Saturday, 29 November 2014

Goofy Points

I spent a few days in Frankfurt last week and had zero opportunity for any geo explorations.  However, never one to miss a moment, as we got out the cab at Frankfurt Airport for our journey home I spotted this. A Verm Punkt.
14 11 22_24 Germany (11)
I was with two other chartered surveyors.  The quantity surveyor thought I was nuts to be photographing the pavement, but the geomatics surveyor thought it perfectly normal and to be totally expected in the circumstances.

I had been expecting to find a Mess Punkt, as I had previously in Cologne and Copenhagen.
14 10 31 Mess Punkt
On translation Verm came out as "goofing".  Not quite what I was expecting and certainly not what geomatics surveyors do ;-)

However if you translate "verm punkt" you find out that Verm Punkt is actually a contraction of Vermessungspunkt, a measuring point.  And now I've researched a bit more I've realised that "mess punkt" is short for messungspunkt. Which presumably is a contraction of vermessungspunkt.  One word two contractions.  The wonderful world of the German language eh?

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Wonderful Wonderful Geo Copehagen - The Geomatics Bit

Aside from drooling over the maritime museum, I also found a few observatories in Copenhagen.

The Botanical Gardens contain Observatory Hill, the highest point of the inner city of Copenhagen.  Which is certainly not much.  But it has an observatory on it and a statue to the astronomer Tycho Brahe.
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On Googling info on Tycho Brahe I came across this site, the Scientist Tourist, and realised there is much more to discover, such as Tycho Brahe's 16th Century observatory on Ven, a Swedish Island in the Oresund. I'll pop that on the list for next time.  There's also quite a thing about his false nose which he lost in a duel in the next location I visited. OK, that's not a geo fact whatsoever but you never know when it might come in handy.

The second observatory I found was up the Rundetaarn.
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This 17th Century tower has no steps but a 209m long spiral ramp which winds 7.5 times around the hollow core of the tower.  It's only 36m high.  The ramp was built to serve the observatory: pushing astronomical instruments up a slope is an awful lot easier than lifting them up steps.
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The observatory is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe and some of its old instruments are on display.
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I was very pleased to discover that if I stood on the glass floor, approx 25m up the hollow tower, I was standing directly above Denmark's point zero.  It's not everyday that you stand at 0, 0.
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The second tower of the day, sans observatory, was Vor Frelsers Kirke, Church of our Saviour.
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No astro goodies here and no slope, however a great interest factor of a corkscrew staircase which twists initially internally, then externally up the spire.
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The steps get narrower and narrower until they eventually peeter out.
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You can just imagine how wonderful the views were.

And just when I thought it couldn't get any more exciting, we found a mess punkt.  My Copenhagen Odyssey was complete.
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Wonderful Wonderful Geo Copenhagen - The Maritime Bit

I've just returned from a few days away in Copenhagen.  Number one on my 'to do' list was the M/S Museet for Sofart, the Danish Maritime Museum.  It is based in Helsingor, 50km north of Copenhagen.  From 1915 it was housed in the nearby Kronburg Castle but in 2013 it moved into a new architecturally amazing building set in a dry dock.  The whole museum is underground and I loved the light, steps, slopes and innovative use of the space.
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The exhibition was pretty darned good too.
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The museum is well themed with innovative use of video and displays.  As ever I was itching for the navigation section.  There were a few interactive displays showing you how sailors calculate latitude and longitude using sextants and chronometers but apart from that there was the standard bevy of glass cases with old instruments in.  I'm sure there must be a creative and fun way to teach navigation but this hasn't quite hit it on the spot.

Anyway, a horde of sextants, octants and all things for measuring angles.
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Globes and a copper plate.
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Measuring speed.
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Depth measurement tools.
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This Decca display brought back memories and made me feel ancient.
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When I first started work in 1991 Decca was still being used, and the trials and tribulations of sunrise and sunset beset us all.  I never did see a Decca tie worn though.
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A Danish chart symbology guide.
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The section on international trade was interesting.  Ranging from the beginnings of organised international trade - tea, china, cloth etc - right through to the huge container ships of today.
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I played a game involving buying, shipping and selling goods around the globe.  Imagine my thrill of coming 4th.  Oh, perhaps only 5 people had played that day?
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Maersk had a big look in which is not surprising since they are a Danish company.  I think I read that they move 10% of international trade which sounds about right.  They have 600 ships moving 4 million TEU every year between Europe and Asia (let alone the rest of the world).  A TEU is a Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit. It is hard to get one's head around the quantity of goods we are talking about here.
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Helsingor itself hosts a well maintained harbour.  The route between the Maritime Museum and the  railway station passes a couple of boats.  One obviously looks like a tourist vessel, but not sure about the Garmin one.  Perhaps used for paying day trippers?
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Helsingor harbour marks are well painted.
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And I liked the plastic fish.  Better plastic on the quayside than out in the ocean eh?
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