Skip to main content

Animals and their Compasses

Fish do it; birds do it; humans do it; even bacteria do it. They all detect the Earth's magnetic field. But we actually know very little about HOW these organisms do it. Humans use compasses, and in some cases, other organisms may take a similar approach—such as microscopic bacteria that rely on bits of rust to point them in the right direction. But in other cases, mother nature seems to have come up with some totally radical techniques for detecting magnetic fields. 

Check out this week's podcast to learn more. My guest on the podcast, science writer Davide Castelvecchi, also wrote a great piece on this topic in Scientific American.


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?