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Even with this impressive array of sensory capabilities, tests indicated that there was more to the bird’s sensorium than even this array of abilities. To situate the experimental investigations, we have to start with a presentation of what is known about the measurable structure of the geomagnetic field (GMF), even if there might be limitations to what we know.
However, when we increase the resolution, the structure of the GMF is much more intricate than a uniform field. These, however, are among a limited number of outstanding cases, and most of the anomaly variations are much smaller, though they are everywhere. Though invisible, to us, these magnetic structures are as real and dependable as the minerals and other processes with which they are associated. In addition to these relatively fixed structures5In truth the magnetic anomalies are only as fixed as are mountains, valleys and plains. So, with this know degree of variation in the structure of the GMF, it is no surprise to learn that there is no single quality of the GMF that living organisms respond to; rather a variety of distinct qualities of the GMF have been shown to influence living organisms. Unfortunately, in trying to determine how organisms can do this, the investigations are generally dominated by a “bottom-up” methodological approach, characterized by, first, asking “how does magnetism act in non-living experiments of physics?” And then, second, seeking out particular mechanisms with those properties within living organisms. First the proper geometry of experimental evidence will have to be created in the mind of the reader. What follows is not intended to be chronological presentation of the history of the development of our understanding of magnetoreception, nor is it a complete record of all the experimentation conducted. Extensive study has attempted to narrow down exactly what aspects of the GMF are being detected by the animals, usually limited to investigations of the three factors of the GMF discussed above. For example, birds have shown the ability to determine compass direction, though not the way you might think. European Robins, under caged test conditions, will consistently show their expected desire to head north in the spring time. If an artificial simulation of the local GMF was created, simulating all the same conditions of the GMF (only in terms of the three components discussed above), but rotated 120° to the east, then the birds showed that they wanted to go in that corresponding roughly south-east direction (as seen in the middle image below). This indicates that the Robins don’t magnetically determine their navigational direction by the polarity (which direction is north or south), but rather determine the inclination of the GMF, and use that to determine their migratory direction. Every species of bird which has been tested for this particular “inclination compass” has shown this specific ability. Also, in a rather interesting demonstration, it was shown that the magnetic compass function of birds is dependent on the right eye specifically. As we saw above, there is evidence demonstrating that animals can do much more than detect the inclination of the magnetic field to determine direction.
In addition to inclination, the other components of the GFM discussed, intensity and polarity (declination), change continuously as you move throughout the GMF. To test the ability for animals to utilize these components to determine their position, numerous experiments were set up, including with lobsters. Some birds have demonstrated an even more sophisticated ability to use the magnetic conditions of the GMF to not only determine their relative location, but also respond to the geographical characteristics associated with that location. The fall southerly migratory route of the central European Pied Flycatchers takes them from central Europe, not directly south, but first southwest, towards the Iberian Peninsula, allowing them to avoid the Alps mountain range.
Note that there is nothing universal about the magnetic stimulation and the directional response of different species or different animals (i.e.
This ability to use magnetic conditions as “magnetic markers” or “magnetic signposts,” is not limited to birds. Certain mechanisms have been proposed and investigated which seem to be involved in the organisms ability to respond to the GMF, though how exactly these function is still unclear.
Structures of the biogenic mineral magnetite have been found in various organisms, and have been studied as a possible way for organisms to detect the GMF. In attempts to test the nature of these magnetite structures, experiments were devised to determine if disrupting their magnetic polarity would affect the magnetoreception ability of the organism. The conclusion drawn was that this indicated that the magnetite structures could play the role of some form of magnetic map, built up over time. In an elaboration of this initial experiment, adult birds were subjected to the same intense magnetic pulse, but then, prior to having their migratory ability tested, they had a local anesthetic applied to their beak (the location of these magnetite structures thought to be related to a magnetic map-type function).
Thus, evidence indicates that the magnetite structures located in the beak are likely involved in the magnetoreception capabilities of birds, but they can not account for everything. Further tests on other animals have shown that this light dependence is not limited to birds. In the mid 1970’s, experiments with certain chemical reactions in the laboratory showed a sensitivity to low level magnetic fields.
A few general characteristics of such a process could immediately be tested, to see if this would affect the magnetoreception ability of birds and other animals. The interaction of the low-level oscillations with some process relating to the magnetoreception ability of the animals provides a useful piece of evidence. At this point there are no definite conclusions that have been made about how this process functions for the organism. The evidence indicates some relation to magnetoreception, but what exactly is occurring is still unclear, and even the biggest names in support of this model won’t claim that anything is proven yet.
The light-dependent nature (as detailed more in the next section), and the characteristic disruption under a low intensity oscillating magnetic field of the proper frequency, are claimed to support the idea that this light-dependent mechanism could relate to some chemical process (interaction in the small). However, we do not know if the quality of such an interaction would be replicable outside of a living process. Assuming that this aspect of magnetoreception does involve a chemical reaction, the following sets of tests could provide interesting experimental grounds for how the interaction of light and magnetism with chemical processes within living organisms might operate. The experimental work discussed so far led researchers to two distinct mechanisms for magnetoreception, each with distinct characteristics. The experimental evidence presented here indicates that the receptive ability associated with the map-like magnetoreception ability of birds is associated with the beak, and is disrupted by a strong magnetic pulse. First it was shown that the light-dependent process in the birds’ right eye would only work under certain colors of light. If birds were tested in light from the blue-green side of the spectrum, they would be able to orient to their migratory direction without problems. This indicates that the light-dependent magnetoreception is only activated by the UV to green part of the spectrum, and fails to operate properly in the yellow to red range.
Still at intensity levels far below that experienced on a sunny day, using monochromatic light the birds started showing peculiar responses. Because the intensity was still far below that of noon on a normal day (where the birds have no trouble orienting in their navigational direction), this could not be just an over-saturation of the birds’ vision. It is worth noting that this relationship of the intensity and color roughly corresponds to the sensitivity of the different light cones of birds. Image 12: Comparison of the general change in the sensitivity of birds’ vision at different colors of light, with the intensity at which the same “fixed-direction” response is induced at different colors.
A last set of tests pushes the understanding of the nature of the magnetoreception capability in birds to an unexpected paradox.
What we have seen is that under low-level monochromatic light from the UV to green range, the light-dependent magnetic response of birds functions, but it does not function under yellow-red light, under which the birds become generally disoriented, orienting randomly without any preferred direction.
Now, in a new set of tests, when low-level turquoise light is added to low-level yellow light, a new response appears. First of all, this indicates that yellow light dose not simply have a null effect for the birds, but does interact with the magnetic reception process in some way. So the fixed-direction response is light-dependent, because the light quality determines its direction.
Image 13: Under each respective color pair the birds choose different fixed-directions, but in each color pair, they choose the same fixed-direction in both spring and autumn. In fact, the fixed-direction response, though clearly light-dependent, seems to lose all the characteristics that were found to correspond to the normal light-dependent magnetic sense of the birds.
The normal light-dependent function was dependent upon the inclination of the magnetic field but not the polarity; the fixed-direction light-dependent response is polar and not sensitive to the inclination. The normal light-dependent function was disrupted by low-intensity oscillations in the magnetic field intensity; the fixed-direction light-dependent response is not disrupted by those effects.
The normal light-dependent function is not disrupted when anesthesia is applied to the upper beak, that is the location of the magnetite structures associated with the “other” ability of the birds to perceive the magnetic field.
So even though it is clearly demonstrated that the fixed-direction response is, in some way, light-dependent, it also seems to rely on this other mechanism of the magnetite structures in the beak, which had no indication that it was light-dependent in any way (there is no light-dependence in any of the theories of how the magnetite structures might function). An immediate implication from the preceding evidence is that there is some form of complex interaction between two magnetic reception abilities-- or at least what had been presented as two distinct abilities.
First, in tests with various intensities of light, certain fixed axis responses were induced, where the birds consistently chose to go in a specific direction, even though it was different than their expected migratory direction. In the second case, under low-intensity monochromatic light, the birds could properly orient to their migratory direction under light from UV to green, but under yellow and beyond they became generally disoriented, choosing no specific direction. These results indicate that there is possibly some interaction between the birds’ “vision” (as we tend to understand vision) and their magnetic sense. The other useful point of departure for future investigation based on what has been presented here, is a potential basis for the study of light-field-chemical interactions within a living process. If we leave behind the assumption that the reactions occurring within a living process can be reduced to the characteristics of the non-living, the evidence for some form of reactions in the very small being involved in magnetoreception can been seen in a new light.
When the exact mechanisms and processes by which different living beings are able to detect and utilize the magnetic field are sought out, the investigation leads to some of the same standing questions regarding what sense perception really is. 3For example, if you are in a completely unfamiliar land, and you think it is 7 am, and you see the sun just above the horizon, you would determine that direction is east; however if you, instead, for whatever reason think that it is 7 pm, and see the same sun in the same location above horizon, you would be inclined to think that direction is west.
6For example, for two days in May, 1999, the Sun basically stopped emitting solar wind (the constant flow of charged material flowing from the sun), with output levels falling to less than 2% of their normal levels. 7For example, see Sky Shield’s contribution to this report, “Unheard Melodies,” where he discusses the large-scale effects of the interaction of meteors with the Earth’s ionosphere and atmosphere. 9Though the experimental work leans heavily on the ability of animals to detect magnetic fields as such, often using synthetic magnetic fields generated with various man-made electromagnetic systems, we can not simply limit our understanding of animal sensation to this. 10See “Magnetic orientation and magnetoreception in birds and other animals,” Wolfgang and Roswitha Wiltschko, J Comp Physiol A (2005) 191: 675-693.
11Imagine if the brightness of the lights in your room was decreased by one ten-thousandth of their current level, and then increased to the same amount above the initial level.
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Detailing the wide range of impressive cases could quickly grow from papers, to books, to volumes with ease, and certainly already has.

Experiments in the early 1970’s with magnets and magnetic fields quickly showed an ability expected by some for over a century, that the birds had some sort of magnetic sense.
Even in the simplest sense, the GMF is more interesting than can be measured by the traditional polarity compass that we are most accustomed to. In the most basic view, the GMF is a dipole field, having a single north and single south pole opposite each other (though in the GMF they are not exactly opposite).
Presently, the magnetoreception ability of birds is the most well studied, so that will be both the starting point and the bulk of this present report, with a fair number of cases from other animals added in where relevant.
Rather the composition is structured to build to the crucial questions relevant for this report as a whole. Animals have shown responses to each of those factors, as well as combinations there of, indicating that they can sense all of these qualities.9Though the experimental work leans heavily on the ability of animals to detect magnetic fields as such, often using synthetic magnetic fields generated with various man-made electromagnetic systems, we can not simply limit our understanding of animal sensation to this. With no ability to see the sun, or any other landmarks, the birds are still able to consistently orient themselves in attempts to head north, suggesting that they are given indications by the natural geomagnetic field.
Initially it seemed that the birds were determining their direction by a desire to head towards magnetic north, as they following the 120° shift. When magnetic north still points towards geographic north, as in the GMF, but the inclination is inverted (pointing above, rather than below the horizon), then the birds choose to go in the exact opposite direction, predominantly heading towards magnetic south (see third diagram).
The triangles indicate the direction of individual birds, and the large arrows indicate the averaged direction. For example, the inclination in the northern hemisphere points in a downward direction, and the amount downward it points depends on how close you are to magnetic north pole. Sea turtles and salamanders have also been shown to possess an inclination compass, whereas the only mammals tested for this ability (mole rats), as well as insects and crustaceans, did not respond to the inclination changes, but demonstrated a “polarity compass” (i.e. For robins which live in a local geomagnetic field of ~46,000 nanotesla (nT), it was shown in experimental tests with artificial geomagnetic fields, that they could not orient to their normal migratory direction if the intensity was either increased or decreased by ~20-30%. Note the difference between the intensity during the tests and the intensity of the housing cages.
When only the right eye was covered they could not determine their migratory direction using their left eye. From observations of the ability of animals to navigate and home, it is clear that they need to know more than just a direction. Captured off the tip of Florida, their home location has a specific GMF intensity, inclination, and polarity.
Image adapted from “Magnetic orientation and magnetoreception in birds and other animals,” Wolfgang and Roswitha Wiltschko, J Comp Physiol A (2005) 191: 675-693.
They will react as if they had encountered those geographic conditions, even if only provided with the associated magnetic conditions. Then, after a certain distance, they make a roughly 90° change in direction, heading southeast. In autumn, while remaining in one location, they were provided with an artificial magnetic environment that simulated what they would have encountered on their regular migratory route, again, with no change in any other stimuli. Juvenile loggerhead sea turtles from Florida show an interesting characteristic during the first years of their lives: they will travel throughout the Atlantic ocean, but always stay within the particular region known as the Atlantic gyre. The circles indicate the direction of individual turtles subjected to the artificial conditions indicated. As we will see, the evidence indicates that it is much more interesting than can be explained by the reaction of a single mechanism to a magnetic field.
In tests on birds, a strong, very short magnetic pulse was employed at the beaks of Australian Silvereyes, under the hypothesis that this would alter the magnetization of the magnetite (for birds the magnetite structures are found in the beak). What was interesting is that only adult birds which had migrated before in their lifetimes were affected by the pulse. The experienced birds seemed to rely upon this map, whereas younger birds had not developed a map, but could still orient to the magnetic field by use of another mechanism. In this case, with the anesthesia numbing the beak, the birds could again orient in their proper migratory direction with no problem, despite the fact that they had been subjected to a strong magnetic pulse.
The birds were clearly able to rely on another aspect of magnetic sense, relating to the “inclination compass” ability discussed above (given its light-dependent nature and relationship with the eye, instead of the beak). The reactions required light, and the resulting chemical reaction could be changed by the application of an external magnetic field. As we saw, tests showed that birds required light for their “inclination compass” ability, but, in further tests, it was also shown that it only worked under specific colors and intensities of the light (this will be discussed in greater detail below). Based on the spin chemistry model, it was claimed that an oscillating magnetic field (with rapid variations in its intensity), even if the changes are very slight, should disrupt the process, but only if the oscillation frequency is at just the right value.
In fact, only within the last decade has there been evidence for a specific light receptor within the organism which could play this role. To test for its possible involvement in magnetoreception, experiments were performed with plants (Arabidopsis thaliana) and fruit flies. That is, we can not assume that the characteristics of abiotic chemistry or physics, as presently understood, will be sufficient in expressing how the interaction of light and an external magnetic field in the small, within the process of a living organism, might provide a reading of the GMF, or at least be involved in doing so. In the least, these results below expose some fundamental problems in trying to pin the magnetoreception ability of organisms to a specific mechanism. The “second,” supposedly independent, vision-related function (the “inclination compass”) has distinct, different characteristics. For the extensive tests with European Robins in blue or green light, they would orient to the north in the spring and to the south in the autumn, just as if they were in the wild.
As we saw above, this light-dependent response is related to the inclination compass, where the birds use the inclination of the magnetic field to determine direction (e.g. For each of the different tests using monochromatic light, the intensity level was roughly equivalent to the brightness experienced around a half hour before sunrise, or after sunset. Image adapted from “Directional orientation of birds by the magnetic field under different light conditions,” Roswitha Wiltschko, Katrin Stapput, Peter Thalau, and Wolfgang Wiltschko; R.
That is, the intensity level at which a certain fixed-axis response is induced gets lower as you move from green towards UV light, just as the sensitivity of the birds’ receptor cones is said to increase as you move from green to UV light.
The birds do not choose their natural migratory direction, as under the turquoise alone (or under normal daylight), but they are not simply in a general disorientation, as occurs under the yellow light alone. Next it was demonstrated that the actual direction of the “fixed-direction response” depended upon what colors are mixed with the yellow.
However, the following set of tests demonstrate that it shows characteristics opposite of the normal light-dependent magnetic orientation of birds discussed above.
When the vertical component of the magnetic field was inverted the birds did not respond differently, as is the case under normal light conditions.
But what is interesting is that there is an order to their confusion, in that they still consistently are choosing certain directions. But when anesthesia is applied to the beak, the fixed-direction light-dependent response ceases to function, and there is a general disorientation as opposed to a fixed direction. These sets of experiments with intensity of monochromatic light and mixing of different color lights, indicate some form of interaction between the bird’s magnetoreception and their visual system.
Recall, that direction changed with the different intensity levels of the light, and the different color mixtures of light. The simple interpretation would be that magnetoreception requires light from the UV to green range to function, and it does not function under other wavelengths, implying that under yellow light the birds’ magnetic sense is simply not activated. Perhaps the tests involving different colors and intensities could provide a new grounds for experimentation on interactions in the small within a living process. The demonstrated paradoxical interaction between what are said to be different mechanisms for magnetic perception in birds, and the likely general interaction of vision, indicates that the senses are not self-evident and distinct “data readings” as one might be lead to believe.
The domesticated homing pigeon has been bred to enhance this impressive navigational ability. It can not be assumed that the laboratory magnetic fields generated for these tests embody all of the characteristics which animals are sensitive to. If you require further details regarding the transaction data, please contact the supplier directly. On websites you can choose from a variety of magnetic therapy products and pick the one that you think is the best solution for you. This magnetic therapy product has a magnetic field strength of 4,300 Gauss reaching up to a distance of 22 in. The popular magnetic therapy product is not expensive and -so it claims- relieves foot pain and swelling. Some mattress pads contain high-energy neodymium magnets build in, with a field strength up to 13,500 gauss.
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The material is adjustable at the arm and the chest area to ensure a proper fit and contains two magnetic pads with 18 magnets. DIYTrade accepts no responsibility whatsoever in respect of such content.To report fraudulent or illegal content, please click here. The ability to consistently navigate incredible distances (even migrating from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back every year in some cases!) with impressive speed and accuracy has drawn extensive wonder and experimentation as to how exactly they are able to do this.1It has also drawn man to utilize this capability.
But, when the same experiment was conducted on overcast days, where the position of the sun could not be visually determined, the pigeons were able to navigate in the proper direction towards their home with no problems, despite the light-dark conditioning which had shifted their “biological clock.” This was the case even when the birds were released in a location completely unfamiliar to them, and they had no indication of where they were being taken (at least no “indication” in terms of the traditional five senses). Here, in the hypothetically-uniform dipole magnetic field, every location on the Earth will not only have a polarity (measured as declination, the angle between geographic north [south] and magnetic north [south]), but two other components.
Some are larger, related to the large scale-structure of the GMF as a whole, but there are also uncountable smaller variations of a variety of sizes, typically attributed to different densities of metallic components within the crust (referred to as magnetic “anomalies”). In your mind’s eye, you recall those distinguishing characteristics, either its hills and valleys, mountains and cliffs, or, perhaps, the remarkable flatness of its plains. Also, even more interesting, the large-scale structure of the GMF changes, including “reversals” of the dipole field as a whole, where the magnetic poles actually swap their respective locations on the globe, though much of the “how” and “why” are still highly speculative. In attempt to determine exactly how they do this, and what specific characteristics they respond to, various experimental conditions were tested.
This showed that the intensity window at which the birds respond with their inclination compass is rather narrow. But when they had their left eye covered, they could determine their migratory direction by using their right eye. Tests have long shown that that birds could be released in locations completely unfamiliar to them, even when they were given no indication of what direction they had been taken in, and they could still find their way directly back home.
They were then kept in one location, but two groups were tested in two different magnetic environments generated to simulate the GMF at two different locations.
For example, if the lobsters were provided the same northern Africa magnetic conditions they would not have made the same directional change that the flycatchers did, but would have likely chosen the direction that would have brought them back to Florida.
So, hatchling turtles of this grouping were tested to see if this ability depended upon their magnetoreception. However there is still no comprehensive picture of how exactly these structures might operate.
The pulses were 3 to 5 milliseconds in length, and around 10,000 times the strength of the natural magnetic field. Juvenile birds of this species, which had never experienced a migration, were not affected by the magnetic pulse and most had no difficulty finding their proper migratory direction. But simply covering either the left eye, or the right eye, or both, did not disrupt the salamander’s ability to use its inclination compass ability. The idea then being, if the low-intensity oscillations in the magnetic field disrupt the magnetoreception of the animals, that would be evidence for this particular mechanism.

With-in a magnetic field, this type of fluctuation in the intensity, even at such a low level of change, is enough to disrupt the magnetic sense under investigation here.
Absorbing light in the blue range of the spectrum, Cryptochrome was discovered in 1998 (initially for its likely role in circadian rhythms in plants). Both showed sensitivity to magnetic fields (certain characteristics of the plant’s growth were shown to correspond to the magnetic field intensity; and the flies’ magnetic sense could be used to train them to seek out a magnetic field, based on associating it with food), and in both cases the response to the magnetic field required light in the blue range of the spectrum. It is important to not limit the investigation to models defined solely by abiotic physics.
Tests with birds in bright daylight, where they experience the entire visible spectrum at the same time, showed that they have no to trouble using this light-dependent magnetic sense in the bright daylight.
And this is more than general confusion, because the birds were not just generally disoriented, but predominately choose a certain axial direction, one different than their expected migratory direction.
Rather they all choose to orient in one specific direction that is not the expected migratory direction. For example yellow-blue induces south, yellow-green north, and yellow-turquoise east-southeast.
Recall that normal light-dependent magnetic orientation was shown to be dependent on the inclination of the magnetic field and not the polarity (declination). But, when the polarity direction is rotated 180° then the birds shift their fixed direction by the same 180°, even though they did not do this under normal light conditions.
When comparing the different colors and intensity levels at which a specific direction of fixed-axis response was induced (for example the desire to head east or west), there was a similar relationship between that intensity-color relationship, and the general sensitivity of the birds normal vision to different colors. Perhaps it is more of a mixture, maybe similar to what we call synesthesia in people, which we identify as seemingly unexpected mixtures between our senses. Again, entire books have been written documenting the impressive capabilities of these birds, including the fact that the capability was so well trusted that homing pigeons were used for military purposes up through World War II.
What we do know is that we can simulate a limited component of the sensorium which animals are responsive to, but we don’t know how or in what way that component is limited with respect to their full sensorium, which is interconnected and organized in ways that we don’t yet realize. Unfortunately, before buying any magnetic therapy product it is wise to do your research first, informing yourself about the quality and how these product work.
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There will also be a specific intensity (because the field is more intense at the poles and becomes less intense as one moves towards the magnetic equator), and an inclination (or dip), which measures how many degrees away from parallel (with the surface of the Earth) the magnetic vector is.
For example, one of the largest magnetic anomalies is found in Kursk, Russia (450km south of Moscow), where the intensity jumps four-fold, compared to the expected GMF intensity for that location, and the declination (polarity) varies from +60° to -110°, when 8° should be expected.
So too does any location in the GMF have its distinct, memorable, and probably beautiful topography. The wide range of living organisms which respond to the GMF-- from single celled bacteria, to plants, to crustaceans and insects, to vertebrates including fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds-- poses the likelihood that some form of magnetic perception is a rule, and not an exception for life. Further tests were performed to determine how they were able to use this inclination compass. But, if the birds were exposed to a higher intensity magnetic field for 3 days prior to testing, they could then orient properly at the higher intensity level, as well as at the normal intensity level, though not at an intermediate level in-between, which they had not yet become accustomed to (see the diagram). This clearly requires, in addition to being able to determine direction (compass), some way for the birds to determine where they are-- their location.
Though they remained in the same place the entire time, one group was exposed to magnetic conditions which simulated a location directly north of their home, while the other group was exposed to a simulation of the magnetic conditions of a specific location directly south.
Hand-raised birds of this population were tested in caged environments, where they remained in the same geographic location for the entire test period. As in the above cases with birds and lobsters, the turtles were kept in a single location, but were provided with three different artificial magnetic environments, simulating the magnetic conditions of three different locations on the edge of the gyre. As expected, prior to the pulse, the birds oriented to their appropriate northerly migratory direction.
It was only when the pineal gland (the so-called “third eye”) was covered, even with both eyes open to the light, that the salamanders became disoriented. This magnetic case falls under a class of “weak force” phenomena, where the significance is not determined by a scalar value of intensity, but by a geometric question of resonance, in which harmonization with the quality of a process is what enables an interaction. But, when genetic modifications of the flies and plants without the genetic material associated with cryptochrome were created, they were no longer responsive to the magnetic field at all.
However, when yellow and red light were used the birds could not orient in the proper directions, and showed a general chaotic disorientation (see image for 6 tests in 6 different colors of light). Also, recall that this light-dependent magnetoreception is disrupted by a very low intensity oscillating magnetic field of the proper frequency. But, using the narrow ranges of the monochromatic lights, they showed interesting problems with increased light intensity.
Again, the axial direction changed with different intensities, and it was found that to get the same axial direction at different colors (e.g.
They all tend to a south-east direction, in both the spring and autumn, whereas under normal light conditions, they oriented south in the autumn and north in the spring. However this fixed-direction response of the birds was shown to be the same when the inclination was inverted, but it was reversed when the polarity was reversed. For example, the human eye uses three different cones to detect different wavelengths of light, but you see the three different cone readings as one sense. That is, as the light source moves from green to UV light, the intensity level of light required to induce the same fixed-axis response (e.g.
When two colors were mixed, for example green and yellow, the yellow no longer appeared to have a null effect, as the birds chose a particular fixed direction (which was different than their expected migratory direction)-- whereas, if the yellow did simply have a null effect, then it would be expected that the bids would still orient to their proper migratory direction under a green and yellow mixture. For example, though not elaborated in this report, entire classes of organisms have demonstrated abilities to sense (and in some cases produce) electrical currents and fields, which, though notable in itself, also takes a new dimension of interest because of the intimate relation of electrical and magnetic fields (again, noting that extensive investigations of this inter-relationship have been limited to abiotic expressions).
The static magnets are more effective when they are moved back and forth over the area to be treated. For example, imagine you had a compass needle that could spin freely in three dimensions; at the north magnetic pole the needle would point straight down to the Earth (90° inclination), but as you moved south the inclination would gradually change until it pointed parallel with the surface of the Earth at the magnetic equator (0° inclination). Another extreme case is found off the southern coast of Finland (near the island of Jussaro), where there is a sharp jump in intensity, and variations in the declination are enough to have caused many shipwrecks in the past, when a magnetic compass was all that could be relied upon.
The effects (gravitational and electromagnetic) of the rotational relationship of the Earth with the Sun, along with the rotational effects of the moon (gravitational) induce slight (sometimes unnoticeable), but regular variations in the GMF qualities measured at the surface of the earth. Using a compass to determine which way is north won’t do you much good in trying to find your home, if you don’t know where you presently are.
During the appropriate migratory time of autumn, they showed an orientation to head in the expected southwest direction. However when the simulated magnetic environment matched that which would be felt in Egypt, the birds suddenly showed a dramatic increase in weight gain. In each of the three cases, the groups of hatchling turtles oriented in the proper direction that would keep them within the gyre, as if they had actually been at the geographic locations that the simulated magnetic conditions indicated.
Contrast this with the failure of the limited conception that interactions are only determined by quantity levels, a “brute force” approach. However, despite the seeming distinctness, experimentation indicates a complex interaction between the two. These characteristics were tested, and demonstrated for monochromatic UV, blue, turquoise, and green light tests (see image). Taking this into view, perhaps there are other mechanisms involved in magnetoreception as well, ones that we are not yet aware of, all of which could become integrated into one sense for the bird. Also it is worth noting that the molecule proposed to be the one reacting to the magnetic field, cryptochrome, is responsive to light in the blue range, and not the yellow to red range.
In that context, consideration must be given to the demonstrated electrical nature of living organisms, expressed throughout their structure, as well as the sensitivity of living organisms to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields. Through the 1950’s, ’60’s, and ’70’s, series of tests were performed in attempts to determine how homing pigeons, among other birds, were able to do this.
Even though the GMF is much more complex than a simple uniform dipole field, these three values can be measured at every location in the GMF.
Much of this is attributed to the effect on, and generation of electrical currents in the atmosphere, ionosphere, magnetosphere, and related structures which generate magnetic fields which interact with the GMF.
For birds, among other animals, it has been demonstrated that this ability is also a magnetic sense.
In the first group, the lobsters predominantly attempted to head south, which would be the direction of their home, if they were actually at the location indicated by the simulated magnetic conditions. They continued the desire to head in this direction only until they were subjected to an artificial magnetic field that simulated the magnetic conditions in Northern Africa. This corresponds perfectly to their actual migratory trips, where they will put on more weight prior to crossing the desert of Egypt, where there is a lack of food. As hatchlings, they obviously never had experienced the extent of the Atlantic gyre, so, interestingly, in addition to even the ability to navigate by magnetic conditions, they were seemingly born with some form of magnetic map of the Atlantic Ocean. The eastern tendency lasted about three days, followed by about another 7 days of general disorientation, after which the birds were able to regain their normal migratory ability.
This was also demonstrated with tests on cockroaches (yes, they have magnetoreception too), where similar extremely low intensity, but precise frequency oscillating magnetic fields disrupted their inclination compass ability, leading to general disorientation. To get to that, the nature of the light-dependence of the “inclination compass” has to be examined. It was shown to get a general east-west directional response in successive colors (UV, blue, turquoise, and then green; in that order), the respective intensity had to be higher in a corresponding manner (see image).
This leaves presently no mechanical explanation for why the addition of the yellow light would have any effect at all. Without fully knowing how the electrical nature of an organism functions, nor exactly how organisms are sensitive to these low frequency fields, among other considerations, it is presumptuous to expect we can grasp the extent of the “magnetoreception” capabilities of living organisms. Even if on a relatively weak level of intensity, the class of regular variations in the GMF (daily, lunar, yearly, etc.) could provide a temporal landscape, a periodic indicator, for life. Likewise the second group, exposed to magnetic conditions simulating a location south of their home, attempted to head north, even though they were geographically in the same location as the first group.
In this experimental case, behavioral responses were induced solely by the magnetic stimuli associated with a geographic location with particular relevance to their migratory patterns. From being able to “hear” extremely low-frequencies (down to 0.1 Hz for pigeons), to seeing both ultraviolet light and linearly polarized light, to the demonstrations that they will use the positions of the sun and stars to orient themselves.
Along with these expected influences, much more rapid micro-pulsations add another dimension of variation. In both cases, the synthetic magnetic indicators appeared to be enough to trick the lobster into thinking they were at the location which would be associated with those magnetic conditions. Pigeons are sensitive to changes in air pressure with an accuracy of the pressure difference due to altitude changes as small as 10 meters.
Also, irregular activity from the sun (solar flares, coronal mass ejections, solar wind shutdowns,6For example, for two days in May, 1999, the Sun basically stopped emitting solar wind (the constant flow of charged material flowing from the sun), with output levels falling to less than 2% of their normal levels. In fact, the studies of how the birds were able to utilize the position of the sun were important in building significant interest in “biological clocks”2See Peter Martinson’s contribution to this report, “Following the Beat of a Different Drummer.” in the late 1950’s, because determination of direction based on the location of the sun requires some ability to “know” the “time of day,” another ability demonstrated in these birds.

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