Fred's World of Science: Nobel Trip

At the 44th International Science and Engineering Fair, I placed first in physics. I also won the Glen T. Seaborg award, the overall grand prize. The Seaborg prize is awarded to two winners from the fair. The prize is an all expenses paid, week long trip to the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden.  The trip to Stockholm is a part of the SIYSS program, which is held each year.  Twenty-five young scientists are chosen from around the world to participate in the week-long event.  The SIYSS group went to all the lectures, concerts, tours, etc. that lead up to the ceremony itself.  But, the SIYSS group is not only about the Nobel ceremony.  The SIYSS group gets to meet Swedish scientists and experience Swedish culture. 


More information about the SIYSS  progam and group



Click below for what you want to see first

[Laureates] [Places (Stockholm)] [The King] [The Ceremony and Banquet] [Symphony]

This is the SIYSS logo. We each got rugby shirts with the logo.


The Laureates


Here is Dr. George Olah, the Nobel laureate in Chemistry in 1994. Dr. Olah's Nobel speech was one of the most entertaining of all the laureates' talks. Dr. Olah thanked his graduate students, siting all their hard work. Dr. Olah's work concerned the discovery and classification of carbocations. Carbocations are a very important building block of modern organic chemistry. Without his work, organic chemistry as we know it today would not the the same.


Pictured here is Prof. Clifford Shull, one of the two laureates in Physics in 1994, and myself. Shull's work was completed in the mid 1950's with elastic neutron scattering. Using neutrons from a research reactor, Shull was able to probe the structure of matter with neutron scattering. Prof. Brockhouse, the other laureate also used neutrons for scattering. 


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The King

Here is the King of Sweden after accepting the gift I gave him during our reception  with the king. Each of the students in the SIYSS group got to meet the king and tour the palace. Later on at the banquet, we all got to meet the king, his wife, his mother, and the king's daughter. Interestingly, the king's daughter was only 19 at the time if I remember correctly. She could dance a mean foxtrot.

While we each only got a few minutes to speak with the king, the tour of the palace was very fascinating. We did not get to see the castle, however. As I understand it the castle was being renovated at the time. I suppose all castles need fixing up after 700 years (at least I think it was built ~1300AD.



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We went to several places in Sweden. We went to the Viking burial grounds, Uppsala (and the university there), University of Sweden at Stockholm, the Karolinska Institute, Parilament house and many places of political importance. However, while we were not touring, I went off to visit Stockholm myself. I must have spent half a day walking around Kungstragarten (s/p?) and that other garden nearby named after Linne.

The city itself is very pretty. It is always interesting to see such rich history every place you go. Many of the streets are cobblestone, and many of the buildings are very old. At the same time, there are parts of Stockholm that look as new and modern as Chicago or New York. In the older sections of the city, the streets are lined with little boutiques and groceries. After several days of odd Swedish foods and nothing but something they all told me was "Christmas Cola," I was almost desparate for something American in nature.

I went to a little corner shop, not far from Kungstragarten (s/p?) in search of Coke and something to eat. I resisted the all too familiar draw of the Golden Arches of McDonalds; I would save that for another day. While I was in the shop, I looked for twenty minutes, trying to decipher the labels. I succeeded in finding a Coke. It was something like 12SK, which was almost $2 for 12oz. I sprung for it though, as I knew that night's dinner was going to include a buffet with several types of pickled herring. I looked around for a candy bar, thinking it would be the easiest thing to identify. Silly me. I found a Toblerone bar, one of the few things I recognized immediately in the store. Amusingly, the Tobler bar was only 5SK, or ~$.75. Funny how the prices are almost exactly reversed here.

Anyway, I got to the counter, and greeted the cashier with some phrase taught to me by a friend of mine there. She repeated the last part of the phrase, and began ringing up my order. I gave her 20SK in two 10SK bills. She immediately said something to the girl behind her and then began speaking to me. She said something, shaking her head. I figured I had not paid enough, as if I had somehow misunderstood the currency. So I reached in my pocket and pulled out another 10SK bill, held it out, and looked at her inquisitively. She started laughing, as did almost everyone else in the store. She then explained in perfect English that she just wanted exact change, and had assumed I could speak Swedish. Nevertheless, I was a bit embarassed.

Stockholm, it seems, is full of statues, obelisks, and many art pieces. 

This is the Nobel Forum at the Karolinska Institute.  A few of the Nobel Lectures were in this building.  This also, as I remember, is where much of the decision making process occurs when choosing the laureates.  The Medicine laureates gave their speech here.

Here is the old cathedral in Gamlastan. The name of the cathedral escapes me. I will be writing more about this stuff as I figure out what the pictures correspond to. I have a few books about Stockholm and Sweden. I should be able to figure out what these all are. There are several more pictures I want to add, but again, I am too lazy to get them all scanned in. [Back up to top]



The Ceremony and Banquet

There are several pictures from the banquet, but I'm lazy. I need to scan them in. More to come.
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The Symphony

While in Stockholm, one of the things we did was go to the symphony given in honor to the Nobel laureates. The laureates attend, as well as the King, Queen, her mother, any many other dignitaries. We sat above and behind the orchestra. While this is not the best listening vantage point, it is the best view of the musicians and conductor. I got several shots of both.

Picture coming

Notice how many people are in the Concert hall.  This hall is one of the largest I have ever seen of its type.  One of the interesting things about sitting above the orchestra is that you can look out and see the King, et. al.  You are essentially facing everyone in the entire hall!

Out of sheer luck, the third piece they played was one of my favorite pieces of music; "Pictures at an Exhibition."  It is hard to make out the writing on the sheet music, but I assure you it says "Tableaux d'une Exposition."

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