Page 291 - Zumtobel Group Geschaeftsbericht 2013-14 EN

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Living the Nordic Light
Long before Gore-Tex and GPS, there were … sardines. Take a look at the can on
plate 36, earlier in the book. No nineteenth century explorer setting out to fill in
one of the blank spaces on the map would have considered leaving without a
stock of sardines. And they were picky about which ones they chose. Nansen
sardines, smoked and canned at Chr. Bjelland & Co’s cannery in Stavanger,
could be counted on. The great explorer himself had eaten them when he sur-
veyed Greenland.
Besides being an explorer, Fridtjof Nansen was a human rights advocate and
a scientist. He helped make the forced migrations of international refugees less
difficult during the First WorldWar (and won a Nobel Peace Prize for his troubles).
His epoch-making 1887 doctoral dissertation revealed how nerve cells com-
municate in the human brain.
In 1911, in his capacity as both an explorer and a scientist, he published his
magnum opus,
In NorthernMists
, on earlier explorations of the north, from Pytheas
to the Vikings to the Portuguese during the Renaissance. Perhaps his English pub-
lisher was responsible for his title’s mists, or perhaps it was Nansen himself, signal-
ling to readers that they might not be able to rely 100% on his sources.
Fridtjof Nansen has had many successors, both in the world’s barren vastnesses
and in its scholarly heights. In the pages that follow, we present research by three
contemporary scientists, each of whom has set out to fill in blank spots on the ever-
expanding map we humans are drawing through our undaunted will to live and
thrive in the north. Their topics are colour vision, seasonal effects on mood, and
how the sun does and doesn’t affect us. Like Nansen before them, they seek to
clear the conceptual mists.
Scientists Looking North