Monday, November 23, 2015

more Huguenots

When I reported on the suspected Huguenot connection of my ancestor Jean Bonnedame (* 1666 Mörlheim, today part of the city of Landau) , I didn’t know the last name of his wife, Maria Sara, whom he married in 1724. We now know that she was called Maria Sara Bouquet, (*1699 Minfeld).

It turns out that her family appears to be of Huguenot origin as well. Specifically, her father Philipp Bouquet was probably born around 1655 in the pays de l'Alloeu, a small patch of land just west of Lille (today in north of France) which originally was one of the provinces of the Spanish Netherlands. He came to the town of Billigheim (in the Palatinate, just south of Landau), which had a significant population of Huguenot refugees, with his father Laurent Bouquet (Boquai) in 1664. We don’t know anything about his mother. In 1685 he married Christina (last name unknown) at Archenweyer near Billigheim. Their son Isaac Bouquet was born in Archenweyer in the same year.

Like many other Huguenots, the Bouquets followed the invitation from the Duke of Prussia and moved on to the East, to the Uckermark area around Prenzlau in 1686, and were still there in 1690. (A list of residents confirms there were no Bouquets left behind in Billigheim by 1692.) However, there are no family events recorded in the Uckermark and by 1699 they were back in the Palatinate, where Philipp was administrator (Hofbeständer) at Minfeld. Sara Bouquet was born there in December 1699. Philipp Bouquet died on the Baltic island of Rügen, which must have been in Swedish possession at that time. We have no idea how or why he got there, so any clues appreciated. Christina died at Mörlheim in 1733.

There are a few Bouquet (Bocquet, Boquai, etc.) families documented in the area that is now the region Nord/Pas de Calais, but most are catholics, so ours are the black sheep. If anybody knows anything about protestant Bouquet families in that space and time, all hints would be much appreciated.

A couple of generations down the line this means that the couple that emigrated to the Black Sea, Johannes Klundt and Eva Maria Hust, may both have had quite a lot of “migration background”. Johannes Klundt has three grandparents of suspected French or Swiss origin. The odd one out is Anna Apollonia Schmitt. And the name Hust may also be of French, ultimately of Hungarian origin.

Sailly sur la Lys - one of the four towns of the pays de l'Alloeu.

« Prevote » par Médard — Travail personnel. Sous licence CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Monday, November 16, 2015

climate responses

The upcoming climate conference COP21 at Paris (which I hear will go ahead despite the recent attacks) will reveal whether or not our civilisation can deal with the challenge of man-made climate change. To mark the occasion, I've had a look at how nature suffers from, responds to or copes with climate change. The resulting feature is out now:

How nature copes with climate change

Current Biology Volume 25, Issue 22, pR1057–R1059, 16 November 2015

Summary and restricted access to full text, PDF file.

The feature should become freely accessible one year after publication. In the meantime, here is a magic link that will allow access for the first 50 days.

Paris, place de la republique - own photo from February 2014.

Friday, November 13, 2015

microscopes for molecules

Researchers at the Center for Chemistry at the Space-Time Limit (CaSTL) are using a whole range of fascinating methods to achieve visualisation of molecules at the time and space resolution that is relevant to molecular bonds and reactions, i.e. 0.1 nm (Angstrom) and femtosecond. In an attempt to understand how they do it, I wrote a feature about what they call "the chemiscope", which is now out in the November issue of Chemistry & Industry:

Here's looking at molecules
Chemistry & Industry November 2015, 22-25

abstract, preview of first page and restricted access to full text.

Image source: CaSTL. The image relates to the research paper:
Vibronic Motion with Joint Angstrom/Femtosecond Resolution Observed through Fano Progressions Recorded within One Molecule Joonhee Lee, Shawn M. Perdue, Alejandro Rodriguez Perez, and Vartkess Ara Apkarian*, ACS Nano VOL. 8 ’ NO. 1 ’ 54–63 ’ 2014

The same issue also contains a book review on page 49 - not exactly a recommendation, so I won't name the book here.

Monday, November 02, 2015

deep mysteries

A recent report from the European Marine Board looked into the question of whether and how the economic opportunities present in the as yet unexploited deep ocean could be used in a sustainable way. The short answer is, we don't know nearly enough about the deep sea to handle this challenge responsibly. A slightly longer answer is in my latest feature which is out today:

Deep sea in deep trouble?
Current Biology Volume 25, Issue 21, pR1019–R1021, 2 November 2015

Abstract and restricted access to the full text and PDF download.

Here's a magic link that provides free access for the first 50 days after publication.

A crab observed at 700 metres depth off the coast of Ireland. (Photo: MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

writing history

Asterix: Le papyrus de César

The 36th Asterix album – the second from the new team, Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad – addresses a question of utmost importance for the historical consistency of the whole oeuvre: Why on earth did Caesar not mention the indomitable Gauls and their numerous victories against his legions in his famous De Bello Gallico? Did he falsify the historical record by omission? Are all the zillions of schoolchildren who start their Latin reading with “Gallia est omnis divisa …” fed a pack of lies?

The issue is addressed with a very satisfying story, resulting in an album worthy to be read alongside the Golden Era ones written in the years before Goscinny died. On the basis of this story, there are deep discussions to be had about how history is written, the contribution of reportage, the value of oral tradition, and the philosophy of truth. Oh, and the vanity of writers and the publishing industry. And Assurancetourix the bard (Cacofonix / Troubadix) plays an early example of a Stroh cello, so what’s not to love?

Intriguingly, this arrived on my doorstep just after I started reading another recently published book featuring the origins of Caesar’s famous opus. In the third volume of his fictionalised biography of Cicero, Robert Harris imagines Cicero’s secretary Tiro visiting Caesar in Gaul and reading the beginning of his 12th chapter: “Flumen est Arar quod per fines Haeduorum et Sequanorum in Rhodanum influit, incredibili lenitate ita ut oculis in utram partem fluat iudicari non possit.” Seeing that Tiro is believed to have written a biography of Cicero which is lost, while Caesar’s book is so ubiquitous that it would survive the apocalypse, this encounter between two authors is also an interesting reflection on the vagaries of history writing.

looks like a fragment of the lost scroll survived in the font of the word "papyrus" - maybe the authors should reveal that in full ...

PS: here's an interview with the creators, from the Guardian.

Monday, October 19, 2015

killing the wrong animals

I don't often write about food, but when October approaches I somehow feel obliged to contribute to the various harvest festivities happening in the northern hemisphere, so I wrote a feature about humanity's unsustainable hunger for meat from an ecology / evolution perspective.

The feature is out now:

Can we change our predatory ways?

Current Biology Volume 25, Issue 20, pR965–R967, 19 October 2015

It is behind the paywall, but I have been given a magic key that will open access to it until December the 8th.

The abstract with the regular access links is here - they will become free for all one year after publication.

A vegan cafe/shop I snapped on my recent visit to Leipzig, Germany.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Alexander Calvelli @ Freudenthaler Sensenhammer

The painter Alexander Calvelli, whose work I have been following for a while, has a new exhibition coming up at a small museum in Leverkusen, the Freudenthaler Sensenhammer (a place where they used to make scythes). I just love the name of the place, and Alexander tells me it's a lovely little museum mainly run by volunteers.

The exhibiton Alexander Calvelli - Hämmer & Sicheln - Arbeitswelten opens on the evening of Oct. 23rd:

11. Leverkusener Kunstnacht
Freitag, 23.10.2015, 19.00 Uhr (Einlass 18.00 Uhr)

Monday, October 12, 2015

how to wake up sleeping beauties

Among the German publications in September/October we have sleeping beauties (research papers that find belated fame), green roads into the future (made of algal residues), and even one serious article about artificial cells:

Nachrichten aus der Chemie Vol 63 Issue 9, page 967
Ausgeforscht: Grüne Straße in die Zukunft
DOI: 10.1002/nadc.201590318

Nachrichten aus der Chemie Vol 63 Issue 10 pages 1002–1004
Blickpunkt Biowissenschaften: Künstliche Zellen
DOI: 10.1002/nadc.201590319
related content in English

Nachrichten aus der Chemie Vol 63 Issue 10, page 1051
Ausgeforscht: Dornröschen wachgeküsst
DOI: 10.1002/nadc.201590340

Monday, October 05, 2015

how life shaped Earth

History of Life on Earth - a special issue of Current Biology with lots of goodies is now online.

For my contribution, I looked at Earth from an astrobiology angle and examined some of the many ways in which life caused it to become different from our neighbouring planets and much more complex in its chemistry and geology.

How life shaped Earth
Current Biology Volume 25, Issue 19, pR847–R850, 5 October 2015

Magic link for open access until November 25, 2015.

Regular access (will become freely accessible one year after publication).

Table of Content

Friday, October 02, 2015

more films we're not allowed to see

Back in 2010 I started a blog entry listing interesting (mostly European) movies that did not get a cinematic release in the UK. Many updates later, this entry has become just a little bit unwieldy, with two lists running in opposite directions, so I suspect I’m the only one who still finds anything in that entry (although it has been viewed more than 2500 times and is among the five most-viewed entries of all time).

Thus, I decided to start from scratch with a clean slate and just one list of films running chronologically forward, so starting with the earliest ones. I’ll start with films produced in 2012, because that’s where the old review/appreciation list fizzles out (unlike the watch list, which also included films that were more recent and those that I hadn’t seen yet). Within each year, the films that I actually managed to see are listed first.

So, without further ado, off we go:

Camille redouble (Camille rewinds) - France 2012, Noémie Lvovsky - Charming if slightly illogical time travel story featuring the director in the lead role. It was - released in around a dozen countries but no UK date in sight.

La fille de nulle part - France 2012, Jean-Claude Brisseau - this low-budget ghost story looks like poor old Brisseau is now reduced to filming in his own flat and playing the lead himself, but it is still interesting.

Mapa para conversar (A map for love) - Chile 2012, Constanza Fernandez, starring Andrea Moro, Mariana Prat, Francisca Bernardi - three women in a cute little chamber piece mostly set on a small boat. Restrictions clear the mind, as one of the characters says. Available on DVD from the lovely peccadillo pictures.

Des morceaux de moi (Pieces of me) - France 2012, starring Adele Exarchopoulos (before she became famous in that other role) - saw it announced on TV5 monde in October 2015
Una pistola en cada mano - Spain 2012, Cesc Gay - Shown in Germany (Ein Freitag in Barcelona), and at the London Spanish Film Festival 2013.
Die Vermessung der Welt (Measuring the world) Germany 2012, Detlev Buck. Adaptation of Daniel Kehlmann's bestselling novel.
Klip (Clip) - Serbia 2012, Maja Milos
Weil ich schöner bin - Germany 2012, Frieder Schlaich
El amigo aleman (The German friend) - Germany, Argentina 2012, Jeanine Meerapfel
3 - Uruguay, Argentina, Germany 2012 - Pablo Stoll - oops, there are too many movies called 3, I was looking for this one and first found the one below, and got all confused.
Tres - Ecuador, Argentina, Germany 2012
3 Zimmer/Küche/Bad (Move) - Germany 2012
Baad el Mawkeaa (After the Battle) - France / Egypt 2012
Después de Lucía - Mexico / France 2012
A perdre la raison - Belgium 2012, Joachim Lafosse, starring Emilie Dequenne
Buscando a Eimish - Spain 2012, Ana Rodríguez Rosell, starring Manuela Vellés, Emma Suárez - shown at the London Spanish Film Festival 2012
Joven y alocada - Chile 2012, Marialy Rivas
Goltzius and the Pelican Pelican Company - UK 2012, Peter Greenaway

Angélique (I) - France 2013, Ariel Zeitoun - A fresh-looking new adaptation of the bestselling history romances by Anne and Serge Golon. I admit I watched part of it during travels in a hotel room and kind of liked it.

Landes - France 2013, François-Xavier Vives, starring Marie Gillain - gloomy reflections on life, boredom and social problems in the vast pine forests near Bordeaux set in the early 20th century. Compare and contrast with Therese Desqueyroux, starring Audrey Tautou, which did get a UK release.

Flores raras (Reaching for the Moon) - Brazil 2013, Bruno Barreto
Ayer no termina nunca (Yesterday never ends) - Spain 2013, Isabel Coixet - shown at the Berlin International Film Festival 2013, and at the London Spanish Film Festival 2013

Les yeux jaunes des crocodiles - France 2014, Cécile Telerman, starring Emmanuelle Béart - a spirited defense of authors' rights, in a way. Based on the best-selling novel by Katherine Pancol.

Ocho apellidos vascos (Spanish affair) - Spain 2014, Emilio Martínez Lázaro - only shown at the London Film Festival 2014.
Sous les jupes des filles - France 2014, Audrey Dana
Marie Heurtin (Marie's story) - France 2014, Jean-Pierre Améris, starring Isabelle Carré
Week-ends - France 2014, Anne Villacèque - released in Germany as "Wochenenden in der Normandie"
Au fil d'Ariane (Ariane's thread) - France 2014, Robert Guédiguian - released in Germany in Dec 2014 as "Café Olympique - Ein Geburtstag in Marseille"

Journal d'une femme de chambre (Diary of a chambermaid) - France 2015, starring Léa Seydoux, shown at the Berlinale, all of which is sadly no guarantee that we will get to see it here (except in the French Film Festival UK showing in a small number of cities.)

to be continued ... - last updated 09.11.2015

One of our lovely independent cinemas here, not their fault that they're not getting all these films. (Own photo)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

banned books week

Tomorrow is the start of this year's Banned Books Week, and the 55th anniversary of the Lady Chatterley trial is coming up in October, more than enough reason to dig up the old book and read it at last:

The edition on the left is from 1960, just after the famous trial that ended its censorship, first reprinting of the first unabridged edition. The one on the right is from the 1970s. It also includes a preface by Richard Hoggart (an academic who wrote about popular culture and class issues in the UK and an expert witness at the trial), which is really insightful.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

artificial cells

The origin of life remains one of the great mysteries that science still faces. One of the approaches to address it is to try building living cells from scratch, an endeavour that has recently seen a boost due to new ways of creating small cell-like membrane bubbles, or vesicles. Additional benefits from this kind of research may materialise in medical applications like drug delivery and imaging.

Read all about it in my feature:

Artificial cells
Chemistry & Industry Volume 79, Issue 9, pages 22–25, Sept. 2015 DOI: 10.1002/cind.799_6.x

abstract and first page (Wiley)

access for SCI members

In the same issue, on page 49, there's also my review of the book: Junk DNA: a journey through the dark matter of the genome, by Nessa Carey.

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