Sunday, September 30, 2012

New bicycle lanes

Trondheim is one of the top 10 bicycle-friendly cities in the world. There's been huge construction projects all around town for the past two years, part of that is installing even more pedestrian friendly trails throughout the city.

The past month they've ripped up the main roads through downtown and installed bike lanes along major roads, reducing the number of automobile lanes in the process. I wonder how this will affect traffic – better or worse? Hard to say. One thing is for certain: Norway does all it can to discourage driving.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bathtub races

This weekend was NTNU's bathtub races. Student groups in costumes set their bathtubs afloat in the river and raced. Well, by "bathtubs" they really mean "rafts that have bathtubs on top of them". I imagine the races were originally in bathtubs but somewhere along the line it became more fun to build elaborate theme rafts shaped like castles or pirate ships or smurf forests.

We had fun checking out the action and picking up freebies.

The kids with a big rubber ducky
Rafts ready to go
Team Smurf heads to their mushroom

Research Fair

At the end of September every year Norway celebrate scientific research with a slew of national events. Here in Trondheim we have two days of a 'Research Fair' where folks from education and industry set up stands inside two huge tents in the middle of downtown. Friday we welcome schools and Saturday we're open for the public. This year's theme was "Society". The Math Center (my workplace) teams up with the Math Institute every year, and this year our team met several times to create building materials so kids could make polyhedra and learn about how polyhedra contribute to art, arcitecture and science.

We glued magnetic balls to the ends of 50 cm long sticks, and they worked remarkably well as building materials. We decorated our stand with posters showing polyhedra in art, architecture, science and everyday living, and we also constructed a newspaper geodesic dome that we placed on top of our stand (see earlier post for instructions). We had three tables and a carpeted area for building. For two days we built stuff with kids and it was fantastic fun.

Maggie, Peter and Anna visited with their classes and spend a lot of time at our stand. Anna spent almost the entire time at the math stand, even coming back with me on Saturday to play some more. She set the record for tallest tower of the day!

Maggie built a box for Frøy


Anna sets the record!

Me and the gang with our fractal pyramid

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Infinity 2012

This year's Infinity conference was held in Portland, Oregon. 4 days of think-tank with experts from a diverse range of fields. Many good presentations. And wine.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Maggie's art

For Maggie's final year of undomskole she must choose a big year-long project. She's come down to two or three options, one of which is creating a graphic novel. She's learning to use Illustrator now, a professional graphics program. Here's the first picture she drew. Go Maggie!

Maggie loves my graphics tablet

This is her first attempt!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What's the Empire doing here?

Downtown today, lots of craziness! Festivals, teens in costumes, music on the streets, a gay-pride parade later in the day. Big fun! We even saw 5 stormtroopers.

Friday, September 14, 2012

First car accident

We'll all laugh about this one day! I'm not saying who did it. You get 5 guesses.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Filming for TV

I was filmed today for an episode of NRK's Schrödingers Katt, a popular science program. Our intended theme was 'The Mathematics of Nature', with a visit to the forest, but it was raining heavily today and so instead we changed our theme 'Mathematics at a Vegetable Stand'. We filmed in a local grocery store, and had a blast hunting after mathematics and describing the fascinating structures of fruits and vegetables. (I've published a paper on botanical mathematics and given several talks on the subject.)

The show will air in a month or two. I'll put up a link when it comes out.

After filming, I purchased the fantastic Romansecu cauliflower that had a starring role in the program as "The Queen of the Mathematical Vegetables". I brought it home and we ate it the following evening, laughing about eating Norway's soon to be famous tv-star vegetable. Nam nam nam!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Parking app

They've got a parking app for iPhones out in Trondheim now. Just click 'start parking' when you go downtown and dial in how much time you want. Get back to your car early and get a refund on unused time. Running over? The app alerts you when you have 5 minutes left and you can add time right on the spot. It gets billed to your credit care.

I love it! It makes we want to go downtown just to park. I've always felt bad paying for parking because I feel I'm losing if I don't use the whole time, and I risk losing even more if I go over and get a ticket. Finally an easy way to pay for exactly what I use!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Berry picking

It is berry season in Norway. The weather has been fairly awful all year, but this weekend we got beautiful mild sunny weather and we were very happy to head out to the forest hunting for berries. The hills are full of raspberries and tiny sweet blueberries, the forests are cool and quiet, calming and inviting. We went to Estensted, a popular local place for berry-picking on the east side of town ('Estensted' means 'eastern place'). Instead of heading all of the way up into the hills, we left the trail almost immediately and set off into the forest blazing our own trail. Or maybe I should say 'reblazing a trail' – the area we explored was largely picked over by earlier berry hunters. Before long however we found an undiscovered area. Using our red plastic berry picking boxes, we combed through the low plants, the blueberries obligingly popping off the branches to fill our containers.

Afterwards, we reluctantly left, our bellies happy and our bucket full. Back at home we made a blueberry-raspberry pie. Mmmmm...

I like being in the forest very much. It has a magical feel to it, and when you're collecting berries or mushrooms there is the additional feel that the forest is providing for you... gifts from nature.