On the 11th of February, we celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science and who better to write about than Dr. Aletta Jacobs, the first woman who became a doctor in the Netherlands. Aletta Jacobs was born on the 9th of February, 1854 in the village of Sappemeer in the province of Groningen. In a time where girls were not allowed to continue towards higher education, Aletta pushed boundaries when she continued her education after primary school. When Aletta was in school, girls were not allowed to continue their studies after primary school. At first, she enrolled in a ladies’ school to learn how to behave properly in front of theirs husbands and perform household chores. Following her desire to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a doctor, she quit attending the ladies’ school and focused on the path to become a doctor. As this was unprecedented at the time, she was not allowed to attend secondary schools and had to fight to receive permission to attend the local Rijks Hoogere Burgerschool. Upon completing her studies, she wrote to the local minister to argue her case on why she should be allowed to study medicine. Her relentlessness persevered and she managed to enroll at the University of Groningen to study medicine at 1871. Within the turn of the decade, Aletta had passed her medical exams and obtained her doctorate in 1879. She was not the only peerless woman in her family as her sisters (Frederika and Charlotte) followed suit and became pioneers in their own respective fields of pharmacy and mathematics. While Aletta was not the first woman to enroll in a university in the Netherlands (the honour goes to Anna Maria van Schurman), she was the first to graduate from one. Her success was temporarily short-lived as no hospital wanted to employ a female doctor. Rather than giving up, Aletta travelled to England to continue her work before coming back to the Netherlands to set up her own practice in Amsterdam. During her time in Amsterdam, she dedicated her time to empower women to take care of their health by providing for example free consultations to the working class. Outside of her work in healthcare practice, she was a champion for women’s rights in the Netherlands, paving the way for women to vote in 1919. As we move forward, one must recognise the sacrifices that were made in the past to be able to reach this point in history. Everybody can learn from Aletta’s pioneering spirit to break down barriers and persevere through tough times.
Carl Shneider - Pint of Science Utrecht City Event Manager and Speaker The holiday season reminds us of family and brings to the forefront a sense of human community; of not-so-common commonness of Homo sapiens. With a reexamined appreciation and renewed care, let us find the time to be more in the moment and enjoy aspects of our common experience that might otherwise be simply overlooked, judged too quickly, seem too ordinary, routine or appear dreadfully unentertaining. Let’s remember there are moments especially allocated for silly walks, even if one happens not to be a pet owner. I have been very fortunate to be invited by Jorge, Victoria, and Tai to give a PoS talk in 2018 and to continue to be affiliated with this awesome voice for Science... Guilherme Domingues Kolinger - Pint of Science Groningen Team In the beginning of this year I discovered that Pint of Science not only held events in the Netherlands, but was looking for extra volunteers! I was so excited to help but everyone knows what happened then... And we powered through it! The adversity of having to organise online events gave us the opportunity to join forces from volunteers in all corners of the country… an incredible team that I have yet to meet in person. I am very excited to see what next year will bring to us, and with our team I am sure there will be great events, online or in person! Taichi Ochi - Pint of Science Netherlands Director As this year comes to a close, I can look back with pride with the work the volunteers have done. I had the tremendous privilege to work together with them to help set up our online content (blogs and videos). This year has been a struggle - and that is putting it nicely. Organising live events and online content require different skill sets but volunteers rose to the challenge. We were here to support each other throughout this year and the content produced highlights the efforts taken. Looking to next year, uncertainty remains but I have faith in the group of volunteers at Pint of Science Netherlands to help spread science communication. Helena Hartmann - Pint of Science Amsterdam and Vienna Team I am originally from Germany, but am currently doing my PhD at the Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Unit at the University of Vienna in Austria. I investigate the neural underpinnings of empathy for pain and try to understand how we share the suffering of other individuals around us. In Vienna, I joined the Pint of Science Team in 2019 and we organized great events all around our beautiful mind, until Corona sadly had us cancel those events. In 2021, I will be working in Amsterdam at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience to finish my PhD and hopefully support the existing Pint of Science Amsterdam members in communicating some amazing science! Linda Rieswijk - Pint of Science Maastricht City Coordinator This year was supposed to be my first year as a city coordinator of PoS Maastricht. Although we already set up some nice arrangements with the local pubs and we came together with our group of volunteers we had to cancel these plans due to the pandemic situation. Instead I had the privilege to work with the PoS Netherlands volunteers to organize this online @pintNLthuis seminar series. It was great to both interact with the volunteers from the different universities within the Netherlands as well as with the diverse range of academics and students of Maastricht University. Let’s hope next year we will be able to meet in person again for some fun science talks and have some beers together! Angela Sedeño Cacciatore - Pint of Science Amsterdam Team It is hard to feel close to someone through the lens of a Zoom call, even more so to feel excited about the science they are telling you about. But Pint of Science has risen to the challenge and kept that excitement going. That is why at the end of this year I decided to join and be a part of the team for whatever 2021 may bring. I hope to renew my connection to science, whether online or in person, and try to help others do the same. This is my new year’s resolution: to help the team in bringing that connection to others. Whether online or in person, I hope that we will be able to share our excitement for amazing science as well as some pints! Eline van Bloois - Pint of Science Amsterdam Team This year, in February, I joined Pint of Science excited to organise an event during the festival in May. As we all know, the coronavirus blew all plans out of the water. The lockdown made us think out of the box, which came with many new possibilities. After giving it some thought, we decided that we would try to renew the blog. We had a few researchers do a blog takeover, writing about their own research, and wrote some posts ourselves. I am grateful I got to play a role in this renewal and look forward to continuing this blog.
This year has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions. With life becoming a standstill at points - going out to a bar to see friends and hear a science talk seems an age away. However, science communication did not stop. Across the globe, fellow #pintworld volunteers organised online events and transitioned from 'live pub' events to a 'stay at home' events - all in the name of science communication. The #pintNL team took part, with its own iteration with #pintNLthuis. Getting the ball rolling was no small feat but our dedicated group of volunteers managed to persevere and organise 10 online events, which can be rewatched at any time! Our jovial hosts engaged in talks with guests ranging from the ongoing Operation Night Watch restoration project to a discussion on what it means to conduct science sustainably. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, our hosts engaged with researchers who investigate how the body recognises a virus and the implications of Vaccine Hesitancy. You can catch all our #pintNLthuis episodes on our website (here) or on our YouTube channel (here). We are very grateful not only for the volunteers, who dedicated their time in this uncertain situation, but also to the guests of each episode, who dedicated their evenings to share their research to a broader audience. We'll wrap our year with some final remarks from our volunteers so be on the lookout to hear from the dedicated individuals. Without their tireless work, the transition from live events to online content would not have been successful. Happy holidays and see you at #pint21 (17 - 19 May 2021) Warmest regards, Pint of Science Netherlands team
How society shapes language: clashes between linguistic gender and biological sex
Ever since I was a student, I followed with great interest the debates on the effect of language on the way we perceive the world around us. A few years ago, for instance, the Dutch railways (NS) decided to replace their traditional opening message Dames en heren ‘Ladies and gentlemen’ into Beste reizigers ‘Dear travellers’ in an effort to address not only women and men, but also persons who do not identify themselves as female or male. Among other things, this debate circles around the issue of linguistic gender. Many languages, such as Dutch, but also French or German, distinguish between masculine and feminine (and neuter) nouns. In French, for instance, the noun lune ‘moon’ is feminine, whereas the noun soleil ‘sun’ is masculine. But what determines the gender of a noun? For nouns such as ‘sun’ or ‘moon’, often there is no clear reason why one of them is masculine and the other one feminine – and interestingly, in German, it is the other way round: Sonne ‘sun’ is feminine, whereas Mond ‘moon’ is masculine. With nouns denoting human beings or animals, in contrast, there is often a correspondence between the noun’s linguistic gender and the biological sex of the person or animal depicted. For example, the noun for father in French, père, is masculine, while the noun mère ‘mother’ is feminine, thus showing a perfect match between linguistic gender and biological sex. However, assuming that linguistic gender corresponds to biological sex can raise several problems. Even for nouns denoting a person, there is not always a perfect match between the noun’s linguistic gender and the person’s biological sex. A famous example from Dutch is the noun meisje ‘girl’. While the person denoted by meisje is always female, a girl, the gender of the noun is neuter, instead of feminine. Another example, from French, is the feminine noun sentinelle, which denotes a guard and thus typically refers to a man. Nevertheless, this noun only has a feminine form. These cases, French sentinelle and Dutch meisje, show a mismatch between linguistic gender and biological sex. A similar mismatch between linguistic gender and biological sex existed also for many noun denoting professions. For a long period, many professions were only carried-out by men, so there was no need for feminine forms of the corresponding profession names. In the last decades, however, more and more women started to carry out such traditionally male-dominated professions, under the influence of feminisation movements. This caused the need for feminine profession names, a process that in some languages took more time than in others. While in German, the use of the feminine form Lehrerin ‘female teacher’ did not cause any problems, in French, the masculine form professeur ‘teacher’ remained in use for female teachers for a long period. Nowadays, however, more and more persons use feminine equivalents, such as professeure (originally introduced in Canadian French, from Québec). This is a good example of the influence of societal changes – in this case feminisation – on language. Interestingly, mismatches between linguistic gender and biological sex of a specific noun may also influence other parts of speech. Even though the Dutch noun meisje ‘girl’ is neuter, speakers of Dutch often encounter sentences such as: Dat meisje, zij leest een boek ‘That girl, she reads a book’. In this example, while the noun meisje is feminine, the pronoun zij ‘she’ that is used to refer back to this neuter noun is in the feminine and not in the neuter form (which would have been het ‘it’). As different studies have shown, native speakers of Dutch in fact prefer the use of feminine zij ‘she’ over neuter het ‘it’ to refer to the neuter noun meisje ‘girl’. Within my PhD-project, I investigate slightly different cases in French and German, which involve the same problem: a potential clash in linguistic gender between two elements. Suppose you want to talk about a group of students that you teach a French language class. Your group of students consists of women and men, which means that you would typically use a masculine plural noun, étudiants ‘students’, to denote this group in French. Now, suppose that you want to say that one of your students, the girl Marie, is the most smart student of your group. How do you say this in French? As Marie is female, to say ‘the most intelligent’ you would use the feminine form la plus intelligente. If we now combine this in one sentence to say ‘Marie is the most intelligent of my students’, this would translate into Marie est la plus intelligente des étudiants ‘Marie is the most intelligent (in the feminine form) of the students (masculine form)’. So far, so good. However, the sentence we just formulated contains a problem: there is a clash of linguistic genders between the masculine plural noun étudiants ‘students’ denoting the group and the feminine la plus intelligente ‘the most intelligent’, referring to one specific students selected from the group, Marie. While there are no clear rules in French that indicate if such a gender clash is allowed or not, native speakers of French do have intuitions about the correctness of such clashes. The central goal of my PhD-project is to look at these intuitions to determine which factors may contribute to the acceptability of such a linguistic gender clash, not only for French, but also for German. As the results of my study show, an important factor that influences the acceptability of a gender clash within a sentence is the particular noun that is used. While the example we constructed previously involved the noun étudiants ‘students’, a similar example with another noun, such as ministre ‘minister’, may be different for native speakers. Such noun differences may be caused by societal changes, such as the one I described earlier in relation to the feminine form professeure ‘female teacher’ in French. What can we learn from this? On the one hand, it teaches us how we can talk about a female person selected from a mixed group, as in the situation described earlier, for which no clear grammar rules exists. Interestingly, the results so far indicate that in most cases, speakers of French and German accept a gender clash, which means that they prefer to use a feminine form to denote a female. On the other hand, the results give us insight into the factors that may impact gender systems in language, which not only furthers our understanding of the language system in the human mind, but also tells us more about the influence of societal changes on language. Thom Westveer University: Universiteit van Amsterdam Faculty: Faculty of humanities Favourite drink: Red wine Want to know more? If you want to know more about Thom Westveers research, you can find his most recent publications here.
Looking for a fun activity to do? Why not perform a science experiment? Did you know that there are a lot of experiments that can be done with just a few household items? Over the past few months, most people have been at home a lot. For me, this means that I ran out of things to do. I really miss being in the laboratory and performing fun experiments. As I was remembering some of the fun experiments I have done, I figured that some of these experiments could also be performed with household items. After all, many of the activities we do at home have a lot to do with science. From baking bread to cleaning the bathroom sink, everything can be modified to become a science experiment using household items. Just think of when you were last bothered by chalk residues in the sink and went in, armed with cleaning supplies, to get rid of the chalk. When using vinegar or any other cleaning product containing acetic acid, a chemical reaction occurs. During this reaction, the acid reacts with the chalk (calcium carbonate) and forms calcium ions (Ca2+), water (H2O), and carbon dioxide (CO2). Here, the chalk dissolves in the vinegar and you end up with a shining, clean sink. You can also try this in a fun experiment, put an egg in vinegar and check what happens after it has been laying in vinegar 1 or 3 days. Another fun (and tasteful) experiment you can try out is to make your own sourdough starter. In doing so, you are growing your own microorganisms to make your own bread. The most important organisms you are growing are lactic acid bacteria and yeast (a fungus). Yeast causes the sourdough to rise through creating carbon dioxide (CO2) bubbles. The lactic acid bacteria provide the unique sour flavour of sourdough bread and preserve the bread through lowering the pH. How does this preserve the bread? Thanks to the lower pH, other microorganisms, including pathogens, will have a harder time to grow on your bread. Interested in making your own sourdough starter? You can find an illustrated description here: There are also a lot of other fun science experiments that can be found online: Isolate your own DNA - Make your own carbonated drink - Make your own bath bomb - Make your drawing swim - Each of these websites also provides other experiments. If you are looking for something fun to do, I definitely recommend checking them out. Please let us know how your experiments turned out, or if you found other fun experiments to do at home via Twitter or Facebook! 
ADHD Awareness Month: Common questions, reliable answers
Most people know what ADHD is. And many people seem to have an opinion about ADHD. Whether it exists or not; what causes ADHD; how ADHD should be treated. But actually, most people don’t know a lot about ADHD. There are many myths, misconceptions and false beliefs out there. And that’s why every year in October it’s ADHD Awareness Month. With this year’s theme: Common Questions, Reliable Answers. In my work as research dissemination advisor, I collaborate with ADHD researchers and with ADHD patient organisations. I help to transfer the scientific evidence from the researchers to the patients, in order to get reliable answers to common questions. So what are these common questions that are often asked? I’ll share a couple with you. Does ADHD exist? Yes. ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a psychiatric condition that is defined in both the DSM and the ICD. These are manuals or classification systems that are used worldwide by psychiatrists and psychologists to determine whether someone’s symptoms and impairments fall under the definition of a certain disorder. For instance: to meet the DSM criteria for ADHD, a child must show at least 6 out of 9 symptoms of inattention, and/or 6 out of 9 symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity (for adults, this cut-off is at 5 symptoms). These symptoms must be present in two or more settings (i.e. both at home and in school) and must interfere with social, academic or occupational functioning. Does getting an ADHD diagnosis help? Yes, most of the time. Getting an ADHD diagnosis can be very helpful for a person, because it serves as recognition (“I’m not crazy, stupid or lazy, but I have a disorder that interferes with my daily functioning”) and it can help to receive adequate treatment, such as medication, psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural training. However, not everyone is happy to be ‘labelled’. Some don’t want to be treated differently, or as having a handicap. It greatly depends on the person, and also on the severity of their ADHD, whether the diagnosis can help them or not. Doesn’t everyone have a bit of ADHD? Yes and no. The downside of the psychiatric classification system is that it defines a clear-cut border between having ADHD and not having ADHD (which is very useful for, for instance to get a treatment insured, or approved by authorities). This classification does not do justice to the underlying biology. There is large variability between people in their ability to focus on a task, remember where they have left items, manage time, deal with emotions, and control impulses. People with ADHD are at the extreme end of this spectrum, showing behaviour (or symptoms) that seriously interferes with ‘normal’ everyday life. So perhaps you are not very good at concentrating or time management. But if this doesn’t result in serious impairments in your daily life, you probably don’t have ADHD. However, you do have some of the characteristics that are part of the disorder. Actually, more and more research is focussing on what we call ‘dimensional’ traits, such as the degree to which people are able to keep focussed on a boring task, instead of ‘categorical’ traits (i.e. good vs. bad at focussing). This is providing new insights into the biology of these traits. What causes ADHD? For a large part, genes, but that’s not the complete story. We know that ADHD is heritable; it runs in families. However, there’s not one gene that causes ADHD. Instead, many small variations in many different genes are thought to be involved in causing the disorder. If you have a lot of these genetic variants, then there’s a higher chance that you have ADHD. Next to genes, we know that environmental factors play a role as well. These are non-genetic factors that come from ‘outside’. For instance, smoking during pregnancy, or severe stress early in life, are linked to a higher chance of developing ADHD. Similar to the role of genetics, we still don’t know much about the role of these environmental factors in causing ADHD. But we do know that getting ADHD is a complex mix of inheriting certain genes from your parents, and early life environmental factors that no one really understands yet. Can brain scans be used to identify if someone has ADHD? No. We know that the many genetic and environmental factors influence brain development early in life (even before birth). However, these brain changes are not huge and they vary greatly between individuals with ADHD. For instance, research has identified that on average individuals with ADHD have a slightly smaller brain. But these differences are so small that you cannot just do a brain scan to identify whether someone has ADHD. For that, you need to go to a psychiatrist or psychologist. However, a lot of research is being done to better understand what happens in the brain of someone with ADHD. Want to know more? During the entire month of October experts will answer common questions about ADHD which will be posted on the website www.adhdwarenessmonth.org. To read more about research on ADHD, you can also follow this blog: Dr. Jeanette Mostert is dissemination manager at the Radboudumc Nijmegen, The Netherlands. She obtained her PhD in 2016 on the topic of resting-state functional connectivity in adults with ADHD. She is also the communications officer of Pint of Science, The Netherlands.
#pint20 is the 8th edition of Pint of Science but due to the ongoing pandemic, speakers, volunteers and participants found themselves inside their home for a large part of this year. However, a year without a Pint of Science festival does not feel right so the transition towards having an online festival began. A handful of countries transitioned their events online starting in May, with the current situation providing the opportunity for participants outside the host country to join in on the organised events. The main online festival will take place starting on the week of the 7th of September, with half of the participating Pint of Science countries hosting events online! Volunteers across the world worked hard over the summer to bring an exciting range of events to enlighten our understanding of the latest scientific developments, all in the comfort of your couch!
Here is the full list of countries participating in #pint20online so check make sure to check them out! Argentina Norway Belgium Portugal Brazil Russia France Sweden Germany Thailand Ireland United Kingdom Kenya United States As for Pint of Science Netherlands, we are returning back with our #pintNLthuis at the end of September so stay tuned for more updates soon.
Citizen science, or the public’s involvement in scientific research, is booming and becoming more ambitious and more networked. But what is citizen science exactly? In short, citizen science is the practice of public participation and collaboration in scientific research to increase scientific knowledge. Scientists create community programmes to gather and capture more widely spread data without additional funding. Many scientists work with already established communities, such as birdwatchers and weather bugs, to expand studies and databases. Large volunteer networks often allow scientists to accomplish tasks that would be too expensive or time-consuming to accomplish through other means. A large number of citizens are also donating thinking time to help speed up meta-analyses or assess images in ways that algorithms cannot yet match. Projects involve citizens with a wide range of expertise; from children in their own backyards to members of high-school science clubs to amateur astronomers with sophisticated home equipment. How can I get involved? Subjects are incredibly varied, ranging from monitoring pollution to installing Geiger counters in potentially radioactive habitable zones to classifying galaxies. In the Netherlands, one ongoing project by the University of Leiden aims to track the amount of plastic spotted in canals and rivers throughout the country, in an effort to reduce plastic pollution of its waterways. Another project, led by Naturalis and the team of Barbara Gravendeel, aims to record whether dandelions in the city open earlier and close later than dandelions in nature, and whether there is a connection with where they grow. Citizen science can of course involve your family, but also your cherished pup! This howling study, led by a team at Harvard-Tufts, wants to understand whether dogs are able to control their voice pitch when howling along to certain sounds. All you have to provide are videos of your dog howling along to the sound tracks! How long has citizen science been around? Although the term ‘citizen science’ was only coined relatively recently in the 1990’s, people have been invested and contributing to science for centuries. In ancient China for example, migratory locusts were frequently destroying harvests, and residents have been tracking outbreaks for almost 2000 years. Citizen science brings many opportunities, not only for scientists that run these complex projects and require data, but also for non-professional scientists who wish to contribute and learn about new subjects. One goal of citizen science in general is to increase participation in research and to build stronger connections between citizens and scientists. This could not be more important at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is stretching our global understanding of immunology and vaccine development, and requires the general public and politicians to understand complex scientific data and trust the quality of the information provided. Many citizen science projects also focus on providing better quality of life for its citizens, such as monitoring air pollution in cities and how buildings can trap pollution in ‘pollution canyons’ in cities. Importance of citizen science projects and regulations Importantly, governmental agencies are realising the potential of citizen science projects and have started to incorporate them into their routine work, such as the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), and the US and Scottish environmental protection agencies. The European commission has also specifically earmarked a range of funding opportunities for citizen science projects within its €80-billion Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. Although citizen science projects are becoming increasingly popular, academics fear that the sheer number of projects available to the public is overwhelming and ultimately leads to decreases in participation in long-running projects such as the Big Garden Birdwatch project in the UK. There are also challenges related to ethics and data use. As an example, a project in Kenya aims to map poaching incidents, wildlife encounters and fencings, which can all be harmful to animals. However, the data could potentially be used for far more nefarious purposes and could provide poachers with exact locations of animal sightings. Our favourite citizen science projects If you feel like getting involved, or want to learn about a new topic, here are a few of our favourites: One of the world’s most popular nature apps Interested in space? Check these projects out! Help classify galaxies according to shape Look for interstellar particles Help gather data about light pollution by recording night sky brightness observations Measure artificial light at night and send your results to light pollution researchers worldwide: Citizen science projects in the Netherlands How much plastic can you spot in the canals? Help record opening and closing times of dandelions in your area: Keep an eye out for birds in your garden! Get your pets involved! How does your dog's howl change with different sounds? Send in your videos! Enroll your pets in science projects too and learn about their behaviour: Dog behaviour Cat behaviour
Recent years have witnessed an emerging consensus that science is not – and cannot be – completely free of values. Which values may legitimately influence science, and in which ways, is currently a topic of heated debate in philosophy of science. These discussions have immediate relevance for science teaching: if the value-free ideal of science is misguided, science students should abandon it too and learn to reflect on the relation between science and values – only then can they become responsible academics and citizens. I investigate ways in which reflection on science and values can be incorporated in science education. In particular, I try to show how recent philosophical insights about science and values can be used in courses for students in Health Sciences and in debates in the context of Big Data. An example of the interaction between science and values concerns the way a choice between biomedical approaches and clinical trials is made. Assuming that there is money available for only one type of research project, then what are the reasons a scientific committee can have for choosing for one proposal over another. How do they choose between a proposal that focuses on the underlying mechanisms of a bodily disorder (biomedical approach) and a trial to determine the effect of a medicine to recover the patients suffering from the same disorder (clinical trial)? Students easily understand that values – such as explanatory success, applicability, reliability and scope on the one hand, and social relevance and financial feasibility on the other – are necessary to make a choice between these two research proposals. A more difficult, and more interesting, question is why certain values prevail over others. The same holds for the influence of values on Science in the application of scientific research. If medical research regarding a potentially dangerous influenza virus results in the development of an effective therapy, the answer to the questions whether and, if so, how this therapy can be applied, depends on the values involved. Values such as generality (the expected scope of the therapy), safety (the degree of the health risks), individual freedom (should the therapy be prescribed compulsory?) and financial conditions determine the answer to these questions. It is clear that these answers, among others, depend on the political views (and ideological sources) of the government. Students may be very apt to discuss these questions, and these discussions could indeed be helpful to better understand the interaction of Science and values. However, in my courses it is even more important and interesting to reflect on the influence of values in the 'heart' of scientific practices: what role do values play when a hypothesis or theory is tested? Dr. Edwin Koster University: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Department: Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities Courses: Philosophy of Education, Philosophy and Ethics Favourite beer: I like to drink 'una clara' - a fresh draft beer mixed with lemon juice - that reminds me of the time I lived in Madrid and enjoyed it immensely ... Want to know more? If you want to know more about Edwin Kosters research, you can find his most recent publications here.
When I first visited the US during my graduate studies I was surprised to learn that among my fellow students - in the words of Eminem -- "nobody listened to techno". One of the dominant youth cultures in Europe, especially in the UK and the Netherlands, was quite peripheral and unknown in the United States. This was unexpected as most conventional music histories identified the United States - and cities like Chicago and Detroit - as the birthplace of house and techno music. So I became intrigued by the question how it happened that a musical genre that emerged in the US was quite slow to develop in its country of birth but became so widely adopted in European countries? The graduate courses I was taking during my visit to the US on the sociology of culture provided some clues to solving this problem. In texts on cultural globalization I learned about "Americanization" and how US culture could spread across the world. But the examples were mostly of Hollywood movies and other mainstream US commercial culture that could become global culture because of the "deep pockets" of the US cultural industries. The idea was that cultural products became "globalized" because of the strength of their domestic US industry. However, the fact that a musical form -- like house or techno -- that was actually not successful in the US could also spread to other countries was not explained by these theories. Another set of theories also gave a partial answer. I learned how musical forms can be studied as "art worlds" -- as collective social worlds that similar to social movements can grow in size and become more widely diffused as the networks of people who participate in these artistic worlds grow and become more widespread. New cultural innovations, like a music style, can emerge from the seeds of only a few people -- a group of friends who experiment with new instruments or musical idioms -- and while initially considered to be strange and unfamiliar can become more widely adopted when more and more people become "recruited" into this world. But this is a relatively slow process -- one that takes time and effort by people who can bring others and the necessary resources together to create clubs, record labels, venues, and a whole range of organizations and institutions, etc. When I started to actually study the emergence of the dance music field in the UK I was struck by two things that these theories indeed could not explain. First, I found that the house and techno acts that were adopted in the UK were not the most successful acts in the US. Actually, the less successful, the more likely an act would attract the attention of the UK adopters. The UK adopters had a distinct preference, it seemed, for underground, peripheral dance music from the US -- paying more attention to, for example, a commercially unsuccessful Chicago based act rather than an act based in New York that already had a modicum of success in the US. Second, the adoption of US-based house and techno acts was almost immediate. Not only were most house and techno acts released in the US and UK within a very short time period from each other. But also the "genres" themselves -- the idea that these musical acts could be grouped under a similar category -- were in some cases actually almost immediately or even earlier established in the UK than in the US. For example, the genre of Techno gained recognition in the UK when Neil Rushton discovered records from Detroit by Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins in a crate of records that normally only contained soul records. Rushton saw a commercial possibility and convinced the record label 10 Records to release a compilation album. The working title was in first instance: The House Sound of Detroit (named after an already existing house music compilation). The marketing department of 10 Records, however, decided it was necessary to differentiate the album from House and to give it a separate and clear genre identity. Juan Atkins had used the term Techno before so they settled on that term as a way to market their music. So the title became - Techno: The New Dance Sound of Detroit. And by releasing this compilation album in the UK they had invented the "techno" genre in the UK before it even gained ground in the US. This quick adoption in the UK of unsuccessful US culture led me to reframe my original question. Perhaps it was not the right question why house and techno were unsuccessful in the US yet successful in the UK. Perhaps it made more sense to see these as two sides of the same coin: that the successful adoption in the UK was predicated on the unsuccessful development of these genres in the US. Because of economic and cultural reasons, the peripheral, non-commercial status of these genres in the US would actually make these interesting for adoption in the UK. Economically, the lack of domestic success made these acts cheaper to license on the UK market. Culturally, UK audiences, journalists and label owners could claim the music as a form of - what cultural sociologists call - "cultural capital": a form of prestigious culture because of its rarity and noncommercial character. They, in other words, actively sought out the obscure, the rare, the non-commercial in other national contexts and adopted it to enhance their status and position within their own national contexts. And thus it could happen that while in the US nobody listened to techno, it became the basis of a new cultural field in other contexts far removed from Chicago and Detroit. Alex van Venrooij (Current) favorite beer: Lowlander IPA University: Universiteit van Amsterdam Department: Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences Programme: Cultural sociology Want to know more? Find Alex's research profile here.
The first few months of 2020 have been a rollercoaster. We started off January busy with the organization of the Pint of Science festival. Then, in March, covid-19 decided to mix everything up. We moved the festival to September, but later we unfortunately had to decide to cancel the festival. We still have our passion for sharing science (and beer). Therefore, we decided to look for new ways to bring science to you. Therefore, we decided to renew our blog! We asked scientists to write about their research. Dr. Alex van Venrooij teaches sociology at the University of Amsterdam. He wrote an article in which he tells about the journey of techno and house music to Europe and how his research came to be. You can read all about it next monday. We would also like to introduce you to Dr. Edwin Koster, he writes about his experience with the incorporation of philosophy in science education. His blog will be posted the 10th of august. As you may have noticed, we also recently started with online events. Here, scientists discus their research and answer your questions. Check out our online events here. In addition, you can now check out what is going on behind the screens of Pint of Science in our first ever podcast! Cheers! Eline van Bloois
#pint19 Amsterdam - Hacking the immune system to fight cancer
With the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine being awarded to Immunotherapy, it was the perfect time to learn about what immunotherapy research is happening right here in Amsterdam! It was a busy and cosy night in De Jonge Admiraal, building on the success of the introduction of Pint of Science events to Amsterdam, in May 2018. Our 2 speakers from the NKI (Netherlands Cancer Institute) introduced us to the theory behind immunotherapy and on what progress is being made. First, Maarten Slagter, a PhD student, introduced us to the immune system, T Cells and exactly what the nobel prize was awarded for. He then expanded into the different treatments currently available and how each treatment shows good results but not to all patients. There are a vast number of variables that can affect which treatment is right for which patient and his research is focused on mapping all these variables. Then Leila Akkari, group leader at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, explored the local environment of tumors with us and in particular a specific cell; the macrophage! Her research is showing that this is an extremely awesome and promising cell to be used in future treatments. With some beautiful images and videos, it was a very captivating talk! Everyone stayed long after the talks drinking and asking the speakers inquisitive questions about their research. The interactive pub quiz, which was appropriately won by ‘Mr T Cell’. Thank you to everyone who attended and was involved in this event, and everyone from De Jonge Admiraal. We are preparing a wide range of topics for the May festival and look forward to spreading more science around the city! More details and events to follow so don't forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook! Met vriendelijke groet, Pint of Science Central Team