2018-06-23 (Midsommardagen)

Today, I learned that:

In the midst of the World Championships in football, which takes place in Russia, today is scheduled the game between Sweden and Germany. If we include the games played between the two countries when the biggest German nation was West Germany, this will be the 37th time the countries meet on the football ground, and the 7th time in official games, such as Olympic Games, World Championships or European Championships.

The last time Sweden beat Germany in an official game was in the World Cup 1958, held in Sweden. Tomorrow, we celebrate that exactly 60 years have gone since that game. For Swedes, it is a game to remember forever, not only because Sweden won the match and advanced to the final game, but also because of the marvellous goal made by the Swedish right wing player, Kurt Hamrin, in the last minute of the game. See reference # 1 for more about that World Cup and reference # 2 for a video clip of Hamrin’s feat.

Kurre

Two photos from Kurt Hamrin’s legendary slalom run against Germany in 1958, see the whole video sequence in reference # 2 below.

At the time of writing this post, the current leader in the chase for the Golden Boot, which is awarded to the player who scores most goals in the World Cup, is the Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. Implicitly, he is also the main character in today’s photo. It was taken on 2017-06-07 in the Latvian capital of Riga and shows football fans waiting outside Hotel Radisson Blu Latvija to catch a glimpse (and an autograph?) of the Portuguese squad, and of Ronaldo in particular. Thus the number of fans using shirt # 7! (Two days later, in a qualifying match for the 2018 World Cup, Portugal beat Latvia with 3-0, with two goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo. More about that game can be found in reference #3 below.)

CR7

Football fans outside Hotel Radisson Blu Latvija in Riga waiting to get a glimpse of the Portuguese squad, in particular jersey # 7, the superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, thus the multitude of fans wearing that shirt. This photo was taken on 2017-06-07, two days before the World Cup qualification game Latvia vs Portugal two days later. The result of the match was no surprise, Portugal won by 3-0, Ronaldo made two goals.

But since we are in Latvia now, we should remember that the three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) are celebrating their 100 years of the first independent from Russia, which happened at the end of World War I, in 1917-1918, just like Finland, see my post of 2017-12-06. If you became interested in knowing more about the Baltic states, see reference # 4 below. Reference # 5 is an interesting article from the Finnish Broadcasting Co. (in Swedish) about the activities there during this year of celebration.

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: 1958 FIFA World Cup

2: Kurt Hamrin scores 3-1 against Germany on June 24, 1958

3: Latvia-Portugal on 2017-06-09

4: Baltic states

5: Baltikum minns hundra år av självständighet

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-10-02 (Sunday)

Today, I learned that:

Once more, it is municipal election day in the pseudo democracy called Brazil. I say so, because voting is not only a right for Brazilian citizens, but also a duty! The result is obvious beforehand: A conservation of the ruling class, which has the financial means to control the situation. Everyone declared capable, aged from 18 to 70 years, must vote. Although there are some other democracies in the world where it is also mandatory to vote, what comes to my mind right now is Belgium, a country that stayed without a government during almost three years after a general election. My conviction is that elections should be open to everyone who is qualified to vote, but nobody should be obligated to do so! But since it is the proper politicians who must decide on such a measure which would go against their interests, unfortunately I do not see such a change coming ever.

titulos

Two opposite sides of the Brazilian society: To the left, the well-off citizen with all his titles and investment bonds, and to the right, the poor person, whose only right (and obligation!) is the document which identifies him as an elector. Drawn by Jean Galvão and published in Folha de S. Paulo today.

I feel very honored to have so many friends spread out all over the world, and when they travel they often send me pictures to show their destinations, and today is not at all different. My friend Barbara, who has lived in Sweden for decades, went back home to her native city, Świnoujście in Poland, last month for an important family celebration. And here you can see some of the pictures she sent me. Dzięki, Barbara!

Below are some more pictures from this sea-side city in the extreme north-west corner of Poland, bordering Germany and with a daily ferry to Ystad in Sweden. See also reference # 1 below.

swinoujscie
swinoujcie2

Six photos from Świnoujście, all taken by Barbara Sigurdsson in September, 2016. The main photo shows the post office to the left, and the two photos in landscape mode of the next front row show scenes from the seaside promenade. The leftmost one pictures the German town Ahlbeck in the distance and the second one is a typical one from this neighborhood. In the second row, to the left, is a former Soviet military base that now has been transformed into a civic center, including sports arena, theater, tax authority and a music school. The next photo shows typical residental buildings today, in bright contrast to the rightmost photo of a skyscraper built during the communist regime.

Last Friday, 2016-09-30, was International Translation Day. When I was a teenager, I did not know which career I would follow, since I liked both technology and languages. My uncle, who had a high position in Ericsson, advised me to study technology and include as many languages as possible in my curriculum. Of course, I followed his advice, and today I am proud to say that I am very fond of making translations, in particular those involving technology, in the language pairs SwedishEnglish, SwedishPortuguese, and EnglishPortuguese. If you need to have any document translated in those languages, or including Danish and Norwegian, contact me or my fellow translators of the Taskforce, see link in reference # 2 below, and click on the appropriate flag in the upper right corner.

Finally, if you live close to an airport and are disturbed by the noise of aircraft while arriving at the airport, here comes good news for you. A study performed at KTH in Stockholm, confirmed at Heathrow airport, shows that if the landing aircraft forms an angle of 3,5 degrees to the ground instead of the current 3 degrees, then the generated noise can be reduced by 2 decibel, which is quite a lot! See references #3 and 4 below.

… That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Świnoujście

2: Do you need to TRANSLATE DOCUMENTS between ENGLISH, PORTUGUESE and the SCANDINAVIAN (SWEDISH, DANISH, NORWEGIAN) languages? Contact “Byrån / The Taskforce” through this link !!!

3: Brantare landning minskar bullret

4: Slutrapport Förstudie Brantare

+: What did you learn in school today ?

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 ?

2016-02-03 (Wednesday)

Today, I learned once more that:

As it happens every year around this time, one of the most ridiculous world championships is under way. During one week, eight countries are represented by their national teams to decide which one is the best in the world in a sport called bandy.

If you do not know what bandy is, think of it as a mixture of football (real football, not American, aka soccer), field hockey and ice hockey. From football has been taken the football ground, the 11-person team and the 2 x 45 minutes game time. Field hockey has contributed with the hooked stick. The size of the goals are intermediate between football and ice hockey, and ice hockey has contributed with the ice and skates. The only original thing with bandy is the small ball, extremely difficult to see if you are on the grandstands of a bandy game.

bandycountries

The countries (in green), where bandy is played

The international bandy federation (FIB), with headquarters in the Swedish city of Söderhamn, has 32 member countries, of which the eight teams highest on the international ranking participate in the supreme division to compete for the world championships title. They are divided into two groups of four countries each, with the four best in group A and the other four in group B. In three rounds, their is a round robbin where all teams meet the others once. After those games, the team in position 1 in group A plays team number 4 of group B, the second team in group A plays the third team of group B, etc.

And once more, for the fifth time in a row, everything points to a final game between Russia and Sweden, and a bronze medal game between Finland and Kazakhstan. The two first rounds of group A have resulted in scores of 9-1, 9-1, 11-4 and 10-2, with Sweden and Russia beating Finland and Kazakhstan.

bandy2015

Sweden and Russia playing in the 2015 world championships. Photo by Martin Henriksson/FIB

So, why go through this weekly ordeal to end up with the same nations, Russia and Sweden, determining again who is the best in the world. Let them play a series of best-of-three games, one in each country and, if necessary, a third game in a neutral country.

Update 2016-02-07: It is always difficult to predict, especially about the future! Sweden underestimated Finland in one of the semifinals, losing the game with 3-2. Russia then beat Finland 6-1 in the final, and Sweden took the bronze medals.

… That’s what I learned in school!

Refs.:

1: Bandy

2: Federation of International Bandy

3: 2016 Bandy World Championship

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-01-24 (Sunday)

Today, I learned that:

The largest prime number ever found was announced last Wednesday, January 20, 2016. So, what is a prime number and what is it good for?

A prime number is defined as a natural number (a positive integer) greather than 1, which cannot be evenly divided by any other natural number than 1 and itself. Examples of such numbers are 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, etc. It has been proven that there are an infinite quantity of prime numbers.

Prime numbers have been known for a long time, e.g. Euclid’s Elements (300 years BC) already mentions them, and in the beginning of the 17th century, a French monk named Marin Mersenne devised a formula, of the form 2p – 1, where p=1 is a prime number, to be used to check for unknown prime numbers. In fact, the largest prime number, which is exactly 274.207.281 − 1, consists of more than 22 million digits, and the search for bigger numbers continue. Please see the three references below for more information about prime numbers in general and also about the discovery of the currently biggest prime number, including an interview with Curtis Cooper, the leader of the project that discovered it.

One of the practical usages of prime numbers is in public-key cryptography, where two large prime numbers are multiplied to obtain a product that it is extremely difficult to factorize and thus break the code. But the search for these very big numbers does not seem to have any major practical use today, although they are very well fitted to test the speed performance of computer hardware.

And speaking about cryptography, having means of obtaining secure data streams is of course essential when we want to communicate data from one point to another. The current standard for data communication in the world is based upon what is called fourth-generation (4G) technology, and although it offers very fast rates of data communication, there are applications that demand even faster data transmission speeds. Examples of such applications are some components of the ‘Internet of Things’ (e.g. driver-less cars), and also in remote surgery, when the patient is in a hospital somewhere in the world, and at the same time the head surgeon is in a totally different place, performing the surgery via advanced, fast video and manipulation technologies.

For that and other purposes, last Friday, January 22, 2016, TeliaSonera and Ericsson announced that in 2018, they will start 5G networks in Stockholm and Tallinn. The rest of Sweden should see 5G in use in 2020.

Update on 2016-01-27: Today’s program of ‘Vetenskapens värld’ on Radio Sweden’s domestic channel P1 penetrates into the 5G technology. It will be a standard mostly used for machine to machine communication, and there are good hopes that one standard will be used everywhere on Earth, with speeds 100 times higher than the current 4G standard. See reference 7 below.

… That’s what I learned in school!

Refs.:

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prime_number

2: http://www.mersenne.org/primes/?press=M74207281

3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5ozBnrd5Zc

4: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public-key_cryptography

5: http://news.err.ee/v/scitech/fd66b9ee-1a44-4d13-aa6c-1f687812b2b8/

6: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mobile_phone_generations

7: http://sverigesradio.se/sida/avsnitt/668029?programid=412

+: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VucczIg98Gw