Thursday, August 6, 2015

Peenemuende and Zinnowitz

Germany has been grand so far. I’ve been kept so busy as part of the Joint Space Weather Summer Camp (simply called DLR Camp in Germany) that I haven’t been able to sit down and write, not really. The camp in the German side is very different than the one in the US side. The German side had largely been focused on applications, where the American side focused heavily on the science. There’s also the daily set up.  Rather than the three lectures daily in the US, we have a discussion and two lectures.  We always discuss the lectures the day after, and have a sort of ‘homework’ to do every night.  It’s normally just think over and discuss a few questions, so it’s not like it’s too hard to do, for the most part.

Still, it’s a lot of fun! The projects here are significantly more challenging than the US projects though, partly because there’s less time to work on the projects themselves.  You effectively have about 12-13 hours of work time, and the projects tend to take the entire time.

Of course it hasn’t been all work!

We spent the weekend traveling to do things!

On Friday, we went to Peenemünde. We were there for the historical museum that focused on WWII weapons development and rocketry.  The museum itself was super interesting.  Of course, all the signs and everything were in German, and my German skills weren’t enough to get more than a gist of what they said, but even just the images and displays were interesting, and they did have English language flyers for most of the room, and the English audio tour. If you’ve never been on an audio tour by the way, you get to wear something the size of an old cassette player around your neck and listen to someone with a lovely British accent tell you want is going on for much longer than it takes just one person to move through just about any room, no matter how interesting.

The museum was great though, very old factory style, given that it’s in an old decommissioned power plant.  I got to go up to the roof and look out over everything, and see in the distance a U-boat also from WWII. We also got to do a neat tour in which we had to sign some paperwork absolving the museum of the responsibility of us stepping on a landmine. Nobody stepped on a landmine though, so there were no problems. It’s still a bit intimidating though, to have to sign for that!

I think I liked that tour more.  The old town built there during WWII to house a concentration camp, scientists, and engineers has almost all been destroyed, but there’s still barracks you can see in the distance, and a house standing, along with a shelter from the concentration camp.  The big things though were the deep trenches in the ground and the concrete pathways everywhere. There was even a ten meter high (approximately 33 ft) hill that had been built to protect the rockets they were testing there from crosswinds, and the people from the rocket fire! We ending up walking over to exactly where they had tested rockets, where they have a sort of memorial stone standing up to commemorate it, and an old fire hydrant thing which everyone promptly begin to play with.

What can I say? It felt like interactive history.  We even took a few photos of using clearly working hard to fight a fire.

On our way back to where we are staying, we stopped at a little beach resort town called Zinnowitz on the Baltic to go out on the pier. At the end of the pier was the weirdest little house. It was a pretty teal, with petals of metal on top, and it was off the side of the pier.  Well, you know me, I was curious, so I simply had to poke around and go in. It involved on entrance fee, but to shush my curiosity of the funny little building, I will, of course, cheerfully pay the very small fee. And it turned out to be one hundred percent worth it.

I went under water without getting to much as a toe wet. I kid you not. The entire building goes under, and you watch a movie about conservation and species diversity and trash in the ocean being bad, then you go up again. I think the only down side is you had to stay seated the entire time, though let me tell you, even with us sitting still, it was simply amazing. Given it was too cold to go swimming, even for the locals, it was definitely a turnaround for the trip to the Baltic. Of course, at the end, we had just enough time to grab dinner and then go to the bus at a nice trot.

It was a good day.

One Final Byte: History has two sides: both Winners and Losers.

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