April 15th 2011 - Fridjof Nansen 150th anniversary
Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930)’s studies in zoology led to his appointment in 1882 as assistant curator at Bergen Museum. Here he specialised in neuroanatomy, mainly in lower vertebrates.
He formulated path-breaking descriptions of the contact points of nerve cells. His thesis on the structure of the nervous system of the hagfish, which earned him a Ph.D. in 1888, helped to establish the neuron doctrine, a theory of how nerve cells communicate with each other. This theory has made a fundamental contribution to our understanding of how the brain works. Many people regard the ripple effects of Nansen’s work in this field as his greatest contribution to humanity.
Soon after defending his doctoral thesis in 1888, Nansen set off with five other men on a ski expedition across Greenland. It took them 44 strenuous days to complete the first documented crossing of the island. This provided inspiration for a number of later polar expeditions. Nansen led the 1893-96 expedition with the specially built polar vessel Fram. The vessel was allowed to freeze into the pack ice in the Arctic Ocean and drifted in the direction of the North Pole for three years. Unfortunately the vessel drifted too far south. After spending two winters on Fram, Nansen and Hjalmer Johansen left the vessel and set off for the North Pole using skis and dog sledges. Although they had to turn back at 86° 14’ N, this was the furthest north that any explorer had ever reached. After yet another winter on board, they returned to Norway – arriving in triumph in summer 1896. In the following years, Nansen participated actively in the independence process in Norway. His speech on 17 May 1905 played a significant part in raising popular support for the Government’s efforts to end Norway’s union with Sweden. He was appointed Norway’s first ambassador to London in 1906. After the First World War, Nansen worked for the repatriation of prisoners of war and for refugee aid. He introduced the ‘Nansen passport’ to help stateless refugees. In 1922, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian and peace-building work.
Date of issue: 15 April 2011
Value and subject: Kr 12.00: Portrait of the humanist Nansen, background (stripe) refugee children, famine and the Nansen passport
Design: Enzo Finger Design
Method of printing: Offset
Printing house: Royal Joh. Enschedé, Netherlands.