Sunday, September 25, 2011


It's Forskningsdagene, or Research Days, in Norway. Many big cities have special events to celebrate science research. In Trondheim there are series of shows and lectures and the Research "Torg" (market/square/court?) Every year, the math center participates in the torg, and for the past few years I've been in charge of planning and coordinating the event with the university's math department.

The theme for this year was chemistry, so we decided to 'number chemistry'. I've always thought of the integers like molecules, with prime numbers as the atoms. We set up number molecule decorations, a prime number target game, and computers where visitors could find the prime factorizations of their phone numbers.

Students for the math department made the decorations and the ball toss game and did a very nice job. I wrote the program to find the factorizations, and we all made a variety of signs talking about primes, twin primes, the GIMPS project, and some prime number periodic tables that are pretty cool.

The game was a big success. Kids waiting in line were given a card with a number on it, maybe 18 or 54 or 770. The would need to figure out the prime factors by the time they got to the front. They would then throw balls at targets painted with primes, the goal being to knock down primes whose product matched the target number. Winners wrote their names on a sticky note and stuck it on the wall, enough of reward to make players proud without having to hand out candy.

It was once again a very fun two days.

Anna making slime at one of the booths

Knock down your prime factors and win!

Anna experiments with primes

Set up Thursday night in the pouring rain

My periodic table of prime numbers

Monday, September 19, 2011

Italian visitors

We played host family to two 9th graders from Italy who came to visit Trondheim for 4 days. They stayed with us for 2 days and went camping for 2 days with Maggie's class. The first day they were scared and so it was nice to see them looking and feeling confident on the final day. Maggie had a great time with the gang.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fjord og Preikestolen

Here's a game I got Pam for Christmas that we've enjoyed playing:

I showed the game to my friend Martin and he immediately said, "that's Preikestolen!" I found this picture that very closely matches the angle of the image on the cover of the game. It's located in southwest Norway, and the name means "the pulpit".

Friday, September 16, 2011

Corn on the cob in a can

I promised this picture for my friends in New York. This is one of two ways to get corn on the cob in Norway. The other way is in a vacuum packed plastic bag. Does that sound gross? Yeah, it kinda is.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bergen in the rain

Finally, a trip to Bergen. In all my time and travels in Norway, I've never visited to this city, so I was excited to take a speaking engagement in this city that is considered 'probably the best' in Norway. After a speaking engagement in Oslo Monday (where I was proud to have successfully navigated buses, planes, trains, and subways without a hitch), I arrived at night to a rainy Bergen. Bergen is famous for its rain, so I took it to be part of the experience. I checked into Thon Brygge hotel which I'd chosen for its proximity to the harbor area (and it's relatively lower price). My room had a view of the Bergen fortress, splashed with yellow light in the rainy darkness.

My presentation was scheduled in the afternoon so I had the morning to explore. I was not eager to spend too much time walking around in the rain, though, so I waited until nearly 10 before departing the hotel.

The first surprise was this boat, the Bounty, the same ship that was used in the 1984 film "The Bounty" which retells the famous story of the mutiny. It is Bergen for the week as part of a world tour. Across the street from the water is a row of shops. Do they look all crooked in this picture? They are! They're sort of leaning this way and that. I suppose they're several hundred years old and have settled and now it's part of the charm. Because they're historic building, I imagine they will never be straightened.

Walking around downtown was a treat. This city has plenty of statues, gardens, fountains... it's just lovely. I wandered through a fish market packed with salmon and some of the biggest shrimp I've seen. I wandered through alleys and park, all the way around the inlet out to the ocean's edge and back again. I saw a memorial covered with roses which I reckon was for the Ut√łya victims. I saw an art project outside of the art museum where children had created hundreds of sculptures from recycled materials and attached them a carpet that stretched across the road, across a pond, and up the the other side. I saw the cable car that goes up into the mountains to give a wonderful view I'm told, but I decided not to ride on so cloudy a day.

My raincoat served me well, but my feet were soaking wet by the time I reached the Engineering College three hours later. I changed into dry socks and delivered my workshop in stocking feet.

It was a good adventure, a fine walking tour, and it looks like a wonderful city to enjoy during a dry summer. I'll bring the family here next year I'm sure.

One more picture: here's a statue of boy crying presumably because he doesn't being spit upon by fish. I thought it was bizarre choice of subjects for a fountain, but it amused me greatly and so I suppose it fulfilled its purpose!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pam's birthday

To celebrate Pam's birthday today, we went on a family picnic on the fjord, near a spot called Ringvebukta. The cleared up for a sunny and warm afternoon on a secluded rocky beach, where we skipped stones and roasted delicious sausages. In the evening we ate at Jahdab, our favorite Indian restaurant. Maggie and Anna baked, frosted and decorated Pam's birthday cake: devil's food cake with vanilla frosting and oreo cookies. We made that cake disappear by the next morning. Mmmmm...

Happy Birthday Pam!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Here's an article written by someone visiting Trondheim for a rock festival, PSTEREO, that took place last month. There's lots of great references to things we know well. I found it a fun read, maybe you will too.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back from NY

I've been in Manhattan the past few days for the annual Infinity conference. 4 days of incredible ideas and presentations with very good friends.