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.
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!
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.
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!
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 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!
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?
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 !
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.
Nothing is like it used to be. Yesterday was April 30, the day that Sweden is used to celebrate the arrival of Spring with various fun events during Valborgsmässoafton (Walpurgis night). The whole story started already during the 8th and 9th century in England. You can read more about it in reference #1 below.
One popular tradition on that day in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second biggest city, is the Cortège, when the first-years students at Chalmers University of Technology give their review of the events of the preceding year in a carnival-style parade. The header photo today was taken during the Cortège in 1977. I had the pleasure of participating in it two years earlier and I must admit it was really a treat.
Another tradition on that day is to light bonfires as a way to keep the evil spirits away, and especially in the old university cities of Uppsala and Lund people gather to hear the students choirs sing their traditional songs praising Spring.
But, nothing of that sort happened yesterday. The COVID-19 pandemic impeded all those traditions to be celebrated once more. It was therefore a pleasant surprise what Radio Sweden had in store for us.
The classical music channel P2 had invited its listeners to contribute in a special way, by recording their voices and faces when singing the traditional song Längtan till landet (I am longing for the countryside). See reference 2 below for the P2 page and reference 3 for the video with the song.
And if you want to sing along with all the other 707 singers in the choir, here are the lyrics:
I dedicate this post to my dear old friend Bosse, who took so well care of me from the moment I first arrived in Brazil. He loves this kind of music, his idol is the late Jussi Björling, need I say more? For those who do not recognise that name, let us compare him to later day tenors like Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, and José Carreras. See also reference 4 below.
I just heard an interesting piece of news. It seems that the WHO (World Health Organisation) and the WCSF (World Cruise Ship Federation), which has all the big cruise ship companies among its associates, are close to conclude a deal which may be a big relief for those people who need to be treated because of COVID-19, the corona virus pandemic that is keeping the world at a still.
The idea is that since WCSF cannot keep their ships running normally due to all docking restrictions, they want to show the world that their ships are not only meant for luxury cruises for those with plenty of money, but also for normal people who never would have a chance of coming close to such a ship. So instead of trying to find space for treatment in the saturated, normal health care system and its hospitals, the ships would be anchored on a sufficient distance from land to not disturb life on shore, and yet offer plenty of rooms and beds for the necessary health procedures and recovery.
Keep your eyes and ears open, the official announcement should come any minute now.
The idea of using a ship as a hospital is not new, there are indications that the Greek had some already in ancient times. The British included a hospital ship in their Navy in the 17th century, many hospital ships were of course used during World Wars I and II, and just two days ago, the USNS Confort docked in New York City to help treating corona patients there. See also references #1 and 2 below.
Exactly four years have gone since I wrote a post about when I first set foot on Brazilian soil. That time, 36 years had gone since that historical step, 2016-03-24.
And here we are again, four years older, and maybe even wiser! So today makes 40 years since I came to Brazil as a trainee engineer, who would think that I would end up here? But here I am, and frankly speaking, I cannot complain! Life has been tough, but I have had my golden days, as well. And to celebrate those 40 years, what could be better than the Brazilian national drink, caipirinha? It is so easy to make and it is refreshingly tasteful. Look at another post, 2016-02-14, for the recipe and a photo. Saúde, cheers, skål !
All about COVID-19
I know that many of you are exactly in the same situation right now as I am, locked down at home, waiting for that nasty corona virus to disappear. The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has elaborated and published a comprehensive story about what it is, how to treat it, etc. In ref. # 1 below, there is a copy of their report, it is really worth reading! And if you are so inclined, Alibaba is asking for volunteers to help translate the book into Korean and European Portuguese. More about that in ref. # 2 below.
Exactly four years have gone since I last wrote about what a leap day is, 2016-02-29.
And here we are again, four years older, and maybe even wiser! I was thinking about the poor guy that was born on 1896-02-29. He celebrated his birthday on the correct date of the year only when there were eight candles on his birthday cake. How come? Well, as you know a leap year normally happens only once every four years, but when the century is on its first year, then it must also be evenly divided by 400, i.e. 1600, 2000, 2400 etc. But then, he knew that if he lived that long, he would still celebrate it on the correct day with 12, 16, 20, 24, … candles!
‘Can you use an hourglass’?
Finally, here comes the solution to the riddle posted back in 2019-12-31:
You start with two loaded hourglasses at the same time. After 7 min, when the small hourglass is done, you turn it over and restart it.
After 11 min, when the big hourglass is done, you leave it as it is. But now you turn over the small hourglass, which has had a second run of 4 min, and let it run for the third time until it stops.
Exactly four years have gone since I wrote my first post in this blog, 2016-01-09. It was really short, talking about potatoes, but it gave me the kick to want more. The story about why I started the blog was published on 2017-01-14.
Thank you all who follow my blog and write me with suggestions about what to publish in future posts!
A hint to ‘Can you use an hourglass’?
In my most recent post, on 2019-12-31 , I gave you a problem involving the use of two different hourglasses, with capacity of 11 min and 7 min, respectively, and asked you to measure exactly 15 min.
If you are still fighting with the solution, let me give you two important hints:
11 – 7 = 4
15 – 11 = 4
Can you solve it now?
A complete solution will be presented in my next post.
Once again, it is that day of the year when we reflect over how the year behind us was and make our predictions and wishes for the year to come.
One important piece of news during 2019 was that researchers at my alma mater Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden, led by professor Kasper Moth-Poulsen reported that they have developed a molecule, that is able to capture the sun’s rays, store it as chemical energy for up to 18 years, and retrieve the energy and convert it into heat when needed.
The following graphic shows how it all works:
References # 1 through 4 below contain more material if you are interested in further details.
Can you use an hourglass?
So you think are smart? Then show it now! We have two hourglasses like the ones shown above. The bigger ones completes one cycle in 11 minutes, the small one in 7 minutes.
Question: Using a combination of these two hourglasses, you need to measure a time lapse of exactly 15 minutes. How would you do it? (Solution to follow in the first blog post of 2020.)
I wish all my faithful blog readers a HAPPY NEW YEAR!