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13 December 2017

Christmas Lecture 2017: Vikings in shades: navigating by skylight polarization by Mark Dennis (University of Bristol)

Presented By Mathematical Sciences
  • 18.00-19.00
  • SCH0.01 Schofield Building

About this event

"Vikings in shades: navigating by skylight polarization" - Mark Dennis (University of Bristol)

Abstract. The hypothesis that Vikings navigated at sea using 'sunstones' to detect the direction of skylight polarization has excited controversy for almost 50 years.  It is possible to understand the optics behind the question (crystal optics and atmospheric scattering), and its possible resolution, with only a minimum of linear algebra.  In this talk Mark describes the Viking navigation hypothesis, and in doing so reveals the deeper and surprising relationship between polarization in birefringent crystals and in the blue sky.