11 episodes

We bring you surprising stories of science, history and innovation from 63 Degrees North, the home of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Listen as we explore the mysteries of the polar night, the history of Viking raiders, and how geologists and engineers are working to save the planet, one carbon dioxide molecule at a time — and more. Take a journey to Europe's outer edge for fascinating tales and remarkable discoveries.
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63 Degrees North NTNU

    • Science
    • 4.7 • 7 Ratings

We bring you surprising stories of science, history and innovation from 63 Degrees North, the home of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Listen as we explore the mysteries of the polar night, the history of Viking raiders, and how geologists and engineers are working to save the planet, one carbon dioxide molecule at a time — and more. Take a journey to Europe's outer edge for fascinating tales and remarkable discoveries.
See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    The Alchemists: Turning wild water into white coal

    The Alchemists: Turning wild water into white coal

    The secrets behind how Norwegian scientists and engineers harnessed the country’s wild waterfalls by developing super efficient turbines — and how advances in turbine technology being developed now may be the future in a zero-carbon world. They include an engineer who figured out how to take advantage of national fervour and build the 1900s equivalent of a super computer, a WWII resistance fighter who saw something special in tiny temperature differences, and researchers today, who are finding ways to cut environmental impacts from current hydropower plants and craft the designs we need to confront climate change.
    The guests on today's show were Ole Gunnar Dahlhaug, Vera Gütle and Johannes Kverno, with cameo appearances by Hans Otto Frøland and Svein Richard Brandtzæg.
    You can read an article written to accompany the podcast, with photographs from the lab here There's also an online photo gallery with a brief history of the Waterpower Laboratory here.
    You can read more about some of the research being done at the lab here:
    HydroFlex: The HydroFlex project is a four year long, € 5.4 million research project financed through EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, coordinated by Ole Gunnar Dahlhaug and based at NTNU’s Waterpower Laboratory. The aim of the project is to increase the value of hydro power through increased flexibility in operations.
    Stojkovski, Filip; Lazarevikj, Marija; Markov, Zoran; Iliev, Igor; Dahlhaug, Ole Gunnar. (2021) Constraints of Parametrically Defined Guide Vanes for a High-Head Francis Turbine. Energies. vol. 14 (9).
    Gütle, Vera. (2021) How to avoid gas supersaturation in the river downstream from a hydropower plant. MSc thesis.

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    • 31 min
    The Detectives: Hunting toxic chemicals in the Arctic

    The Detectives: Hunting toxic chemicals in the Arctic

    Baby grey seals. Polar bears. Zooplankton on painkillers. How do toxic chemicals and substances end up in Arctic animals — and as it happens, native people, too?
    Our guests on today's show are Bjørn Munro Jenssen, an ecotoxicologist at NTNU, Jon Øyvind Odland, a professor of global health at NTNU and a professor of international health at UiT —The Arctic University of Norway, and Ida Beathe Øverjordet, a researcher at SINTEF.
    One of the most useful websites on arctic pollution is the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, AMAP. Rachel Carson's book is Silent Spring.
    Here's a selection of articles from today's episode:
    Sørmo, E.G., Salmer, M.P., Jenssen, B.M., Hop, H., Bæk, K., Kovacs, K.M., Lydersen, C., Falk-Petersen, S., Gabrielsen, G.W., Lie, E. and Skaare, J.U. (2006), Biomagnification of polybrominated diphenyl ether and hexabromocyclododecane flame retardants in the polar bear food chain in Svalbard, Norway. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 25: 2502-2511. https://doi.org/10.1897/05-591R
    Bourgeon, Sophie; Riemer, Astrid Kolind; Tartu, Sabrina; Aars, Jon; Polder, Anuschka; Jenssen, Bjørn Munro; Routti, Heli Anna Irmeli. (2017) Potentiation of ecological factors on the disruption of thyroid hormones by organo-halogenated contaminants in female polar bears (Ursus maritimus) from the Barents Sea. Environmental Research. vol. 15
    Nuijten, RJM; Hendriks, AJ; Jenssen, Bjørn Munro; Schipper, AM. (2016) Circumpolar contaminant concentrations in polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and potential population-level effects. Environmental Research. vol. 151.
    Chashchin, Valery; Kovshov, Aleksandr A.; Thomassen, Yngvar; Sorokina, Tatiana; Gorbanev, Sergey A.; Morgunov, Boris; Gudkov, Andrey B.; Chashchin, Maxim; Sturlis, Natalia V.; Trofimova, Anna; Odland, Jon Øyvind; Nieboer, Evert. (2020) Health risk modifiers of exposure to persistent pollutants among indigenous peoples of Chukotka. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH). vol. 17 (1).

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    • 23 min
    Hermann Göring’s Luftwaffe and the $6 billion deal

    Hermann Göring’s Luftwaffe and the $6 billion deal

    How the unlikely combination of WWII Germany, a modest English engineer who created a worker’s paradise, an ambitious industrialist prosecuted as a traitor and a hardworking PhD helped build modern Norway, one aluminium ingot at a time.
    Today's guests are Hans Otto Frøland, Svein Richard Brandtzæg and Randi Holmestad. Frøland is one of the researchers working in the Fate of Nations project, which is based at NTNU and focused on the global history and political economy of natural resources. To see archival photographs related to the episode, check out this companion article in Norwegian SciTech News.
    You can read more about the history of aluminium in Norway here:
    From Warfare to Welfare: Business-Government Relations in the Aluminium Industry (2012) Frøland, Hans Otto; Ingulstad, Mats
    Akademika Forlag
    Frøland, Hans Otto; Kobberrød, Jan Thomas. (2009) The Norwegian Contribution to Göring's Megalomania. Norway's Aluminium Industry during World War II. Cahiers d'histoire de l'aluminium. vol. 42-43.
    Frøland, Hans Otto. (2007) The Norwegian Aluminium Expansion Program in the Context of European integration, 1955-1975. Cahiers d'histoire de l'aluminium.
    Gendron, Robin S.; Ingulstad, Mats; Storli, Espen. (2013) Aluminum Ore: The Political Economy of the Global Bauxite Industry. University of British Columbia Press. 2013. ISBN 978-0-7748-2533-7.


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    • 28 min
    Pirates, noblewomen and bicycling housewives

    Pirates, noblewomen and bicycling housewives

    Why does Norway always rank among the top countries on the planet when it comes to gender equality? It didn't happen by accident. Instead, it took powerful medieval noblewomen, 19th century farmers’ wives, an early 20th century activist on a bicycle, and the feminists who emerged from the postwar baby boom. And yes, there is one Viking woman — but she’s not quite what you might think.
    Our guests on today's show are Randi Bjørshol Wærdahl, Kari Melby and Marie-Laure Olivier.
    You can read more about Gunnhild the Viking woman on this Wikipedia page about her.
    There's also a comprehensive entry about Fredrikke Marie Qvam on Wikipedia.
    Read more:
    Wærdahl, Randi Bjørshol.2019: "Manndtz Nature vdj hindis hiertte" - Kvinner i krig og konflikt i nordisk senmiddelalder (Women in war and conflict in the Nordic late Middle Ages (in Norwegian). Collegium Medievale 2019 (2) s. 95-111
    Kari Melby, Anna-Birte Ravn, Christina Carlsson Wetterberg (eds.), Gender equality and welfare politics in Scandinavia. The limits of political ambition? The Policy Press, Bristol, 2008 
    Melby, Kari. (2006) Niels Finn Christiansen, Klaus Petersen, Nils Edling & Per Haave (eds.): The Nordic Model of Welfare - a Historical Reappraisal. Historisk Tidsskrift (Norge). vol. 85 (4).

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    • 32 min
    Old bones and modern germs

    Old bones and modern germs

    Trondheim, Norway’s first religious and national capital, has a rich history that has been revealed over decades of archaeological excavations. One question archaeologists are working on right now has a lot of relevance in during a pandemic: Can insight into the health conditions of the past shed light on pandemics in our own time? Now, with the help of old bones, latrine wastes and dental plaque, researchers are learning about how diseases evolved in medieval populations, and what society did to stem them — and how that might help us in the future.
    Our guests for this episode were Axel Christophersen, a professor of historical archaeology at the NTNU University Museum; Tom Gilbert, a professor at the NTNU University Museum and head of the Center for Evolutionarly Hologenomics based at the University of Copenhagen; and Elisabeth Forrestad Swensen, a PhD candidate at the NTNU University Museum.
     
    You can read more about the MedHeal research project on the project’s home page.
    Here are some of the academic articles on medieval Trondheim related to the podcast:
     
    Zhou Z, Lundstrøm I, Tran-Dien A, Duchêne S, Alikhan NF, Sergeant MJ, Langridge G, Fotakis AK, Nair S, Stenøien HK, Hamre SS, Casjens S, Christophersen A, Quince C, Thomson NR, Weill FX, Ho SYW, Gilbert MTP, Achtman M. Pan-genome Analysis of Ancient and Modern Salmonella enterica Demonstrates Genomic Stability of the Invasive Para C Lineage for Millennia. Curr Biol. 2018 Aug 6;28(15):2420-2428.
     
    Stian Suppersberger Hamre, Valérie Daux- Stable oxygen isotope evidence for mobility in medieval and post-medieval Trondheim, Norway,
    Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Vol. 8, 2016, pp 416-425,
     A transcript of the show is available here.

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    • 25 min
    Darwin had Galapagos finches. Norway has… house sparrows?

    Darwin had Galapagos finches. Norway has… house sparrows?

    The different species of Galapagos finches, with their specially evolved beaks that allow them to eat specific foods, helped Charles Darwin understand that organisms can evolve over time to better survive in their environment. 
    Now, nearly 200 years later and thousands of miles away, biologists are learning some surprising lessons about evolution from northern Norwegian populations of the humble house sparrow (Passer domesticus).
    Darwin’s finches evolved on the exotic, volcanic Galapagos Islands. NTNU’s house sparrows are dispersed over a group of 18 islands in Helgeland, in an archipelago that straddles the Arctic Circle.
    Every summer since 1993, when NTNU Professor Bernt-Erik Sæther initiated the House Sparrow Project, a group of biologists has travelled to the islands collect data on the sparrows. They capture baby birds, measure different parts of their bodies, take a tiny blood sample, and then put a unique combination of coloured rings on their legs that help researchers identify the birds throughout their lifetime.
    Those decades of research have given researchers information that can be helpful in managing threatened and endangered species. They have also done some experiments where they made evolution happen in real time — and then watched what happened when they let nature run its course.
    And then there was the series of experiments where they learned more than you might want to know about sparrow dating preferences, and about rogue sparrow fathers who court exhausted sparrow mothers — and then fathered children with the cute little she-bird next door.
     
    Our guests for today’s show were Henrik Jensen, Thor Harald Ringsby and Stefanie Muff.
     
    You can find a transcript of the show here.
     
    Selected academic and popular science articles:
     From NTNU’s online research magazine, Norwegian SciTech News:
    Why aren’t house sparrows as big as geese?
    Inbreeding detrimental for survival
    Why house sparrows lay big and small eggs
     
    On Darwin
    Darwin, Charles (1859) On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Or, the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. London: J. Murray.
     Weiner, J. (2014). The beak of the finch: A story of evolution in our time. Random House.
    Sulloway, F. J. (1982). Darwin and his finches: The evolution of a legend. Journal of the History of Biology, 15, 1-53.
     Sulloway, F. J. (1982). Darwin's conversion: the Beagle voyage and its aftermath. Journal of the History of Biology, 15,  325-396.
     
    Academic articles from the House Sparrow Project:
    Araya-Ajoy, Yimen; Ranke, Peter Sjolte; Kvalnes, Thomas; Rønning, Bernt; Holand, Håkon; Myhre, Ane Marlene; Pärn, Henrik; Jensen, Henrik; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Wright, Jonathan. (2019) Characterizing morphological (co)variation using structural equation models: Body size, allometric relationships and evolvability in a house sparrow metapopulation. Evolution. vol. 73 (3).Kvalnes, Thomas; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Jensen, Henrik; Hagen, Ingerid Julie; Rønning, Bernt; Pärn, Henrik; Holand, Håkon; Engen, Steinar; Sæther, Bernt-Erik. (2017) Reversal of response to artificial selection on body size in a wild passerine bird. Evolution. vol. 71 (8).Ringsby, Thor Harald; Jensen, Henrik; Pärn, Henrik; Kvalnes, Thomas; Boner, Winnie; Gillespie, Robert; Holand, Håkon; Hagen, Ingerid Julie; Rønning, Bernt; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Monaghan, Pat. (2015) On being the right size: Increased body size is associated with reduced telomere length under natural conditions. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences. vol. 282 (1820).Ranke, Peter Sjolte; Skjelseth, Sigrun; Pärn, Henrik; Herfindal, Ivar; Borg Pedersen, Åsa Alexandra; Stokke, Bård Gunnar; Kvalnes, Thomas; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Jensen, Henrik. (2017) Demographic influences of translocated individuals on a resident population of house sparrows. Oikos. vol. 126 (10).Jensen, Henrik; Steinsland,

    • 25 min

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