Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project | History | 20th Century Icebreakers

History

Icebreakers (20th century)

Advances in shipbuilding technology resulted in the creation of the icebreaker, a vessel strong enough to not only withstand the crushing power of the ice, but to break through it. This technology finally opened most of the ice covered Arctic Ocean to military, scientific and commercial interests. In Russia, Britnev is believed to have proposed in 1864 the characteristic bow shape that is now used by all icebreakers. The first notable icebreaker was the Pilot (1870), used to maintain communication between Kronstadt and St. Petersburg. Naval Commander Makarov is credited with the construction of the Yermak, the first true icebreaker, which reached 81°21’N north of Spitsbergen on her maiden voyage in 1899, and 83°06’N nearly 40 years later. In 1916, the first linear icebreaker aimed at support of regular navigation along the northern coast of Russia was built in Newcastle, England by order of Russian Maritime Ministry, and named the Krasin. This icebreaker operated for many years in the Arctic and was a crucial component in the development of the Northern Sea Route (Northeast Passage).

In 1921, the Floating Marine Institute in the USSR was founded for multi-disciplinary study of the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas, rivers, islands and coastal areas. Its first cruise was carried out on the icebreaking steamer Malygin. Later, a new special vessel Persei was built in Arkhangelsk. In the eastern sector of the Arctic, regular steamer cruises from Vladivostok to Kolyma commenced, and in 1927, ships from Vladivostok came to Tiksi in the Laptev Sea and even the Lena River. In 1928, Krasin reached the ice camp of the Italian airman Nobile and took part in the rescue. The icebreaking steamer Malygin approached the camp from the southeast and carried out valuable scientific observations in the northern part of the Barents Sea. Icebreaking steamer Sedov explored the western and southern part of Frantz Josef Land. The first nuclear powered icebreaker, Lenin, was built in 1959 at Admiralty Shipyard, Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). The most powerful nuclear icebreaker in the world was the Soviet Arctika. It was the first surface ship to reach the North Pole in 1977.

via Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project | History | 20th Century Icebreakers.

Dark Roasted Blend: Russian Nuclear Icebreakers: to the North Pole!

Odyssey in the Arctic with the Russian Icebreaker Fleet

The nuclear-powered icebreakers were considered the symbol of Soviet technological power for many decades. Today this fleet is still used to aid ship navigation in the seas north of Siberia – but also for the purpose of elite tourism, which surely helps to pay the bills.

The most powerful of all icebreakers – “50 years of Victory” (one of six “Arktika” class)- has two nuclear reactors and is capable of reaching North Pole in just a couple of days.

via Dark Roasted Blend: Russian Nuclear Icebreakers: to the North Pole!.

Dark Roasted Blend: The Ghosts of Antarctica: Abandoned Stations and Huts

Dark Roasted Blend: The Ghosts of Antarctica: Abandoned Stations and Huts.

More ghosts per capita than any continent

Does Antarctica have the most ghosts of any continent? On a per capita basis, the answer is yes.

While the South Pole and environs doesn’t have a permanent population, there are on average 2,500 people living there during the year — approximately 4000 in summer and 1000 incredibly hardy ones in winter (source). While no complete necrologies exists for the Antarctic, at least 268 people have died there since humanity first decided it was a good place to visit. So if the ghosts divvie the work evenly, each one only has to haunt 9.68992 inhabitants. (Some lists of who has died way down south include a certain Mrs. Chippy. I have chosen to leave her out of my calculations as she was a cat and if we include her we have to include penguins and then it’s Katy bar the door.)

Antarctica is a very popular place to abandon

In addition to having a light work load, Antarctic spirits also have an abundance of residences to choose from thanks to the huge number of ghost towns and other such haunts. For obvious reasons, Antarctica is a very popular place to abandon. Below is a map of places abandoned by just the British on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Screening Out the Introverts – Advice – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Screening Out the Introverts – Advice – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Some years ago I joined my students in taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a test to determine personality type. It was an assignment in a course I was teaching on vocational exploration.

Assuming there would be an average distribution of results among the 20 students, I planned a series of small-group assignments in which they would discuss their own results for each of the test’s personality dichotomies (e.g., thinking versus feeling). But a problem turned up immediately: Not one student had received an “I” for introversion. Everyone, it seemed, was an extrovert (Myers-Briggs spells it with an “a,” like “extra”). Everyone but me.

Extroverts—if you accept such categories—are oriented outward, toward other people and toward action over reflection. They draw energy from social interaction, and they tend to be outspoken and gregarious. Introverts, on the other hand, are oriented toward the inner life of thought; they tend to be reserved and cautious. They find social interactions draining, and they need solitude to recharge. It’s not that introverts are antisocial so much as that they appreciate fewer, more intimate friendships. They don’t like small talk but appreciate deeper discussions.

I knew my students well enough to suspect that I was not the only one with that tendency. A third of them barely spoke in class unless called upon. A few hardly spoke to anyone. Perhaps the introverted choices on the test were too stigmatizing to consider (e.g., “Would you rather go to a party or stay home reading a book?”). The students had used the test to confirm that they had the right, “healthy” qualities.

Given that introversion is frowned upon almost everywhere in U.S. culture, the test might as well have asked, “Would you prefer to be cool, popular, and successful or weird, isolated, and a failure?” In the discussion that followed, a few students observed—with general agreement—that introversion was a kind of mental illness (and, one student noted, a sign of spiritual brokenness). “We are made to be social with each other” was a refrain in the conversation.

A few sympathetic students tried to persuade me that my introvert result was a mistake. How could I stand in front of that room, leading that very conversation, smiling at them, without being an extrovert? The answer: careful planning, acting, and rationing my public appearances. Also, my introversion fades when I become comfortable with unfamiliar people (the first weeks of classes are a strain).

We soon moved on to other personality dichotomies that were more evenly distributed. When the class was over, many of the students continued talking in an animated way about their results. Several left, silently, by themselves. The conversation left me exhausted; I went to my office and closed the door for an hour as I prepared for my next performance.

 

via Screening Out the Introverts – Advice – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

What to call the particle formerly known as Higgs – physics-math – 20 March 2012 – New Scientist

What to call the particle formerly known as Higgs – physics-math – 20 March 2012 – New Scientist.

via What to call the particle formerly known as Higgs – physics-math – 20 March 2012 – New Scientist.

China’s Loess Plateau Reclamation

The Loess Plateau in China’s Northwest is home to more than 50 million people. Centuries of overuse led to one of the highest erosion rates in the world and widespread poverty. Two projects set out to restore the Loess Plateau.

Background Information:

The project area covers 15,600 square km of land in nine tributary watersheds of the Yellow River on the Loess Plateau in Shanxi, Shaanxi, and Gansu Provinces, and the Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia, China.

The Loess Plateau covers an area of some 640,000 sq. km in the upper and middle parts of the drainage basin of the Yellow River. Before the project, most of the project area consisted of severely degraded and barren land and low productivity slope land. The loess soil has good agricultural properties, but drought is a major constraint in crop production. Slope lands in the Loess Plateau produce extremely high levels of sediment runoff per unit area. Broad flat terraces for crops and narrow terraces for trees and shrubs are essential for profitable use of lands in the project areas. Per capita incomes in the project area are mostly below the poverty line.

The objective of the project is to help achieve sustainable development in the Loess Plateau by increasing agricultural production and incomes, and improving ecological conditions in tributary watersheds of the Yellow River, through: (a) the introduction of more efficient and sustainable uses of land and water resources; and (b) reducing erosion and sediment flow into the Yellow River. The project finances the integrated planning and treatment of small watersheds. The project creates high-yielding, level farmland for production of field crops and orchards and thereby replaces areas devoted to crops on erodible slope lands, and (b) plants the slope lands to a range of trees, shrubs and grasses for the production of fuel, timber and fodder. These measures increase per hectare productivity on the improved farmland, raise overall output and incomes, and have positive ecological impact. Comprehensive and integrated planning of individual watersheds in close consultation with the beneficiaries in the villages is a key aspect of the project.

This paper from February 2012 [PLOS PDF] quantitatively evaluates the effects of Grain to Green Program (GTGP) implementation on ecosystem services in the Loess Plateau region (Figure 1)

Prior to the GTGP implementation, the Loess Plateau was dominated by grasslands and farmlands. Between 2000 and 2008 the land cover patterns of the Loess Plateau changed remarkably. Woodland, grassland and residential land cover increased by 4.9%, 6.6% and 8.5%, respectively. Farmland decreased by 10.8% and desertification increased slightly, by 0.3% (Figure 2)

The increases in grassland and woodland were distributed along a northeast to southwest land strip (Figure 3).

The regional climate condition of the Loess Plateau region has exhibited a warming and drying trend. This climate trend was revealed from the analysis of time series data between 1951 and 2008, obtained from 85 weather stations located in the Loess Plateau region (Figure 4). Precipitation was found to decrease annually by an average of 0.97 mm and temperature was found to increase annually by an average of 0.02°C.

Regional water yield decreased after the implementation of the GTGP. Over half of the study area (northeast to southwest of the Loess Plateau) experienced a decrease in runoff (2–37 mm/year) with an average 10.3 mm/year decrease in runoff across the whole Loess Plateau over the 2002–2008 period (Figure 5)

Soil conservation in the Loess Plateau, represented as a decrease in soil erosion, has improved since 2000 as a result of vegetation restoration (Figure 6).

The spatial variation of carbon sequestration in the Loess Plateau is shown in Figure 7.

The time and rate of the gross production change appeared to occur later and more slowly than the grain productivity change (Figure 8). Actual grain production increased across the whole of the Loess Plateau at a rate of 18% between 2000 and 2008.

Table 1. Rainfall erosivity and soil retention characteristics in the Loess Plateau region from 2000 to 2008.

Table 2. Area of cropland converted to forest (grassland) and the carbon sequestration by vegetation, soil and ecosystems in Loess Plateau between 2000 and 2008.

Hope in a Changing Climate
While serving as executive director of the Environmental Education Media Project Jonathan Halperin managed the creation of Hope in a Changing Climate, the award-winning documentary screened in Copenhagen at COP-15 and broadcast globally by BBC World.

The story of successful large-scale ecosystem restoration that is shown in the film, narrated by EEMP founder John D. Liu, continues to inspire audiences around the world and has been translated into French, Russian, Chinese, and numerous other languages.

Origin and Formation of Loessal Soils

Understanding the conditions of the environment that people of the Loess Plateau inhabit is a necessity, and with this acknowledgement comes the need to establish what loess actually is. Containing more nutrients than sand, it is also much finer. Its silt-like nature is noted as being among the most erosion-prone soils known on the planet (Jiang 18). Loess is also extremely sensitive to the forces of wind and water, bearing the dubious honor of being blown or washed away quicker than any other soil type (Pye 125).

Prior to this century, loess was a compelling mystery for geologists seeking to know its origins. Former theories included that loessal deposits were beds of ancient oceans, and even that they were composed of cosmic Saturn-like rings of dust that may have once encircled the globe but somehow rained down in pockets (Pye 237). Into the 19th Century, however, an apparent agreement was shown between the timing of noticeable waves of loessal sedimentation and the glaciation of the northern hemisphere (Smalley 358).

The Loess Plateau was formed in waves between 2.4 and 1.67 million years ago, helped along by the uplift of the Tibetan Plateau, the movements of several huge glaciers across desert

regions, and strong winds maintained by a high-pressure system in a cold and dry continental interior (Meng and Derbyshire 141). It is the world’s largest deposit of loess, approximately the size of France, designated by the large black area in Figure 2 below (Yoong 95).

Of all the factors contributing to soil erosion in the Loess Plateau Region, including desertification, wind erosion, violent rainstorms, and earthquakes, the most significant overall has been irrational land use (Bojie et al. 732). Slopeland, although much less stable than the level “yuan” tables (See Fig. 4), is continuously cultivated out of sheer need for increasing amounts of agriculture. These plowed slopes account for as much as 70% of soil loss in the region (Luk 23). However, it is not enough to simply declare the Loess Plateau inhabitants irrational. Many factors contribute to their use of the land in such a way.

Lev Semenovich Berg was born in Bendery, in Moldova. He had great success as an ichthyologist and geographer; he also proposed, in 1916, an interesting theory of loess formation. As a biologist he was persecuted by Lysenko and the Soviet state in the time of pseudo-science in the 1930s and 1940s. Despite his being persecuted, the loess theory beca- me, in effect, the official Soviet theory of loess formation. This theory had to be compatible with his ‘landscape’ theory which did not find favour in Marxist-Leninist geography. Berg’s loess theory was very much a geographical theory, as opposed to the geological theory of aeolian deposition, which was accepted outside the Soviet Union. Berg was hugely successful in many fields, but his contributions to loess science tend to be neglected. His ‘soil’ theory of loess formation has been widely disparaged but still has some influence in Russia. The concept of loessification may still be relevant to the later stages of deposit formation; the slow transition from metastable to collapsible may be best described as loessification.

The Lessons of the Loess Plateau, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six.

SOPA! How it could destroy public intellectualism, and the furtherance of an educated, creative, developing society.

UPDATE: The White House has begun to respond to the protesting voices of American Citizens (ironically, united, but not by Citizens United) 

This is a list of sites taking action against SOPA on the 18th of January.

This post will be an updating one, currently I am just trying to collate information, links, and materials, as well as sources relating to the primary actors in this game… the politicians advancing such a dangerous, ignorant, reactionary and anti-modern, anti-liberty, anti-freedom based laws.

Currently, no ideas in this post are my own (for some digging I did on copyright a while back, check here), I will work to compose my own thoughts, but I thought that was completely secondary to linking OTHERS to the information to create a cogent case against such techno-phobic, corporately sponsored ignorance in our nations lawmakers.  I will note now only that SOPA is emphatically not “simply” a law to “stop piracy”… as written, it will break the internet.  I know many will already be aware of the issues presented, but consider that this is not simply a matter of “them foolish kids downloading the new hot Britanny Spears Track”… this law will DETRIMENTALLY impact the free flow of information between scholars, public intellectuals, and people who are hungry for rational, logical debate and information transmission.

If we wanted twitter to be censored, and to have our information fed through a blender that filters out anything negative about our government… we might simply go to China.   It is pathetically ignorant to, on one hand spew spittle flecked invective at “human rights abusing” China, and to sneer about how “Chinese citizens are not free, and do not have free thought or expression”… well, our distinguished “leaders” have decided that, hypocritically, that is what their vision of America entails.

The question to ask is; IS THIS WAR ON FREEDOM AND LIBERTY WHAT I WANT FOR MY CHILDREN?

“A growing tension between rights holders and libraries”

Butler mentions three copyright infringement lawsuits against universities and their libraries—the Georgia State e-reserves case, the AIME vs. UCLA video streaming case, and Authors Guild v. HathiTrust. “These lawsuits reflect a growing tension between rights holders and libraries, and some rights holders’ increasingly belligerent enforcement mentality,” Butler wrote. (On September 14, the LCA released a statement [PDF] in support of HathiTrust and its research library partners in the Authors Guild v. HathiTrust case.)

What can you do now?  The EFF offers this toolkit for anti-sopa activists;

  1. Call your Senators and Representative and tell them to oppose Protect-IP and SOPA, respectively.  Click here for some suggested talking points. Then tell your friends about the call on social media sites.
  2. Contact Congress through EFF’s action center.  Customize your letter to explain who you are and why you are worried about this bill. If you’re outside the United States, try this petition from Fight for the Future instead.
  3. If you work for a tech company, approach the leadership at your company and explain to them your concerns. Urge them to join you in speaking out. These companies (PDF) already took a stand.
  4. Write a blog post about the blacklist bills.  Whether it’s a candid explanation of why you oppose the legislation, a discussion of the effect on human rights, or a call to filmmakersto protest the blacklist, there are plenty of things to say about this scary legislation. Help us get the word out by writing articles on your own blog, your school blog, or on blogs that take guest contributors.
  5. Are you an artist? Showcase the dangers of censorship through art and music, and use your art as a way of reaching people who might otherwise not know about this issue. You can make stickers, posters or patches, create a YouTube video, or hold an open-mic night around censorship.
  6. Do you administer a website? Then put a banner on your site protesting censorship or link to EFF’s action center.
  7. Coordinate a teach-in or debate at your local college or community center. Invite local experts in copyright and free speech to come discuss the issue.
  8. If you’re in high school, talk to your civics and media studies teachers about a class discussion on the implications of this bill. Point them to our free Teaching Copyrightmaterials.
  9. If you’re in college, speak out through like-minded organizations working for digital freedom, such as Students for Free Culture or Electronic Frontier on Campus. If there isn’t a chapter at your school, start one. Then use that platform to coordinate with other students to speak out against this bill.
  10. If you’re in college, set up a meeting with your college newspaper editorial board and explain the bill to them and why they should speak out about it. Work with them to write articles on the topics. Check out these examples from the University of BuffaloUniversity of Massachusetts, and University of Minnesota.  See more examples at the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Chorus of Opposition page.
  11. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Remember, these are often really short. Find out the requirements for your local paper and follow them carefully.
  12. Become a member of EFF. We’re leading the fight to defend civil liberties online, so that future generations will enjoy an Internet free of censorship. By standing together, we can make it happen.

….

The Senate’s PROTECT IP Act and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are so noxious that even the Business Software Alliance has serious reservations, and SOPA’s main backer had to take to the virtualpages of National Review today to quell a growing revolt among his conservative colleagues about “regulating the Internet.” Whatever you think of the legislation, it unquestionably represents a sea change in the US approach to the Internet, one which explicitly contemplates widespread website blocking and search engine de-listing.

The level of debate on an issue this important has been… suboptimal. (And hearings have been rather lopsided affairs). Just listen to the rhetoric of SOPA author Lamar Smith: “Enforcing the law against criminals is not censorship.” Pithy, sure, but it doesn’t relate to any actual objections put forth by thoughtful critics.

But rightsholders do need some means of enforcing copyrights and trademarks, something tough to do when a site sets up overseas and willfully targets American consumers with fake goods and unauthorized content. Some sites can be leaned on when hosted in friendly countries, but many simply thumb their nose at US law with impunity. If you can’t go after the sites at the source, and you can’t lure their operators to the US (both tactics used with success in other cases), what’s left but blocking site access from within the US?

(Via:ARS-Technica)

OPEN: Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade Act

The OPEN Act secures two fundamental principles. First, Americans have a right to benefit from what they’ve created. And second, Americans have a right to an open internet. Our duty is to protect these rights. That’s why congressional Republicans and Democrats came together to write the OPEN Act.

….

One of the many serious problems with the Stop Online Piracy Act (“SOPA”) (pdf) is how it tacks itself onto existing law to expand liability to people who may be three times removed from any actual copyright infringement. In § 103, SOPA wraps another layer of liability around what are called the “anticircumvention provisions” of the Copyright Act (which are found in section 1201 of the Copyright Act). The goal of the anticircumvention provisions is preventing people from circumventing technology that protects copyrighted works. Importantly, however, some courts have held that § 1201 prohibits circumvention even when the person’s ultimate use of the work does not infringe copyright. So if you circumvent technology to access a work in a way that’s completely legal, you might still be violating § 1201. If SOPA is passed, even more individuals and entities will get caught up in an ever-expanding net of liability, which is especially ridiculous when we’re talking about a provision of the law that may not even require actual copyright infringement.

SOPA’s Ever-Expanding Net of Liability


Earlier this week, the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA)—made up of the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and the Association of College & Research Libraries—released an open letter [PDF] to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), “welcoming [the] release” of a discussion draft bill the legislators have sponsored. Called the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act, the bill has been touted as a potential alternative to SOPA.

Though SOPA [PDF] is primarily aimed at combating copyright infringement by foreign websites, many observers have taken issue with the enforcement methods described in the bill, which could have far-reaching effects—including in the library world. (Yesterday, 83 Internet engineers and inventors wrote an open letter to Congress saying that SOPA and similar legislation “will create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation.”)

On November 8, Brandon Butler, ARL’s director of public policy initiatives, wrote another open letter on behalf of the LCA criticizing two provisions of SOPA’s Section 201. One of them, he wrote, could expand the definition of “willful” copyright infringement to potentially include cases where a person (or organization) believed in good faith that its infringing conduct was lawful; such “innocent” infringement carries much smaller potential for monetary penalties than willful infringement does. (“In cases of willful infringement, the court can increase the statutory damages to $150,000; in cases of innocent infringement, the court can reduce the statutory damages to $200,” Butler wrote.)

Brandon Butler, Director of Public Policy Initiatives, at ARL talks SOPA with CNN’s Brian Todd.

Direct to Video Interview (via ARL Policy)

What’s Wrong With SOPA?

On Digital Preservation Techniques

If you take any given link (or all outgoing links on the blue [or a triage of links as suggested in a modified “MoSCow” method here, starting with the places that always kill links quickly, like, if any still get posted, yahoo!]), and paste it in the box HERE (wayback machine, Beta), and click “show latest”, it automatically has Archive.org take a snapshot, at that time, and then in a month or so, it will be permanently in the archive (which looks like this)… which can then be queried by any of many tools. So, basically, is there a way to get a computer to strip and copy links, paste them there, and then “press” a button on a web-page? Or is one of these tools more appropriate for this “archiving” task (Web Curator toolFirefox Page-Saver/Scrapbook plugin).

I should also clarify, the memento project is not for the “archiving” part, it is for the navigation, and interconnection of the disparate “archive-sources” — after they are captured; such as,http://www.webcitation.org/archive.phphttp://www.archive-it.org/http://webarchives.cdlib.org/p/projectsBackupurlHeratrix open source crawling tool.

-these resources might help anyone who is looking at this major problem with web architecture, and thinking they want to “do something”. Links via “A Guide for Archiving Web Pages

So one would find a way of making auto-archivisation of Mefi outgoing links first, then on a server, would do something like link to “memento/timeportals” (or something, it is explained more clearly here [Having your server link to http://purl.org/memento/timegate/ will cause Memento clients to talk to the timegate aggregator, which will check 10+ public archives for the appropriate pages. This of course assumes that public archives have been crawling your site; if the site is very new it
might not have been crawled & archived yet.
])… which then parses the archives, and sees which, if any, possess the proper resources.

The following terms specific to the Memento framework are introduced here:
Original Resource: An Original Resource is a resource that exists or used to exist, and for which access to one of its prior states is desired.
Memento: A Memento for an Original Resource is a resource that encapsulates a prior state of the Original Resource. A Memento for an Original Resource as it existed at time Tj is a resource that encapsulates the state that the Original Resource had at time Tj.
TimeGate: A TimeGate for an Original Resource is a resource that supports negotiation to allow selective, datetime-based, access to prior states of the Original Resource.
TimeMap: A TimeMap for an Original Resource is a resource from which a list of URIs of Mementos of the Original Resource is available.

The original poster might find this site interesting and on-topic, it is created by the Library of Congress Web Archives, it is the “minerva archive”, which has a whole lot of archives from immediately pre 9/11, and then also many from after… it essentially documents “how” America, and the world used the internet both during 9/11, and in the aftermath. And hereare is the list of other LCWA topics.

Oh, wow, thissiteisincredible.
Spanamwar.comAction Reports and First Hand Accounts, Diver Charles Morgan, USS NEW YORK Describes his Descent into the MAINE (*graphic description of the results of war). Not sure what the “Battleship Maine” is? No excuses now. Via “single sites archive“. Gratuitous image of awesome three dollar billContinental Currency… seriously, are archives actually singularities, from over the event-horizon of which my time may never return?

The Viking Sunstone Revealed?

The Viking Sunstone Revealed? – ScienceNOW.


A depolarizer as a possible precise sunstone for Viking navigation by polarized skylight

 

 

Viking navigation from Norway to America in the northern latitudes remains a mystery for physicists, historians and archaeologists. Polarimetric methods using absorbing dichroic crystals as polarizers to detect a hidden Sun direction using the polarized skylight have led to controversies. Indeed, these techniques may lack in sensitivity, especially when the degree of polarization is low. Here, we demonstrate theoretically and experimentally that using the transparent common Iceland spar as a depolarizer, the Vikings could have performed a precise navigation under different conditions. Indeed, when simply rotated, such a birefringent crystal can completely depolarize, at the so-called isotropy point, any partially polarized state of light, allowing us to guess the direction of the Sun. By equalizing the intensities of the ordinary and extraordinary beams at the isotropy point, we show that the Sun direction can be determined easily, thanks to a simple sensitive differential two-image observation. A precision of a few degrees could be reached even under dark crepuscular conditions. The exciting recent discovery of such an Iceland spar in the Alderney Elizabethan ship that sank two centuries before the introduction of the polarization of light in optics may support the use of the calcite crystal for navigation purposes.