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Late update

Never got around to writing up last weekend.

I took the Saturday as a day of relaxation in Stockholm. My Macedonian friends S and B (or perhaps I should say С and Б) and I spent the morning in the Vasa museum, which is absolutely superb. The centrepiece is this massive warship which sank in Stockholm harbour on its maiden voyage in 1628, and was successfully salvaged, pretty much intact, in the 1960s - an early example of a military project where the political necessity of meeting the deadline for the launch was allowed to supersede operational requirements, like making sure it would actually float. Great exhibits about life in the 17th century and the salvaging process, bilingually in English and Swedish.

I realised - as I should have done ages back - that Swedish, and I suppose Danish/Norwegian as well (and Faroese? Icelandic?), adds the definite article to the end of the word, so "Museet" for "the Museum". The only other languages I've come across which do that are the Balkan Sprachbund of Albanian-Macedonian-Bulgarian-Romanian. (Insert conspiracy theory about ancient Scandiwegian/Balkan links here.)

We met up with scattyme and T for lunch, and then went on to the Nobel museum. To be honest this was a little disappointing. There was a nice little exhibition about Albert Einstein, and two audiovisual displays, one with extracts from speeches and interviews of a fairly random set of Nobel Prize winners, and the other with a series of short films about places where genius thrives - I did get a nostalgic kick out of the one about Cambridge, which seemed to highlight college catering: scattyme gasped with surprise at the New Hall serving area, which at one time I encountered several times a week. There was also a not very exciting set of relics from the life of Nobel himself. I would have liked some more exploration of the meaning of the prize, and most of all an actual list of the winners.

I have encountered several Nobel laureates. I chatted to Seamus Heaney one evening in a Dublin pub; had lunch with Robert Mundell in my previous job at CEPS; encountered both John Hume and David Trimble through my work in Northern Ireland politics; and interviewed Ernest Walton for my Ph D thesis a few months before he died. In addition I have at least shaken hands with Kofi Annan and Oscar Arias Sánchez, and also asked Brian Josephson to vote for me when I ran for Cambridge City Council in 1990. (I don't think I persuaded him.) Oddly, I don't recall bumping into any of the numerous laureates around Cambridge during my three years running to and from the Cavendish labs while studying Physics in the late 1980s (my minimal exchange with Josephson was conducted at his front door, and after I had graduated). Perhaps they were lying low; or perhaps it was an early sign, which I should have heeded, of the shallowness of my real interest in science.

Home on Saturday; spent Sunday alternately watching Doctor Who and trying to finish a piece of writing. Monday was a grey day, unfortunately, but we had a good time with britzkrieg and rigel_kent, visiting on their Benelux honeymoon. The plan to do the Atomium and Mini-Europe was aborted by the weather (and long queues for the Atomium), but we just came back to our house, consumed beer, and set the world to rights. Always nice to meet folks from livejournal who are passing through!

Comments

nwhyte
May. 9th, 2006 07:10 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I was just thinking that on my way home...

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