Monday, October 11, 2010

Those King Haralds... and an math engraving joke

In the Simpson episode where they lampooned Norwegian culture, the bartender Moe was serving up aquavit, "the Norwegian caraway scented liqueur". When the locals complain that they can't get a beer, Moe says he only cares about those "King Haralds"...

Here's a nice edition of one of those "King Haralds": the 2002 edition commemorated Niels Henrik Abel's 200th birthday. The back of the coin features mathematical drawings: a lemniscate figure on the left, and a picture from Abel's notebook.
The engraving copies a row of ink droplets from Abel's fountain pen, which you can see splattered down the center line. Want an inside joke? The engraver modified the second from the bottom ink spot to resemble the island of Finnøy, the place where Abel spent his youth (and 'coincidentally' also home of the governer of the central bank of Norway). Those engravers -- what pranksters! Here's a map so you compare for yourself.

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