The honor of our first new penguin product of 2014 goes to our adorable Sydney, the Poketti Penguin Plush Pillow with the convenient pocket in the back. This cute comfy penguin pillow is the namesake of her designer, 13 year old Sydney Loew from California. Together with her family Sydney was able to bring the first series of Poketti plush pillows to life via a Kickstarter campaigne that ended successfully last Summer. The idea behind Sydney by Sydney is simple. A cute looking, pillow styled plush toy with a pocket, perfect for storing notebooks, smartphones or anything else that might fit. Considering all the little gadgets folks carry around these days, Sydney gives you a perfect excuse to carry a penguin plush as well. Not that we need any excuses for that, but now at least you have one more.
It took 9 months for the 13 original paintings that bring Noodles & Albie to life to get completed. But, to see these wonderful illustrations is to know that it was well worth the wait. Last week, with a big smile on her face Liz Bannish handed over her final painting, but not before making a couple of final touch-ups as per instructions from my 6 year old daughter Rose who felt Albie definitely needed a bit more flair. Now, with all the pictures in the bag it’s time to begin working on the layout of both the e-book and the print version of this fun kids book. We’re hoping have Noodles & Albie ready for the penguin loving public by Valentine’s Day.
Emperor penguins, the largest of all the penguin species, have a unique pattern during the breeding season. During this time, the males incubate the eggs, tucking them in an abdominal pouch just above their feet. In order to keep warm and conserve energy during the breeding season emperor penguins form huddles, with thousands of birds packing in close together. While balancing an on egg on its feet, a male bird is unable to move fast. However, the bird can take small, careful steps. The problem is that just one step can set off a wave of motion that passes through the huddle. This wave moves like cars in a traffic jam, according to a new study.The study was conducted by Daniel Zitterbart of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany. Their findings have been published in the New Journal of Physics. According to the study, every 30 to 60 seconds, emperor penguins in a huddle take small steps that travel through the group like a wave. The researchers described this as penguins acting like cars in a traffic jam. However, instead of only moving forward, each bird could move in one of six directions. When a bird takes a single step that motion results in a cascade of birds each taking a step, with a small time lag between one bird’s action and the next birds.
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.