Posts Tagged ‘Norway’

By Vanessa Bates Ramirez

A Norwegian container ship called the Yara Birkeland will be the world’s first electric, autonomous, zero-emissions ship.

With a capacity of up to 150 shipping containers, the battery-powered ship will be small compared to modern standards (the biggest container ship in the world holds 19,000 containers, and an average-size ship holds 3,500), but its launch will mark the beginning of a transformation of the global shipping industry. This transformation could heavily impact global trade as well as the environment.

The Yara Birkeland is being jointly developed by two Norwegian companies: agricultural firm Yara International, and agricultural firm, and Kongsberg Gruppen, which builds guidance systems for both civilian and military use.

The ship will be equipped with a GPS and various types of sensors, including lidar, radar, and cameras—much like self-driving cars. The ship will be able to steer itself through the sea, avoid other ships, and independently dock itself.

The Wall Street Journal states that building the ship will cost $25 million, which is about three times the cost of a similarly-sized conventional ship. However, the savings will kick in once the ship starts operating, since it won’t need traditional fuel or a big crew.

Self-driving cars aren’t going to suddenly hit the streets straight off their production line; they’ve been going through multiple types of road tests, refining their sensors, upgrading their software, and generally improving their functionality little by little. Similarly, the Yara Birkeland won’t take to the sea unmanned on its first voyage, nor any of its several first voyages, for that matter.

Rather, the ship’s autonomy will be phased in. At first, says the Journal, “a single container will be used as a manned bridge on board. Then the bridge will be moved to shore and become a remote-operation center. The ship will eventually run fully on its own, under supervision from shore, in 2020.”

Kongsberg CEO Geir Haoy compared the ship’s sea-to-land bridge transition to flying a drone from a command center, saying, “It will be GPS navigation and lots of high-tech cameras to see what’s going on around the ship.”

Interestingly, there’s currently no legislation around autonomous ships (which makes sense since, well, there aren’t any autonomous ships, either). Lawmakers are getting to work, though, and rules will likely be set up by the time the Yara makes it first fully-autonomous trip.

The ship will sail between three ports in southern Norway, delivering Yara International fertilizer from a production facility to a port called Larvik. The planned route is 37 nautical miles, and the ship will stay within 12 nautical miles of the coast.

The United Nations’ International Maritime Organization estimates over 90 percent of the world’s trade is carried by sea, and states that maritime transport is “By far the most cost-effective way to move en masse goods and raw materials around the world.”

But ships are also to blame for a huge amount of pollution; one study showed that just 15 of the world’s biggest ships may emit as much pollution as all the world’s cars, largely due to the much higher sulfur content of ship fuel. Oddly, shipping emission regulations weren’t included in the Paris Agreement.

Besides reducing fuel emissions by being electric, the Yara Birkeland will supposedly replace 40,000 truck drives a year through southern Norway. Once regulations are in place and the technology has been tested and improved, companies will start to build larger ships that can sail longer routes.

https://singularityhub.com/2017/07/30/the-worlds-first-autonomous-ship-will-set-sail-in-2018/?utm_source=Singularity+Hub+Newsletter&utm_campaign=23e95e4fd1-Hub_Daily_Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f0cf60cdae-23e95e4fd1-58158129

Advertisements

106828800_loo-xlarge_trans++7cRE2UJqV2Z90oWc06xXvLmdfI6nSQjVa0ve73eBB6s

By Agence France-Presse

Firemen in Norway came to the rescue Friday of a man who climbed into an outdoor public toilet to retrieve a friend’s cell phone, after he got stuck in the tank.

Cato Berntsen Larsen, 20, was able to climb through the toilet seat opening to recover the phone lying at the bottom of the outhouse, but was unable to climb back out again.

“First we tried to get the phone with a stick but that didn’t work. So I jumped in,” he told daily VG.

“I was down there an hour, I was panicking,” he said, adding there were “animals” crawling on his body.

Overcome by nausea and vomiting, he tried in vain to pull himself of the tank, and which is only emptied once a year, according to VG.

He ultimately decided to contact the fire brigade to help end his ordeal in the small town of Drammen outside Oslo.

“It was a fairly easy task for us. We sent a four-man crew with a chainsaw and they cut open the front of the (plastic) toilet,” fire brigade spokeswoman Tina Brock told AFP NEWS agency.

The rescue was a “first” for the local fire brigade, she acknowledged. “It was pretty full down there.”

The phone was not recovered.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/26/man-rescued-from-inside-public-lavatory/

To investigate whether the differences in how men and women navigate are related to our sex or to cultural conditioning, researchers in Norway measured male and female brain activity while volunteers tried to find their way through a virtual reality maze.

Wearing 3D goggles and using a joystick to make their way through an artificial environment, the participants (18 males and 18 females) had their brain functions continuously recorded by an fMRI scanner as they carried out virtual navigation tasks.

In line with previous findings, the men performed better, using shortcuts, orienting themselves more using cardinal directions, and solving 50 percent more tasks than the women in the study.

“Men’s sense of direction was more effective,” said Carl Pintzka, a neuroscientist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). “They quite simply got to their destination faster.”

One of the reasons for this is because of the difference in how men and women use their brains when we’re finding our way around. According to the researchers, men use the hippocampus more, whereas women place greater reliance on their brains’ frontal areas.

“That’s in sync with the fact that the hippocampus is necessary to make use of cardinal directions,” said Pintzka. “[M]en usually go in the general direction where [their destination is] located. Women usually orient themselves along a route to get there.”

Generally, the cardinal approach is more efficient, as it depends less on where you start.

But women’s brains make them better at finding objects locally, the researchers say. “In ancient times, men were hunters and women were gatherers. Therefore, our brains probably evolved differently,” said Pintzka. “In simple terms, women are faster at finding things in the house, and men are faster at finding the house.”

What was most remarkable about the study was what happened when the researchers gave women a drop of testosterone to see how it affected their ability to navigate the virtual maze. In a separate experiment, 21 women received a drop of testosterone under their tongues, while 21 got a placebo.

The researchers found that the women receiving testosterone showed improved knowledge of the layout of the maze, and relied on their hippocampus more to find their way around. Having said that, these hormone-derived benefits didn’t enable them to solve more maze tasks in the exercise.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the study used a fairly small sample size in both of the experiments carried out, so the findings need to be read in light of that. Nonetheless, the scientists believe their paper, which is published in Behavioural Brain Research, will help us to better understand the different ways male and female brains work, which could assist in the fight against diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

“Almost all brain-related diseases are different in men and women, either in the number of affected individuals or in severity,” said Pintzka. “Therefore, something is likely protecting or harming people of one sex. Since we know that twice as many women as men are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, there might be something related to sex hormones that is harmful.”

http://www.sciencealert.com/women-can-navigate-better-when-given-testosterone-study-finds

Thanks to Dr. Enrique Leira for bringing this to the It’s Interesting community.

Earthworms have been raining down from heaven over large areas of southern Norway, leaving biologists and meteorologists scratching their heads.

Biology teacher Karstein Erstad was out for a ski in the mountains outside Bergen on Sunday when he came across the unusual phenomenon.

“I saw thousands of earthworms on the surface of the snow,” he told The Local. “When I found them on the snow they seemed to be dead, but when I put them in my hand I found that they were alive.”

At first he thought that they had perhaps crawled though the snow from the ground beneath, but on reflection, he rejected this idea.

“In many places, the snow thickness was between half a meter and a meter and I think they would have problems crawling through the cold snow.”

Since Erstad’s discovery was reported in Norway’s NRK news channel, corroborating reports have flooded in from across southern Norway, with sightings of worm rainfall in Lindås and Suldal near Bergen, and as far away as Femunden on the Swedish border.

“People have now observed the same phenomenon in many places in Norway,” Erstad told The Local. “It’s very peculiar, I don’t know why so many people have discovered it. I don’t know if there have been some special weather conditions lately.”

Erstad has found reports of the worm rainfall phenomenon taking place in Sweden in the 1920s.

“It’s a very rare phenomenon,” he told The Local. “It’s difficult to say how many times it happens, but it has only been reported a very few times.”

http://www.thelocal.no/20150416/earthworms-rain-from-sky-over-southern-norway