Trondheim is tiny – at least to someone who lives in the shadow of London. So it was eye-opening for me, over four short days, to immerse myself in the fully formed tech scene of a region with a population 2% of that of London’s.
Ocean Space Research at Marintek
Ocean Space – I’d never heard the term before so it took me a moment to understand, that as opposed to outer space, this refers to the vast unexplored regions below the sea-line which we know less about than the surface of the moon. This is the heart of what Marintek do, and they were the hosts for the science working group meeting I was there for, but more about that later. The work done at Marintek is fascinating, but I will limit it to my 3 highlights:
- Ocean labs and towing tanks are used for simulating conditions at sea, for example, oil rigs in the ocean. Yes the tanks are bigger than swimming pools. Yes they could generate all sorts of waves. No we couldn’t swim in them (or take selfies for that matter).
- Floating wind turbines – I heard about them first here – harnessing wind power in the deep sea, amazing!
- Cavitation tunnels – first the science lesson: air bubbles under pressure actually boil at low temperatures, causing implosions aka cavitation – how great is that? So great, I’m linking to this video again so you don’t miss it. Well, actually it’s not so great for badly designed propellers. Luckily this can all be tested for in a cavitation tunnel.
The icing on the cake for the visit was hearing about the plans for a bigger and better ocean space centre, opening in 2020 (assuming the politics all works out as planned). Who knows what else the great depths have to offer mankind?
Eclipse Science Working Group
So this visit was the second site visit of the Eclipse Science Working Group (SWG). There are some great write-ups about it here and here. The summary was that it was really well organized and the global group came together to pinpoint where our focus will lie over the upcoming months.
What was really interesting was appreciating that this was the second on-site meeting of the SWG. The first one was held last year at Diamond Light Source in the UK. It is great to look back and see how much the group has accomplished: from barely any projects we now have 5 Eclipse Projects covering key areas:
With everyone arriving at consensus in good time, there was time to spare indulging in fottur (hiking) in the beautiful Trondheim hills.
- 2014: Synchrotron, Oxfordshire: Let’s work together to advance software for science
- 2015: Towing tanks, Trondheim: OK, we’re gonna need data structures, visualisation & scripting – go!
I’m excited to get to the next chapter.
An Eclipse Mars Democamp was held at the offices of Itema AS. Itema are regularly named in the best employers in Norway and it was easy to see why from looking around and learning how they operate (and that was even before I got to the beer in the fridge and ice-cream in the freezer).
It was a highly enjoyable democamp, not surprisingly featuring members of the Science Working Group including demos of DAWN and OpenChrom. I had a chance do my Espruino talk & demo which is always great fun. There was also a talk on building IoT in Eclipse from Anne Nevin of Bitreactive, who later wrote a nice post about the event. In was a lovely varied programme, featuring a mix of IoT, Science, a bit of cloud and lots of Eclipse. There was lots of delicious food & drinks and an international audience with both Eclipse users and non-users alike. It will be something we try to emulate in the UK as we host our first Eclipse Night London. And at the very least I’ll be borrowing the idea of the Kahoot quiz at the end – a great way to round off the evening.
Trondheim Maker Faire
It was no accident the meetings were all scheduled for the same week as the Trondheim Makers’ Faire and I was fortunate enough to experience one day of it. As it turns out that day was the day all the kids went, and when I say all I mean, every single one. It was great to see so many youngsters out and about and engaging in technology and making in various forms.
There were many many inspiring things to see and play with, but a couple of my highlights were:
- the augmented reality sandpit and the stall in general from the Hackheim makerspace.
- the giant marble maze – ok I have it on good authority this was meant to be controlled from a balance board – but that wasn’t working. Nevertheless it was still fun to do manually – and watch how much better the kids reflexes were.
- making solar powered cars at the Trondheim energy tent. At first I just watched as kid after kid made one, but I eventually I couldn’t resist having a go. I had to fight off many little girls to get a seat at the table and it was great fun, not to mention chatting with the organisers about the latest on the tech scene in Trondheim. The best bit was when those same lovely folks at the stall gave me enough kit to take it home and recreate them with my own little ones.
That wrapped a great techy time in Trondheim. It might be small, but Trondheim is beautiful and its fully-formed tech scene means it is really deserving of its title ‘Technology Capital of the North’