Signs of the Times

Well, I’m back from sunny Copenhagen to a very muggy Cardiff. I arrived by train just as this afternoon’s rugby match between Wales and South Africa finished so I got caught up in the crowds and had to follow a lengthy diversion to get home. I was a bit tetchy with the heat and feeling a bit tired, but feel a bit mellower now after a nice shower. Apparently it was a cracking game, with Wales losing narrowly to the Springboks in the end. I missed it all.

Not feeling like doing anything more energetic blogwise, I thought I’d just put up a few pictures of the trip before making dinner. I heard while I was in Copenhagen that there are plans to relocate the historic Niels Bohr Institute to new accommodation nearby. I’m very attached to the old place and I think it will be a terrible shame if the original buildings are flogged off or bulldozed. I believe that’s not going to happen but I’m not sure what their fate is going to be. Anyway, I asked one of the locals, Tamara Davis, to take a picture in front of the sign outside the old NORDITA  building, looking grumpy, to show my disapproval. I think she caught the mood perfectly.

Actually, Tamara isn’t really a local because she’s Australian, but she spends a couple of months a year in Denmark at the Dark Cosmology Centre, which is about ten minutes’ walk from the Niels Bohr Institute. I sat next to her at the conference dinner and found out that she’s also an international quality Ultimate Frisbee player. I wish I could pretend I knew what that was, but it sounds impressive. The fact that she’s training for a major event at the moment meant that she wasn’t drinking much wine so, being a gentleman, I drank the surplus on her behalf.

I wonder if there’s such a sport as Penultimate Frisbee?

Here’s another picture in front of the same building, featuring some folks from the workshop.

From left they are Dominik Schwarz (Bielefeld, Germany), Anthony Lasenby (Cambridge, UK), Carlo Burigana (Bologna, Italy),  Sabino Matarrese (Padova, Italy) and Paolo Natoli (Rome, Italy).

Last one shows the view in the evening sun looking down towards the picturesque old harbour area, called Nyhavn. I took this in anticipation of a nice cold beer among the crowds of people out enjoying themselves in the lovely weather. I wasn’t disappointed!

4 Responses to “Signs of the Times”

  1. Those old buildings have an awful lot of character.

    I recall doing a PhD defence there a few years ago in an auditorium which had been kept in much the same state as it was when the giants of quantum mechanics used to meet there. I could see from an old photograph that I was sitting on the same bench and in the same spot as Dirac. I was also taken on a tour of the buildings and saw Bohr’s old office, preserved in the same condition as when he used it.

    None of this would help with any Danish equivalent of the RAE but I found it an impressive link with the past and a reminder that we have a lot to live up to. I’d hate to see it go.

  2. “old harbour area, called Nyhavn” which means “new harbour”. All which was once new is now old, sic transit gloria mundi, all we are is dust in the wind, it was a new day yesterday but it’s an old day now.

    Speaking of moving, why did NORDITA move from Copenhagen to Stockholm?

  3. telescoper Says:


    NORDITA is an international organization, governed (I believe) directly by the Nordic Council of Ministers. It just happened to be based in Copenhagen. I think what happened was that the Danes decided to pull out of NORDITA in order to concentrate funding on NBI. NORDITA then moved to Sweden, along with many of its staff and Denmark is no longer involved in it.


  4. Wow! What a change. It does make sense, though, I suppose. Back in the old days (NORDITA is several decades old), before the internet etc, I suppose it made sense to set up an institute with the participation of all Nordic countries (which happened to be in Copenhagen). With a total population only a little more than Greater London, pooling resources makes sense. However, these days—for better or worse—people collaborate who have never seen each other. Since each country also has its own national institutes, I suppose removing the administrative overhead of its NORDITA contribution makes sense to the Danes.

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