Thursday, April 18, 2024

A lost letter showing Einstein’s prediction that animals would have “supersense” | Science


Long before we knew that birds could see the Earth’s magnetic field, Albert Einstein discussed the possibility of supersense animals in a reply letter to a researcher.

Einstein’s speech was lost and found in 1949 and was addressed to engineer Glenn Davis, a researcher in the fields of physics and biology, in which he talks about the amazing ability of animals to perceive. The questions sent by the engineer focused on animal consciousness, and what it can tell us about the physical world.

Biology and Physics of the Animal World

“Studying the behavior of migratory birds and homing pigeons will lead to an understanding of physical processes that have not yet been revealed,” Einstein wrote in his reply. Now, more than 70 years after Einstein’s prediction, it turns out that his intuition was correct.

Evidence studied in our time indicates that birds can sense the Earth’s magnetic field using special photoreceptors in their eyes, which are sensitive to small changes in the planet’s magnetic field, enabling them to migrate thousands of kilometers without getting lost.

Other animals such as sea turtles, dogs and bees have also shown an uncanny ability to sense our planet’s magnetic fields, but not necessarily with their eyes.

Letter from Albert Einstein to Glenn Davis, referring to von Frisch’s work and animal consciousness (Springer link)

According to a report published on the “Science Alert” site (Scientific alert) said the letter was donated to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and in 2021 researchers at that university said, “It is amazing that Einstein envisioned this possibility decades before experimental evidence emerged showing that many animals can actually sense magnetic fields and use this information.” For navigation.”

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At the time I wrote that letter, the biological sciences and the physical sciences were beginning to converge and interact in an unprecedented way. The echolocation ability of bats was recently discovered, which contributed to the development of radar technology.

In fact, Davies was a researcher in the field, and he saw in Einstein a similar research spirit, and this may have led to his interest in the senses of other exotic animals, such as bees. It seems that the famous physicist was fascinated by the biological sciences as a window into the invisible forces of physics.

Bees and the Polarization of Light

It wasn’t until Davis’ death in 2011 that the lost letter was discovered, confirming that Einstein was also fascinated by the behavior of bees. The letter mentions that Einstein admitted that he was well acquainted with Carl von Frisch, who had discovered that bees travel using the polarization patterns of light. Six months before the letter was sent, it was reported that Einstein attended a lecture by von Frisch at Princeton University and met him in person.

While Davis seemed interested in how this new biological knowledge could predict future technology, Einstein emphasized the need for further biological research. In his reply to Davies, Einstein wrote, “I cannot see the possibility of benefiting from these results in research connected with a physical basis” and, “This will only happen if a new kind of sense perception emerges. The behavior of bees.”

Einstein acknowledged his acquaintance with Carl von Frisch, who discovered that bees use polarization patterns (agencies) of light.

Simulation of the world of insects to develop technology

Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about bee behavior, and today we’re seeing Einstein’s prediction come true, and this knowledge is already helping to improve technology like the cameras in iPhones. Much of the mystery remains, and the exact mechanisms by which animals see light or sense the Earth’s magnetic field vary and are not the same for all species.

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For example, bees sense magnetic fields from their abdomens, while birds and dogs sense them mostly through specialized photoreceptors called cryptochromes. Recent research has shown that these cells dynamically respond to changes in the magnetic field.

Nadia Barnett
Nadia Barnett
"Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator."

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