diumenge, 14 d’agost de 2011

Investigadors de Girona revisen la teoria del 'GPS dels víkings'

Una llegenda diu que els vaixells es guiaven en la boira amb pedres solars
Els científics confirmen que certs minerals poden polaritzar la llum
Fa més de 1.000 anys, quan a la península Ibèrica hi floria l'Al-Andalus, aguerrits pobles del nord d'Europa dominaven gran part dels mars i en algunes de les seves expedicions fins i tot van arribar a trepitjar territori nord-americà. En una època misteriosa i fosca, en què no hi havia cartes de navegació fiables ni brúixoles magnètiques, els temuts víkings solcaven els oceans sense tecnologia.
Per orientar-se es guiaven per la posició del Sol, la Lluna i les estrelles. Per això van inventar una espècie de brúixola solar que marcava mitjançant una ombra la posició de l'astre rei. Però a causa del gèlid clima dels mars per on navegaven, amb abundant broma i bancs de boira, van haver de desenvolupar altres mètodes per no perdre's durant les seves incursions. Diuen que els timoners se sabien de memòria el perfil de les costes i que els navegants eren capaços de guiar-se per la direcció de les onades, el flux dels corrents o fins i tot pel color i la temperatura de les aigües.
AUS, PEIXOS I ALGUES / També prestaven atenció al rumb de les aus, la direcció dels bancs de peixos o fins i tot la presència d'algues. Però, segons explica una antiga llegenda víking, disposaven a més d'una pedra misteriosa que els orientava en els dies més tenebrosos. L'anomenada pedra del Sol: un mineral translúcid (que podria ser una varietat de calcita anomenada espat d'Islàndia), que polaritzava la llum i mostrava on es trobava el Sol els dies de boira.
«L'ús d'aquesta pedra només és una teoria que sorgeix d'una llegenda trobada en un antic manuscrit islandès. Fins ara ningú ha localitzat pedres d'aquesta mena entre les restes dels vaixells víkings que s'han recuperat, però vam decidir comprovar, per simple curiositat, si des del punt de vista òptic aquest recurs era possible. La conclusió és que sí que ho és. Ara només falta que un arqueòleg trobi un vestigi que ho acabi de confirmar», explica Ramon Hegedüs, un jove investigador hongarès que col·labora en un projecte europeu en què participa la Universitat de Girona (UG). Hegedüs, que forma part del grup Visió per Computador i Robòtica (Vicorob) de la Universitat de Girona, ha publicat les seves conclusions a la revista científica Proceedings of the Royal Society London B.
L'antiga saga a la qual es refereix aquest investigador relata que un dia en què navegava sota una espessa boira, el rei Olaf va preguntar a l'heroi Sigurd si podia determinar la ubicació del Sol. Després d'obtenir una resposta, el monarca va agafar una pedra del Sol per comprovar si la predicció era encertada. Olaf es va posar el mineral davant dels ulls, va estudiar el cel i va comprovar a quin lloc hi havia la font de la llum, i per això va aconseguir determinar la posició de l'astre invisible.
El 1967, l'arqueòleg danès Thorkild Ramskou va suggerir que aquesta pedra podria haver estat un cristall polaritzat com l'espat d'Islàndia, una forma transparent de calcita molt comuna en els països escandinaus.
POLARITZADOR / «Amb una pedra que actua com un polaritzador, mirant al cel i fent girar el mineral en diferents punts es pot veure a quines zones hi ha més llum. I així es pot intuir a quina zona està el Sol. No podem saber quina precisió tenien els víkings. Però és indubtable que s'ha de tenir una certa habilitat per orientar-se, perquè quan hi ha boira la quantitat de llum és més petita. Segurament depenia molt de l'habilitat del navegant per esbrinar la direcció correcta», afegeix Rafael García, director del grup Vicorob.
Les antigues llegendes i les lleis de l'òptica coincideixen en l'eficàcia d'aquest mecanisme, ara només falta trobar una d'aquestes pedres en una antiga nau víking per confirmar la teoria d'aquesta brúixola arcaica. Una tasca per a la qual pot ser de gran ajuda el robot de recerca submarina que estan desenvolupat aquests investigadors de la UG juntament amb les universitats Jaume I (UJI) i Illes Balears (UIB).
FERRAN COSCULLUELA (GIRONA) El Periodico  agost 2011

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