Unlocking The Mysteries Of Ulfberht Swords, The All-Powerful Viking Swords

The all-powerful Ulfberht swords with blades so strong that it still baffles experts today.

Ulfberht Swords

When you think of medieval warfare, we think of swords. In the age before gunpowder, the best way to kill your enemy was usually just to stab him with a big hunk of steel.

But if you think that everyone was using swords, you might be a little off-base. Even if you tried to equip an entire army with swords, you would have quickly run into the biggest problem associated with warfare no matter the era: money.

Swords were incredibly expensive. Depending on where you lived, a good sword could cost about £1,200 to £24,000 in today’s money. Of course, it’s hard to directly translate the cost between the medieval period and today, simply because the economy worked so differently. But the bottom line is if you wanted a good sword, it wasn’t cheap.

But what if you wanted a really good sword? A sword that was so much better than everything else of its era that it was almost mythical? Then you needed an Ulfberht. And you had better bring some serious cash.

The Ulfberht swords, largely associated with Vikings, were basically like the Ferraris of their time. They were a symbol of wealth, status, and they would perform better than what most other people were using.

We don’t know much about who made the Ulfberht swords, but we do know that they were probably made in the Kingdom of Francia (around modern-day France and Germany). This was traditionally where the best swords were made, and the Ulfberht “brand” might have made the best swords in Francia.

These swords were said to have been sharper, stronger, and more flexible than anyone else’s. That gave the user a huge advantage in battle. You could block an enemy’s sword and trust that your blade wouldn’t shatter, which was a constant concern. And in an era where the best warriors wore mail coats, an Ulfberht sword would slice through that protection better than other swords.

It was the closest thing to a lightsaber in medieval Europe. And that’s actually a better comparison than you might think. That’s because the process used to make Ulfberht swords was centuries ahead of the competition. In fact, it wouldn’t be possible to replicate it on a large scale until the industrial revolution.

Viking Swords

The secret to Ulfberht swords was the distribution of carbon in the blade. Steel swords were made by mixing iron and carbon to produce steel. Add too much carbon and the sword becomes brittle and breaks. Add too little, and it will just bend. The Ulfberht swords used the perfect amount to produce blades that were sharper and more durable than anyone else’s.

But we’re still not entirely sure how the makers did that, though it may have involved borrowing some the techniques used by Arab smiths to produce the famous “Damascus Steel.”

The process involved using trace amounts of other minerals and heating them together with iron and carbon in a crucible to produce first-rate steel. And getting these materials from as far as India involved a global trade network you don’t usually associate with the period.

Were the makers of the Ulfberht swords using the same techniques? Possibly. If not, then they somehow produced something very similar to Damascus Steel on their own, with almost no impurities in the metal. And they quickly became famous, and probably rich, for it.

Most likely, steel was shipped up from the Arab empires or India through the rivers of Eastern Europe by traders. There, they were turned into swords in what is now Germany. Then they were sold to Norse and Frankish nobles who wanted a quality blade to use against their enemies. It’s hard to say exactly what an Ulfberht cost, but it was probably something only the richest noblemen could afford.

Ulfberht Sword Picture

There are about 170 true Ulfberht swords that have survived to the present day. They’re all in the traditional “Viking” style with a long, double-edged blade and a straight crossbar over the grip and all of them have the name “Ulfberht” stamped into the blade. Whoever was making the swords clearly understood the importance of branding.

But like any modern brand, the Ulfberht brand was quickly beset with imitators. Because Ulfberht swords were so famous, other people soon realized they could sell their swords for more by stamping the Ulfberht name on the blade, even if they didn’t use the same techniques. And since the people who bought these swords were relying on them for battle, this had deadly consequences.

Ulfberht is itself a Frankish personal name. That might imply that the original inventor was a man named Ulfberht. But since the swords were made for about 200 years, he certainly wasn’t the only one producing them.

And because there are so many imitation swords out there, figuring out who originally created the mythic Ulfberht swords or where they did it has baffled archeologists for decades, and will likely long remain a mystery.

The Green Off-Roader Rivians R1S electric SUV unveiled

Rivian R1S electric SUV unveiled

Electric car start-up Rivian has revealed its second model, the R1S. The seven-seat SUV follows the reveal earlier this week of the R1T pick-up truck, with models due for a public debut at the LA motor show.

Rivian is hoping to have the kind of impact Tesla has made in shaking up the established automotive set and believes it has found a niche with the creation of go-anywhere electric vehicles.

The R1T and R1S, the first and second in a series of models eventually planned, are built on a bespoke electric ‘skateboard’ chassis, that’s modular and can be used on all different types and sizes of vehicles. The initial pair are closely related, the chief difference being a slightly shorter wheelbase in the R1S. The R1S is 5040mm long, making it Range Rover-sized, while the 5465mm-long R1-T is marginally longer than the Mercedes-Benz X-Class.

In both cars the lithium-ion battery pack is mounted in the floor, and in the in the R1T is good for a 230-mile range in its standard 105kWh capacity, 300-mile range in a 130kWh capacity, or up to 400 miles with the 180kWh ‘mega pack’. In the R1S, the same battery packs are offered with figures of 240, 310 and 420 miles respectively.

The two models share their drivetrains, too. Four electric motors, one for each wheel, give the electric models four-wheel drive. Each motor produces 197bhp (total combined figures through the gearbox are 754bhp and 826lb ft in the 135kWh version), which allows for prodigious performance. It’s claimed both vehicles can crack 0-60mph in just 3.0sec, and 0-100mph in less than 7.0sec in the 135kWh versions.

Double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension features, alongside air springs and adaptive dampers. Rivian claims the electric drivetrain and chassis set-up allows for both impressive on-road performance and handling and precise off-road control that surpasses any existing mechanical solutions off the asphalt. Its flat floor is also reinforced with carbonfibre and Kevlar to protect the battery pack, while both models get five-star crash test safety ratings in the US.

A distinctive front-end exterior design appears on both cars, while the spacious interiors get premium but durable materials that are easy to clean, in keeping with the cars’ off-road lifestyle brief. Two screens feature inside, that run Rivian’s own software and graphics.

There are packs of novel hidden features and clever solutions in both models, including a 330-litre front storage under the nose, and in the truck a full width storage hole that runs between the rear doors and rear wheels that’s good for housing golf clubs.

Rivian, first formed in 2009, is looking to do things differently to other start-ups by having its entire business plan and funding in place before going public with its intentions, and even then keeping targets conservative.

Company founder and CEO, RJ Scaringe, has already gone through two stillborn versions of the R1T to get to this third, production-ready version.

The US-based company is backed by investors from the Middle East, and employs some 560 people worldwide. It’s design and engineering centre is based in Plymouth, Michigan and other key sites include a battery development facility in Irvine, California. It has opened an advanced engineering centre in Chertsey, Surrey, too.

Manufacturing will take place at an old Mitsubishi plant in Illinois, which Rivian purchased for $16 million (£12.5m) last year. This has a capacity of up to 350,000 units per year.

Rivian’s initial ambitions are much lower than that initially, with plans to be selling some 50-60,000 of its premium electric off-roaders by 2025/26. It does however plan to offer its electric skateboard chassis to other companies, either car makers or indeed any brand looking to launch an electric car, so long as their products do not compete with Rivian’s own. The R1T will go into production in late 2020 with the R1S in early 2021, the former prices from around $70,000 (£55,000). Right-hand drive production for the UK will follow around a year later.

The R1T will go into production in late 2020, with the R1S following in early 2021. Prices for the former will start from $61,500 after federal tax rebates (£48,000), with Rivian accepting refundable $1000 pre-order deposits now. Right-hand drive production for the UK will follow around a year later.

Deliveries of electric pickup truck scheduled to begin late in 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

Windowless planes will give passengers a panoramic view of the sky

Ever since air travel was invented, people have been fighting over the window seat. Not any more! The Center for Process Innovation, a British technology and research firm, is creating the future of air travel!

The futuristic planes will actually be windowless. Instead, the entire length of the plane will be covered in OLED touch screens. Essentially giving everyone in plane a virtual window seat!

Within 10 to 15 years these planes could hopefully be a reality!

The touch screens with be connected to cameras that are place all over the outside of the plane. This allows the screens to display a realistic view of what is going on around the plane outside.

If you get sick of looking at the sky, you can turn the virtual window into an entertainment system as well.

Not familiar with OLED-touch screen technology? OLED is an abbreviation for organic light-emitting diode. This means that there is a film comprised of organic compounds the is capable of projecting light as a reaction to an electrical current.

It might sound scientific, but this tech is currently being used in televisions, tablets, mobile phones, and computer monitors. By the time these planes are actually manufactured. there will most likely be a more advanced screen on the market.

With the entire walls of the plane filled with screens, passengers could look out at the view surrounding them and never have to worry about getting a good seat again.

They say the projections on the screens will reflect the real world outside, I’m sure this new technology will excite a few conspiracy theorists.

This cool, new concept isn’t without its setbacks. Many people have raised concerns that the amount of light caused by all the screens might cause some passengers discomfort.

You can watch the video below to learn more about the future of transportation!

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The invisible Superyacht.

Plans for an ‘invisible’ superyacht which blends into the sea and makes those on board feel like they are ‘floating on air’ have been unveiled.

The 106-metre Mirage, which could cost as much as £200million, will be completely clad in specially mirrored glass which reflects the image of the sea back to onlookers.

This will make it look as if the 4,200-tonne vessel has ‘vanished’ to people from as little as 50 metres away – though any radar will still detect the yacht with plenty of time to manoeuvre. Meanwhile, the yacht’s own radar can also look out for smaller boats on a collision course, giving the captain time to take any evasive action.

'Invisible' superyacht: Mirage has been designed to 'vanish' into the sea and give its billionaire owner some privacy

 

‘Invisible’ superyacht: Mirage has been designed to ‘vanish’ into the sea and give its billionaire owner some privacy

 

Mirage will be completely clad in specially mirrored glass which reflects the image of the sea back to onlookers, making it invisible from 50 metres away

 

Designed to be the ultimate purchase for privacy-hungry billionaires, Mirage comes fully equipped with a helipad, spa, outdoor theatre and cinema.

The six-decked craft can sleep 14 guests and 29 crew members, and can cruise at a comfortable speed of 19 knots.

It was developed by Italian boatbuilders Fincantieri and Dutch firm Van Geest Designs to ‘disappear between water and sky’ and ‘blend into the horizon’.

Designer Pieter Van Geest said it had taken a year to develop the blueprints and would take another three and a half years to construct.

The six-decked craft can sleep 14 guests and 29 crew members, and can cruise at a comfortable speed of 19 knots

 

The six-decked craft can sleep 14 guests and 29 crew members, and can cruise at a comfortable speed of 19 knots

 

One of the 4,200-tonne vessel's stunning decks with luxurious steps leading between levels and striking glass fittings

One of the 4,200-tonne vessel’s stunning decks with luxurious steps leading between levels and striking glass fittings

 

A dining area on one of the superyacht's spacious decks with room to accommodate dozens of guests for parties

A dining area on one of the superyacht’s spacious decks with room to accommodate dozens of guests for parties

 

Mirage comes fully equipped with a helipad, spa, outdoor theatre and cinema. Pictured: The designers' vision of one of the six decks

Mirage comes fully equipped with a helipad, spa, outdoor theatre and cinema. Pictured: The designers’ vision of one of the six decks

‘The longest part was researching the reflective glass and how it would be built,’ he said.

‘The main reason in designing this yacht was to make something that belonged to its environment.

‘Most yachts nowadays stand out and break the horizon or the landscape, in a way, we have tried to minimise this effect.

A luxurious swimming pool area on the 'invisible' superyacht surrounded by satellites of sun loungers inches from the ocean

A luxurious swimming pool area on the ‘invisible’ superyacht surrounded by satellites of sun loungers inches from the ocean

 

The £200million vessel has steps leading down into the sea so its billionaire owner can take a dip from one of the lower decks

The £200million vessel has steps leading down into the sea so its billionaire owner can take a dip from one of the lower decks

‘The colour variable mirrored glass is developed by a German glass manufacturer, which has never been used on yachts before.

‘All the vertical panels on the yacht will have this finish. If you were on the water it would probably be invisible from over 50 metres away.

‘If you are on the yacht itself the mirror will project the yacht’s surroundings, so in a way, it will give you a floating on air effect when onboard.’

The 106-metre vessel was developed by Italian boatbuilders Fincantieri and Dutch firm Van Geest Designs to 'disappear between water and sky' and 'blend into the horizon'

The 106-metre vessel was developed by Italian boatbuilders Fincantieri and Dutch firm Van Geest Designs to ‘disappear between water and sky’ and ‘blend into the horizon’

 

Designer Pieter Van Geest said it had taken a year to develop the blueprints and would take another three and a half years to construct

Designer Pieter Van Geest said it had taken a year to develop the blueprints and would take another three and a half years to construct

Mr Van Geest declined to put a price on the Mirage, but maritime experts suggested £200million would be reasonable for such a unique, luxury vessel.

If that was an accurate price tag it would place Mirage in the top 10 of the world’s most expensive yachts.

The list is currently topped by the £4billion History Supreme, which is made of solid gold and owned by Malaysia’s richest man, Robert Knok.

Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire plugs back in with some help from Silicon Valley

FOUR YEARS LATER, LIVE AT LAST?


It’s been four years since we last heard any news on the Harley-Davidson LiveWire, but that’s all about to change by 2019.

It was a typically beautiful day in the beachside town of Santa Monica. The sun was shining, the temperature mild and the popular Third Street Promenade was packed with shoppers. It was the quintessential SoCal postcard day, and it seems like it was just yesterday—only it was four years ago.

That was the day that EBA was invited to ride the new Harley-Davidson LiveWire at the Milwaukee brand’s roll-out tour of their very talked-about, new motorcycle. Only it wasn’t. Well, the motorcycle was all new, but there wasn’t much talking about it. Other than enjoying the mad rush of a very torquey, less-than-quiet motor, the biggest takeaway from the experience was that Harley had no intention of actually discussing much about the bike. In fact, in persistently avoiding any tech questions, the Harley rep would only insist that the purpose of the ride day was merely to facilitate a “listening tour.”

In short, Harley’s LiveWire project sauntered up to the pool, made a big splash after a quick dive, then quietly receded back to its private cabana never to be heard or seen from again. Until now.


Although no one knows what guise the planned 2019 LiveWire will have, the 2014 version cut a stylish line on the city streets.

THE RE-RELEASE

Although the basis for the e-moto world’s newfound basis of anticipation over the LiveWire actually going live was based solely on words spoken from company CEO Matthew Levatich in a conference call to investors, it was at least the first time we’ve heard anything definitive about the stylish bike from the historical house of the V-twin.

“You’ve heard us talk about Project LiveWire,” said Levatich. “LiveWire is an exhilarating, no-excuse electric Harley-Davidson. Over 12,000 riders told us so through the demo rides we provided around the world, and it’s an active project we’re preparing to bring to market within 18 months.”

“Other than enjoying the mad rush of a very torquey, less-than-quiet motor, the biggest takeaway from the experience was that Harley had no intention of actually discussing much about the bike.”

And that, my friends, is the most that we know about Harley-Davidson’s planned re-entry into the modern world of battery-powered transportation. Still, if they really mean it, this could be a very bold step by the Motor Company to leap free from the sales doldrums it has endured of late as the classic Harley customer ages out, leaving a consumer base of kids who are not the least bit enamored with 600-pound, chromed-out touring bikes.


Four years ago the streets of Santa Monica were as crowded with shoppers as they were with a parade of pre-production Harley-Davidson LiveWires.

Around the same time that Harley went live with the LiveWire news, word also leaked that they have also filed a trademark application for the naming of the LiveWire powerplant, “HD Revelation,” which is a take on the Evolution motors used on their big bikes.

THE TECH WE KNEW

For a bike that, as we later found, had no real production timeline, the 2014 LiveWire we rode was impressive with a definite ready for primetime finish. Although the bike was modeled with a dedicated seat cowl that prohibited passenger seating, the café bike styling was immediately appealing.


Unlike the popular look of traditional Harleys with their exposed V-twin motors, the LiveWire’s powerplant was masked by plastic shrouds.

Having owned two Harley Sportsters in my day, I had firsthand experience with traditional Harley traits of poor braking performance and saggy suspension, so I was heartened not only by the LiveWire’s braking performance, but the adjustable Showa suspension with an inverted fork was a welcome upgrade.

At the time, the LiveWire prototype ran on a lithium-ion battery motor that produced 75 horsepower and 52 pound-feet of torque at its peak.  The shrouded motor was mounted longitudinally in a cast perimeter frame and used a final belt drive.

AND THEN CAME ALTA

Just a few weeks after Levatich announced the revival of the LiveWire came the surprising news that Harley had also made an equity investment in Alta Motors, who, like fellow NorCal e-moto-maker Zero Motorcycles, has been attempting to catch some lasting interest in battery-powered motorcycles. Harley’s partnership with Alta mirrors the acquisition of Oregon e-moto-maker Brammo by big-brand Polaris who are also behind the successful relaunch of the Indian marque.


Counter to the modern display module, the prototype bikes were still outfitted with the age-old switchgear and lever assemblies from an old Harley Sportster parts bin.

Once again, the breaking news was left to Levatich to release: “Earlier this year, as part of our 10-year strategy, we reiterated our commitment to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders in part by aggressively investing in electric vehicle (EV) technology. Alta has demonstrated innovation and expertise in EV, and their objectives align closely with ours. We each have strengths and capabilities that will be mutually beneficial as we work together to develop cutting-edge electric motorcycles.”

Levatich continued, “We intend to be the world leader in the electrification of motorcycles and, at the same time, remain true to our gas and oil roots by continuing to produce a broad portfolio of motorcycles that appeal to all types of riders around the world.”

Alta was no doubt more than pleased to be on the receiving end of Harley cash, as, like Harley, their evolution in the e-moto market has been defined by a somewhat fits-and-starts history.

“Riders are just beginning to understand the combined benefits of EV today, and our technology continues to progress,” said Alta Motors Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder Marc Fenigstein. “We believe electric motorcycles are the future, and that American companies have an opportunity to lead that future. It’s incredibly exciting that Harley-Davidson, synonymous with motorcycle leadership, shares that vision, and we’re thrilled to collaborate with them.”

DIRT-BOUND HARLEYS?

Although little is known just what the Harley/Alta partnership might produce in terms of shared product, old-time dirt bike stalwarts will recall that over four decades ago, in addition to their flat-track racing success, the Milwaukee factory won desert racing acclaim with their 100cc Baja two-stroke dirt bike. In 1975 early Harley factory rider Bruce Ogilvie made big news when he rode a prototype 250cc Harley-Davidson to win the Baja 500.

“Harley’s partnership with Alta mirrors the acquisition of Oregon e-moto-maker Brammo by big-brand Polaris who are also behind the successful relaunch of the Indian marque.”

A few years later, Harley would return to the same Italian-sourced engine builder (Aermacchi) to build the engines for some 250 and 370cc motocross bikes. These bikes enjoyed a very limited factory-backed racing effort and production run before Milwaukee abandoned the off-road world in 1979 once and for all.

THE RED SAND

Based out of San Jose, California, Alta has been on track to release a production bike to the public for some time. Although they have gone through a variety of iterations, their current model, the Red Shift MXR, is said to feature a 50-horsepower powerplant with 42 pound-feet of torque with a rolling weight of 259 pounds. This bike, they claim, is now capable of running with a 350cc four-stroke motor, whereas the previous MX model was always compared to a 250cc powerplant. Alta adds that the recharge time has been reduced to just 1.5 hours on a 220-volt system.


With KTM never making any serious inroads with the Freeride e-moto, Alta has been the forefront of pushing battery-powered off-road bikes. The $12,000 MXR is their latest edition

In addition to the motocross bike, Alta also produces Supermoto and off-road/enduro versions. The MX bike made a famously splashy debut in 2016 when former pro rider Josh Hill competed aboard a prototype at the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm race. Notably, the company has refused our sister zine Motocross Action to test a bike in a non-Alta-controlled environment.

The aluminum-framed, California-made bike is spec’d with high-end WP suspension and Brembo brakes, and the MXR should have a retail price of $11,995. www.harley-davidson.com

Could Gingers become extinct due to climate change ?

Scientists believe the gene that causes red hair could die out if temperatures continue to Rise according to genetic scientists Redheads are becoming rarer and could be extinct in 100 years’ time.

Polar bears and Emperor penguins aren’t the only species under threat due to climate change.

Scientists believe the gene that causes red hair is an evolutionary response to cloudy skies and allows inhabitants to get as much Vitamin D as possible.

But if predictions of rising temperatures and blazing sunshine across the British Isles turn out to be correct, flaming red heads could cease to exist within centuries.

While only 1% to 2% of the world’s population are ginger, in the north of the UK, where the weather tends to be more gloomy, this number is much higher.

In Scotland 650,000 (about 13% of the population) have red hair and, according to a study carried out last year, 40% of those living in Edinburgh are thought to carry the red hair/blue eye gene.

In the North and West of the UK, 29% of the population are believed to have the gene.

Red hair is caused by a mutation in the MC1R gene. It’s also a recessive trait, so it takes both parents passing on a mutated version of the MC1R gene to produce a redheaded child. Because it’s a recessive trait, red hair can easily skip a generation. It can then reappear after skipping one or more generations if both parents, no matter their hair color, carry the red hair gene.

“I think the reason for light skin and red hair is that we do not get enough sun and we have to get all the Vitamin D we can.

“If the climate is changing and it is to become more cloudy or less cloudy then this will affect the gene.

“If it was to get less cloudy and there was more sun, then yes, there would be fewer people carrying the gene.”

Another leading scientist, who asked not to be named because of the theoretical nature of the work, said: “I think the regressive gene is slowly dying out. Red hair and blue eyes are not adapted to a warm climate.

“It is just a theory but the recessive gene may likely be lost. The recessive gene could be in danger.”

Vagina Flavored Beer!

Vagina-beer.png

Would you drink this?

Most booze lovers would be quite open to trying different craft beers – and there are many to choose from these days.

But even the most adventurous of beer drinkers might have a hard time getting their head around this one, made from bacteria harvested from vaginas.

Although this sounds like a joke, rest assured it is not…in fact, this company is not the first company to try and market a food product that had the essence of vagina! However, we believe this is the first time we have ever come across anything that we were asked to eat or drink that includes the woman’s “juice” as an active ingredient in the product!

The name of the beer is The Order of Yoni. Wojtek Mann, the founder of the company explains that the word “yoni” means “vagina” in the Sanskrit language and the logo/artwork associated with the beer is also the symbol of a Hindu Goddess.

As you can imagine things only get weirder when you learn more about a vagina flavored beer.

Cerveja-vaginal-1

The creators behind ‘Bottled Instinct’ decided that they wanted to capture the essence of a woman (‘her charm, her sensuality, her passion… her taste, feel her smell… her voice’) and turn it into a drink.

The Order of Yoni’s website reads: “The secret of the beer lies in her vagina.

“Using hi-tech of microbiology, we isolate, examine and prepare lactic acid bacteria from vagina of a unique woman.

“The bacteria, lactobacillus, transfer woman’s features, allure, grace, glamour, and her instincts into beers and other products, turning them into dance with lovely goddess.”

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