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Inspired by sailboats and aerospace, the ‘Vindskip,’ with its hull shaped like a symmetrical air foil, is designed to use the wind for propulsion. Lade AS says that the ship’s hull will generate aerodynamic lift, giving a pull in the ship’s direction.
The hybrid merchant vessel will also use a Liquid Natural Gas electric propulsion system, which takes the ship to the necessary speed to generate aerodynamic lift on its hull. Additionally, the Vindskip will employ a specialized computer program to analyze meteorological data and calculate the best sailing route based on available wind energy.
Terje Lade, manager of Lade AS, told FoxNews.com that the Vindskip concept is being tested using wind tunnels and computational fluid dynamics. Testing of a model in a water tank is scheduled to begin in April, he explained in an email. Lade AS plans to eventually license the Vindskip concept to shipping companies, ship consultants, and shipyards.
The Alesund-based company has already been awarded two patents for the hull’s ability to generate aerodynamic lift, which it describes as its Wind Power System.
Lade told FoxNews.com that the Vindskip development project will be finished by the fourth quarter of 2015, and estimates that engineering and construction will take approximately 2 to 3 years. “Our estimate is that it should be sailing in 2019,” he added.
The project has already attracted the attention of at least one shipping industry heavyweight. A spokesman for Wilhelmsen, one of Norway’s largest shipowners, told FoxNews.com that the company’s technical department has been involved in brainstorming related to the Vindskip, although there has been no formal involvement or investment in the project. “Some years back, our technical team developed our concept vessel (Orcelle) — and based on this we were invited into the Vindskip project,” he explained in an email.”Our vision is ‘shaping the maritime industry,’ and we value sharing some ‘futuristic’ thoughts and ideas on how shipping can develop some years ahead.”
Lade AS estimates that the Vindskip design could generate fuel savings of 60% and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80% compared to a traditional ship. The designer says that the design is particularly well suited to a number of passenger and container vessels.
However, Chris Cheetham, founder of Soter Advisors, a fuel and energy risk management consultancy specializing in the shipping industry, said that a number of factors could impact potential savings. “What these designs will come down to is ‘how much does it really cost?'” he told FoxNews.com. “You have to relate that to the cost of building and charter rates for shipping.”
Cheetham cited the huge pullback in oil prices and the “inventory” of traditional ships that are already scheduled to be built as factors that companies will need to consider before licensing a revolutionary design such as the Vindskip.
Story updated from Jan. 19 with comments from Lade AS, Wilhelmsen, and Soter Advisors.
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Zebras’ thick, black stripes may have evolved to help these iconic creatures stay cool in the midday African heat, a new study suggests.
Many African animals sport some stripes on their bodies, but none of these patterns contrast as starkly as the zebra’s. Researchers have long struggled to explain the purpose of the zebra’s unique black-and-white coat. Some have suggested that the stripes may help zebras camouflage themselves and escape from lions and other predators; avoid nasty bites from disease-carrying flies; or control body heat by generating small-scale breezes over the zebra’s body when light and dark stripes heat up at different rates.
Still, few scientists have tested these explanations, and many argue that the stripes serve a complex mix of purposes. [See images of plains zebras across southern Africa]
Now, researchers based at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have produced one of the most comprehensive zebra stripe studies yet by examining how 29 different environmental variables influence the stripe styles of plains zebras at 16 different sites from south to central Africa.
The scientists found that the definition of stripes along a zebra’s back most closely correlated with temperature and precipitation in a zebra’s environment, and did not correlate with the prevalence of lions or tsetse flies in the region. These findings suggest that torso stripes may do more to help zebras regulate their body temperature than to avoid predators and tsetse flies, the team reported Jan. 13 in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
“This wall we kept hitting up against was, ‘Well, why do zebra have to have stripes for predation? Other animals have predators, and they don’t have stripes,'” said study co-author Ren Larison, a researcher in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA. “And other animals get bitten by flies, and they don’t have stripes, either.”
Other animals also need to regulate body temperature, or thermoregulate, Larison pointed out, but zebras may especially benefit from an extra cooling system because they digest food much less efficiently than other grazers in Africa. As such, zebras need to spend longer periods of time out in the heat of the midday sun, eating more food.
“Zebra have a need to keep foraging throughout the day, which keeps them out in the open more of the time than other animals,” Larison told Live Science. “An additional cooling mechanism could be very useful under these circumstances.”
The team found that the plains zebras with the most-defined torso stripes generally lived in the Northern, equatorial region of their range, whereas those with less-defined torso stripes were more common in the Southern, cooler regions of the range — a finding that supports the thermoregulation explanation.
Still, the researchers have not experimentally tested the theory that black and white stripes may generate small-scale breezes over a zebra’s body, and some researchers don’t think stripes can actually create this effect.
“I don’t think that you would want to have a lot of black hairs along the top of your back if you wanted to try to keep cool,” said Tim Caro, a professor of wildlife biology at the University of California, Davis, who studies zebra stripes but was not involved in the new study. “It’s kind of the last color that you would want.”
Caro said regions with warmer, wetter climates are particularly susceptible to several species of disease-carrying flies other than the tsetse fliesthat the team considered in their study, and that the relationship the researchers found may actually be a function of fly avoidance, not thermoregulation. Flies seem to struggle to recognize striped surfaces, but scientists have not quite figured out why this is, Caro told Live Science.
The study co-authors emphasized that their findings require follow-up research, and that a zebra’s stripes likely serve multiple purposes. For example, stripes on a zebra’s back may help thermoregulate, whereas stripes on the animal’s legs — where zebras are more likely to get bitten by flies — may help them avoid disease-carrying flies other than tsetses, Larison said.
“Really, the striping is kind of extraordinary, so you need something extraordinary to explain it,” Larison said.
The researchers plan to test their thermoregulation hypothesis, either by studying the behavior of air currents over zebra pelts, or by implanting wild zebras with temperature sensors, if they are granted permission to do so, Larison said.
A team of researchers made a surprising find when examining a papyrus-wrapped mummy mask — they found what they believe to be the oldest-known copy of a gospel in existence. The researchers found a fragment of the Gospel of Mark that dates back to about 90 A.D., Live Science reports. Previously, the oldest surviving copies of Biblical gospel texts date back to 101 to 200 A.D.
The text was written on a papyrus sheet that was later reused for the mummy mask. While the stereotypical image of ancient mummies involves bejeweled golden masks, that level of finery was only reserved for the wealthy. The mummy mask for the average person would have been made out of recycled material like papyrus, according to SmithsonianMag.com.
In order to retrieve the text without damaging it, the research team applied a method of ungluing the papyrus without obscuring the paper’s ink. About three-dozen researchers are using this technique to analyze hundreds of texts from mummy masks.
“We’re recovering ancient documents from the first, second and third centuries,” Craig Evans, a professor of New Testament studies at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, told Live Science.
Evans is part of a large team of researchers working on the project, which is based in Oklahoma City. “The scholars involved are from all over the world,” he told FoxNews.com.
The academic said that the team has uncovered documents from a range of eras. These include not just Christian texts, but classical Greek texts like copies of stories by Homer and even personal letters.
Some of the personal documents and business papers found within the masks have dates on them, Evans said. This particular gospel was dated partly by looking at the other documents found within the same mask.
This technique is not without controversy. The ancient masks are destroyed in order to retrieve the documents. However, Evans asserted that “we’re not talking about the destruction of any museum-quality piece.”
Roberta Mazza, lecturer in classics and ancient history at the University of Manchester, wrote a blog post critical of the work of Evans and his research team. In reference to a speech Evans made about the gospel text discovery, Mazza wrote that “the audience who attend their talks are told fantasy stories on the retrieval of papyrus fragments and their date … apologists’ speeches are not only misinformed, but can even encourage more people to buy mummy masks on the antiquities market and dissolve them in Palmolive soap.”
Last year Mazza found a 1,500-year old piece of papyrus in the university’s John Rylands library that contains some of the earliest documented references to the Last Supper and ‘manna from heaven.’
For the researchers examining the mummy mask, the text’s discovery marks a significant achievement. Evans said that the text could offer clues about how the Gospel of Mark might have changed over time.
A first volume of the various texts found on the mummies will be published by the researchers later this year.
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