Saturday, 12 November 2011

Vikings Navigated With Translucent Crystals?

Icelandic spar may have revealed sun's position on cloudy days, study says.

Vikings may have navigated by looking through a type of crystal called Icelandic spar, a new study suggests.

In some Icelandic sagas—embellished stories of Viking life—sailors relied on so-called sunstones to locate the sun's position and steer their ships on cloudy days. (See Iceland photos submitted by readers like you.)

The stone would've worked by detecting a property of sunlight called polarization.

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Thursday, 3 November 2011

Magical Viking stone may be real

A Viking legend which tells of a glowing "sunstone" that, when held up to the sky, disclosed the position of the Sun on a cloudy day may have some basis in truth, scientists believe.

The ancient race are believed to have to discovered North America hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus.

Now experiments have shown that a crystal, called an Iceland spar, could detect the sun with an accuracy within a degree – allowing the legendary seafarers to navigate thousands of miles on cloudy days and during short Nordic nights.

Dr Guy Ropars, of the University of Rennes, and colleagues said "a precision of a few degrees could be reached" even when the sun was below the horizon.

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Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Icelandic rocks could have steered Vikings

Vikings used rocks from Iceland to navigate the high seas, suggests a new study. 

In Norse legends, sunstones are said to have guided seafarers to North America.

Now an international team of scientists report in the journal the Proceedings of the Royal Society A that the Icelandic spars behave like mythical sunstones and polarise light.

By holding the stones aloft, voyaging Vikings could have used them to find the sun in the sky.

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