A mysterious phenomenon of quantum mechanics allows birds to see and navigate the planet’s magnetic fields

(ORDO NEWS) — One fifth of the Earth’s 10,000 bird species migrate long distances, overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles, following the seasons.

Demoiselle cranes, flying over the Himalayan mountains, rise to a height of more than 20,000 feet. The Arctic tern travels from pole to pole in pursuit of an endless summer, covering a distance of some 40,000 miles.

Scientists have long speculated that some animals use magnetic fields to find their way, but biologists have been unable to figure out how they do it. Now, some answers may come from one of the most mysterious interactions in physics.

Quantum entanglement dictates that if two electrons are created at the same time, then this pair will be “entangled”, so that whatever happens to one particle affects the other. Otherwise, it would violate the fundamental laws of physics.

These two particles remain entangled, even if they are separated by vast distances. Thus, if one particle has a spin up, then the other must have a spin down, but the most amazing thing is that none of them will have a spin until they are measured.

This means that not only will you not know what the electron’s spin is until you measure it, but that the very act of measuring the spin will make it spin up or spin down.

As difficult as it is to believe in, as well as understand, entanglement is a well-established property of quantum mechanics. And some physicists suggest that birds and other animals can use this effect to see and navigate the Earth’s magnetic fields.

The process can occur through the light interaction of chemicals in the eyes of birds. Light excites two electrons on the molecule in the bird’s eye, switching one of them to the second molecule, but the two electrons remain entangled even when separated.

The Earth’s magnetic field would change the alignment of the electron spins and in the process change the chemical properties of the molecules. Physicists suspect that as a result of the reactions, various concentrations of chemicals will remain in the eye, which may create a picture of our planet’s magnetic field, allowing birds to navigate.

The theory is still in its infancy, but biophysicists have already turned their attention to several chemicals that may allow birds to detect confusion. One such chemical is called cryptochrome, and its potential effects are already being studied.

Correlating pairs are believed to form in cryptochrome in the presence of blue light. A team of physicists at the University of California, Irvine also studied the European robin’s ability to sense small quantum changes by changing the magnetic field surrounding the bird.

During the migration season, the robin was placed in a cage, and then physicists reversed the polarity of the magnetic field around it. The test showed that changes at the level of one thousandth of the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field will affect the ability of birds to navigate.

Perhaps even more interesting is that European Robinsons are better at detecting quantum entanglement than physical laboratories can be.

A group of physicists at Oxford University have suggested that entanglement can persist in a bird’s retina for 100 microseconds, while physicists have only been able to achieve interaction for 80 microseconds – despite cooling the experiments to just above absolute zero.

The research also has implications for birds. A number of fish, reptiles, insects, and even mammals are believed to use magnetic fields to navigate.


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