Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Matematikksenteret Matematikkopplevelser

It's great to be at the Matematikksenteret. Pam drops me off on the way into school so I arrive early, before 8. I get lots of quiet concentrated work time in the morning. This week I've been editing Allan's text on Sound numbers, and it's been great fun! He really has done a superb job with the research and this is the definitive text on the history of numeric mnemonic systems.

We have several projects lined up. First has been planning for a high school math club. I'll be working with Ingvill, May, and Tor, and we've planned 7 dates this spring to bring in 20 high school kids for 2.5 hour meetings. It will be fun! The planning meeting a good lark -- we shared all kinds of math ideas and it was more like playing than planning. Here's the logo:


I based the design on Gray Code, a way of ordering the integers in binary so that each number differs from the next by one bit. It starts: 000, 001, 011, 010, 110, 111, 101, 100, ... or 0, 1, 3, 2, 6, 7, 5, 4, 12, 13, .... There's all kinds of neat patterns in it. We'll have T-Shirts made with the design.

I've got some trips coming up and some other neat projects I'll be doing with the senteret, more on those later.

At 11:30 we break for lunch. Everyone eats together in the lunch room -- a wonderful idea! I speak with colleagues in English, but part of the time I sit and listen to the conversations in Norwegian, trying to pick out words I know. I think it will take some time, but I am certain before I leave here I will participating in these conversations.

My new friends are wonderful at teaching me things in Norwegian. They send me emails to decipher, in meetings someone translates papers to me and I make notes on the words I don't know, several people have decided to teach me one sentence a day, and the secretary is tutoring me on swearing in Norwegian. (I've been practicing saying "inn i svartesvidde granskaven!" which sounds very foul if said venomously, but in fact means "in the black burnt fir forest!" ). Now and then I surprise myself by being able to write or say complete thoughts in Norwegian.

I usually walk about 1/2 hour every day, either to or from work, or today I walked from ThIS to downtown to pick up my visa and then to NTNU, and these walks are a great opportunity to listen to Norwegian lessons on my iPod. I'm on unit 7 of the Pimsleur Norwegian series, and I've learned to say and understand some moderately complex sentences like "I don't want to eat, but I would like something to drink."

I was enrolled in a Norwegian as a second language course, but I am number 77 on the waiting list unfortunately. I'm impatient to learn to speak Norwegian, but I am moving along quickly. The true test will be in the lunchroom.

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