My personal and professional adventure into Science

Stephen Hawking – ’Quantum Black Holes’

A few months ago I won a ticket through DTU Alumni to Stephen Hawking‘s Stephen Hawking public lecture – ’Quantum Black Holes’. So now I took and extra vacation day and flew to Stockholm to see his lecture. I know nothing about Quantum Black Holes, but it will be interesting to see Stephen Hawking live giving a lecture 🙂

 

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest minds of the modern age and a cultural icon admired by millions worldwide, will present the public lecture “Quantum Black Holes” at the Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre. Carol L. Folt, chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will provide opening remarks.

Hawking has dedicated his career to studying the basic laws that govern the universe. With Roger Penrose, he showed that Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity implied space and time would begin with a singularity at the Big Bang and end in a singularity in the center of black holes.

I will stay overnight as his lecture is at 19.00 and then fly home tomorrow morning and go straight to work. There will be a lot of work waiting 🙂 In the meantime I found a hotel at an old castle, Ulfsunda Slott. Very nice and beautiful inside, they have really done an effort to preserve the old style and details. Very cool.

VBB Berlin fail – What a way to treat your customers…

Sunday I arrived in Berlin for one last vacation day before I head home. I go to the ticket machine to buy a ticket for the Ubahn, and I’m met with so many options. What I really wanted was a 24 hour ticket… Couldn’t easily find it, and then I was also met with the options to buy for “A”, “AB”, “BC” etc. Having no idea what to buy as the is no explanation next to the machine, I may have spent some time in the queue, when suddenly a friendly looking official VBB guy approaches me. “Can I help you?”. “Yes please” I reply and explain that I would for now just like to buy a ticket to go for Alexanderplatz where my hotel is. He clicks an option, I pay and thank him for the help.

The Ubahn arrived shortly after and very quickly I am greeted by a civil dressed inspector who wants to see my ticket. He tells me right away that I bought a ticket for the wrong zone so now I have to pay a fine of 40€. I try to explain what happened, but he doesn’t care and asks me for the money. I show him the last 5€ I have, he pads me on the jeans and says, “You have a credit card so we will follow you to an ATM.” Then three guys follows me to the machine, takes my suitcase so I can’t run – as I would even try that? – and waits for my money. After that he tells me that it’s my responsibility to check and pay the right ticket, no matter if it’s an official person who helps me …

VBB Fine

My €40 fine after following the advice from a VBB employed person

 

It’s your own fault you followed another persons advice – even if it was a VBB employee. You have to check yourself. VBB civil ticket inspector

Today I checked out the station on my way to the airport. There is no explanation of zones next to any of the four ticket machines. The machines are placed in the beginning and end of the station and the transportation map is located in the middle. The station is quite big and when you get down to the station, it not at all obvious that the map will be located far away from the ticket machines..

Furthermore, the ticket I bought was actually more expensive than the one I was suppose to buy. The one I bought costed 3€, but the correct one only 2.70€. So in principle I got a fine of 40€, because I bought a ticket that costed 0.30€ too much.

So VBB, how was it I cheated you? Yes, I bought a ticket after the advice from one of your employees for the wrong zone. But, I did not pay less than I was suppose to and cheated you in that sense… I actually paid more and cheated myself. How did this harm your business (or other people) in any way? How can you treat people like this? Is this your way of getting easy money out of stupid tourists, to me it seems like that.

I have never in my entire life cheated on public transportation, not even when I was a poor student, and I don’t plan to. And this, this is simply ridiculous VBB, I want my money back!

Please share this post if you have ever felt cheated by VBB like I do.

Dear grandfather – today you would have become a Centenarian

A Centenarian is a person who lives to or beyond the age of 100 years – Wikipedia

For the last 10 years, you always told us that you would never turn a 100 years and we didn’t believe you, because you kept strong all the time, except for the last 6-8 months. Unfortunately you were right, and on the 29th January 2015 you took your last breath, 2 months and two days before your 100 years birthday. Now you are laying peacefully next to Grandmother.

Approximately 15 years ago we asked you to write down your memoirs and reading them is simply amazing. What a life you have had !! I wanna share a bit of that with you all.

At the age of 23 you were already a trusted employee in the company you were working in and your Jewish boss sent you to Germany to finish some deals that he for good reasons couldn’t do himself. Hitler was already on his way forward at that time, but you refused to “Heil Hitler” when you entered cafe’s or bars, which people around you found weird, because they were afraid of Hitler, but you didn’t care. During many of your trips to Germany you among others introduced the danish bread industry for the concept of Whole Grain bread, previously not known in Denmark. At that time you were not satisfied with just being an employee and your entrepreneur genes took over and gave you quite some adventures, we can read that in your memoirs and I don’t even think that the list is complete.

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During the war it was very difficult to get all products so people had to live with replacements, and you sold a lot of those. For your company it was not difficult to make your own recipe for Rum and Almond essence, you even made tobacco replacement, found out that lead could be extracted from old toothpaste holders, silver could get extracted from old camera and movie rolls (we have a big lump of silver from that production) and you even created essential oils for perfume production. You and co-workers had a toy shop – which was later sold to the big danish toy chain, BR. At some point during the war, the resistance group Holger Danske contacted you. Their leader Egil Barfod asked you to keep some money for them. It started with 30.000 DKK (That was a lot during in that period), and later it turned out to be larger and larger amounts. Fortunately you were never caught. Today we have a gratitude plate from the Copenhagen Management for your deeds during the war.

In the early days of Insulin production you helped Novo Nordisk to grind pancreases for the extraction of Insulin. You got the pancreases from Pigs in big frozen blocks, grinded them using colloid mills and in the end sold your custom designed hole discs to Novo when you had to move on. You put together your own Vitamins for pigs, named Biotom, produced chewing gum gold coins,  sold Vanilla mixture for ice cream factories, sold Beech sawdust you bought from Junckers wood factory to soap producers and at some point you and dad also dealt with mustard milling. You and your companion extracted the aluminum from old pots and pans using HCL, mixed it to get the right solution of aluminium chloride and water and sold it to barbers and haircutters to stop the bleeding. The product was called “Det standser blodet, DSB” (It stops the blood) and it is still sold today. In the early days of Cola Cola’s entry to Denmark, you were also producing and selling cola extract for the danish breweries, and the name of the soda was O’Cola, amazing…

You had an amazing life, and I am so happy to have been a part of it.

Where ever I have been travelling, I have always given you a short call to tell you where I were and what I was doing. I know you enjoyed receiving these calls, and it didn’t matter if I was in Australia, USA, China, Brazil, Latvia, Austria etc. I did it to show you that I was thinking of you no matter where I was. Now I can’t call you anymore, but it doesn’t mean that we will stop thinking of you. You will always be in our hearts, and we will always love you. May you rest in Peace, Farfar.

 

DNA Sampling in Mossoro

Tonight the adventure begins, where I will fly with Julliane and Sara to Natal. It will be a late flight as it is leaving 23:45. We then have to pick up all the heavy equipment in the airport, and I guess we will just crash when we reach our hotel. Tomorrow the car is set for Mossoró, where we will do the actual sampling Wednesday and or Thursday. And, fortunately they now have a heat wave in Mossoró, not like here in Belo Horizonte where it has rained for almost a week….

37 degrees and trying to sample for the first time, I can’t wait 🙂

 

Mossoró weather week 7 2015

February means Brazil

I’m back ! Back in the beautiful country of Brazil that I already like so much. I actually arrived Wednesday last week, I have just been too busy preparing presentations for the course I am attending (more about that later).

This is the second time, but hopefully not the last, that I am here. My first was last year when I was invited to give a talk. It was super fun, I met so many nice interesting people, and it was so good to see them all again 🙂

This first week will be all about the course, next week I will go sampling with my friend Sara and some colleagues in the salterns around Mossoró in North of Brazil. When we get back the carnival will start and after that I will even have 5 more days to relax and enjoy the sun 🙂 Perfect !

Just a little note on the side, if you haven’t been to Brazil before, I can only say GO GO GO!!! Brazil is really beautiful, people are extremely friendly (at least the people I have met along my way) and the food is amazing. I feel so welcome here, it’s very difficult not to feel like home. Plus, I like the more relaxed approach to everything, which is definitely not in a lazy way like many other “relaxed countries”, It’s just in a more happy way to live life.

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Ryanair – fail or “okay for the price”?

I recently took a 5 hour RyanAir flight to Fuerteventura and I can only say, never ever RyanAir again. The flight was cheap – as RyanAir is a low-budget airline company – and I really only expected minimum service, as you get what you pay for. I was still surprised on how low budget you can go.

I love flying and I fly a lot. Last year I was on 25 planes, and this year will not be less. I love being in an airplane and I love the whole trip. You can lean back, relax (unless you have screaming kids close to you) and you can be offline for a period of time. Then, for me, there is also the excitement of going somewhere. Could be a vacation, a business meeting, meeting some friends or a combination of it all – I just love it 🙂

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But seriously RyanAir… How low can you go?

I have a few questions for you: How can you build an airplane with no seat pockets? Where do you expect your passengers to store their stuff? Are the nets and a few screws, as a seat pocket consist of, really that expensive?? What happens if there is an incident of heavy turbulence, since there are no seat pockets, there are no puke bags either. What are the people getting sick suppose to do with their vomit? And what is going on with the seats that are locked in an upright position – you are not being able to lean back? How f*cked up is that? I don’t even want to mention the so-called food… And ohh yes, on both flights it was not allowed to have carry on luggage in the cabin. The stuff people needed during the 5 hour flight should be taken inside the plane. Then we of course just put it in the seat pocket… The non-existing seat pocket.

I went to the bathroom three times during my flights. One time there was an empty soap dispenser, but no water in the tap. Two times there was no soap dispenser at all. I don’t know your habits are RyanAir, but I wash my hands every time I go to the bathroom. Not providing soap to your passengers is just disgusting RyanAir.

When you at some point hopefully will send your planes for an upgrade to normal standards, maybe you should really consider doing the same with your staff. Many people are afraid of flying ( I am not one of them) and the cabin crew should therefore create a relaxed and safe environment. The staff should NOT scream of passengers and they should NOT show in their faces how annoyed they can become if a passenger don’t know the arm-chair should be down during takeoff. And sweet stewardesses, when you repeatedly smash your wagon into my elbows when I try to sleep in a 90 degrees angle in your stupid seats, an apology would at least be nice. Please also turn down then in-cabin speakers. When you see people around you holding their ears, then it’s probably too high volume. I already know that you don’t want your passengers to sleep as you want to sell lottery tickets all the time, but please, there is no need to give them tinnitus as well.

For my next flights, I will be going to Brazil in two weeks, it could be nice with some cheaper tickets, but I learned from this trip. I can assure you that RyanAir will never come in my consideration again, unless it is a very short flight. The discomfort is simply not worth the money saved.

Are there any others having the same experiences with other low-budget companies?

Bergen bound

In a few hours I will take a plane to Bergen, Norway (My 17th plane so far this year!!!), where I have been invited to a friend’s birthday. “The kid”, as we call him, is turning 30 😉 (So not really a kid anymore). It will be nice to see him and his wife again, plus another friend of mine that I haven’t seen for almost two years. I also have never been in Bergen before, so it will be a nice experience.

The other day I stumbled upon a video showing the beauty of Bergen, I want to share this video with all of you. Take a look at the beautiful tribute video below, it is 4:30 minutes long, but totally worth it 🙂

Click, Click, Click | Bergen from Jørgen Thomsen on Vimeo.

My 99 year old grandfather

On the 31 March 1915 my Grandfather, Walther Alfred Petersen, was born. He is a remarkable man and now almost a century old 🙂 Now there is only one more year until he will receive a birthday greeting from the Danish Queen. Everyone in Denmark turning 100 and 105 years old will receive a greeting.
I have always admired my grandfather and enjoyed all his stories from his long life, and he has always enjoyed telling what he has experienced. 15-20 years ago we got him to write down some of all his memories while they were still fresh in his mind and I’m really looking forward to one day reading them again.

Genome-Wide comparison

A few years ago I got the idea of SNP calling my grandfather using the 23andme service, which for me is a fun (and nerdy) way to get even closer to him. Now, besides seeing his traits and disease risk, I can also see what I have inherited from him and at which chromosomes (see picture to the right). All the raw data can of course be browsed as well. Furthermore I can also see his ancestry information and we also have people contacting us because they think we might be closer related. The new form of spam 😉

Grandfathers 99-year-old birthday was celebrated at my Aunt and Uncle’s with some of the family. I came a bit later as I flew in directly from Brazil, a bit tired but it was all worth it ! For whom would not enjoy celebrating such a fantastic person we all love so much 🙂

Grandfather, I love you, and I’m looking forward to spend more time with you in your new year 🙂

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Happy New Year 2013/2014

Happy New Year everyone. I know it’s a bit late, but I hope that you all came safely into 2014, and that 2013 brought you everything you wanted. If not, 2014 will be a new year to try reaching your goals. I  expect 2014 to be a very exciting year, as there are many cool projects and publications in the pipeline for the scientific part. I also expect the private side of my life to be a great year, can’t wait to get started.

Monday I went back to work after five extra vacation days in Berlin. I flew down there on the first of January and flew back home Monday evening. It was a nice vacation where I was lucky to find a good deal for the four star Sana Hotel Berlin, which is very nicely located next to the big shopping street Kurfürstendam. The hotel can be recommended, but think twice about sharing a room if you are travelling with a colleague and wants to have a little privacy… From the bedroom to the bathroom the only cover is a glass wall, and if you book a room with a bathtub like I did, you can see directly from the bed to the shower. A bit weird 🙂 Besides that the hotel was very nice with a sauna, steam bath, pool and fitness, and the staff is very friendly.

Sunday I went outside Berlin to a huge water amusement park called Tropical Islands. It’s an amazing 66.000 m2 water world with a Blue Lagoon, sand beach, a small rain forest and  a 10.000 m2 Spa complex. They also have water slides, where the fastest one you reach the speed of 77 km/t, that was something. All in all a very nice place! If you find yourself close to Berlin at some point, take your time and go there for some nice relaxation 🙂

Tropical Islands

This year I hope to have more time writing here about everything that is going on at work and in my life, I guess the lack of posts is just showing that a lot of things is happening.

What is your New Year resolutions for 2014? I don’t really have any New Year resolutions, but I will try to be more organised, more efficient at work and go more regularly to the gym 🙂

Relaxing in Vienna

After only having one week of vacation since I visited Australia in February, I decided to take some days off. I am now in Vienna where I will visit two friends I met at a summer school in Lipari 3-4 years ago. My main holiday will still be saved for a winter vacation somewhere warmer than Denmark, or colder for that sakes if it includes a lot of ice, snow and mountains 🙂

The last weeks have been tough, or months for that sakes, lots of work work work and Monday + Tuesday, Henrik and I had 14 oral re-exams with students attending our Introduction to Bioinformatics course. It was sad to see that only 55% of the students passed this year vs. 80% last year. Same teachers, lectures, exercises and TA’s. Only difference was the students. This down going trend in passing was unfortunately also seen in other courses. I hope next year will be better 🙂

To quickly recharge, I found a nice hotel with a lot of relaxation options, if that is what I want. Most preferably I would have liked to take a week or two to a warmer country with nice beaches, cold drinks and a lot of nature to explore. Unfortunately this just didn’t fit my schedule now, so that will be later, and it will also be nice to catchup with Marta and Paweł 🙂

The hotel I found has a spa with whirlpool, steam bath, sauna, pool, massage and a gym. And also a strange thing called an Alphalounger. It looks weird, but apparently it should recharge your mind, body and soul. I will see if it works 🙂
So, there should be plenty of opportunities to recharge if the weather turns bad.

Fortunately weather is nice, it’s around 22-23 degrees and sunny. So I think I will continue exploring the city and see what I can find 🙂

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