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The most popular articles of 2019

From children’s inability to identify animals to a big protest at the opening of the academic year: below are some of our most popular articles of 2019.

Children no longer know their magpies, blackbirds and sparrows

Less than a quarter of Dutch children can identify common birds. This was one of the conclusions of PhD candidate Michiel Hooykaas from the Science Communication and Society Department. ‘It was to be expected that children would be able to identify fewer species than adults, but they couldn’t even identify common species.’

How Leiden University celebrated its very first day 444 years ago

Leiden University celebrated its 444th birthday in 2019, and through numerous activities is strengthening its ties with the cities of Leiden and The Hague. But what about 444 years ago? Think triumphal arches, lackeys and halberdiers. ‘It travelled further, with a large noise and the astonishing racket of muskets, calibers and pistols.’

Procession at the foundation of Leiden University in 1575

Leiden chemists unravel one of the mysteries of multiple sclerosis

Chemists from Leiden have discovered a new mechanism that could explain how a more severe type of multiple sclerosis can develop. Their findings are helping unravel the mysterious progression of this disease. ‘In future, we might be able to inhibit neurodegeneration.’

Unforgettable opening of the academic year

The opening of the academic year is usually a calm and cheerful occasion, but this wasn’t the case on 2 September. While Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ingrid van Engelshoven, gave a speech in Pieterskerk, around 1,000 researchers demonstrated outside against her education policy. ‘I understand that a lot of people here inside the church and outside are angry. But be aware that the Cabinet knows all too well how crucial the humanities and social sciences are.’

Professor Remco Breuker (Korea Studies) during the protest against Minister Van Engelshoven’s reallocation plan

Biography of Jan Hendrik Oort – ‘master of the galactic system’

This Leiden professor discovered how to determine the rotation and centre of our Milky Way as well as where comets come from. One of his PhD candidates has written a biography about the man who gave his name to the Oort cloud. ‘He was one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century.’

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