I am visiting the Niels Bohr Institute this month and had the pleasure of giving a seminar in the historic Auditorium A. You can find many pictures of Bohr and famous physicists in this room – an example is above. The room has been kept in almost the same condition as back in Bohr’s day, with the same benches, lights etc. Most of the time, European science departments have moved out of the historic buildings to modern ones, so we have lost the sense of place for our history. NBI is different – the original buildings are still in use, as is Bohr’s office, the room where Heisenberg first came up with the uncertainty principle, and the seminar rooms. I enjoy this connection. Moreover, the folks here successfully keep up Bohr’s spirit of informality and relaxed discussion.
Last Thursday, Andy Jackson gave an interesting talk on the travels of an earlier famous Danish physicist, Hans Christian Ørsted, who discovered that electricity and magnetism were part of the same force. Andy and his wife have spent many years editing Ørsted’s letters and have many great stories to tell. The previous week I also had a chance to visit the island associated with yet an earlier Danish scientist – Tycho Brahe. Tycho was given an island (Hven) in the Øresund for his observatory. He hired many craftmen and assistants – it was the first big science laboratory. You can still see his instruments (above) although the associated castle is gone. That is me below helping Tycho scan the sky. Overall – interesting science tourism!