Vikings navigated like birds

The research on animal migration could also provide answers to how the Vikings navigated on their journeys across the seas. Susanne Åkesson and physicist Gábor Horváth have found that the polarisation of light can be used to find one’s way even on overcast and foggy days. On a sea expedition to the Arctic, the researchers used a camera with a fisheye lens that captured the whole of the sky on one photograph. Using a filter, it was possible to produce a polarisation pattern on the photograph. Susanne Åkesson suspects that certain animals have receptors in their eyes that can read the pattern of the polarised light. The Vikings may well have used a stone, possibly calcite, which is common on Iceland, to read the pattern.

Text: Liselotte Fritz

Published: 2012

Related articles