2016-03-06 (Sunday)

Today, I learned that:

The 2016 edition of Vasaloppet, that took place earlier today, was the toughest of all the 92 races held so far. Details will follow later on, but let us first discuss what Vasaloppet is and why it is such an important  sports event.

It all started in 1397, when a meeting in the Swedish city of Kalmar, on the East Coast, resulted in a personal union between the kings of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, in which a new king, Erik of Pomerania, was elected to be responsible for both the domestic and foreign policies of the three sovereign states. But the nobility in both Sweden and Denmark did not accept to be put aside and so there were constant conflicts from the 1430s until the end date of the union, which happened in 1523.

The beginning of the end came in 1520, when the Danish king Kristian II (aka Kristian the Good One in Denmark / Kristian the Tyrant in Sweden) invited the Swedish aristocracy to a reconciliation party in Stockholm, but once there, had them all killed in what was later known as the Stockholm Bloodbath. But the nobleman Gustav Ericsson Vasa was able to escape and headed towards Norway. However, a speech he made in Mora, close to the Norwegian border finally convinced the people there to join him in a rebellion against Kristian, although it took so long for them to decide in favor of him that Gustav had already left for Norway on skis. When he arrived in Sälen, a town about 70 km away from Mora, going in a straight line, two good skiers from Mora were able to stop him, explaining that the others in Mora had decided to join Gustav in his battle against Kristian. After  battles in the following years, this rebellion finally led to that the Swedes defeated the Danish. So on June 6, 1523, Gustav Vasa was elected the new king of Sweden. Still today, that date is very important, being celebrated as the Swedish National Day.

In order to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the successful capture of Gustav Vasa by the two Mora skiers, there was instituted a cross-country race, and on March 19, 1922, the first Vasaloppet race was held, but in reverse direction, starting in Sälen and finishing in Mora. 136 skiers participated and the first winner was the 22-year old Ernst Alm, still today the youngest winner of all races held since.

vloppstr

A map showing start and finish, as well as all the intermediate check points of Vasaloppet.

Vasaloppet is the oldest and longest cross-country ski race in the world as well as the one with the highest number of participants, with a current maximum capacity of 15 800 athletes. Originally, the race was 85 km long, but it was prolonged to 90 km some decades ago. In Sweden, it is an almost sacred event, held on the first Sunday of March every year. The athlete with most wins (9 in total) over the years was named Nils Karlsson, with domicile in Mora, thus nick-named Mora-Nisse. The first non-Swede who won the race was the Finn Pekka Kuvaja in 1954. Nowadays, there is a steady fight by the best Swedish and Norwegian skiers, which the latter ones have won during the four most recent races.

Female athletes have been permitted to participate in the race since 1997, and also there is a big fight between Swedish and foreign skiers.

Now over to today’s race. The men’s race resulted in that 26 skiers entered the finish area with a chance to win, with four Norwegian skiers in the top places and the best Swedish skier in 6th place. The women’s race went to Austria and Katerina Smutná, with the leading World Cup skier, Sweden’s Britta Johansson Norgren, in second place.

Finish 2016

The finish of the toughest of all 92 races held so far, showing the winner John Kristian Dahl in the centre. Picture copyright vasaloppet.se

Update 2016-03-09:
Click on references #3 and #4 below to access the official web site of Vasaloppet and watch a video of the competition in 2016, respectively.

Problem # 4, Drilling square holes

This problem is very different from the earlier three riddles. The question is: How would you construct a tool to drill square holes? The solution seems impossible, but I have it, and will post it next Saturday, 2016-03-12.

… That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Kalmar Union

2: About Vasaloppet in English

3: Results from Vasaloppet 2016

4: Video from Vasaloppet 2016

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-02-02 (Tisdag)

Idag vill jag åter minnas, att:

I skolan lärde vi oss att elektriska kretsar kan beskrivas med hjälp av Ohms lag. En elektrisk ström genereras av en spänningskälla och på vägen till att sluta kretsen träffar den på ett antal motstånd. För att skräddarsy kretsen kan vi variera värdena på spänning och resistans (motstånd) och beroende på hur vi kopplar ihop motstånden så får vi en viss ström som cirkulerar i kretsen.

Kopplingsalternativ

Två grundalternativ till en elektrisk koppling, seriekoppling (till vänster) och parallellkoppling (till höger)

Hopkopplingen av motstånden kan göras på två olika sätt, serie- och parallellkoppling. Ju större resistansvärden vi kopplar ihop i serie, desto mindre blir strömmen som passerar genom motstånden. Men om vi istället gör en parallellkoppling så minskar vi den resulterande resistansen och följaktligen ökar vi strömmen.

Men varför då denna lektion i elektrisk kretsteori? Jo, visserligen är det naturligt för en elektroingenjör som jag att ta hjälp av herr Ohm, men framför allt så tycker jag att det passar mycket väl in för att illustrera hur man skulle kunna lösa problemet med att inrätta höghastighetståg för de olika intressenter som önskar att tåget skall stanna just i deras stad.

Om vi först tittar på den södra länken, så har de två huvudalternativen varit att dra järnvägen genom antingen Värnamo eller Växjö. Utan att behöva framstå som partisk i frågan, så är naturligtvis Värnamo det naturliga valet, då vägen däröver är kortare än över Växjö. För att tillfredsställa Växjö, Karlskrona, Kalmar, m.fl. skulle man kunna göra en parallellkoppling med Malmö-Värnamo-Tranås, men denna anknytning borde i så fall inte starta i Malmö utan i Karlskrona och ansluta sig till huvudlinjen i Tranås.

Om vi sedan tittar på den västra länken, så är det uppenbart att Göteborg, Borås och Jönköping måste ligga på huvudlinjen, men exakt vilja mellanliggande orter som man borde stanna i, t.ex. Mölnlycke eller Bollebygd, är en fråga om seriekoppling. Ju fler orter (motstånd), desto lägre hastighet (ström) och längre tid.

Mitt tips är att den södra länken inte blir antingen en linje 1 eller linje 2, utan istället en linje 3, (minns ni kärnkraftsomröstningen 1980 ?), en kompromiss där både Värnamo och Växjö blir nöjda. Om vi skall uppnå målet om fossilfria bränslen år 2050 kanske det måste till. Om bara den politiska viljan finns, så ska nog pengarna också kunna skakas fram. Den västra länken behöver kompletteras med något alternativ som tillfredsställer också de orter som inte blir uttagna för huvudlinjen.

… Slut för idag, tack för idag!

(This post in Swedish uses Ohm’s Law to analyze the options for a highspeed train in the Western and Southern parts of Sweden.)

Refs.:

1: Ohms lag

2: Seriekoppling

3: Parallellkoppling

4: En ny generation järnväg

5: Ekot Kvart i fem 1 februari 2016

6: Ingen station i Ulricehamn och Bollebygd men i Borås

7: Borås chockat av järnvägsbud

+: What did you learn in school today ?