of Hamburg, Germany R. Matthew Emerson, thoughtstuff LLC, USA Marco Heisig, FAU, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany Charlotte Herzeel, IMEC, ExaScience Life Lab, Leuven, Belgium Pierre R. Mai, PMSF IT Consulting, Germany Breanndán Ó Nualláin, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands François-René Rideau, Google, USA Alberto Riva, Unversity of Florida, USA Alessio Stalla, ManyDesigns Srl, Italy Patrick Krusenotto, Deutsche Welle, Germany Philipp Marek, Austria Sacha Chua, Living an Awesome Life, Canada Search Keywords: #els2019, ELS 2019, ELS '19, European Lisp Symposium 2019, European Lisp Symposium '19, 12th ELS, 12th European Lisp Symposium, European Lisp Conference 2019, European Lisp Conference '19
Those viral videos really are giving you all the feels.

New research from the Netherlands suggests that we mirror the emotions of those we see in videos.

Tilburg University researchers studied more than 2,000 video blogs (aka vlogs) on YouTube, focusing on the more popular channels with at least 10,000 subscribers. They analyzed the words and emotions being expressed by the vloggers in their clips, as well as the emotional language of the online comments left by people who viewed the videos. And they found that when a YouTuber posted a positive video, the audience responded with more heightened positive emotions; but if the video broadcast negative emotions, the audience responded in kind.

complete article
An American psychology student was killed in her apartment near Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
www.nytimes.com | 12/15/18
A new study conducted by a university in The Netherlands has found that smoking cannabis can triple the risk of developing a mental illness such as schizophrenia, one government senator has revealed.Dr Saphire Longmore used the finding by the...
jamaica-gleaner.com | 11/10/18

Thanksgiving is just around the corner in Canada. It's a time of year when the harvest is in, the weather grows colder and families gather to give thanks for all they have.

It is in this moment of gratitude that I want to highlight one of the most valuable and unique offerings in our industry: the ways in which country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) give back. Canadians who choose to use a ccTLD, which for us is .CA, help contribute to investments in the internet community.

CIRA believes that it is important to give back to the internet, whether that be the Canadian internet community or the global internet in which we operate the .CA TLD and participate as a strong contributor. Further, as a not-for-profit organization, CIRA invests its resources into our aspirational goal of building a better online Canada. In fact, we believe so much in this goal that we've invested $6 million dollars over the last five years toward this goal, outside of the investment in our core mandate of bringing .CA to more Canadians and operating a safe, secure and trusted top-level domain.

Many of our ccTLD peers contribute to the internet ecosystem as well. While each organization's program is a little bit different, the intent is the same: to invest in a purpose greater than profit with a return on investment that benefits the communities we serve.

With the exception of a handful of generic TLDs, you won't find this from our more profit-driven peers.

It's a cycle: From community to ccTLD and back

At CIRA, we hold ourselves to high standards in stewarding .CA, which includes providing a safe, secure and stable .CA and underlying domain name system (DNS). We make every effort to provide the best service possible for our customers — .CA holders and others who subscribe to our cybersecurity services.

A portion of the revenue we make, thanks to our customers' trust in us, is funneled back into the Canadian internet community. Here's how:

  • We invest in internet exchange points (IXPs) that provide greater resiliency, data sovereignty and a higher-performing internet in our country. There are 10 IXPs across Canada and we've recently been a catalyst to an additional one in development in the Arctic community of Iqaluit, Nunavut. This will revolutionize the internet there, where right now the community is reliant on satellite connections resulting in slow and expensive internet service.
  • Through our Community Investment Program, we provide grants to organizations across Canada working on the frontlines of the internet. We've contributed $5.45 million over five years through that program. This has included 130 projects from across Canada including one underway now through an organization called Compucorps that will work with Indigenous women to increase their knowledge of website building and online branding to help them engage more in e-commerce. Or the Ragged edge community network stabilization and expansion project that focused on internet infrastructure in Northern Vancouver Island.
  • We're developing and investing in innovative products and services that secure the internet for its users, including our cybersecurity services (our D-Zone suite of products) that keep Canadian schoolchildren safe and add layers of protection to critical healthcare and municipal infrastructure.
  • We encourage Canadians to learn more about their internet by testing its speed and performance through CIRA's Internet Performance Test. There have been over 100,000 tests conducted across the country.
  • We fund, organize and participate in events and forums in Canada and globally where important topics are discussed, which influence internet policy, including an upcoming Canadian Internet Forum, a multistakeholder event being organized for early 2019.

All of that investment improves and expands the internet, gets more Canadians online, safely and securely, and makes it easier and more practical for them to participate in the digital economy. It also creates more opportunities to choose a .CA. Thus, the cycle starts again.

And it's global. We've long shared "giving back" experiences with our European peers — but examples are found around the globe. A recent visit to Brazil showed me a ccTLD highly committed to this cycle of giving back. I was impressed with all they do with their resources and encourage others to learn more from them.

Thanks for making a choice to give back

In Canada, as we gather around the dinner table for our Thanksgiving dinners, I want to give thanks to CIRA's customers for making it possible for our organization to give back. Consumers have more choices than ever when it comes to domain names. They can choose to go with .com or .net, or one of nearly a thousand new domain extensions. But what sets CIRA apart, alongside some of our ccTLD peers, is the determination to give back to the internet ecosystem in our countries. To invest what we earn into a higher purpose.

Thank you to those consumers who chose a ccTLD over others — because of you we're getting closer to a stronger, higher performing and more secure internet every day.

* * *

There are several ccTLDs that give back to the internet community. Here are a few examples.

Sweden: The Internet Foundation in Sweden, IIS invests funds to improve the stability of internet infrastructure in Sweden and to promote internet-focused research, training and education. For example, IIS invested 1 million SEK (about $145,000 CAD) roughly one year ago into Foo Café, a meeting place for developers, which sponsors meetups and events to help developers grow their competence and share knowledge.

Brazil: The Brazilian Internet Steering Committee — a multi-sectoral configuration of 21 members from civil society, the government, the business sector and the academic community — guide the healthy growth of the network in Brazil. One of their initiatives is the Web Technologies Study Center (Ceweb.br), created to help the Brazilian public participate in the global development of the web and public policymaking.

The Netherlands: SIDN not only operates .nl, it also provides funding support to ideas and projects that aim to make the internet stronger or that use the internet in innovative ways. For example, SIDN funded AI for GOOD, a project that aims to use artificial intelligence to improve the world. This online platform presents AI programming challenges to students, start-ups, hackers and developers to solve.

United Kingdom: Nominet funded a granting program for 10 years under the name Nominet Trust. In 2017, that fund began independent operation as the Social Tech Trust and Nominet is now focusing funding on connection, inclusivity and security. For example, they are working with Scouts UK to develop a cybersecurity curriculum and with the Prince's Trust on a digital platform to mentor troubled youth online.

Written by Byron Holland, President and CEO of CIRA

www.circleid.com | 10/4/18
— the story — Plants could soon provide our electricity. In a small way they already are doing that in research labs and greenhouses at project Plant-e — a university and commercially sponsored research group at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. The Plant Microbial Fuel Cell from Plant-e can generate electricity from the natural interaction [...]
www.kurzweilai.net | 7/17/18

Education in the Netherlands is characterized by division: education is orientated toward the needs and background of the pupil. Education is divided over schools for different age groups, some of which are divided in streams for different educational levels. Schools are furthermore divided in public, special (religious), and general-special (neutral) schools, although there are also a few private schools. The Dutch grading scale runs from 1 (very poor) to 10 (outstanding). The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, ranks the education in the Netherlands as the 9th best in the world as of 2008, being significantly higher than the OECD average.


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