Have you ever been caught speeding on the road? Or wondered why orange is the national colour of the Netherlands and what does it have to do with carrots? Well, the Dutchies made some important contributions in the fields of art, technology, engineering, and many more, but to find out more, keep reading!
1. The Submarine
Even though the prototype of a submarine was made by the British mathematician William Bourne, the first navigable underwater vessel was constructed by the Dutch physicist Cornelis Drebbel back in the 1620s. At the time, he was working for the British Royal Navy, and this is why the submarine was first tested in the Thames river. But I bet it was pretty cold to be down there, as only a piece of greased leather covered the vessel! It was propelled by oars and leather flaps, and 150 years later, it was already used in naval combat.
2. The Telescope & the Microscope
Dutch scientists made breakthroughs in many areas that today shape our modernity. That being said, a year before when Galileo Galilei observed the stars (which was in 1609), the spectacle-craftsmen Zacharias Janssen and Hans Lipperhey invented the first telescope in Middleburg. There is a debate over who came up with the idea first, but the device was far from perfect as it was difficult to get an accurate view through the lenses. And to our surprise, a third Dutchman, Jacob Metius, also tried to patent his version of a telescope weeks after his predecessors.The microscope’s patent was also uncertain. However, the most recognised inventor is Antoni van Leeuwenhoek. His model from the 1670s had only one lens and could magnify up to 237 times real-size. Zacharias Jansen created a simpler version of it in 1595, but its magnifying strength was only up to 30.
3. The Olympic Flame
The first appearance of the Olympic flame in modern times happened at the Olympic Stadium of Amsterdam. The architect Jan Wils was designing a tall tower emitting smoke, which could have been seen better in daylight. Later in 1936, the first Olympic flame entered the games in Berlin, and from then on it became an integral part of the ceremony as it was carried out centuries ago in Olympia.However, it was some time after the advent of the Games of the modern era at Athens 1896 that the event returned to what was the site of the ancient Games. Indeed, it was not until Amsterdam 1928 that the flame even made its first appearance of the modern age, being lit for the occasion on a tower looking out over the Olympic Stadium, the venue for the athletics events. The flame appeared once more in Los Angeles four years later, this time coming into existence at the top of the gateway to the Olympic Stadium.In the lead-up to Berlin 1936, however, it was decided to take the ceremony back to its roots in Olympia, where the flame has been lit for every Summer Games since then. That decision coincided with the creation of the Olympic Torch Relay – the brainchild of the university lecturer and sports theorist Carl Diem. The Secretary-General of the Organising Committee of the Games of the XI Olympiad, Diem drew inspiration for his idea from the torch races of Ancient Greece.
4. Eye Testing Chart
We have all been at the doctor’s, squinting our eyes at the hard-to-read alphabet chart to have a check-up. But have you asked yourself who created the popular eye test? It was the Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen (born and studied medicine in Utrecht), who in 1862 developed this technique for measuring visual acuity. Of course, Sneller wasn’t the first to develop such charts, but his adapted version is the most commonly used today.
Even though in the Netherlands we use the Celsius scale, we need to pay tribute to the Dutch scientist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, who was the first to invent a reliable alcohol and mercury thermometer. Ever since 1724, the Fahrenheit temperature scale bears his name. He was also the first to record the temperature at which water freezes and boils.
6. The Speed Camera
Speeding and passing a camera will inevitably bring you a fine, for which you can be “thankful” to the Dutch rally driver Maus Garsonides. How ironic that he was a rally driver! The mechanism was fairly simple compared to the cameras we have today; to activate the automatic speedometer, Garsonides used two rubber tubes, which start a chronometer when car wheels hit them. His invention was released to the public in 1958.
We can boldly claim that the Netherlands is the Japan of Europe! With so many technological advancements, the Dutch place themselves on top of the list of tech-savvy countries. The invention of the Bluetooth in 1990 was thanks to Dr. Jaap Haartsen, while he was working for the Swedish company Ericsson. And here is a weird fact: the name “Bluetooth'' comes from the nickname of the Viking King Harald, whose dead tooth was a dark blue colour.
8. The CD
It was firstly developed by Sony and Philips in Eindhoven, but the world’s first cassette tapes, DVDs, and Bly-Ray also emerged from the Netherlands. Interestingly, the creators of the CD, Joop Sinjou and Kees Schouhamer Immink, based the size of the CD holes on a Dutch 10-cent coin. The first-ever song to be played on a CD was “The Visitors” (ABBA, 1982).
9. The WiFi
When was the last time you spent a WiFi-free day? Don’t worry, we all cannot tell for sure, as this invention got rooted into our daily lives and made us dependent. It was back in 1997 when its father, Victor Hayes, who was a senior research developer at TU Delft, developed the first set of wireless networking standards. Later on, a team of Australian inventors was accredited for the technology as we use it today.
10. The Stock Market
In 1611, the first modern stock trading was created in Amsterdam, when the Dutch East India Company was the first publicly-traded company, and for many years remained the only active one. To fund its trade voyages, the company was selling stock and was paying dividends of the shares to investors. The gates were opened, so other countries also created similar companies and were boldly buying shares. However, it was short-lived because of financial instability, and in the 1720s the market crashed.
Did you expect these?
This reality show was a guilty pleasure for many of us. And it wasn’t a coincidence; bringing so many people under one roof for a long time led to some interesting scenes. Its first episode was broadcasted in the Netherlands, back in 1999. As of today, the show has become a hit in over 50 countries worldwide, with over 450 seasons!
There is a political reason behind it. For many centuries, carrots used to be yellow, white, or even... purple! Nowadays we’d be bewildered at this sight and think that they are genetically modified. The carrots we know today have “turned” orange in the 17th century when Dutch growers cultivated them as a tribute to William of Orange, who led the Dutch revolt for independence back then. For many decades the colour of the Dutch royal family is orange, which we can see rooted in many of the Dutch traditions, such as King’s Day.
You may have passed the book-inspired museum of Miffy (also called Nijntje), located right here. For decades, Dutch children have grown up with the books of Miffy, the small female rabbit, which was brought to life by the Dutch artist Dick Bruna. He was telling his son stories about a rabbit they saw on a holiday and turned it into a timeless character. Miffy brings joy to many children by being on TV series, clothes, and different toys.
The Netherland's territory may not be enormous, but this didn’t prevent renowned Dutch people from the quest for innovation. Their discoveries are shaping our reality, and many more are yet to come! Now, let’s exchange: what inventions did your country bring to the world? Let us know by a post on Instagram and tagging @esn_utrecht.Images:1