The world in Microbes

Microbiology never meant much to me as I am not a scientist looking into the smallest living particles of life. The Dutch summer interview series ‘Zomergasten’ (literally: summer guests) invites 6 interesting people over the summer to speak for 3 hours about their interest, fascination and their life. The first of this season was Rosanne Herzberger, a Dutch woman and microbiologist. She did not just talk about her work as microbiologist where she has an interest in the vaginal microbes, she spoke more about the misconception and powerful voice we have that we lay over the world. The way we interpret history, animal behaviour and the role we play amaze her and when she places that next to microbiology she shows how things can also be seen.

Also  why we believe bloggers when it comes to food advice and we stop trusting the government and scientists. In this instance she explained how E-numbers are not harmful at all but how bloggers made us believe they are. Or how she asked in her column who is sponsoring the websites where hate towards women is the norm and fun. Many of these sponsors have resigned. She showed beautiful, and a bit extreme, Jewish tradition of the Belz Mizvah Tantz and Grizzly man, humans in their habitat.

Since I saw this last week I started wondering what more we can learn from microbiologists. Thanks for TED and understandable talks that made me realize: where ever I would end up in an organisation, I have to look for the microbes, the things that make the life and transfer resources into energy. Through the eyes of Herzberger I am starting to understand how life works, how we work as living beings and how being a bit crazy can be incredibly beneficial.

Oh and the decor of the program makes it even more pleasurable to watch. Up next: the mayor of Amsterdam. Cannot wait.



Leoluca Orlando – The mayor of Palermo who says that the right of mobility should be a human right. Orlando has fought the mafia in Sicily and is now the mayor of its capital where he has a surprising approach towards the immigrants. He welcomes them personally when they arrive by boat and makes them Palermitans. Orlando would love to see a more welcoming approach of the EU towards the immigrants who come in. He states that these people have rights and should be given a chance and feel welcome. Immigrants who feel welcome will keep their eyes open of who comes in and take responsibility for their new country or city. Orlando would like to create a mosaic of people in a city instead of a painting with boundaries. He calls himself the mayor of all people from Palermo, children to elderly, locally born and the just arrived. He even called in a special board in his office to have a voice of the immigrants being heard represented by an immigrant woman. A call to mayors around Europe to make a change because the main governments can’t do it all. 

I might be biased because I am partly Palermitan myself, but also I agree with the way Orlando approaches the ‘new’ people arriving in Sicily. He wants them to be more free, welcomed and have rights much sooner, because globalisation should provide an exchange of people as well as a trade freedom. I wonder how they are being managed in a way that they understand the culture that is new to them. Also the Italians, in this case the Sicilians must have a vision on the way Orlando proposes we should treat the newcomers. But a warm welcome sounds like a very good foundation to base a new relationship from.

Reed Hastings interview with Twan Huys – College Tour (Dutch public television program) 

Reed Hastings is founder of Netflix, a company he started because video rentals were becoming outdated. He was fascinated by the question he heard often in the video rental stores “I rented this film last week and I loved it, what would you recommend me for this week?” Hastings thought, being a math wizard, there must be an algorithm that can predict what people would like to see based on what they have seen in the past. Hence the reason one cannot stop watching Netflix shows. Binge watching of series and the power of his own shows is not based on what he wants, he works with a team that has a huge variety of background to make sure he avoids bias. Long story short, Hastings understands the magic of ‘hand picked’ service that goes hand in hand with as much diversity as possible. If you’d like to watch the full interview: here, most part is in English.