The Penguin Post was there when unpublished children’s author and all-around penguin guy Eric Bennett had a fun reading of his yet to be released kids picture book Noodles and Albie to an enthusiastic group of 1st graders at Bridge St. School in Northampton, Mass. Eric’s daughter Rose did an outstanding job acting as his assistant displaying Liz Bannish’s wonderful illustrations to the class in tandem with the reading. The kids laughed out loud at many parts of the story, and were on the edge of their seats at others, as they enjoyed the story of young Noodles the penguin and his adventures (and misadventures) with his friend Albie the fish. After the reading there was a Q & A with Eric, and then the kids were able to look at Ms. Bannish’s illustrations up close. Hopefully, the full story with illustrations will be available in early 2014.
As if their home in Antarctica weren’t cold enough, emperor penguins actually allow their exteriors to drop at least 7°F below their surroundings. The change helps the penguins stay warm, a recent paper showed. When the outer layer of feathers radiates heat to the sky, it becomes colder than its immediate environment, so heat flows back in. The cycle keeps the temperature underneath the plumage constant—and the penguin alive. Check out this very cool looking heat map of Emperor Penguins.
The Penguin Post has learned that scientists have created a highly efficient and extremely maneuverable propulsion system by mimicking the shoulder of an Emperor penguin. The mechanism, which features an innovative spherical joint with three actuated degrees of freedom, could lead to new types of propellers that have directional thrusting capability.
Caltech’s Flavio Noca was inspired to design the device after watching the IMAX movie Antarctica, which showed how Emperor penguins can accelerate underwater from 0 to 7 meters/second in less than a second. Noca will be demonstrating the penguin-inspired propulsion system next week at the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting in Pittsburgh.
Based on a penguin’s shoulder-and-wing system, the mechanism features a spherical joint that enables three degrees of freedom and a fixed center of rotation. “Unlike an animal shoulder joint, however, this spherical joint enables unlimited rotational range about the main shaft axis like a propeller,” Noca explained.
To achieve this, the researchers needed to overcome the technical challenges of spherical joints, such as the lack of rigidity and the inability to generate high torques. The researchers cleared these hurdles by using a “parallel robotic architecture,” which Noca says enables rigidity as well as high actuation frequencies and amplitudes.
“Because the motors are fixed, inertial forces are lower than for a serial robotic mechanism, such as a multi-joint arm,” explains Noca. “The resulting spherical parallel mechanism with coaxial shafts was designed and manufactured with these specifications: a fixed center of rotation (spherical joint), a working frequency of ~2.5 Hz under charge, an unlimited rotation about the main axis, and an arbitrary motion within a cone of /- 60 degrees.
Aside from the technological perspective, the manner in which penguins swim is still poorly understood, according to Noca. “By accurately reproducing an actual penguin wing movement, we hope to shed light on the swimming mysteries of these underwater rockets,” he said.
The Penguin Post has learned that the Nagasaki Aquarium in Japan held its inaugural penguin parade launching ceremony on this past Thursday, to the delight of school children and penguin lovers alike. Adorable kindergarteners in school uniforms marched with the penguins, and the penguins dressed for the occasion as well by wearing red bow ties, no less.
The event was so popular (and we can see why) the penguin parade will be a regular event that will be held on weekends for the next several months.
The Penguin Post has learned that the two penguins that sat on the gate posts of Barbara Cole’s house in Victoria Road in the Isle of Man in the U.K. that have achieved landmark status in the 12 years since they were put there have been stolen from their perches.
Mrs. Cole said she awoke on Tuesday morning to discover one of them had been broken off the stand and stolen. She said: ‘They have been vandalised good and proper. I haven’t a clue where the remains are. It’s irreplaceable as it was shipped over from America some years ago and they are no longer made.’
Barbara said the penguins have a strong emotional resonance for her because they are a link to her former husband Tom Glassey, a local character, writer and poet, who died in 2009. ‘Tom asked me to find some nautical birds and I found them on the internet. It appealed to both our sense of humour and have almost become a landmark in Castletown.’ She added: ‘You see big six foot men walk by and give their belly a stroke.’
Dear Penguin Place
Yes, we aim to inspire a whole new generation of field biologists! With just 24 hours to go on our Kickstarter campaign, please join us and share our links, so we can expand our film’s educational and science components.
When this new generation of young scientists visit the Antarctic, they will be treading on a visionary concept – a continent that is legally owned by no one and solely dedicated to the pursuit of science, peace and environmental conservation. The size of the US and Mexico combined, all 5.4 million square miles of this massive continent are overseen by the 50 member nations of the Antarctic Treaty System.
The way Ron Naveen got involved goes back to the early nineties, when the Treaty System outlined a need for baseline data on geographical and biological features in this fragile region. Having been an expedition leader in the Peninsula area, he knew which sites to visit and which had the most diverse species. With Oceanites already in existence, Ron secured funding from the US Marine Mammal Commission in 1993 to develop a plan for such a database. One year later with funding from the NSF’s Office of Polar Programs, the Antarctic Site Inventory was born.
From the start, penguin colonies were ideal for Ron’s study, which fit his passion for seabirds perfectly. With accessible nesting areas and population sites that could potentially be monitored from season to season, penguins offered the best clues on environmental changes. Unlike any other research project in the Antarctic, the ASI covers an area of half a million square miles, achievable only because they work ‘as nomads’, far from permanent research stations. Hence their data is comprehensive and unprecedented.
Yet with the size of the Antarctic, the penguin counters operate in only a very small corner of this astonishing continent.
‘It’s so quiet here,’ says Ron, ‘that all you hear are the penguins and your heartbeats thumping through your parka. It’s a place to study, a place to think, and of course, a place to dream.’
Please let these dreams include you. We are grateful for any donation, large or small. Funding beyond our goal will be used for extra science and educational materials – all important and very much needed to keep the research going.
A waddle of rain and wind- lashed penguins arrived safely home in Ilkley on Monday having raised £20,000 for Yorkshire Cancer Research. The team of 16 fundraisers had successfully completed the 2013 Penguathlon to achieve the amazing fundraising total. The challenge saw them setting off on bikes from Headingley Rugby Ground on Saturday morning to cycle all the way to Newcastle and take part in the Great North Run on Sunday before cycling home.
Their journey was supported by JD Cycles of Ilkley and Eco-Link Couriers, who provided support vehicles. On Sunday the Penguathlon participants met up with Jonathan Edwards, the Olympic Gold medal winning triple jumper and BBC presenter and a BBC film crew, who captured the penguins cycling over the Tyne Bridge to the start line for the Great North Run. They achieved celebrity status when they featured in BBC1’s live coverage of the race with an interview with Olympic hurdler Colin Jackson. The first ‘Emperor Penguin’ over the line, Dr Jon Greenwell from Burley-in-Wharfedale, was also interviewed by the BBC, this time with Olympic bronze medal-winning sprinter Katherine Merry. The return trip was a much bigger challenge with rain and 20mph winds slowing the Penguins down. However, they made it to their finish line at Bar T’at in Ilkley where they were met by a team of masseurs laid on by Ilkley Osteopaths and enjoyed Penguin Beer by Ilkley Brewery, food laid on by Bar T’at and a welcome party of more than 50 friends and family. Penguathlon 2013 organizer Mark Summerson, 40, of Burley-in-Wharfedale, said: “The support we have had from members of the public, from the BBC, from organizations and people offering their time, money and skills has just been phenomenal, for something that started as a drunken idea at the Swan beer festival in Addingham last year, just beggars belief.”