How a Viking sunstone works

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How a Viking sunstone works

Iwanttobelieve76
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Recently the popular science press has heralded the discovery of a legendary Viking Sunstone.  The sunstone is mentioned a few times in Medieval Icelandic literature, where it was claimed that it could be used to determine the position of the sun on cloudy days, and even at twilight after the sun has set.  Not being an archeologist, I can't comment on whether such a stone was used by the Vikings, but being an astrophysicist I can say it was possible.  

Sunlight, like all electromagnetic radiation is a type of wave known as a transverse wave.  Basically this means the wave oscillates perpendicular to its direction of travel.  If you shake a rope to make a wave, you get the basic idea.  The rope moves up and down, but the wave travels along the rope.  Since the oscillation is perpendicular to the motion, the wave can have an orientation known as polarization.  For example, if you shake a wave up and down you get one polarization, and if you shake it left and right you get a different polarization....


ReadMore:
http://plus.google.com/u/0/112963105635376422421/posts/cUmhn1qDCbq
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Re: How a Viking sunstone works

Sy Moen
Well, that was quite interesting... thanks for reposting.
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