Friday, August 24, 2007

Crystal and Grass

I walked down to the NTNU campus yesterday, a very pleasant 30 minute walk from our leilighet (apartment). I listened to Norwegian language lessons on my iPod both ways. I found the matematikksenteret and filled out paperwork, signed up for a Norwegian as a Second Language course, had some lunch and then met Allan at his office. We looked at some of his 400 year old books and played with the goodies -- professor offices are almost always filled with fascinating treasures. Allan is the world's foremost expert on the history of numeric mnemonic systems and he's got some amazing 17th century books he's translated from old German. It's really very fun!

The campus has a lot of sculpture. One of the projects I'll be working on next term is writing curriculum relating to the outdoor sculpture. I met the woman in the department who is interested in sculpture, and she's started building large-scale mathematical sculpture, which is something I'm extremely interested in. I think we may be able to do some good collaborating!

Here's an ingenious sculpture outside the math offices. The crystal globe is filled with ethyl alcohol, and it focuses the suns rays onto a curved metal place. On very sunny days, it burns holes in the metal. On less sunny days, it leaves smaller marks. Each year they remove the plates and hang them up -- they form a kind of graph of the sunshine for the year. Awesome!

Here's a picture of a set of apartments just around the corner from ours. The roofs are covered with grass. There's all kinds of surprises here!

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