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Tekniska Museet

Posted in school, Sightseeing on February 15, 2009 by fonglh

That’s the Museum of Science and Technology, we visited this as part of our course Swedish Society. Sweden is famous for its science and engineering, so how can students from the Royal Institute of Technology doing a course on Swedish Society not visit this museum?

The visit started off with a lecture about the history of KTH. I don’t remember much of it anymore, but there was quite a long discussion on the gender balance of the students through the years. It used to be an all boys thing back when it was throught that women shouldn’t do engineering. Now I think it’s about equal.

The picture below is from the space exhibit. This being an excursion with a guided tour, there wasn’t enough time to see everything and appreciate the history properly.

Space exhibit

Space exhibit

Mining has always been an important part of Sweden’s economy. Even now, the northern town of Kiruna exists because there’s a mine there. They’re even going to move the town because it’s sitting on top of somewhere they want to mine. A problem with early mines is that they’re prone to flooding. Here’s one the earliest machines built to alleviate the problem. It pumps water out of the mine.

Water pump

Water pump

For demonstration purposes, it can be moved, although it’s now powered by electricity. Still, it makes many loud sounds and groans. In spite of its size, it’s not a particularly powerful pump.

In the same hall, there were exhibits of old forms of transport like cars and bicycles. Here’s the car that earned its driver the first speeding ticket to be issued in Sweden.

Old car

Old car

It wasn’t capable of going very fast. According to the tour guide, the policeman was able to run up to the driver to issue him the ticket. The ticket is now in the Police Museum, next door to the museum we were in.

Vehicles from the past

Vehicles from the past

Here we saw old cars and bicycles. While the basic design of a bicycle hasn’t changed much, the very first ones looked very very uncomfortable.

Moon Rock

Moon Rock

After hthe museum employee’s explanation of the stuff in that hall, there was some time left so he took us to the space exhibit and showed us around. In an enclosed display case, there’s a video camera of the same model as those which were used on the moon. The camera has specially designed buttons which are large and placed far apart so as to allow astronauts to manipulate the controls with gloves on. Anyone who has tried to use a compact camera with gloves in winter will know that it’s just a little bit difficult.

That shiny thing enclosed in glass behind the camera is a piece of rock from the moon.

Here’s a Foucault Pendulum. Never heard of it? Wikipedia to the rescue. Basically it’s an experiment to demonstrate the rotation of the earth.

Foucault Pendulum

Foucault Pendulum

As the earth spins, the pendulum’s swing will change relative to the paper below. If you could sit on the pendulum, you’ll see the room revolving around you over a 24 hour period.

This next picture was taken in another exhibit about communications. The orange thing criss crossing the ceiling is a speaking tube which visitors to the museum can try out.

Speaking tube

Speaking tube

Here’s someone trying out the speaking tube with his friend. He says it works.

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Since mining has played such a large role in Sweden, the museum has an exhibit devoted to the history of mining. From the main hall with all those antique vehicles, there’s a small dark opening which is the entrance to the mine. You descend a staircase into the ‘mine’. There’s also an elevator which takes a long time to go down, thus giving you the impression of descending into a real mine, but it wasn’t working that day so we took the stairs.

The earliest way to mine was to use fire.

Mining with fire

Mining with fire

The fire heats the rocks and cracks them. Then the miners can come in with crowbars and stuff to break it up and transport it to the surface, where they extract the iron from the ore.

After the invention of dynamite, it was used instead. However, this involves drilling a hole in the rock first, still a very tedious, time consuming and tiring process requiring a huge heavy drill.

Drilling a hole for the explosive

Drilling a hole for the explosive

As technology progressed, they were able to use better drills and one person could manage more and more of them at one time. Nowadays they sit in front of computer terminals and control stuff from there.

Interestingly, open pit mining is one application of linear programming. It allows the mining company to find the best way to excavate and maximise profit based on the shape of the lode and the cost of digging etc etc.

Metal ores

Metal ores

Here are some example of iron ores.

There did seem to be lots of interesting things in the museum, but there wasn’t enough time to read through all the information panels, some of which was in English.

The good thing is, it’s free for KTH students.

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Swedish Dinner

Posted in school on February 9, 2009 by fonglh

Part of the welcome activities organised by the student’s union included a Swedish dinner, which was a chance for us to experience Swedish food. It cost 150 SEK.

Here’s a picture of the appetiser.

Appetiser

Appetiser

It was some bread-like thing with what tasted like a cheese filling. Not too bad.

While waiting for the main course to be served, the toastmaster led us in party and drinking songs found in a songbook which had been left at all the places. He wasn’t too successful cause everyone was busy having their own conversations. They have a student group called PQ whose job is to provide entertainment at parties. Here you can see them in their yellow shirts.

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They danced, sang and played musical instruments. While not on duty they each had a reserved seat in the middle of each table.

Here’s the main course. Chicken and potatoes in some sauce. A bit too salty but otherwise quite good.

Main course

Main course

In between they got various nationalities to go up on stage to sing. There was also plenty of alcohol. They also served 2 shot glasses of alcohol, which to me smelt like the ethanol they use as fuel in their buses. The stuff is really strong so I gave most of mine to a German guy who was trying rather unsuccessfully to get drunk.

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The alcohol is the one in the little shot glass beside the can of Fanta. The large cup to the right holds water, which is what I drank most of the time.

Finally, dessert was served.

Dessert

Dessert

Some kind of cake and a sauce. Not too bad.

It took very long in between courses, so here’s what engineers do when bored.

Tower of Beer cans

Tower of Beer cans

They even tried to secure it with the decorative ribbons on the table. It was going rather well but the irritating PQ guy you can see in the yellow shirt there seemed to be jealous of their success and kept banging the table and blowing at the tower.

We actually hoped that there would be more food cause what they had served us so far wasn’t very filling, and we certainly hoped to try more types of Swedish food. Unfortunately, that was all, except for another shot glass of punch (ie more alcohol).

After the meal, everyone went outside to party. Overall, it was quite a ripoff. Seemed like an excuse for a party and a chance to get drunk, disguised under the noble objective of allowing international students to try Swedish food. If you drink a lot, it would probably have been worth it. There was lots of alcohol to make your money worth it.

KTH emblem

KTH emblem

Here’s a picture of the KTH emblem, taken when we left after most people had adjourned to the dance floor. The words mean “Science and Art”, with ‘art’ in this case referring to technology.