Archive for November, 2013

Noodles and Albie Reading

November 27, 2013

The Penguin Post was there when unpublished children’s author and all-around penguin guy Eric Bennett had a fun reading of his yet to be released kids picture book Noodles and Albie to an enthusiastic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.

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Very Cool Heat Map Of Penguins

November 27, 2013

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. psc1213_hl_111b

Robot Penguins Spy Cams!

November 26, 2013

A penguin couple attempting to stage a “chick-napping” after losing their own baby. Another penguin flipping its tail under to keep its egg from freezing. A hungry predator that thought it had picked up dinner instead inadvertently became the first bird to capture an aerial-view shot.

The Penguin Post has learned that these are just some of the incredibly rare penguin moments caught on cameras filmmakers hid inside life-sized animatronic penguins and then placed among colonies of the real marine birds. There are 17 species of penguin worldwide and these robots look and move like the real thing.

“They have cameras in their eyes and they can get really close to the animals, the penguins, and they can get these kinds of shots that are really in the penguins works and also capture extraordinary behavior,” producer-director John Downer said.

Downer, with producer Phillip Dalton, used the spy-cam embeds to capture unprecedented footage for their new documentary, “Penguins: Waddle All the Way,” which premieres on the Discovery Channel Saturday 9 p.m. ET.

“The cameras actually caught the moment the egg came round and you saw the tail flip round protecting the egg, saved it from the ice,” Downer said. “You know it was a moment that you wouldn’t have seen any other way.”HT_penguin_robot_1_sr_131120_16x9_608

Downer and his team deployed 50 of these cameras, which were also placed inside fake penguin eggs rocks and ice formations.

The cameras caught emperor penguins as they took the treacherous 60-mile journey to their breeding grounds, rockhoppers as they bobbed and weaved their way through snapping sea lions, and Humboldts as they tried to evade vampire bats. They even captured moments of jealousy.

“The rockhoppers up in the colony, they were waiting for their females to return and most of them had, except for one individual that was quite lonely, and so he turned his eye on our robot and they very quickly bonded,” Dalton said. “But he was caught in the act, the female did return and she wasn’t very happy.”

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Indeed, Dalton said, the angry female knocked the animatronic penguin to the ground.

Through these spy cams, the birds were seen slipping, sliding, and stumbling their way through a course of seemingly endless challenges on their annual pilgrimage to the harshest of destinations, all in hopes of creating new life.

“They reflect a lot of our lives,” Dalton said. “They would survive all the knocks in life, get back up, and just keep going.”

Penguin Propulsion

November 19, 2013

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.penguins

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.

Too Cute Penguins and Kids Parade

November 18, 2013

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.  penguin3

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.

Landmark Penguins Pilferred

November 5, 2013

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.’

Constable David Trevethan alongside the pillar the penguin has been stolen from

Constable David Trevethan alongside the pillar the penguin has been stolen from