I’m moving to Greenland in one year

I have been thinking about moving abroad for quite some time, but I also like my work very much, so I don’t want to stop teaching.

Of course I could go somewhere and teach in English (my English is fair enough, and the mathematics and physics curriculum is pretty much the same everywhere), but I do feel strongly about my native mother tongue. It is after all the language that Hans Christian Andersen and my namesake Søren Kierkegaard wrote their wonderful works in.

So where (except maybe Bornholm) could I go and teach in Danish, but still feel like I had moved far?

The answer is so simple and elegant: Greenland.

The former Danish colony has a constant need for teachers at their gymnasiums and the nature is supposedly breathtaking. As you may know, I’m quite the out-doors kind of person!

Original photos by Kim Hansen, stitched by Noodle snacks (Based on) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I have never enjoyed cold weather, but the snow and low temperatures shouldn’t matter that much. As I understand it, it is only cold there for a few weeks in winter, and then you get pleasantly warmer weather, as the sun rises higher on the sky. After all, there is a reason it is called Greenland and not Whiteland. There does seem to be some other caveats, but I have been reading up on the issues and conditions of moving from Denmark and working at a gymnasium in Greenland. The Gymnasieskolen magazine has an interesting article on the topic and none of the issues seem like deal-breakers to me.
It seems alcohol is quite expensive, so it will be hard giving up drinking completely (or cutting down enough for it to not hurt my economy to much), but some of the other stuff, like expensive fruits and little or no daycare for children isn’t really relevant for me.

It will of course be hard to leave behind family and friends, but when I consider what chance of a lifetime this can be for me, it really is a no-brainer. I have of course spend a lot of time contemplating this decision lately, but today, April first 2011, I have finally made my decision. I will however stay in Copenhagen for one more year, both to finish my Pædagogikum (Dip.Ed) and to figure out what to do with my stuff. What to bring, what to store and what to trash, since moving stuff from Denmark to Greenland is quite expensive. I also have to figure out exactly how I will manage my living arrangements. But I’m quite excited about this opportunity, and convinced that the practical stuff will work it self out over the coming year.

That’s a good thing?

I just saw a video by IBMs A Smarter Planet Blog about some of the things we can expect from cities of the future. The intelligent water system that detects leaks seems neat, but I’m not fond of the use of mathematics and software to prevent diseases from spreading. It seems very easy to use this data and knowledge to quarantine (or worse) people, maybe even before they are infected.

Also, the crime prevention system seems to make it possible to turn thought crime illegal, and making it possible to convict people for crimes they may commit in the future. Sounds like Minority Report, just with statistical analysis instead of mutants able of precognition.

Photo by: Gene Hunt

Project Euler

For a long time I have wanted to improve my programming skills. Well, skills might be a overstatement. I have had two short introductory programming courses during my many years at uni, one C++ and one Java. But after the course is over I stop programming, since there are no more hand-ins, and as a result I quickly forget even the basics.

So now my hope is that if I spend one or two hours a week working with some problems (with a math twist to keep my focus) I will pick up the basics and get more familiar with Java (the programming language that I have chosen to start out with).

So I have started working the problems at Project Euler. I haven’t spend that much time working the problems yet, but I have solved the first two (using very brute force and non-elegant code), but it seems I have to do a bit of thinking for the third problem. Somehow working through all the integers from one to 600,851,475,143, check if they are a factor of 600,851,475,143 and then check if that factor is a prime is not the most optimal way to find the largest prime factor of 600,851,475,143. Back to the drawing board…

Of course I could ‘cheat’ and just do

$ factor 600851475143

in a shell, but that way I won’t learn much…


I first heard about Project Euler at the xkcd blag, but haven’t had the time to look into it before now.

If you know of other interesting problems useful for brushing up on a programming language, feel free to leave a comment.

And before I forget, a big thanks goes out to Søren, who has been very patient with my basic questions like “how do I check if one or the other condition is fulfilled in my if statement?”. I promise, I’ll pick up a book soon and stop bothering you with trivialities on chat!

Quantum Field Theory

Yesterday I started what is properly going to become my last course at University. It is an introductory course in Quantum Field Theory (QFT).

I tried following the same course two years ago, but skipped it after about two weeks as I didn’t manage to keep up with the reading and problems. Hopefully this time around things will be different. It is supposed to be a though course, with lots of heavy math – especially lots of nasty integrals to be calculated.

To top it all off the course home page reads

The course in quantum field theory has in the new structure degenerated
to a course lasting 7 weeks. This is probably the shortest course in
quantum field theory given at any university.

Our Minister of Research (who’s main academic credentials seem
to be that he has introduced professional football in Denmark) demands
world class education.

Even with a world class lecturer the combination clearly requires world class students. Well, guys…….

Will I be able to perform like a world class student for the next 7 weeks? Let’s hope so!

Math it is!

I had to choose between doing my masters (I think it is called masters, the danis term is “kandidat”), in either physics or math. After a hasty reading of what the two contain, I choose math – and have signed up for courses for the commin spring. I thought that I would be able to spend more time (and points) on courses of my choice, but there will still be 30 ETCS points that I can use how ever I choose – and they will proberly be used for physics courses. I have already signed up for a quantum field theory course. I think it is a very theoretical course, and it will be hard, but I hope to be able to pass it.

I did think I would have more time to make the final decision on this, but it turned out I had to choose courses before the 10. of December, not leaving much time. But I think (and hope) it is the right choice I have made.

I’m off to get some fresh air, and then maby some late dinner.

One down, four to go

So, today i passed the first of my exams for this semester today. It was a 30 min oral exam in the history of mathematics – and i drew the topic “mathematics in the 17. century”.
All in all it is nice to have passed the first exam. I don’t have much time for enjoying the moment though. I will be handed my next exam over this friday, and then i will have 24 hours to work on it. Oh joy!