Skip to main content

Quantum mechanics may explain how animals migrate across vast distances

Many species use our planet's magnetic field to migrate across vast distances with incredible accuracy. Monarch butterflies move across the North American continent every season, spending winters in Mexico and California, and spreading throughout the US in summer as they pursue their host plant. Their journey is so long that by the time they reach their winter destination again, the population will be many generations removed from the one that left the previous year. Numerous other birds, insects and mammals accomplish similar feats of navigation every year, and physicists believe that quantum mechanics may lie at the heart of what makes it possible.

A group of Austrian physicists published an article in Physical Review Letters this month explaining how they could enhance or reduce the performance of an animal's chemical compass using quantum entanglement.

Entanglement describes a quantum mechanical state where two objects are connected in a way that prevents understanding what's happening with one object without acknowledging the other. What's spooky about it is that the objects can be seemingly separated and what affects one, will still affect the other.

When a photon enters an animal's eye, it hits a magnetic receptor which produces a pair of free-radicals. These free-radicals interact with each other, as well as a weak magnetic field, causing a spin that allows the animal to "see" the magnetic field and give it a kind of compass.

The quantum mechanical effects on the system are little understood and the team suspected quantum entanglement might play a role. They found that, theoretically, entanglement should play a role in navigation and could be very helpful for some animals. They also found that in some animals, such as European robins, it shouldn't play a role. The group says that comes from a need for short-lived free-radicals for entanglement to play a prominent role. So it appears there could be a strong relationship (in some animals) between entanglement and an animal's ability to orient itself in a magnetic field.

Whether or not animals are actually using this relationship to migrate, is yet to be proven.


  1. You describe the PRL article as if it was an experiment. Was it an experiment or a computational simulation?

    I could find no evidence that they "were able to enhance or reduce the performance of an animal's chemical compass", but maybe I didn't spend enough time with the paper.

  2. Thanks for keeping me on the straight and narrow.

    They designed an experiment they hope to use and calculated that entanglement "can be used to either enhance or reduce the performance of a chemical compass."

    I tried to make it clearer in my post now.

    1. It is physically possible for humans to be able to have spiritual Quantum entanglement with the world around them. For humans are merely micro organisim. The earth itself is a micro organism. The sun is a laser. The oxygen surrounding the earth emits mass amounts of energy particles witch are photons. We breath in the air and it travels to the brain and pops up on our imagery. What we see in the brain. This is Quantum entanglement. For twins to be born is also spiritual Quantum entanglement ....we our souls are all connected together through the sun's energy the photons. All the photons are connected.....

    2. Relativity. Turns out is a actual machine. With a tank that holds water and is hollow in the center of the tank. This machine has 2 systems. Unit 1 and unit 2.a pole drops down the center of the tank. The top unit spins. While the bottom unit sits still .this machine is able to produce mass amounts of electricity.. And move at the speed of light... It is also used to kill planets. Like Mars.......


Post a Comment

Popular Posts

How 4,000 Physicists Gave a Vegas Casino its Worst Week Ever

What happens when several thousand distinguished physicists, researchers, and students descend on the nation’s gambling capital for a conference? The answer is "a bad week for the casino"—but you'd never guess why.

Ask a Physicist: Phone Flash Sharpie Shock!

Lexie and Xavier, from Orlando, FL want to know: "What's going on in this video ? Our science teacher claims that the pain comes from a small electrical shock, but we believe that this is due to the absorption of light. Please help us resolve this dispute!"

The Science of Ice Cream: Part One

Even though it's been a warm couple of months already, it's officially summer. A delicious, science-filled way to beat the heat? Making homemade ice cream. (We've since updated this article to include the science behind vegan ice cream. To learn more about ice cream science, check out The Science of Ice Cream, Redux ) Image Credit: St0rmz via Flickr Over at Physics@Home there's an easy recipe for homemade ice cream. But what kind of milk should you use to make ice cream? And do you really need to chill the ice cream base before making it? Why do ice cream recipes always call for salt on ice?