Nucleus Mag

By Dinsa Sachan

Nucleus #2: With Love From Norway






Nucleus Mag

September 29 · Issue #2 · View online

Science and Culture Stories Curated by Journalist Dinsa Sachan

​That’s ‘hello’ in Norwegian. ​​I​’m back in New Delhi now after a delightful week in the picturesque ​city of Oslo, and I want you to know that Norwegians not only serve up the most delectable smoked salmon in the universe, ​but ​they’re also incredibly hospitable​​.
So, ​what was I doing ​in Norway? I was one of the five journalists to win a scholarship to cover the Kavli Prize Week ​in Oslo​. ​In case you don’t know, the Kavli Prize is given out to outstanding scientists in the fields of astronomy, nanoscience and neuroscience every two years.​ As a science journalist, I bet you can imagine my excitement to attend this premier gathering of the world’s leading science researchers and thinkers. ​
This week’s Nucleus ​brings you exciting science and culture reads related to Norway and the Kavli Prize winners.​ (Hint: Intersteller)​

Th​e winners in the astrophysics category–Kip Thorne, Ray Weiss, Ron Drever–​detected gravitational waves ​just ​earlier this year​, almost a 100 years ​after Einstein predicted their existence. Want to know what gravitational waves are? Theoretical physicist Brian Greene explains it to Stephen Colbert.
​Remember Interstellar? Last year’s Hollywood blockbuster starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. Thorne was an executive producer of ​Intersteller, and many of us first learned what a worm hole is through th​e​ movie. This LA times piece describes the how a chain of events led to Thorne getting involved in the project.
While speaking to me at the last dinner of the Kavli Prize Week, Thorne revealed he was working on another movie. But he wouldn’t say a word more. If you want a closer look at Thorne’s involvement in the making of Interstellar, check out this Wired story.​ (Unfortunately Matthew McConaughey wasn’t there at the dinner though.)​
Another winner who caught my eye was the University of California, San Francisco, neuroscientist Michael Merzenich. Merzenich was one of the three winners in the neuroscience category who got the award for their groundbreaking work on plasticity. Merzenich’s ideas about brain training are controversial, and stirred up a lot of debate during the Kavli Prize Week. This Nature Piece discusses his research in detail.
Merzenich is a science journalist’s dream source – argumentative, renegade and funny. 
This is an interesting time to be in Europe because of the refugee crisis. Every Norwegian that I spoke to seemed to in favor of accepting refugees, but as we know, the country’s government hasn’t been very welcoming to them.
Even for Sweden, Norway’s neighbor that has accepted a huge number of refugees, the process has​ hardly​ been ​straightforward. In fact, it has taken a huge toll on the little Scandinavian nation. Foreign Policy analyzes what went wrong, even though Sweden started out with good intentions. 
This recent N​ew ​Y​ork ​T​imes​ piece​,​ on the other hand, is a look at how the Danish are reacting to refugees in their country. They are an extremely liberal country, and are finding it hard to accept cultural practices of Middle Eastern refugees. Think: hijab. 
I’m still mesmerized by Oslo’s breathtaking fjords, glittering downtown and the unbelievable kindness of its citizens. But it’s time to get back to the daily humdrum of the freelance life.
Have your traveled somewhere recently? Did that trip shock or enlighten you culturally? Hit reply, and fill me in. 
As always, I welcome any suggestions you have for improving Nucleus. I will reply to each e-mail!
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Until next week,
Dinsa SachanFreelance Science and Culture Journalist
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