Wednesday, March 15, 2017

SearchResearch Challenge (3/15/17): Scandinavia?

Travel is a great source of puzzlements. 

Everytime I travel somewhere (and I get to travel fairly often for my job), I come across things that surprise and amaze me.

Recently I had the chance to travel to northwestern Europe on business, but I was confused about where I was geographically.  Yes, I visited Sweden, Norway, and Finland... but is that Scandinavia or the Nordic countries?  I would see both terms used apparently interchangably, and just from everyday usage, I couldn't quite figure out the difference.  

But as I walked along the streets I also saw a few things that I cannot (and have not yet!) figured out.  

This gives us our SearchResearch Challenges for this week.  Can you help me figure out what's going on here?  

1.  Okay, which is it?  Was I in Scandinavia or in the Nordic countries?  What's the difference between Scandinavia and the Nordic countries?   

2.  This is a real puzzle.  I saw these wires coming out of the bottom of drain pipes all over Scandinavia, but I can't figure out why they're there.  It's obviously not just a wiring mistake; basically EVERY drainpipe has this.  They're usually in a loop (as shown), but sometimes it's just a thick wire.  They're firmly attached (I pulled on one to see if it was loose--it wasn't).  What are these drainpipe wires?   

3.  While wandering around the central streets in the capital of one unnamed country, I saw these odd little plaques with animals.  Why are they there? What's going on here?  

Can you figure these northern mysteries?  

If you can, please leave a comment in the discussion below.  And tell us HOW you found the answer. We all want to learn from your research and be able to do it ourselves next time!  


(I mean, Search on!)  


  1. According to Wikipedia, Scandinavia refers only to Sweden, Norway, and Denmark because their languages come from a common Germanic roots. Nordic also includes Finland, Iceland, and some smaller islands and territories. However, most people use these terms interchangeably.

    I don't have verification, but I suspect that the wires in drainpipes are to prevent ice build-up in winter.

    When I searched for the animal names, I discovered that the language was Finnish, so you must have been in Helsinki. I suspected the plaques might be street names. I searched Helsinki street names and found two links which confirm this and the PDF even shows the unicorn illustration.

  2. As far as the loops in the drains go, I'm fairly sure these are heating elements to deal with snow melt. I haven't found anything conclusive in the case of them being extremely common or mandatory in Nordic cities, but doing some research on the web I see lots of references to this, and one company (Nexans) mentions this being a Norway invention, and has information on their site on how to install on rooflines, gutters, and hanging in gutters. I found some images of this installed (from the top) but nothing from the bottom to confirm it looks similar. Here are some of the images I found. This use would mandate a loop to allow current to flow. I found some cases where there was a 'loop' bundled as one wide ribbon cable, so that explains cases where a single cable was seen and no loop.

    I don't know about the other items at this time. I may look into them later as I have time.

  3. Good Morning, Dr. Russell! Very Interesting and totally unknown for me. Those streets looks better with those animals

    3. While wandering around the central streets in the capital of one unnamed country, I saw these odd little plaques with animals. Why are they there? What's going on here?

    Searched for image Unicorn photo. Photo say is Finland.

    [unicorn sign Finland]

    Road signs in Finland: Most signs are based on pictograms

    [animals pictogram Finland]

    The seven-spot ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) was chosen as Finland’s iconic insect in 1996

    Hamster photo with [hamsteri hamstern] links to photos but not why

    [unicorn hamster giraffe street signs Finland]

    the naming of city blocks or ‘quarters’ (a property or group of properties bounded by streets on four or more sides) originated in Stockholm in the 1600s.

    Links to Helsinki’s name planning has long traditions

    At the corners of ten districts of colorful badges with animal motifs were placed (1812)

    [Street Names of Helsinki intext:unicorn]

    the why..From Turku to Helsinki

    Answer: They are on Finland. And It is a block naming tradition.From the links I read:" Around the year 1350, it was decreed that cities in Sweden-Finland were to be divided into four parts that needed a name (flowers and animals were used)...In Helsinki the numbering and naming of sites bordering streets was
    legalized in 1820 in connection with fire regulations..."

    1. 1. Okay, which is it? Was I in Scandinavia or in the Nordic countries? What's the difference between Scandinavia and the Nordic countries?

      [Scandinavia today I found out] I like their videos because the investigation is extensive. That is why I tried first with them.

      Where is Scandinavia?


      [Scandinavia vs Nordic countries]

      Scandinavia:That word refers to the ancient territories of the Norsemen: Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Frenchs invented term "Pays Nordiques"

      [Scandinavia Nordic definition]

      Scandinavia / Nordic: Are They Just Ice and Snow?

      Answer: Scandinavia just 3 countries:Sweden, Norway and Denmark collectively called Fennoscandia

      Nordic Countries: Scandinavian countries Plus Finland and Iceland. Therefore, you were on the Nordic countries. BTW, did you watch Auroras?

    2. 2. What are these drainpipe wires?

      [Scandinavia drain pipes wire outside]

      the heating cable was invented by Nexans in Norway in 1926.

      ["drain pipes" winter wired] on images

      Pipe that looks like the one we searching for

      Went to the page (not showing the photo) says

      Heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables can be used to wrap pipes

      Searched the photo by image and found it is used in many pages so results not conclusive

      [heat cables drain pipes]

      No results that confirms

    3. Just read this new article
      Scientists have long known that female cockroaches, like many other species, can give birth through parthenogenesis

      Related to previous SRS: SearchResearch is often a process

      Dr. Russell why zero results searching a the top of the page? I needed to search [parthenogenesis site: ] to find the correct link to share here.

      Also very interesting Kangaroo reproduction. I learned while watching Wild Frank and later searching The female is able to delay the attachment of the embryo to the fetus...And more interesting knowledge

  4. … virtually wore myself out wandering street view… found one other…
    also appears mythical, like the Unicorn & Mick —
    Väiski Vemmelsääri?
    elsewhere, in the Nordic/Scandia realm… if it's not the reindeer…
    Íslenski hesturinn

  5. 3. While wandering around the central streets in the capital of one unnamed country, I saw these odd little plaques with animals. Why are they there? What's going on here?

    Asked a friend from Finland and he suggested Helsinki. Searched [ animal plaques Helsinki ] to
    to (from the comments)
    Searched [ Eläinkorttelit ]
    Translated Wikipedia article

  6. I started with the most puzzling for me : the drainpipe stuff :)
    So a search in Google for "wire in drainpipe finland" led me nowhere.
    started again with "wire in drainpipe scandinavia", still no luck (apart from finding your blog ;) )
    So I finally searched for "wire in gutter scandinavia" and past the first results, found out this link :

    The wires are heated when they are covered in snow/ice, in order to unblock the pipe.
    I'm not sure whether there are some non-eletrical ones, though.

    Scandinavia versus Nordic countries : unfortunately I already know from some geography lessons in high school, that Scandinavia is only Norway/Sweden/Denmark, and Nordics covers Scandinavia+almost every country north of Denmark (Iceland, Finland, the baltic countries etc). I have to admit I did not double-check that, was too puzzled by the first search above :)

    Regarding the animals plaques, I had to search a bit to find out which capital was concerned ("animal plaques street sweden/norway/denmark") : "animal plaques street stockholm" lead me to a blog about Helsinki (!) :
    This blog contains the explanation "The origin of the animal pictures goes back to the Swedish urban nomenclature system of the 19th century. Back then every block or quarter in Stockholm was given a name in addition to a number. Owners of the corner buildings had to put signs with the name of the quarter. City blocks were given names along with numbers because they were easier to remember. I think, it was also a way for illiterate people to get their bearings around the city. Block names came from different areas such as trades, sea life, birds, people’s names."

    A bit like the pubs name in the UK, then ;)

  7. Downspout

    Search Google for Swedish Translation of "downspout"
    Results: stuprör

    Search Google for stuprör & (limit searches to Sweden)
    Results: Yes, stuprör does mean downspout

    Search Google for stuprör, wire & and limit search to images
    result: Warm Cable diagram

    Yup, electric wire in gutter and downspout is for melting ice in system.

    and various Warmtekabels on Pinterest Pinterest page

  8. I was most interested in the drainpipe, so I did a search in Russian at for "Scandinavia" "wires" "downspouts" (Скандинавия провода сточные трубы). All the top links were talking about heating the pipes. Why search in Russian? Because they buy a lot of technology from Northern Europe, so I figured there would be lots of resellers. :)

  9. I was most interested in the downspouts with wires in them. I did my search in Russian because a) I don't know any of the Nordic languages and b) Russia buys lots of technology from Northern Europe, so I figured there would be lots of hits from resellers. I searched for "Scandinavia" "wires" "downspouts" (Скандинавия провода сточные трубы) and all the top results were about heating the pipes. :)