Saturday, 27 April 2013

The start of the 2013 Scandinavian cruise season

The AIDAstella opened the Copenhagen (and Scandinavian) cruise season already on March 18. The next visitors were AIDAbella (April 15) and AIDAcara (April 16). From this week on the number of visiting cruise ships will increase considerably.

This morning the MSC Musica (292m x 34m) was approaching Helsingborg/Helsingør on its way to Copenhagen:

Half an hour earlier, at about 8 AM, the AIDAbella passed by:

The expedition cruise ship M/S Quest on its way to Scotland

M/S Quest in Øresund yesterday on its way to Oban.

The small (50m x 11m) expedition cruise ship M/S Quest yesterday left Helsingborg, where it has spent the winter months. The ship is now on its way to Scottish Oban, from where it will begin its first cruise of the season (to The Hebrides and St. Kilda) on May 7.

M/S Quest in the port of Helsingborg in March.

 Later on this year the Quest's itinerary includes cruises to Lofoten, Bear Island and Svalbard. The vessel's relatively small size allows her to reach places where larger ships cannot go. There are just 26 cabins on board, with beds for maximum 53 passengers.

The Quest has an interesting history: It was built in Denmark in 1992 to serve as a ferry on Greenland's west coast. In 2004/2005 she was was completely refurbished and converted to a small expedition cruise ship.

Friday, 26 April 2013

The world's first "mobile" phone (in 1906)

French inventor Louis Maiche and his wireless phone,  arguably also the world's first mobile phone.
(image published in the Swedish weekly Hvar 8 Dag in September

"M. Louis Maiche is the inventor of the wireless telephone and, like many scientists, is not so famous as he ought to be". 

That is how an article in the Auckland Star on March 6, 1907, introduced the French inventor Louis Maiche, who also could be called the inventor of a mobile phone.

In the article M. Maiche describes how it all began:

"My first trials took place in 1867, but they were concerned more with wireless telegraphy, and it was not until 1893 that I exchanged a conversation through a wireless telephone at a distance of 30 yards."

Two months earlier, the New York Times had also published an article on M. Maiche and his wireless telephone invention. In the article the inventor refers to his successful experiments with telegraphy and then describes his work with the wireless telephone:

"I then made use of the ground as a means of transmission. The discovery of to-day enables me to do away with all visible means of communication and to project the words in any given direction without the danger that they may be radiated elsewhere; and, more interesting still, I do this with an infinitesimal expenditure of electricity, while, as you well know, other wireless telegraphic and telephone systems expend enormous amounts of electricity radiated in all directions."

"When once perfected my apparatus may be practically used at an insignificant cost. Just now it is still  at the laboratory and experimental stages." 

"You see", said M. Maiche,"that our experiments have succeeded in spite of all obstacles. Neither the water, nor rocks,nor ice can interfere. All that the telegrapher considers as insurmountable barriers we easily pass through. Surely we have much to perfect! All that we have done up to the present is to be able to converse distinctly up to a distance of a little over 1,800 feet. But once the practicality of the theory is established, then the mechanism must be perfected."

"It is being perfected day by day - just as Branly one day succeeded in modifying the conductibility of his tube  fillings from one end of his laboratory to the other, thereby making wireless telegraphy an established fact. And it will the same with our wireless telephone,which seems to us called to a very different destiny, not as aid to war,but as an aid to peace, as a savior of human life."

In the Auckland Star article M. Maiche gives some examples of the future use of his wireless telephone:

"Imagine two steamers steering through a fog. With my little apparatus the captain can tell the direction the other ship is taking. In case of an accident to a submarine my apparatus would enable the crew in danger to communicate with the convoying tug without fearing the breaking of a line as in the case of a telephone buoy. Miners entombed after a disaster like that at Courrieres could communicate with the rescue party. Two army corps making a night attack could keep in constant touch without risk of interruption. The ordinary citizen could have it in his drawing room, and would no longer be dependent upon the vagaries of the telephone exchange." 

Both articles also include some technical descriptions of the use of M. Maiche's new wireless phone. It is possible that the French inventor's theories were not as successful as he himself thought. Otherwise it is difficult to understand why this page (in French) is the only one with information about him that I have been able to locate. Still, his concept of wireless (and mobile) telephony should merit him a place in the hall of fame of modern communication technology .


If you look closer at M. Maiche's wireless phone, it does bear a certain resemblance to the first Nokia (Mobira) mobile phone from 1982!
Mobira Senator (1982)

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Daffodils and tulips in Sofiero Palace gardens

This view from the Palace down to the Sound will soon be colored by thousands of  blooming  rhododendrons.

The rhododendron season at the Sofiero Palace gardens has been delayed due to the colder and longer than usual winter. The first few rhodos are already blooming, but it will take at least a week or two before the annual color magic in Sofiero begins in earnest. 

Some of the first rhodos this year.

However, daffodils and tulips are now looking really nice!  

A view of Hood River Valley in the 1920s

The Hood River Valley in northwestern Oregon was a thriving agricultural center already in the 1920s. The mountain in the background is the famous Mount Hood, the tallest peak in the state. 

For comparison, here is a contemporary view of the area:

(image by wikipedia)

Two early morning ships in the Sound

This morning at about 06.30 the Maersk tanker Edgar Maersk was passing by on its way to Vysotsk (The small red boat is a pilot boat):

The bulk tanker Fantasy Star (182m x 32m) on its way to Klaipeda followed a few minutes later:

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A Swedish-British rescue expedition during the 1911 revolution in China

The members of the Swedish-British expedition for the relief missionaries in  Shensi (from  left to right):
Keyte, Fairburn, A. de C. Sowerby (leader), E.T. Nyström (vice leader), E.R. Long, Denver-Jones, Ewans, Warrington,  W.M. Palmer. 

The Revolution of 1911 to overthrow the last imperial dynasty, the Qing, led to unrest and uprisings in many parts of China. Reports about the killing of a number of  missionaries (some of them Swedish) in the country's interior were worrisome reading for western diplomats based in Peking.

Swedish Minister G.O. Wallenberg posing at the barricade in front of the U.S. embassy  in Peking.

The Swedish Minister, Gustaf Oscar Wallenberg, was a leading force in the efforts to send a Swedish-British "expedition for the relief of the missionaries in Shensi". The nine man expedition, led by A. de C. Sowerby, began its journey on horseback on December 4 at Tai-Yuan-Fe, the end station for the railway in the Shansi region.

The second in command, professor E.T. Nyström (a Swedish geologist at the Shansi Government University), later wrote about the difficult rescue mission in the Swedish weekly "Hvar 8 Dag":

"At the clubs in Peking and Tientsin, the bets were one against one that we would never return. The distances are such, that for the sake of comparison you could imagine that Norway would be in a state of anarchy and we would rescue people in Bergen and Trondheim riding on horseback from Stockholm."

After a difficult journey - which included encounters with groups of "armed desperados", the caravan finally arrived in Si-An-Fu, the capital of the Shensi province, where "the expedition was very pleased to see a great number of missionaries waiting to be escorted to the coast".

"In Si-An-Fu we saw appalling traces of the revolution: the entire Manchu city had been destroyed by fire, many bones and skulls of the 15.000 who had been killed. The ruins of the Swedish school was visited. The marks in the walls, where the poor people were had tried to escape before they died, were a horrendous sight."   

The members of the rescue expedition together with the rescued missionaries.

In early January the caravan, consisting of 135 persons, 90 animals, arrived in Tai-Yuan-Fe, where the British minister had organised a special train to take it to Peking. Each member of the expedition later received a thank you letter from the Swedish and British ministers for rescuing 13 Swedish and 19 British missionaries:


Even in the middle of a dangerous and difficult rescue mission, the members found time to celebrate Christmas properly. Professor Nyström writes that the caravan stopped for a day, and a delicious meal, consisting of 11 courses, was prepared. "Palmer and I had to ride 40 km in order to find a Christmas tree, and because we did not have an ax, the fir tree was cut by the shots of a revolver!".

The "iron rush" in Swedish Lapland at the end of the 19th century

Malmberget ("The Ore Mountain") in Swedish Lapland has been a major center of iron ore excavation since the late 19th century. Iron ore mining at Malmberget began already in 1741, but modern large scale mining was introduced when the 203 km long railway line between Malmberget and the port city of Luleå was opened in 1888.

The first years of the mining boom bore a striking resemblance to the conditions in North America during the gold rushes. There were lots of job opportunities, but very few dwellings. Many of the miners had to live in shacks built from used dynamite crates.

At the turn of the century the population of the Malmberget mining community had already grown to 7000.

In 1907 the state owned company LKAB took over the mining activities, and continues to operate the mines until this day. Currently LKAB employs around 1,000 people at Malmberget, of whom 900 work in mining, processing and administration.

Miners at the Fredrika mine at Malmberget (about 1900).

A coffee-house for miners.

The center of the Gällivare municipality, of which Malmberget was a part, at the turn of the century.

The ore was brough by train to the port of Luleå. At the turn of the century most of the ore was exported to Germany.

A panorama of Luleå (about 1900).

Monday, 22 April 2013

Containership 6 passing by in the Sound

The Cointainership 6 is on of the regulars in the Sound. The German registered 155m x 22m ship tonight passed by at about 9 P.M. on its way from Finnish Vuosaari to Teesport in UK, where it is expected to arrive early on Wednesday morning.

Helsingborg now and a hundred years ago

The view of Helsingborg, seen from the seaside, has not changed that much during the last hundred or so years:

A view of Helsingborg from the seaside, about 1900. 

A view of Helsingborg from the seaside, 2013

The Hittarp reef at 6 PM on April 22

What is nice with the sea, is that it's not the same any day or hour. This was the scenery at the Hittarp reef today at about 6 PM:


A small beach hut makes enjoying the scenery even more pleasant:

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Tanker Searay and interesting cloud formations

Tonight just before nine the German registered tanker Searay (177m x 28m) approached Helsingborg/Helsingør on its way to Klaipeda in Lithuania.

Minutes before the arrival of the Searay, there was quite an interesting cloud formation above Hittarp:

The Mariner's Goddess monument in Helsingborg

The 19 meter high monument in the immediate vicinity of the Helsingborg ferry terminal.

Since 1923, the Mariner's Goddess (in Swedish Sjöfartsgudinnan) has been welcoming seafarers and other visitors arriving in Helsingborg. The monument by Sweden's internationally most renowned sculptor Carl Milles (1875 - 1955) was donated to the city by industrialist Malte Sommelius.

Originally Milles wanted to sculpt a sailing ship for the top of the column, but he changed his mind. Luckily, both the donor and the city officials had nothing against Milles's new proposal, a winged lady with a ship in both her hands.