87’2021 (2021-03-28) – Only in Marss

Today, I learned about:

Also the month of March has been quite interesting with some things that can only happen this month. Here they are:

The first Thursday of March

Although this special day started to be celebrated a decade ago, I only learned about it this month. It is a kind of unofficial local holiday for the Swedish landskap (province) of Småland in the South East of Sweden. I already spent five months of my military training there during the 1970s and so of course I had already notice that the locals have a big difficulty in speaking the combination of r and s in Swedish words. In normal Swedish, this is pronounced as a so called supra dental, where the r and s flow together. However, in Småland, that is not the case, they pronounce it as a sound containing two s’s. A linguistic explanation (in Swedish) can be found in reference # 1 below. It is linguist Jenny Öqvist at Institutet för språk och folkminnen (Institute for Language and Folklore) who has broken the sounds down into minute details. She also took the following photo of a cake served on this special day. It is a popular sponge cake in Sweden, with whipped cream and vanilla in between the layers, with a topping of marzipan, normally known as Princess cake, due to its connection with three Swedish princesses in the 1930s.

A man from Småland named Jonas Svenningson came up with the idea to start celebrating the pronunciation of ˜första torsdagen i mars˜ (meaning the first Thursday of March) in Småland as particularly interesting, because it is ˜fösta tossdan I mass˜. The idea spread like wildfire and now it is celebrated as Småland’s local, ˜national day˜.

A typical cake celebrating the First Thursday of March. Photo by Jenny Öqvist from Institutet för språk och folkminnen.

The first Sunday of March

In my post of 66’2016 (2016-03-06) , I wrote about the traditional Swedish ski competition Vasaloppet, which is held every year on the first Sunday of March. This year, due to the on-going pandemic, only 400 selected top athletes could participate and what a race they made! The excellent weather conditions, well prepared tracks, sunny weather and -6 degrees Celsius resulted in that both the male winner, Tord Asle Gjerdalen from Norway, and the female winner, Lina Korsgren from Sweden, broke the records for the race. More details can be found in reference #2 below.

Sweden’s floral emblem

Each of the landskap (provinces) in Sweden has its own flower, but so far there had not been any national flower for the whole of Sweden. Until now!

Svenska botaniska föreningen (Swedish botanical society) invited the Swedish population to vote for their favorite flower. In the first voting phase were selected ten candidates, which participated in a final round to decide the winner.

And the winner is:

Liten blåklocka, Latin name Campanula rotundifolia! See also reference #3 below for more details.

Sweden’s floral emblem, liten blåklocka (small bluebell). Photo by Leif Engquist

The Öresund bridge

And last, but not least, my sincere thanks to my friend Graziela Gabrielli, who so graciously gave me her permission to publish the beautiful photo she took from the Swedish side on the high summer day of 197’2019 (2019-07-16), showing the bridge that since 2000 connects Sweden and Denmark over the straight of Öresund, thus called Öresundsbron (Öresund bridge).

More about Öresundsbron can be found in reference #4.

That’s what I learned in school today!


1: Fössta tossdan i mass

2: Vasaloppet 2021

3: Campanula rotundifolia

4: Öresundsbron

*: What did you learn in school today ?

59’2021 (2021-02-28) – Interesting Swedish facts

Today, I learned about:

During the month of February, there have been some quite interesting things I have taken notice of. Here are two of those:

Railway on pillars

In my post of 33’2016 (2016-02-02) , I made a comparison between electric circuit theory and the then on-going process in Sweden on how to choose which routes would benefit from a planned high speed train network. That planning still goes on, but many people are scared about the costs involved and the time it will take until the network would be available for public transport.

Now there are rumours that the responsible authority for the project, Trafikverket (the Swedish Transport Administration) finally has started to make calculations using not the conventional rail system on flat land, but thinking about the advantages of constructing an elevated system, using what they call landbroar (“land bridges”). So I ask, what is new with that concept? It has been used for more than a century around the world, think of the Loop in Chicago, the elevated railways around New York City, even on various places within Sweden, such as the Stockholm subway.

And as I wrote in my post of 101’2016 (2016-04-10), in April 2005 I spent almost a week in Shanghai on a business trip, where I also had the chance of doing quite some tourism. I did not show it in my blog then, but during those days Shanghai was also executing the final tests of a magnetic levitation train of German origin, called Transrapid. It was built to transport passengers between the Pudong international airport and downtown, a 30 km distance which takes only 7 minutes. Since the operating hours during the trial period were restricted to some hours during the day, I did not have the chance to ride the train, but in the following picture you can see it en route on its elevated railway.

The magnetic levitation train Transrapid leaving Longyard Road station en route to Pudong international airport. The whole trip takes only 7 minutes and the train reaches a top speed of 431 km/h.

See also references #1 and 2 below.

Your brain

You have probably heard about the Swedish physician Hans Rosling, who was a fabulous lecturer on matters that should interest every one. Together with his son and daughter-in-law, he wrote, among many other things, the book “Factfulness: Ten reasons we’re wrong about the world – and why things are better than you think”. If you have not read it, then you do not know what you are missing. Look up the book online and buy it immediately! It will be an experience you will never forget! Unfortunately, Hans Rosling died in cancer in 2017, but during this month, one of my students of the Swedish language sent me a link to a very interesting series published by the Swedish public service television SVT. Thank you Graziela for that hint! More about Hans Rosling and his amazing book can be found in references # 3 and 4 below.

So, in the wake of Hans Rosling, one person who has picked up his role is Anders Hansen, a Swedish physician and psychiatrist. He wrote and presented a series called “Your brain” which presents some mind (sic!) blowing facts about this organ, with the physical size of only two clenched fists, with an extraordinary capacity to control everything we see, hear, taste, feel and smell. SVT has now published two seasons, with a total of ten episodes, in their SVT Play online. Do not miss it, it will be removed in the beginning of the second half of 2021. The series is entirely narrated in Swedish, except for the various interviews in English that Anders Hansen performs with world famous specialists on site in San Francisco, San Diego, Oxford etc. But if you use the web browser Google Chrome and its function Google Translate, then you can enjoy the whole series with subtitles in the language of your choice. More about Anders Hansen in reference # 5 below. The URL of the series and detailed instructions about choosing the preferred language can be found in references # 6 and 7.

That’s what I learned in school today!


1: Pelarmetod kan pressa priset på nya höghastighetsbanor

2: Shanghai maglev train

3: Hans Rosling

4: Factfulness

5: Anders Hansen

6: Din hjärna

7: Instructions on how to change subtitles into English using Google Translate in Google Chrome

*: What did you learn in school today ?

9’2021 (2021-01-09) – 5 YEARS !!!

Today, I learned about:

Once more, here we are, on the anniversary of my blog. And today, we are celebrating five whole years! Thank you all who participated on this journey, both those of you who read the first blog post and decided to stay and those who have joined me and my followers later on. THANK YOU !!!

There is a link to the very first blog post in reference #1 below.

It’s time to start a new way of counting the days!

As an anniversary present, I would like to make a proposal to make it easier to write dates. In my second blog post ever, I wrote about how different it is over the world, and although there is an international standard, which was adopted in 2004, there are few people that use it. If you are curious about how that standard is, look up the link in reference # 2 below.

I have had quite some ideas about how a new system for counting the days could be implemented, but what really made me going was a post on the Quora site, that I read some time ago. It was written in 2016 by an American professor named Dave Consiglio. Thank you, Dave, for your excellent ideas! See his thoughts in reference #3 below.

My proposal

In line with Dave’s ideas, I created a way to write days that everyone could adopt, easily. You can see the notation in the headline of today’s post. Basically, it abolishes the inconsistent system of months and considers the year as the main unit for counting the time, subdivided only into 365 days (or 366 days in a leap year). Each day would consist of 10 subunits, named Planck, as a tribute to one of the greatest scientists of all times, Max Planck.

See my proposal in detail in reference #4 below and details about Max Planck and his works in reference # 5.

That’s what I learned in school today!


1: 9’2016 (2016-01-09)

2: 10’2016 (2016-01-10)

3: Dave Consiglio’s thoughts on time

4: A new way of counting the days

5: Max Planck

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2020-12-06 (Saint Nicholas)

Today, I learned about:

This month, the last one of the year in Western time keeping, has got some interesting facts that you may not know of. So, here they are:

Saint Nicholas’ Day

Today, December 6, is known as Saint Nicholas’ Day. It is a tribute to the Greek Christian bishop Nicholas of Myra, known for miracles and giving gifts secretly, who died on 343-12-06, and is now the patron saint of little children, sailors, merchants and students. In Germany, it is a tradition to put a boot outside of own’s house on the evening of December 5, so that Nikolaus (as he is called in Germany) can stuff it with treats. But do not put out both boots, you may seem too greedy!

Saint Nicholas is of course the origin of the name Santa Claus, who comes in person to deliver gifts on Christmas Eve. See also reference #1 below.

Interesting facts from Finland

Exactly three years ago, on 2017-12-06, I wrote about the centennial of independence of Finland. My mother’s family had roots there, so I was accustomed to hear the greeting “Hyvää joulua” (i.e. Merry Christmas) when the time was right, but I had not idea that the whole month in Finnish had a direct linguistic connection.

Whereas many Western languages base there naming of the months on Latin traditions, in Finnish, which belongs to a different group of languages, they have a totally different scheme. In that sense, the month of December is called “joulukuu”, which literally means “Christmas month”. And as you can see from reference #2 below, the other months of the year are also different, basing their names on different events in nature.

That’s what I learned in school today!


1: Why is Nikolaustag celebrated before Christmas in Germany?

2: Finska månader

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2020-11-30 (Monday)

Today, I learned about:

We have come to the end of yet another interesting month. Below are some interesting things that caught my interest:

On 5G, Covid-19, cocksureness and today’s challenges

My alma mater, Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg (Gothenburg), Sweden was founded on 1829-11–05. And each year since 1991, around this day, there is a lecture about popular science, the William Chalmers lecture, held by a prominent researcher. This year, it was Erik Ström, professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering.

Erik leads a team which has participated in developing the modern day communication technologies, all up to 5G. And now it is planning the development of the successor, 6G. Erik talked about that, but also about the omnipresent Covid-19 and how one can estimate the probability of having the virus if the test result is positive, etc. All this was done in a very leisurely style, I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I did!

See references #1 and 2 below for all details.

One instant from Erik Ström’s speech held on 2020-11-05

What does bimonthly mean?

If you learn that a certain measure should be taken bimonthly, what does that mean? Should it be twice a month or every other month?

The answer is that it could be either way! You have to find out by the context, if you can.

See also reference # 3 below.

What is round and attracts the automated video recording system?

As we all know, technology of all sorts are so developed nowadays that many things can handed over to automated systems and they take care of them brilliantly. But there may be glitches…

The Scottish football club Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC employed an automated video recording system to transmit their games online to their fans who were locked down at home. The system was programmed to keep track of the ball. It worked fine until a certain day the system confused the ball in the field with one of the linesmen.

See for yourself in reference #4 below.

That’s what I learned in school today!


1: About the lecturer and the main content of his speech

2: Erik Ström’s complete lecture

3: The ambiguity of ‘biweekly’ and ‘bimonthly’

4: Is it a ball or a linesman?

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2020-10-31 (Saturday)

Today, I learned about:

Something very interesting happened earlier this month:

Room-temperature superconductivity

Researchers at the University of Rochester demonstrated that a compound made of carbon, hydrogen and sulphur is able to carry electrical charges with no electrical resistance at such a high temperature as 15°C. This temperature is much higher than what any proven superconductivity has been performed at before.

There is however one catch. This demonstration could only take place because the material was under a pressure of 275 GPa, which is almost three million times higher than normal air pressure. But the research team is working on that, through a special technique called “compositional tuning”.

If they will be able to make this material more economical to produce, then it can lead to power grids that save millions of MWh, faster electronics and new ways to propel levitation and its use in transports.

This photo, taken by J. Adam Fenster at the University of Rochester, shows an example of magnetic levitation caused by a cold superconductor.

More information about this exciting discovery can be found in references 1 and 2 below.

Before going over to some interesting updates to earlier posts I have made, some words about the fabulous header photo. My friend Gustavo Winckler recently visited Gothenburg with his family. They got really amused about this cosy city, and who would not? You may remember my post of 2017-02-28, where Gothenburg was called the world’s best city regarding the social behaviour and attitudes of its residents.

His wife, Tatiana Winckler, took the photo in a central park from the 19th century, called the Garden Society of Gothenburg. This particular photo shows the Palmhouse and some nice treats at this time of the year. Thank you, Tatiana, for illuminating our world with this amazing photo!

See also reference #3 below.

Updates to earlier posts

Flying boat made of cashews

In my post of 2017-06-23, I wrote about a boat developed by researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, which rides over the waves at astounding speed. And now they have done it again!

This time, 30 Chalmers students from different grades and educational tracks constructed a flying boat made of cashews to compete in the sailing race 1001VelaCup in Italy. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the race was cancelled, but the boat won the replacement design competition. See the photo below and reference #4 further down.

This is the boat, made of linen cloth and cashew nuts, that won the design competition at 1001Vela Cup 2020. The photo was taken by one the enthusiasts behind the boat, Frowin Winkes.

Solar energy in EU project

In my post of 2019-12-31, I wrote about a groundbreaking use of solar panels in a system to store and retrieve energy. Now that project is on its way with developing prototypes for large scale applications. It has been awarded an EU grant of 4,3 million Euros for a start.

See also reference #5 below.

Video clip of Gripen’s presentation to the public

In my post of 2020-09-22, I wrote about the arrival and first days of the Swedish multifunction airplane Gripen E in Brazil. Now you can also see a video of its official presentation during the Aviator’s day in Brasília on 2020-10-23.

Click on reference #6 below to access the video.

That’s what I learned in school !


1: Scientists Have Created the First Room-Temperature Superconductor

2: Room-temperature superconductivity in a carbonaceous sulfur hydride

3: The Garden Society of Gothenburg

4: Flying boat of cashews won in Italy

5: Groundbreaking research into solar energy in EU project

6: Gripen’s official presentation in Brasília

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2020-09-22 (No cars but a plane!)

Today, I learned about:

Earlier today, two very interesting events happened. Although there is no formal connection between the two, both include Sweden and Brazil, a plane and no cars! If you think that it sounds strange, then see below how they are interconnected:

World Car Free Day

Ever since year 2000, September 22 is celebrated as the World Car Free Day, where many cities close their centers to not allow any cars, giving way to pedestrians and bicycles. I had the pleasure of participating in an online event organised by the Swedish embassy in Brasília dealing with Vision Zero, how to organise the traffic in order to reduce the mortality rate, ideally down to 0.

More information will follow in a coming post. In the meantime, see references # 1 and 2 below.

Gripen finally in Brazil

In my post of 2019-08-27 , I wrote about the first test flight made by the Swedish fighter jet Saab Gripen, which is on order from the Brazilian Air Force. And now it is here in Brazil! It arrived by ship last Sunday, and in the early morning hours today, it took advantage of the absence of cars and was transported by road from the port of Itajaí to the neighbouring airport of Navegantes, state of Santa Catarina. There it will be fully equipped and tested, before it will make its maiden voyage to the Embraer plant in Gavião Peixoto, state of São Paulo.

Also, here I have more information coming up in a coming post. For now, you will have to wait by watching the photo below and the information in reference # 3.

Saab Gripen being towed from the port of Itajaí to the airport of Navegantes, in the morning hours of 2020-09-22.

Update 2020-09-25

Yesterday, the first Gripen E made its maiden Brazilian voyage. In the photos below, you can see its take-off from Navegantes and landing in Gavião Peixoto. Also, in reference #4 below is Saab’s press release about this historic event.

Thanks to Saab, Embraer and FAB who made all this possible!

Gripen E takes off in its Brazilian maiden voyage on 2020-09-24 from Navegantes, state of Santa Catarina. Photo by Saab.
Gripen E lands in Gavião Peixoto, state of São Paulo. Photo by Saab.

That’s what I learned in school !


1: World Car Free Day

2: Vision Zero and substainable mobility

3: Gripen in Brazil

4: Gripen’s Brazilian maiden voyage

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2020-08-31 (Monday)

Today, I learned about:

There are so many interesting things happening outside our small Earth, in the vast space of the Cosmos. I recently took a course on the edX MOOC (massive open online course) from the mighty MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The course had the title “Introduction to Aerospace Engineering: Astronautics and Human Spaceflight.”

What made the course so exceptionally interesting was, besides the contents with plenty of video clips further to the traditional Power Point style lectures, that the teacher of the course was no one less than an ex-NASA astronaut, Jeffrey A. Hoffman. His first space flight was in the first servicing mission of the Hubble telescope in December, 1993, and after that he participated in four more missions to the international space station ISS. Only a live astronaut can make a course like this even more interesting by telling his personal experience of those missions. See also reference #1 below.

Astronauts Franklin Story Musgrave and Jeffrey Hoffman install corrective optics during the first service mission to the Hubble telescope in December 1993. Photo courtesy by NASA.

Another interesting fact about the big wide space was published in June, 2020, by Popular Mechanics. It is a story about how a pulsar prepared itself to eat up a nearby star and released an outburst of cosmic X-rays thousands of times brighter than the sun!

Astronomers captured the “power up” sequence of a pulsar right before it gobbled up gas and dust from a nearby star and shot a burst of X-rays into space. It is the first time they have captured this entire process before. The research, astronomers say, will help us understand how pulsar outbursts form. Photo courtesy by NASA.

That’s what I learned in school !


1: Hubble Space Telescope, Servicing Mission 1

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2020-07-31 (Clash of titans!)

Today, I learned about:

At midnight today we will stand before a fact that only happens once in a calendar year. You might remember from your school days a mnemonic to remember the length of a certain month. Start with your left hand and where there is knuckle that corresponding month has 31 days, the valleys in between are for months with normally 30 days, except for February. Put your to hands together and you have two knuckles without any valley between them. This is of course July and August.

So how come this phenomenon? This, as many other things, has its origin in Rome, around the beginning of the Christian era of counting the years. The former month namned sextilis, meaning the sixth month, was renamed to that of Emperor Augustus as a tribute to his many feats during that certain month. But why 31 days also in August, and as in July? There is a common misconception, invented in 13th century, that Augustus wanted to have his month equal to that of the great Julius Caesar. Well, that is fake news! It is was already that way when the Julian calendar was introduced by Julius Caesar in the year 45 BC. And furthermore, the two consecutive months December and January, both also have 31 days. So, really, there is no good, plausible reason for this question. See also reference # 1 below.

Now over to some geography. My good old friend Arthur and his family recently visited the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg. And as you have seen before, when they travel, my friends spread out over the world, remember me! They send me photos of the place, so that I can show them to you. My warmest thanks to Arthur, and all his predecessors in this great habit!

The High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community, the origins of what today has expanded to be the European Union, in Luxemburg. Photo taken by Arthur Ribas Teixeira on 2020-07-16.

The photo above was taken in the center of the capital of Luxembourg, which also is called Luxembourg (and sometimes Luxembourg City)! The building in the middle is famous for, among our things, to have been the seat of the High Authority of the ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community), consisting of six member countries. This was the origin of the current European Union (EU), and the High Authority these days is called the European Commission. So it is no coincidence that you see all those flags from Luxembourg and the EU in the forefront. See also references # 2 and 3 below.

Below are some more photos from Luxembourg, enjoy!

Photos from Luxembourg City, all taken on 2020-07-16 by Arthur Ribas Teixeira

You have probably heard and seen that NASA has sent another mission to explore Mars. It was launched yesterday, and as a tribute, all articles in a newsletter from HowStuffWorks (HSW) on the same day were also about Mars, quite interesting stuff! In reference # 4 below is an article the new NASA Perseverance Rover which will search for signs of a ancient Martian Life. Look up the article and while you are on the HSW website, I suggest you sign up for their newsletter, so that you will have many interesting stories to read in the future.

The following subject is something that is constantly on everyone’s mind these days, the Covid-19 pandemic. So, why not take it from the humorous side, for once?

BACK TO SCHOOL! Cartoon made by Benett, published in Folha de S. Paulo on 2020-07-30

Finally, tomorrow I will celebrate the 10th anniversary of my favourite online game, Wordfeud. I have been addicted since April, 2012. Don’t know Wordfeud? Look at my post from 2016-03-18 !

That’s what I learned in school !


1: Julian calendar

2: History of the European Coal and Steel Community (1945–1957)

3: Luxembourg City

4: NASA’s Perseverance Rover to Search for Signs of Ancient Martian Life

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2020-06-30 (End of 1st half!)

Today, I learned about:

This first half of the year has been nothing like I, and everybody else, could imagine. 2020 looked so nice, symmetrical, and of course we had hopes and beliefs that it would be a very good year. How wrong we all were! But let us hope that the second half of 2020 contributes with better moments.

As you probably remember, I already told you that there is a computer application that I cannot think of living without, the electronic spreadsheet. See also my post of 2017-11-17 .

In three weeks time, July 21-23, there will be an interesting 50-hour webinar, in which Microsoft’s most valuable professionals (MVPs) will cover various aspects of using Excel. Of course there are many interesting subjects in the conference, but if I could only pick out only one, then it would be “Integrating Python and Excel”, where Tony Roberts on July 22 at 11:00 GMT explains how to bring the trendy programming language Python to work with Excel, thus expanding the possibilities of creating user defined functions (UDFs), today only possible through Macros developed in VBA. See also reference #1 below.

That’s what I learned in school !


1: Excel virtually global

*: What did you learn in school today ?