[This post was restored from a WayBackWhen archive. It was originally posted to a blog called ‘The Gene Gym” that began life on the Nature Network in 2010, and then moved to Spekrum’s SciLogs platform. Unfortunately many of the original images have not survived the import]
It’s amazing how far you can travel internationally before smelling fresh non-air conditioned air. I arrived at Arlanda airport – 50 km North of Stockholm – in the late afternoon, and was immediately siphoned into the familiar human corral of border security that is facsimiled the world over. The fastest route from the airport to the city centre is via the Arlanda Express, a name that evokes a surety of function that I’m willing to accept as a factual statement in this very modern Scandinavian country. Sure enough, in a mere 20 minutes I am delivered to Stockholm central station and can make my bid for the open air; yet emerging into a fog of -9C air was probably rather more fresh than I’d anticipated. Stockholm is seasonably festooned with lights, which twinkle in the crystalline cold and cast their light on streets paved with a compaction of snow, sand and salt, giving the consistency of gingerbread dough.