My grandfather Kristen Nygaard was an industrial lawyer. He and I agreed that I should study law and become his partner. To the left find a photo of us during an early business conference.

In 1939, when I was thirteen, I discovered a thin brown, inconspicuous book in one of my parents bookshelves.I opened it and encountered an illustration of how to observe the sun by binoculars (see photo of the page below right). It turned out to be a popular book on the sun and planets. I read it, read some more books on the stars, and quickly and firmly decided that I was going to become a scientist; a professor of astronomy. (All the modern astronomers I read about seemed to be professors.) My grandfather did not appreciate that, but then my younger brother took my place. Only many years later it dawned upon me that it was not certain that I would make it to full professor

In September 1940 some helpful person exhibited the young KN to the staff of the Institute of Astrophysics at the University of Oslo. They were very nice to me, and I got the impression that they would be equally generous with their time if I returned next week, and next, and so on. Surprisingly enough, this turned out to be true, with one notable exception: A thin mathematician, 1.95 m on one leg and 2m on the other developed very efficient means of keeping me out of his way. His name was Jan Vaumund Garwick and he was assistant to the famous professor Svein Rosseland.

After I had read the available popular books in the available libraries and learned all the available constellations, I was stuck. To learn more I needed to know mathematics at university level. I turned to botany for a couple of years, and enjoyed it very much. But then I
decided that botany was too descriptive (this may be different today), and that I wanted to do a science that needed fantasy and own ideas. I wanted to go back to astronomy as a hobby. I started reading mathematics and immediately got hooked and changed opinion as to the content of my (still definite) future professorship.

A couple of years later I needed to talk with someone knowing what is called meromorphic functions, and got disappointed when I was told that Garwick was the one who could help me out. Anyway, I knocked at his door and explained my errand. It turned out that Garwick was delighted by my visit and he used several hours on me. I could come back whenever I needed it! I remembered how I had irrtated him earlier, and used the kind invitation with care.

The explanation was, I am convinced, that Garwick enjoyed mathematics but not astronomy. I continued to be on (cautiously) good terms with him also after I started as a student in 1945. In the summer of 1945 I was allowed to participate as a hand in the expedition to Mo i Rana in Northern Norway to observe the total solar eclipse (no luck: bad weather).. The photo (to the left) shows Garwick intensely (as always) absorbed, this time by some instrument. Later, in 1947, he helped me in being posted to the new Norwegian Denfense Research Establishment (NDRE) during my military conscript service. After having used two months being taught proper soldierly behaviour, I arrived at the NDRE at Kjeller outside Oslo on 20 February 1948. I was received by my new boss Jan V. Garwick and I was (as I can see in retrospect) catapulted into a career in informatics .

(Other aspects of my early life belong in the "Private World" of this site

, and you will also find some points in my IRIS Lecture .)

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