Monday, July 2, 2012

New Adventures in Old Town

by Rebecca Hermann and Aaron Letterly

We concluded the second week of the Arctic portion of our class with a lesson on polar research for science, industry, and geo-politics.  Historically, polar research has been based on the linear model.  This model states that scientific research leads to technological development and industrial renewal in a linear fashion. This model is heavily criticized by scholars studying the innovation process, as it was created to convince investors to put their money into more Arctic research.  Coal mines such as the Svea Mine are claimed to have come as a result of the linear model, when in fact knowledge of these coal seams has been around for decades before the research. Historically, periods of technological development from research have led to brief economic booms due to huge investment by both private partners and national governments. The mines "discovered" due to the linear model actually led to a limited industrialization of the Svalbard region; coal mining settlements facilitated some of the first permanent infrastructure on the island. Specialized docks and lift systems were constructed to cope with the brief season in which the ice around Spitsbergen had completely melted away. While it seems that this technological development and industrialization came directly from the research done on Spitsbergen, it may have come about from prior knowledge of the coal seams from other sources.  In this way the linear model is misleading.

After class on Friday, we decided to try a new restaurant and headed to Hermitage for a vegetarian buffet!  The buffet was situated in a small building in Gamla Stan, and could barely fit the 17 of us.  The food was even put in drawers to save space. Though we were stuffed to bursting, some of the group still couldn’t resist the draw of a nearby gelato cafe.

As evening came, a few people went for a stroll around the small islands of Skeppsholmen and Kastellholmen.  At Skeppsholmen preparations were being made for AF Offshore Race, a sailing race from Stockholm to Gotlund.  There were lots of exhibitors with their boats on display for the public.  On Kastellholmen, there is a small castle called Kastellet, which was originally built in 1667 and rebuilt in 1848.  This castle is there because these islands were historically used for military purposes.

On Saturday, a group went on a tour of Stockholm City Hall. The building itself hosts the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony, and is a popular site for weddings and picturesque views of the bustling harbor in the off season. Built in 1911, the bell tower stands at 106 meters, about half a meter higher than Copenhagen’s city hall.  This was a victory for Stockholm in the contest to construct the tallest civil building in Scandinavia. The conservative facade actually houses a room made entirely of 23-carat gold within its interior, not to mention a regal auditorium where Peace Prize ceremony is filmed. It is definitely a sight to see for someone visiting Stockholm!

Rebecca Herrmann is a Junior studying Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois, with a focus in Environmental Engineering and Sustainability.  She is from Batavia, IL.

Aaron Letterly is a Senior studying Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois, with a concentration in Climatology/Atmospheric Chemistry.  He is from Latham, IL.


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