The White Rabbit’s Watch

Alice and the Friendly Minotaur have decided to go on a search for the Architect. Alice wants to ask the Architect – who designed the Minotaur’s labyrinth – whether numbers were used in making the labyrinth’s design. She hopes that the Architect can help her to understand what numbers are.


The White Rabbit.

Where should we start looking?’ Alice asked. She had no idea what kind of a person – or creature – this Architect was that the Minotaur talked about, and so she had no idea either where to start looking. The Minotaur thought about this while he rested his chin on one of his hoofs. ‘We need someone who can tell us where the Architect lives.’ He said after a while. ‘We need someone who knows his way around Wonderland.’ He frowned deeply and moved around his eyes as if he tried to look into his own head. And then, suddenly, his eyes brightened and he said with a loud voice ‘we should first go look for the White Rabbit!’ The Minotaur continued in a calmer tone of voice ‘The White rabbit has been a manservant for the Queen for a long time, so he must know many things about Wonderland. Perhaps he can tell us where to find the Architect?’

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Wonderland without Numbers?

\Leftarrow Previously in ‘Numbers in Wonderland’

Alice followed the Friendly Minotaur as he walked deeper into the forest. Any other little girl would have been at least a bit frightened by the shape of the large beast and the shadows cast on him by the looming trees, but Alice was too excited to find out what the Minotaur was going to tell her. Alice really didn’t like numbers, so if the Minotaur would tell her that we don’t really need numbers, that would be great! ‘I will go back to the Hatter and the other tea-party-goers and tell them that I never want anything to do with numbers!’ Alice smiled as she thought of this. ‘no more of those boring math classes for me.’


Suddenly the Minotaur stopped walking. Alice almost bumped in to him, immersed as she was in her thoughts, and she saw that they had reached an open spot in the forest. There were no trees, but only very tall grass. When she looked more closely, she saw that the grass in some places hid a brick wall. Then it struck her. This was the Minotaur’s labyrinth! Ever since Alice had read about the labyrinth in her sister’s books this was how she had imagined the Minotaur’s home to be: as a large, circular and stoney structure. Hidden somewhere far away in the middle of nowhere. The Minotaur turned around and started to speak: “you ask me whether we really need numbers… well I can tell you one thing; I don’t need them. The Architect, who designed my home for me, gave me several lists each of which tells me where to find a particular room. For example, if I want to find the way to my bedroom,” the Minotaur said while pointing one of his hoofs in the direction of the labyrinth, “I take the list with the title ‘bedroom’ and simply follow the directions that are listed. That is how I know where to go. Numbers are difficult things. It’s better to stay away from them.”

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Alice and the Friendly Minotaur

\Leftarrow Previously in ‘Numbers in Wonderland

‘I wonder what would be left,’ Alice thought to herself, ‘if I take five apples and throw away the apples’. ‘What would it feel like to have five in my hands?’ I guess it would be heavier than three.’

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I grind my teeth. Even when I’m not thinking about very difficult things – such as what present to give my mother for her birthday – I scrape the teeth of my lower jaw with my upper teeth. The dentist kindly but urgently advised me to stop grinding my teeth, because the teeth on my lower jaw have already been worn down to miniature versions of their upper comrades. But that’s easier said than done – because I’m spastic.

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Numbers in Wonderland

madteapartyAfter following the White Rabbit down the rabbit-hole and meeting all kinds of strange and wondrous animals, Alice finds herself at the mad tea party. Her three companions – the Hatter, the Dormouse and the March Hare – keep asking Alice difficult questions, which make her feel very annoyed.

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Paraclimbing plans for 2017

hilversum_npl2017 is going to be a great year for me. I’m getting married to the woman I love; in a month or two I hope to finish my PhD and, on top of that, there’s going to be a lot of climbing. Last September’s Worldchampionship in Paris was the first international climbing-competition that I participated in. I did better then I had expected two months before, so the competition really whetted my appetite. The next Worldchampionship will be in 2018 in Innsbruck (AUT). But I’m not going to wait that long!


In 2017 the IFSC (International Federation for Sportsclimbing) organises a paraclimbing Worldcup: a series of climbing events at different locations. At the time of writing the IFSC  has yet to announce the locations and dates of the worldcup-events, but there are rumours about three of the locations. There will probably be paraclimbing events in Edinburgh (UK) and Sheffield (UK) sometime around September 2017 and another will be organised in Imst (AUT), but the precise date of the event in Imst hasn’t yet been made public. I plan to take part in all three events. Last year – before my joining the Dutch paraclimbing team – there was a paraclimbing event organised in Campitello di Fassa (IT). I’d really like to compete in Campitello di Fassa, so I hope that they’ll organise another event this year!


Another trip which I’m considering would take me to Boston (MA). On June 23rd the Brooklyn Boulders climbing community in Somerville will host the USA Climbing National championships. I would very much like to visit the city of the MIT and the Boston Tea Party. It would also be a great opportunity for me to get a feeling for different styles (formats) of competition: at the Worldchampionship in Paris I had to climb ‘on-sight’; in Boston they’ll be climbing ‘red-point’ (I’ll explain the difference in a later blogpost).

Because I don’t know the precise dates at which I’ll have to get the best out of myself (or even what counts as ‘the best’; because that depends on the competition-format) it’s difficult to make plans about training. It’s difficult to set short-term goals if you don’t yet know your long-term goals. That is why I’ll write about my goals and training-methods in a later blogpost. Don’t forget to subscribe to the updates on this blog! 😉

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Bestaat Lege Ruimte?

Wat zou er gebeuren als uit de ruimte plotseling alle objecten zouden verdwijnen? Blijft er dan lege ruimte over, of is er helemaal niets meer? Met andere woorden: is de lege ruimte zelf ook een soort ‘object’? Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy of Mathematics, Philosophy of Physics, Ruimte-tijd filosofie, space, spacetime | 2 Comments

Paraclimbing World championship – Paris, 2016


UPDATE: I ended fourth in my category. That’s less than I had hoped for, but a lot more than I had expected (I was the only Dutch finalist). The next worldchampionship (Innsbruck, 2018) I’ll do better! Continue reading

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Does Science Describe Reality?

In the philosophy of science there is a debate about whether scientific theories tell us what the world is really like, or whether scientific theories are nothing more than ‘tools’ or ‘instruments’ – useful for making predictions, but not for telling us what the world is really like. This debate is called the realism-debate. Most working scientists are realists: they believe that scientific theories tell us what the world is really like. They argue that realism is the only philosophy of science that can explain the success (in terms of the accuracy of predictions) of science. For example, they argue that “the theory of atoms allows us to predict that a gas expands when it is heated; wouldn’t that be a mystery if atoms did’t exist?” Continue reading

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This Is What Climbing With A Disability Looks Like

There remains a lot to be learned… 😉

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