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Nickname:?Clive Maxfield???? Articles(444)???? Visits(535264)???? Comments(79)???? Votes(236)???? RSS
There is so much amazingly cool "stuff" to see and do that I'm amazed I find the time to get any real work done. In my blog I will waffle on about the books I'm reading, the projects I'm building, and the weird and wonderful websites I blunder across. Please Email Me if you see anything you think will "tickle my fancy."
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Posted: 01:43:38 PM, 02/03/2012

Norwegian Odyssey (Stardate 19987+6) (Part 1)

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Before we get into the fray with infinite gusto and wild abandon, if you are confused about the "Stardate" nomenclature in the title to this article, then you might want to revisit my original Norwegian Odyssey (Stardate 19984) commentary, followed by the 19985 and 19986 installments.

The point is that this column pertains to Stardate 19987 (which would equate to Thursday 16 February if we were to be using your quaint Earthling Calendar). As I pen these words, however, I am back in the Pleasure Dome (my office) in Huntsville Alabama and it's actually Stardate 19993. There simply hasn't been enough time to keep everything up to date. All I can suggest is that you close your eyes and visualize me in the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek the Next Generation, sitting in my command chair thoughtfully stroking my chin, while the scene dissolves into a flashback annotated by sub-text saying "Six days earlier..."

OK, you can open your eyes again (this simply isn't going to work otherwise), and we will continue...

Originally, I had been provided with instructions on how to catch the Oslo Metro (Oslo T-bane or Oslo Tunnelbane in Norwegian) to the campus for the Department of Informatics at the University of Oslo. After I had actually met some of the guys from the department at the FPGA Forum earlier in the week, however, they had quickly realized that leaving me to explore the metro system on my own was a recipe for disaster, so they said that one of them would come to our hotel to pick us up.

Thus it was that on Thursday morning we [my son Joseph and I] were met at our hotel by Doctor Dirk Koch. In fact, my understanding is that I should more properly refer to Dirk as "Postdoc Dirk Koch". If Dirk was working in the commercial world, the "Doctor" honorific would be appropriate; the "Postdoc" moniker indicates that he is continuing to perform original research.

I tell you, things are somewhat different to when I was a student. I really enjoyed my time at University, but it has to be said that our facility was very "institutionalized" in form and function C "utilitarian" would be a good way to describe it. By comparison, the Department of Informatics building was like a luxury hotel C bright and airy and festooned with little seating areas and fresh-ground coffee machines.

And the artwork has to be seen to be believed. I understand that every public (government-funded) building in Norway has to devote about 5% of its construction budget to art. Consider the following image, for example, where the different colored dots represent the digits forming Pi.



In reality this is huge. Below is a photo of Joseph (on the left) and Postdoc Dirk Koch (on the right). We are on the second floor, so we're only seeing the upper portion of the Pi plaque, which continues all the way down to the ground floor.



There is art everywhere you look C both inside and outside the building. On the north-west outside wall, for example, we discovered some massive "Equations in Stainless Steel" panels. Each of these started off as a concept that was then modeled in MATLAB and subsequently converted into three-dimensional casts as shown below.


A fractal function


The Doppler effect



A representation of Orion's belt and sword

Poor old Joseph... wherever we went I kept on saying to him "Can you stand in front of this to provide a sense of scale." Towards the end of our trip, whenever I got my camera out and said "Joseph..." He would reply "I know, I know, stand in front of it so you can get a sense of scale" (grin).


[To be continued at Norwegian Odyssey (Stardate 19987+6) (Part 2)]


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