Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Scientists Discover Cows Point North

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the throw-away-your-compass dept.

Science 558

Dr Sabine Begall and colleagues from the University of Duisburg-Essen have discovered that cows tend to point north. The researchers studied deer in the Czech Republic and looked at thousands of images of cattle on Google Earth. The animals tended to face north when eating or resting. "We conclude that the magnetic field is the only common and most likely factor responsible for the observed alignment," the scientists wrote in an article. I guess cows will become the must-have item for long-distance hikers now. Having an edible compass would come in handy if you get lost.

cancel ×

558 comments

You too can be an armchair scientist. (5, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753697)

Is it possible? Yes. But I wonder how many factors they really looked into before coming to this conclusion. What about how cows perceive things like the locations of houses, barns and roads. Are a lot of farms on north/south roads or are fields on the south side of the farm so the cows are facing towards the barn or house? I don't know, but from reading the article, it doesn't sound like they looked into much other than making conclusions from Google Earth. What about the fact that aeriel photography is done during certain times of the day or during certain seasons. Surely those have an effect on cows. Poor science in my opinion. And the sad thing is that an article like this only causes people to start propogating facts that might be wrong. Not that what direction cows face is a big deal, but its common enough that it only propogates stupidity.

And why use Google Earth? Indiana (I know cows are sacred in India) seems like a prime candidate for studying cows from space. In 2005 Indiana University released a complete set of aerial photos of the whole state that had as high as 6" per pixel resolution. Which is better than Google Earth.

Besides that, how many good research scientists are going to promote their work by posting a link to Slashdot to an article in a newspaper.

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (4, Insightful)

baldass_newbie (136609) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753723)

They may just like sun on their backs and not in their eyes.
Not everything requires 'scientific' conjecture (which is, I think, your point.)

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (5, Funny)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753813)

They may just like sun on their backs and not in their eyes.

Next, these researchers will discover a bizarre new breed of Australian cows that like to point south.

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (4, Funny)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754547)

not to mention goats in 4 varieties of leg length, uphill goats, downhill goats, leftfacing goats and rightfacing goats. Legs on the upper slope will be shorter.

ObPython (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24754631)

Not to mention 'underwater goats with snorkels and flippers'

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24754637)

A well-known scientist once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant cow." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the cow standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady. "But it's cows all the way down!"

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (-1, Redundant)

Lendrick (314723) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754713)

Next, these researchers will discover a bizarre new breed of Australian cows that like to point south.

Funny you should say that. In the northern hemisphere (they mention looking at cows in Britain, Ireland, India and the USA), the sun always comes from the south (southeast, southwest, etc). It could be the cows don't like to look into the sun, so they face the other way, and since the sun travels from southeast to southwest, the cow's average direction over the course of the day would be north.

In Australia, being in the southern hemisphere, the sun would cross the sky to the north, so Australian cows may actually point south as it is.

As it stands, the scientists here are making an inference from a sample that may not be representative of cows in general, but just cows in the northern hemisphere.

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (1)

jeepee (607566) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754733)

And is the turds twisting CCW in Northern Hemispere and CW
in Southern Hemisphere due to the coriolis effect ?

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (5, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753817)

Yes, but I also just wanted to be the first to call this finding bullshit. ;-)

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754633)

So you were hiding your FIRST POST inside of your FIRST to call BS POST!

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (2)

splug (992725) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753827)

Then they wouldn't constantly be pointing north. Only at the poles do you see a drastic north to south disparity of the sun. Otherwise the sun goes east to west most of the time. Any place this statement would be true you would have cowsicle and I think they would be pointing when the silly person who tried to raise cows in an arctic environment gave up.

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (4, Insightful)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754295)

I live in Montana, and there's plenty of cattle up here.

There was an article in the paper last winter about ranchers having to roam their pastures at night looking for cattle giving birth (They give birth in the middle of winter). The calves would immediately need to be taken to a barn, otherwise they would quickly freeze in the -20 to -30 temperatures we frequently get during winter nights.

Adult cows are very hardy though, and survive just fine in extreme cold, although they do tend to huddle together to block the wind and conserve each others heat.

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24754645)

Um, no. We have plenty of cows in Minnesota and the sun is markedly to the south.

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24754709)

Never been outside of the tropics, have you.

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (2, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754725)

Then they wouldn't constantly be pointing north. Only at the poles do you see a drastic north to south disparity of the sun.

Exactly to the contrary. Outside the polar regions, a cow facing due north, or due south, will never have the sun directly in front of them.

There's no need to invoke magnetism.

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (1, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753921)

They may just like sun on their backs and not in their eyes.
Not everything requires 'scientific' conjecture (which is, I think, your point.)

Mod parent up to +5.

In the northern hemisphere the sun is to the south.

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (1)

jemtallon (1125407) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754265)

That could be tested by observing cows in the southern hemisphere and seeing whether they face south instead. I wonder if the study went that far.

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (5, Insightful)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754309)

I believe a cow's eyes are on the sides of their head. Not at the front of their head, like ours. Therefore, the sun would be in their right eye in the morning, and the left eye in the afternoon.

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754567)

Here in NL the cows have designer sunglasses and cell phones.

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (4, Insightful)

G-forze (1169271) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754651)

Or maybe satellites take images at noon when the lighting is best because the sun happens to be at its highest (and in the south)?

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (5, Informative)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754331)

I don't see why you would think that considering sunlight is not a "scientific" conjecture, but anyway, from TFA:

.

Huge variations in the wind direction and sunlight in the areas where the beasts were found meant that the scientists were able to rule out those factors as being responsible for the direction they were facing.

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (5, Informative)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754361)

Huge variations in the wind direction and sunlight in the areas where the beasts were found meant that the scientists were able to rule out those factors as being responsible for the direction they were facing.

Thanks for playing our game! Please accept this consolation prize - RTFA: The Home Game! Now you can play RTFA right from the comfort of your own television set!

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24754467)

They may just like sun on their backs and not in their eyes.
Not everything requires 'scientific' conjecture (which is, I think, your point.)

Isn't the fact that they prefer the sun on their backs a scientific explanation?

It seems like a logical statement that can be verified/falsified.

What constitutes a "scientific" explanation?

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24753897)

> In 2005 Indiana University released a complete set of aerial photos of the whole state that had as high as 6" per pixel resolution. Which is better than Google Earth.

No it's not. Google uses that data where it's available (look at the image credits) http://maps.google.com/maps?t=h&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=40.216869,-86.131615&spn=0.000822,0.001086&z=20 [google.com]

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24753935)

Interesting that the cow in the picture is clearly pointing west. :=)

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754347)

Based on the position of the international date line, I predict tomorrow will be a shitty day.

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (1)

Trails (629752) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754009)

You've missed the point of the article, and this is clearly due to the Earth's magnetic field.

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24754099)

If it is truly a result of magnetic field, then they'd be able to show it by showing a correlation to the magnetic declination.

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (5, Funny)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754589)

Well, I have this stash of about 400 neodymium magnets, I'm going to have lots of fun burrying them in the local farmers fields in exciting patterns.

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24754109)

I don't know, but from reading the article, it doesn't sound like they looked into much other than making conclusions from Google Earth.

Or on the other hand the newspaper article might not be providing the details on the other things they did. I don't know which is the case, but it's something to consider.

Re:You too can be an armchair scientist. (1)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754171)

I don't know, but from reading the article, it doesn't sound like they looked into much other than making conclusions from Google Earth. What about the fact that aeriel photography is done during certain times of the day or during certain seasons. Surely those have an effect on cows.

FTA:

Huge variations in the wind direction and sunlight in the areas where the beasts were found meant that the scientists were able to rule out those factors as being responsible for the direction they were facing.

"We conclude that the magnetic field is the only common and most likely factor responsible for the observed alignment," the scientists wrote in an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

I get your point, but they did at least consider some other possibilities.

Small proviso (5, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753757)

That was spherical cows of uniform density - at STP.

Re:Small proviso (0, Redundant)

Dakhran (319216) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753985)

Mod parent +5 funny!

We need more physics jokes.

You are Chris Morris ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24754087)

... and I claim my five pounds.

Re:Small proviso (2, Funny)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754417)

are they massless and frictionless?

Huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24753785)

A cursory Google image search reveals many photos of cows at rest pointing in multiple directions. There can't be that many Norths, can there?

Re:Huh (3, Funny)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753841)

I live in ranching country, and when I pass the cows on the road, it seems quite random to me. If I was lost, and came across a cow, I wouldn't use it for directions...

Re:Huh (2, Insightful)

bonehead (6382) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754217)

Agreed. I live in Iowa, and the only time I really notice a uniformity is in the winter when the weather is harsh. Then they tend to stand with their backs to the wind. I would hypothesize that this is to keep the blowing snow out of their eyes.

On a side note: So browsing through Google Earth now qualifies as being a scientist? Cool! Time to update my resume!

Time-averaged sunlight (1, Insightful)

AlpineR (32307) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753801)

Maybe the cows base their orientation on sunlight rather than magnetic field. I mean, what about the magnetic field would make cows want to align with it? Nothing I can think of, but facing north might protect their heads from excess sunlight (or help rid pests from the other end).

The researchers say that they ruled out sunlight orientation based on variations in direction, but maybe the cows are smart enough to average out the direction of the sun to find north. Since cows tend to stay in the same place day-to-day, it wouldn't take long to figure out which direction in the landscape is north. And a whole herd of cows each estimating north itself should settle on true north pretty easily.

Re:Time-averaged sunlight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24753881)

well it could have something to do with the magnets we force them to swallow so that they don't digest bits of metal/nails that they happen upon while grazing.

Re:Time-averaged sunlight (5, Funny)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753911)

Perhaps they are showing reverence to the almighty invisible polar cow.

I hear he's where 2% milk comes from.

Re:Time-averaged sunlight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24754453)

Or they need to face McDonald's to pray a couple of times a day.

Re:Time-averaged sunlight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24753923)

Perhaps it might be worth investigating if cattle in the Southern hemisphere, by the same token, tend to point South. And maybe cattle near the equator point random directions...

The potential spinoff research from this study is mind boggling!

Re:Time-averaged sunlight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24753969)

Maybe the cows base their orientation on sunlight rather than magnetic field. I mean, what about the magnetic field would make cows want to align with it? Nothing I can think of, but facing north might protect their heads from excess sunlight (or help rid pests from the other end).

Maybe for the same reason many people like a heated toilet seat...

Re:Time-averaged sunlight (4, Funny)

krgallagher (743575) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754425)

I used to fish a lot as a kid. I come from a rural area and my uncle taught me to fish. We would always watch the cattle on the way to the lake to see if they were eating or lying around. As my uncle used to say, "If the cows are eating the fish will be too."

I also noticed that the cows in a herd all used to point the same direction. It might be north, or it might be south. The prevailing winds in this area tend to be from the north during the winter and the south during the winter. You can ask any rancher, and he will tell you that cows stand with their backs to the wind.

Re:Time-averaged sunlight (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754617)

I wonder if the research averaged the direction for them.

Re:Time-averaged sunlight (2, Insightful)

Antibozo (410516) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754749)

Indeed, keeping the sun out of their eyes would make it easier for them to spot a predator.

The claim that the scientists could rule out sunlight based on "huge variations" is absurd, given that they are using satellite photographs as their source and thus automatically selecting imagery where the sky is clear. The fact that they rely on Google Earth imagery even more specifically selects images outside the extremes of morning and evening when the sun is low on the horizon.

How about a simpler explanation? (1, Insightful)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753825)

A much simpler explanation is that a north-facing cow does not have the sun in her eyes? Cows have eyes on the sides of their heads, so looking directly away from the sun is the only way to avoid glare. Cows would rest during the hottest part of the day - in the afternoon, when the sun would be furthest to the south, so resting cows would naturally tend to face north. A simple experiment could be devised to verify this hypothesis with a shade and a giant mirror.

Re:How about a simpler explanation? (4, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753899)

A simple experiment could be devised to verify this hypothesis with a shade and a giant mirror.

Visions of Wile E. Coyote leap to mind...

Re:How about a simpler explanation? (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754147)

Which way does your planet rotate?

Re:How about a simpler explanation? (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754257)

It really makes sense, and it is also possible that insects can play a role too. Cows does suffer from flies and other insects that are more bloodthirsty and by facing in a specific direction they may actually be less disturbed by the insects.

But as usual - there are many issues that can influence the pattern, and it may well be a combination of issues.

Re:How about a simpler explanation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24754585)

I'm more partial to the experiment with a giant bar-magnet and a protractor, myself

Subject Requires More Study IMO (3, Insightful)

Nymz (905908) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753829)

While cows may actually have some ability to sense magnetic fields, like some other creatures can for navigation or migratory purposes, why would they do so for just standing around? I'm still inclined to believe that their north/south inclination is related to the east/west inclination of the sun.

Re:Subject Requires More Study IMO (2, Insightful)

toleraen (831634) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753931)

Subject Requires More Study IMO

I'm not sure this subject warrants any study at all...

Re:Subject Requires More Study IMO (4, Insightful)

Nymz (905908) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754149)

I'm not sure this subject warrants any study at all...

Funny, but you never know, a lot of discovers come from looking into non-obvious places.

Re:Subject Requires More Study IMO (0)

andrewd18 (989408) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754271)

Yeah, I end up finding most of my disc covers in non-obvious places.

Re:Subject Requires More Study IMO (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754441)

some other creatures can for navigation or migratory purposes, why would they do so for just standing around?

Modern day cows just stand around because they're fenced in. In the past, they would have been wandering from place to place on migratory paths, like their buffalo cousins.

Does this take into account the effect of peer (1)

hasbeard (982620) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753831)

pressure among cows.. just asking.

How many cows do I need? (1)

topham (32406) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753867)

How many cows do I need to get a good sample? Is there any period between herding them, and them settling down to point north? Are we talking 30 seconds? 20 minutes? I'm trying to figure out if I need to take a compass or some cows. I don't have the carry the cows.

Re:How many cows do I need? (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754291)

Cows are extremely curious so just by showing up in the perimeter of where they are located you will influence the pattern you want to study.

Correlation is not Causation (5, Funny)

nameendingwith (1272536) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753893)

Perhaps it is north because the cows are pointing in that direction...

Re:Correlation is not Causation (5, Funny)

tourvil (103765) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754391)

So now we've got true north, magnetic north, and bovine north?

I propose a new Game Show (5, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753913)

I shall call it, "Are You Smarter Than a Scientist?" Just pick any old science type story, read a poorly written summary of it, then 'prove' the scientists in question are idiots who didn't even consider the Most Obvious Thing. All Slashbots are welcome to compete.

Re:I propose a new Game Show (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753999)

Well, at least you would have the opinions of many instead of only to biaised scientists! Open source science, like the /. poll proposed?

Re:I propose a new Game Show (1, Interesting)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754061)

You're right. People should never think critically and try to find other, simpler explanations for a supposed phenomenon, not as long as it comes from a scientist, of course. That would be 'proving' they're idiots, and that's Wrong.

Next time I read something a scientist wrote I'll be sure to keep your advice in mind.

Re:I propose a new Game Show (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754159)

And dont forget the KY to make sure the scientist's idea slips in easily... ;-)

Re:I propose a new Game Show (-1, Flamebait)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754193)

Oh get off your high horse. I'm criticizing the smug intellectual superiority of some geeks, who think that because they are smarter than some people in one particular field, they must be smarter than all people in all fields. But if you want to think I'm arguing that we must all take anything said by a person labeled 'scientist' as the word of God, go right ahead and miss the point.

Re:I propose a new Game Show (5, Insightful)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754503)

You're right. People should never think critically and try to find other, simpler explanations for a supposed phenomenon, not as long as it comes from a scientist, of course.

Critical thinking is good, of course, but what usually happens here is that people think for about ten seconds, come up with something obvious, and just assume that the researchers who've been working on for months and sometimes years somehow never thought of it. Like this guy, [slashdot.org] for one example.

Re:I propose a new Game Show (5, Funny)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754235)

Oh, I'll play!

My theory is that Google Earth does take good pictures of cows. The resolution isn't good in rural areas where cows normally reside, and it isn't economically feasible to take high-res photos of every single farm. So what they did instead was invested a bunch of money taking one really, really accurate cow picture. Then they did a global search and replace, replacing all the fuzzy cows with their one HD Cow. That cow happened to be facing north-- and thus, all cows seem to be facing north

For the lightning round, I'll suggest they only looked at one herd of cows, and since cows are herd animals, they were all pointing the same direction.

Re:I propose a new Game Show (1)

PerfectSmurf (882935) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754387)

Perhaps cows possess extra sensory perception akin to esp. They sense that a mysterious device high in orbit is photographing them so they turn to MOOn it... or maybe just look at it, depending on location.

Brazilian Beef (1)

pha7boy (1242512) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753933)

is that why Brazilian beef tastes so strange? because they face South? hmmm....

Re:Brazilian Beef (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754245)

is that why Brazilian beef tastes so strange? because they face South? hmmm

No. Because Brazilian beef trots.

Magnetic or geographic? (2, Interesting)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753941)

Didn't RTFA, but maybe it's worth asking the questions; are they pointing to geographic or magnetic north pole? Then a better hypothesis could be formulated. And what about the cows at the equator? Where are they pointing? And those in the southern hemisphere?

I think that asking all those question could give a better overview; do the cows have magneto-sensitive ions in their brain like pigeons? Or do they only want to avoid the sun in their eyes?

Re:Magnetic or geographic? (1)

bonehead (6382) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754259)

And what about the cows at the equator?

They get horribly confused and their heads explode.

Re:Magnetic or geographic? (1)

s7uar7 (746699) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754597)

I'd like to think they spent all day spinning around in circles.

Feng Shui (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24753953)

Maybe cows in India are into Feng Shui.

Cow /. icon? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753957)

When I first saw this my first thought was "idle.slashdot.org."

Busy schedule (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24753975)

when eating or resting

As distinct from all the other varied activities cows fill their day with.

Thanks, Slashdot! (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#24753993)

I'm very glad that Slashdot finally added the ability to include informative pictures with their stories. For too long, I've seen news stories about cows and wondered to myself, "What exactly is a cow? What does one look like?" Now, thanks to this excellent feature, I no longer have to suffer the embarrassment of cow ignorance.

Thank you Slashdot!

Re:Thanks, Slashdot! (3, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754473)

Weird, the cow in that picture is clearly pointing east!

Re:Thanks, Slashdot! (5, Informative)

77Punker (673758) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754489)

The picture is actually related to the article, since the cow has a map of Earth on her side, with North at her top!

Re:Thanks, Slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24754705)

Wouldn't just looking at the pattern on the cow make it clear that cows know about north?

Is that how you can tell where North is on a (1)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754023)

cloudy day?

Some survivalist type of guy was condemning your average suburbanite for not being able to tell which way North is on a cloudy day.

The answer is not moss on trees.

I couldn't figure it out and I thought the guy was just a nut.

Re:Is that how you can tell where North is on a (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754357)

cloudy day?

Some survivalist type of guy was condemning your average suburbanite for not being able to tell which way North is on a cloudy day.

The answer is not moss on trees.

I couldn't figure it out and I thought the guy was just a nut.

Well, duh. It's the LED display next to the rear-view mirror.

better article (5, Informative)

800DeadCCs (996359) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754091)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7575459.stm [bbc.co.uk]
This one also states that the herd orientation is different around the South Atlantic Anomaly http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Atlantic_Anomaly [wikipedia.org]
Probably due to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetite [wikipedia.org]
And can't forget us.. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=49775 [nih.gov]

Well there is one way to know for sure.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24754125)

Bring 25 cows to the north pole and see if they all arrange themselfs in a star formation.

Where does Gary Larson Live? (4, Funny)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754129)

One would need to find out where Gary Larson lives. If he is in the northern portions of the globe - Alaska, Siberia - then we can only deduce that the cows are paying tribute to their master.

It didn't work... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24754225)

The cows in the pictures are pointing left, which is south from where I'm sitting.

TV Satellite dishes point south (4, Funny)

Jim Buzbee (517) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754243)

TV Satellite dishes point south - So when I'm lost in the wilderness, that's what I look for.

Pointing West (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754275)

The cow in the picture is clearly facing West, judging by the outlines of the continents on its hide.

Perhaps this north facing tendency is the result of the cow magnets [wikipedia.org] that farmers insert into their animals.

The real reason... (1)

Lord Fury (977501) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754365)

...is that all the pictures were taken from the west. Everybody knows that a cow's left side is her good side. The cows weren't facing north, they were just trying to look good for the cameras.

Wouldn't be in Japan right now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24754463)

Must smell terrible according to this map.

North or close to north? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24754497)

If they are only facing close to north I'd bet that they line up pretty exactly with airport runways.

That may be so... (2, Funny)

thewils (463314) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754551)

But they're a bugger to strap to your wrist while you are out hiking.

But a lot of cows have a magnet in their stomach! (5, Interesting)

Furan (98791) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754629)

This article does not make any mention of Cow Magnets [magnetsource.com] , used to prevent hardware disease [wikipedia.org] in cows.

IANAP but I am curious if it is related.

Cows facing north. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24754641)

Or could it be because, in the northern hemisphere at least, the winds tend to blow from the west and south, and so facing generally north would enable them more easily to see the approach of potential predators? This behaviour has been commonly observed in grazing animals for thousands of years. Have we forgotten our ancestral knowledge?

Yeah but...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24754679)

I'm still trying to figure out how to cram one inside a compass?

Now they tell me! (1)

CaptDeuce (84529) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754681)

After I just spent all that money on a new compass!

It's a recent phenomenon (3, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754703)

Since George W. Bush got elected, they've all been thinking about stampeding to Canada.

Edible Compass? (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 5 years ago | (#24754755)

Won't someone think of the poor vegetarians! The horror! The horror!

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...