Scientists: Vikings' 'mythical' sunstone found

BIV

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Scientists: Vikings' 'mythical' sunstone found

By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff 1:13p.m. EST March 7, 2013

(Photo: YouTube)
Story Highlights

  • Sunstones were once thought to be mythical
  • They were a navigational aid Viking mariners used to locate the sun and traverse the sea
  • A crystal found in the wreck of a British ship that sunk in 1592
Sunstones were once considered "mystical," since they were said to be able to pinpoint the sun's position even through the clouds, but a 2011 study found the stones were actually real.

The crystal, an oblong shape about the size of a pack of cigarettes, was found near the navigational equipment. And it's an Icelandic spar, the type of crystal scientists say the Vikings used, because it can diffract light into two distinct rays. Scientists tested a similar crystal and found it was indeed possible to determine the direction of the sun by finding the point where the rays converge, even after the sun has set.

Though the British ship on which the crystal was found sailed long after the Viking era, scientists think sunstones continued to be used for centuries as a backup to the compass. As for why no intact sunstone has been found at a Viking burial site, scientists think that could be because the crystals shattered when warriors were cremated, the Independent reports.
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/03/07/vikings-sunstone-crystal-myth/1970277/

Paging Three Hole Puncher
 

Creasy Bear

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Feldspar.

Yeah... that came up on the Vikings show on the History Channel.

I watched a show once where some smarty pants guys, scientists and navigational experts, put that to the test. They were trying to see if the Vikings could've really made it to North America(which we know they did)... and they tested the sunstone as a navigational tool.

The sunstone didn't really work all that well. They could sorta detect the position of the sun on a cloudy day, and after sunset, with the stone, but not with anywhere near the accuracy required to be of any use in navigation.

But what do I know from fancy sailing stones? Just give me a map and a container of coffee, and I'll get to the job site.
 

Saikotic

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But what do I know from fancy sailing stones? Just give me a map and a container of coffee, and I'll get to the job site.
That had better be translated from "Give me a sword and a spear and I'll get to the lands we're going to raid."
 

CousinDave

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Feldspar.

Yeah... that came up on the Vikings show on the History Channel.

I watched a show once where some smarty pants guys, scientists and navigational experts, put that to the test. They were trying to see if the Vikings could've really made it to North America(which we know they did)... and they tested the sunstone as a navigational tool.

The sunstone didn't really work all that well. They could sorta detect the position of the sun on a cloudy day, and after sunset, with the stone, but not with anywhere near the accuracy required to be of any use in navigation.

But what do I know from fancy sailing stones? Just give me a map and a container of coffee, and I'll get to the job site.

Back then you would have ruled the world
 

Creasy Bear

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Back then you would have ruled the world
No doubt... they would've been tossing women at me. Those were the days

Back then, "white guilt" meant the sad feeling of regret you got when a few Skraelings managed to escape the town you were raiding.
 

Cunt Smasher

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I dunno, go west far enough, you'll hit land. If you go too far norf, it gets cold, so you go back souf. Easy.
 
Dec 12, 2007
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No doubt... they would've been tossing women at me. Those were the days

Back then, "white guilt" meant the sad feeling of regret you got when a few Skraelings managed to escape the town you were raiding.
They made funny nicknames for you if you refused to kill children. I think THP would fit right in.