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Into the exclusion zone

Into the exclusion zone

I was born in 1986, and one of the names always being associated with this year is Chernobyl. Yesterday I had the ambivalent “pleasure” to visit parts of exclusion zone: the buffer zone, the Pripyat zone and the 10K zone in which the reactor is located. Towards the end of 2017 a new shelter, or sarcophagus, was put in place over the reactor. This, together with the old shelter and the work of 500.000 liquidators after the catastrophy, makes the zone a safe place to visit for a shorter timespan, and today it’s grown an industry around taking people into the zone and show them around.

Following a test run on the reactor on 26th April reactor 4 at the Chernobyl power plant exploded sending a huge amount of radioactivity into the sky. The cloud created by the accident first blew north and then westward increasing radioactivity levels throughout the Soviet union and the rest of Europe. The accident became known in the West as radioactivity levels were picked up outside the Soviet union, but within Soviet it was kept as a secret and the consequences were played down. In fact, already on the 1st of May, a few days later, the mayday celebration in Kiev, a few hours by car to the south, went uninterrupted.

At the same time, a huge operation were initiated to get control over the fire and constant radiation being spread by the accident. At first fire men tried to take out the fire without any protective gear. At this point any direct exposure was lethal. Later helicopters were used to throw sand, clay and later lead into the fire. Still this job was leathal. Much was done; water was drained from under the reactor to avoid a fatal reaction which would leave large parts of Europe uninhabitable, in the area around the reactor villages were emptied and buildings demolished, Pripyat of around 50.000 people were evacuated and people were to never move back. Above the reactor a sarcophagus was erected. First by robots as the radiation was leathal from as little as 20 seconds exposure, but as some of the robots malfunctioned humans were used as well; bio-robots covered in makeshift protective gear. The human tragedies, still continuing to our day, was and are immense. About 500.000 people were involved in the clean up, many exposed to large amounts of radiation.

The first sarcphagous was built to last for around 30 years, the new will last for another 100 years, but this area will stay uninhabitable for thousands of years.

Polar adventure

Polar adventure

From a long weekend trip to Svalbard during June 2017. Pictures are from Longyearbyen and from travels to Russian mining town Pyramiden and across the Adventsfjord. 

Bestille togreise i India

Bestille togreise i India

Å bestille en togreise i India kan være litt tricky, men er absolutt verdt å gjøre. Det er et enormt tognettverk mellom de forskjellige byene og regionene, og stor spennvidde i hvor god plass og service du får og hvor lang tid togene benytter. Ikke minst er det en flott måte å se landet mellom byene.

Under vårt India-opphold benyttet vi Rajdhani (betyr hovedstad) mellom Mumbai og New Delhi og fikk på førsteklasse egen lugar, te, kaffe og tre-retters middag. Mellom New Delhi og Agra reiste vi med 2. klasse og hadde ingen egen lugar, men fikk egne senger og kunne begrense innsyn ved hjelp av gardin. Når du skal bestemme deg for togavgang og klasse er det to ting det kan være lurt å tenke på:

  1. Prioritet i jernbanenettet. Noen avganger får høyere prioritet enn andre, og reiser derfor raskt og enkelt igjennom verdens mest komplekse nettverk av ruter og stasjoner. For eksempel går Rajdhani-avgangene alltid på tid, og har lite forsinkelser og problemer.
  2. Komfortnivå. Det er mange kupé og billettklasser på indiske tog. Skal du reise et par timer kan det være morsomt og rimelig å reise i en enklere billettkategori, men dersom du skal overnatte eller reise langt kan det være godt å ha større plass i en luftkondisjonert vogn.


Da vi bestilte togreiser i India gjorde vi det igjennom Cleartrip. Det kan ofte være stor interesse for enkelte togavganger og pågangen er stor, derfor kan det være lurt å bestille billett god tid i forveien, men med en søkemotor, slik som Cleartrip, kan du finne alternative ruter dersom hovedforbindelsen er utsolgt. Det kan ta et par dager å bestille første reise igjennom Cleartrip ettersom du trenger en verifisering av e-post og telefonnummer for å kunne gjennomføre et kjøp igjennom det indiske togselskapet IR sitt reisebyrå IRCTC. For å gjennomføre kjøp av våre billetter gikk jeg igjennom denne gode guiden hos Indiamike. Det gode med denne gjennomgangen og Cleartrip er at når du har fått knyttet din Cleartrip-konto til IRCTC så vil du kunne bestille nye togbilletter uten store problemer. Det kjedelige med denne fremgangsmåten er at den krever at du har et pass og kan scanne dette.

Dersom du skulle ha noen problemer, ta kontakt.

The Cloud in the Sky

The Cloud in the Sky

As I’m writing this I’m watching the clouds over the mountains between the east and west of Norway from above. On this DY 1354 flight to Edinburgh with Norwegian Air Shuttle I was promised Internet connectivity, but technical errors occurred and I had to write this blog post in my OpenOffice editor instead of in the WordPress back-end. I got a bit disappointed, but now writing and having a cup of coffee I’m satisfied. Internet aboard airplanes is not a habitual necessity, and my hope for a connection was related to curiousness and not from withdrawal. I hope you already have understood that this post is not a complaint, it’s the opposite: a positive feedback on the new frontier of the ever more ubiquitous Internet.

This Boeing 737-800W has an altitude of 30.000 feet, and a speed of 820 kilometres per hour and still it should be connected to the cloud*. I don’t know what kind of connectivity the plane has, but I would suppose a terrestrial solution at a lower frequency e.g. the 450 MHz formerly used by the pre-GSM Nordic mobile network, now by companies such as ICE. Two years ago I attended a broadband conference at the airport that I just left and here I heard about the fantastic technology serving high-speed transportation vehicles with connectivity. At this conference the example was a Japanese high-speed train, but I would guess the technology also goes for aircrafts.

I wanted connectivity to get the latest reports from Steve Jobs presentation held at the Apple Developer Conference simultaneously with this flight. At this presentation quite firm rumours were telling that a new cloud service named iCloud would be presented. According to MacRumours iCloud is a new service to share content between different devices through the cloud. I didn’t get cloud connectivity on this flight, and I didn’t get to follow the Apple CEO’s presentation, however, I find it quite poetical and technical interesting that the metaphorical and the denotational cloud have been unified. I hope that I on my next flight will have the opportunity to try Internet at its margin: the cloud in the sky.

* At this point I should introduce the cloud as a metaphor. If you know what I mean with my usage of the word you can continue reading the main post. Perhaps you have heard expressions such as “cloud computing” or “connected to the cloud” before. It has for a long time been a tradition depicting Internet as a cloud on networks schematics. This has its practical reasons as the Internet is quite complex and we can abstract its underlying structure by just displaying it as a cloud.


Picture is taken by Edward Kim and uploaded on Flickr under a Creative Commons licence. Refer to the Flickr page for more information.



The Berlin wall

Berlin – today   it is the capital of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland, but it has not always been this way. During the last century, Berlin has been the capital of many countries. This is just one thing which makes the city so exciting.

In the beginning of the 20th century, Berlin was the capital of the growing Keiserreich, or Empire, of Wilhelm II. After it’s defeat in the First World War, it became the arena of political conflicts in the Weimar Republic. In 1933, the Nazis seized power and the city, as well as the country, entered what can be called the darkest hour of modern civilization. After the Allied and the Soviet victory of the Second World War, the city was divided within the puzzle of world history, firstly into four pieces and then in two. There were two ideologies ruling one part of the city each, which were later separated by a wall in 1961. The wall stood until 1989 and after the Mauerfall the two countries – BRD and DDR – became one.  There is no question about it: Berlin is a city worth visiting if you are interested in history.

One of the first things you should do when you get to Berlin is visit the parliament, the Reichtag. The building has recently been renovated and a glass ceiling was added to the new assembly hall, which functions as a patio from which you can see the Berlin skyline. From here you can get a glimpse of the city and locate famous landmarks. You can also borrow an audio-guide that follows your line of vision providing information on what you see. Access to the roof and loan of the audio-guide are both free.

Much has changed since the city was united, but there are still big differences between the neighbourhoods. In former East Berlin you can find Karl Marx allé that was the wide parade-street. You can follow Karl Liebknecht-Strasse through Alexanderplatz to the Museum Insel. Here you will see the Berliner Dom, erected during the empire era. Directly across the street from the Dom you will see a construction site. Here was the former Palast der Republik, now demolished to make room for the reconstruction of the Berlin City Castle, destroyed by the DDR after being heavily damaged during the Second World War.

Berlin is an economical city to visit. In general, food is cheaper here than in the rest of Germany, and you will find many restaurants where you can get a delicious meal at an affordable price. Savignyplatz and Kathe Kollwitz platz are great places to go to fill an empty stomach. The first is located in the west and the second in the east. Zwiebelfisch at the Savignyplatz is a place worth visiting, not only for the food but also for the atmosphere.

You should not leave Berlin without taking a walk down OdeKauf Dich Glücklich is a nice café in Berlinrberger Strasse in Prenzlauer Berg. Here you can find a varied selection of cool cafés, restaurants and shops, most of which are alternative. On this street is the café/toy-store ‘Kauf dich Glücklich’ (translated to ‘Buy Yourself Happy’), which is a cosy place with an interior similar to your grandma’s apartment. You will find food and drink here that will make both your mother and your dentist worried.

Berlin may be a poor city on an economic scale, but when it comes to history, culture and its general ‘sexiness’ it is definitely one of the richest.