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Electromagnetic Noise Found To Affect Bird Navigation

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the or-did-you-mean-magnetic-north? dept.

Earth 71

Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "A 7-year German study has come to a troubling conclusion: the EM noise from human activities is interfering with birds' magnetic 'compass' [paywalled paper, but above-average abstract], and potentially disrupting migratory behavior. While science is unclear how the birds' compasses work, it is theorized it employs the quantum phenomenon of electron spin. As the lead researcher, Prof Henrik Mouritsen, is quoted as saying, 'A very small perturbation of these electron spins would actually prevent the birds from using their magnetic compass.' The BBC has a nice summary article, as well."

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Design standards (1)

hessian (467078) | about 6 months ago | (#46949719)

There's a difference between "good enough" and "elegant" when it comes to design.

Our society is a chaotic blast of all sorts of noise, from physical sound waves, to electromagnetics, to sheer ugliness.

It doesn't reflect a consistent design philosophy.

The high number of electromagnetic wave emitters inevitably creates other problems as well. But we're so focused on "good enough" that we ignore this.

Re:Design standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46949849)

It doesn't reflect a consistent design philosophy.

They do. It's the "free market" philosophy.

Re:Design standards (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 6 months ago | (#46949929)

that is a economic philosophy not design philosophy

Re:Design standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46950013)

This point is that it's like that because of the free market. Now sit down and shut the fuck up, gump.

Re:Design standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46953429)

Hi! Do you mean, "Damning with faint praise [wikipedia.org] ", perhaps?

Re:Design standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46950597)

Sorry this isn't Web 2.0. This is electromagnetics. Just because you don't grasp the subject sufficiently enough to actually evaluate existing solutions doesn't make the solutions any less "elegant".

There are some very real physical and mathematical limitations on wireless communications. No matter what your design is, you WILL generate noise. This is the fundamental nature of signals. If you are so inclined, read up on Fourier Transforms and then look at the time/frequency domain representation of square/SINC waves.

This Study is Not Just Hogwash ... (2)

pollarda (632730) | about 6 months ago | (#46950809)

We really should take it seriously since it is for the birds...

Maybe once upon a time. (2)

mmell (832646) | about 6 months ago | (#46950941)

Nowadays, there are over six billion humans living on the planet, and that number is only going up from here. EM radiation? Trust me, that's pretty low on the list of ecological disasters looming ahead for humanity. Terra will keep right on spinning without us; but if we're going to die off from overpopulation you can bet we're going to take as many other higher life forms with us as we can.

So how do we reduce the number of EM wave emitters (number, strength, impact) without causing even more damage to the overall environment?

Re: Maybe once upon a time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46951407)

We're not going to die off anytime soon. We as a species have been through bottlenecks of down to a few thousand individuals. Even if 99.9% of the current population of seven billion would die we would still be far from extinction.

Our technological civilization though...

Re: Maybe once upon a time. (1)

mmell (832646) | about 6 months ago | (#46952005)

Fine. But that ecosphere we've been living in will be irremediably altered by the presence of many billions of humans. Our technology will permit our numbers to grow until we have displaced all "naturally occurring" ecosystems (because six billion humans won't stop breeding or living just because the planet is becoming overpopulated). Once that occurs, die-back is the inevitable conclusion; leaving behind an environment fundamentally different from the one we know now.

Re: Maybe once upon a time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46961637)

Mmell: Yer bein' called out. Why ya runnin', "forrest" http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] ?

Who are you? (1)

mmell (832646) | about 5 months ago | (#46962705)

I don't run from anonymous cowards. Please post using registered /. id.

Re:Who are you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46963721)

Mmell: Yer bein' called out. Why ya runnin', "forrest" http://tech.slashdot.org/comme... [slashdot.org] ?

Re:Who are you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46964557)

Hahahaha bullshit. Yes you did. We can read you know. What a wuss you are.

Re: Only 99.99%? (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about 5 months ago | (#46958117)

All that "Mars Mission" technology will only scale to a very small population. Its a bit too late now to evolve any methane-breathing abilities.

Re:Maybe once upon a time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46951539)

Can you provide an example of a species that went extinct because its population was too large?

Maybe once upon a time. (1)

mmell (832646) | about 6 months ago | (#46952117)

I had. Slashdot's web server apparently swallowed my post regarding several experiments with rat populations which effectively became 'extinct' or nearly so as a result of overcrowding conditions. Not doing the research twice to have it wiped out again. Google on 'overpopulation experiment' and draw your own conclusions.

Re:Maybe once upon a time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46961651)

Mmell: Yer bein' called out. Why ya runnin', "forrest" http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] ?

Re:Maybe once upon a time. (1)

mmell (832646) | about 5 months ago | (#46962771)

Evidently, the Vagisil didn't help you with that itch. Are you this guy [mailto] ? The Start64 malware site [start64.com] shows the following:

Company: Panisz Peter

Address: Kossuth Lajos u. 51 Dunabogdany 2023 HU

Phone: +36.203367173

Fax: +36.203367173

But I think he's living at his mother Jan Kowalski's basement at:

Alexander Peter Kowalski

903 East Division Street

Syracuse, N.Y. 13208

Apartment #1, Lower Level

At least, that's where he wants users of his hostfile manager to send him money.

Re:Maybe once upon a time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46963667)

Mmell: Yer bein' called out. Why ya runnin', "forrest" http://tech.slashdot.org/comme... [slashdot.org] ?

Re:Maybe once upon a time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46961515)

Mmell: Yer bein' called out. Why ya runnin', "forrest" http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] ?

So they still find their way? (3, Interesting)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about 6 months ago | (#46949723)

So if I read this right, while they are in the presence of electromagnetic fields they can't orient themselves via their internal compass, but the moment they leave that field they regain their orientation. So all they have to do is fly in any direction, and they will eventually get oriented. I'm not sure I see how big a problem this is. It would be unusual for them to experience it in nature, but it seems like something they would naturally recover from.
Are their any studies that tell us that large numbers of migratory birds are flying the wrong direction? (as opposed to saying that they might, if they are constantly in an abnormal electromagnetic field)

Re:So they still find their way? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46949815)

So if I read this right, while they are in the presence of electromagnetic fields they can't orient themselves via their internal compass, but the moment they leave that field they regain their orientation. So all they have to do is fly in any direction, and they will eventually get oriented. I'm not sure I see how big a problem this is.

Thanks armchair expert.

http://abcnews.go.com/Technolo... [go.com]

So how much is really because of EM and not the ASSumed by us "red light"??

Re:So they still find their way? (1)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about 6 months ago | (#46950079)

I wasn't trying to act like an expert.. I was trying to ask a question... You know, to correct for the fact that I only briefly skimmed the article, and because migratory birds are not in any way part of my day to day job.

Re:So they still find their way? (5, Informative)

mr_mischief (456295) | about 6 months ago | (#46949843)

According to the BBC summary they also orient according to the sun and stars. This disrupts one of three systems. In the US, there's some decent evidence that major landmarks like rivers and lakes are used even by birds that are not water birds, too. It's certainly not a huge problem for most migratory birds. Lack of food sources at their traditional migration times may be much more important.

Re:So they still find their way? (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 6 months ago | (#46949987)

According to the BBC summary they also orient according to the sun and stars. This disrupts one of three systems.

Except the sun and stars are not both visible at the same time. So it disrupts one of two systems effectively. How many birds of you see flying at night anyhow?

Re:So they still find their way? (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 6 months ago | (#46950063)

And at night stars may be not visible thanks to light pollution.

Re:So they still find their way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46950177)

Or clouds!

Re:So they still find their way? (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 6 months ago | (#46950121)

How many birds of you see flying at night anyhow?

Pretty much none, nighttime being the time when I'm indoors a lot and sleeping. Even when I'm outside, it's DARK. My inability to see birds flying at night should not be an indicator that birds are not flying at night.

Re:So they still find their way? (2)

mr_mischief (456295) | about 6 months ago | (#46950655)

Many birds fly 18 hours straight. Some species longer.

Cornell [cornell.edu] has [birdcast.info] some information you may want to read, as do some [houstonaudubon.org] other [audubonmagazine.org] sources [nytimes.com] . Birds fly before sunrise and after sunset, even in complete darkness. Some species fly right through the night during migration.

Re:So they still find their way? (1)

mmell (832646) | about 6 months ago | (#46952129)

They even fly on cloudy days (marginal sunlight, nearly no moonlight - no starlight or celestial navigation in any event).

Re:So they still find their way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46955831)

You can tell where the sun is even on a cloudy day if you can see polarized light.

Re:So they still find their way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46961657)

Mmell: Yer bein' called out. Why ya runnin', "forrest" http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org] ?

Re:So they still find their way? (1)

mmell (832646) | about 5 months ago | (#46962783)

Aren't you going to threaten to sue me? Are you this guy [mailto] ? The Start64 malware site [start64.com] shows the following:

Company: Panisz Peter

Address: Kossuth Lajos u. 51 Dunabogdany 2023 HU

Phone: +36.203367173

Fax: +36.203367173

But I think he's living at his mother Jan Kowalski's basement at:

Alexander Peter Kowalski

903 East Division Street

Syracuse, N.Y. 13208

Apartment #1, Lower Level

At least, that's where he wants users of his hostfile manager to send him money.

Re:So they still find their way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46963661)

Mmell: Yer bein' called out. Why ya runnin', "forrest" http://tech.slashdot.org/comme... [slashdot.org] ?

Yes (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 6 months ago | (#46950067)

FTFA:

birds tested far from sources of electromagnetic noise required no screening to orient with their magnetic compass

So (as I read it) they might get disoriented when they fly too close to a cell tower, but once clear they're okay.

Re:Yes (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46951033)

From the abstract, I didn't see where the were testing above 5 MHz.
Cell towers operate at 750-2100MHz most above 1700MHz

Re:So they still find their way? (1)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | about 6 months ago | (#46952615)

I think the bigger problem is that the avian electromagnetic sense is tied to their eyesight. So the electromagnetic noise isn't just causing them to fly in the wrong direction, it's interfering with their ability to see. This may cause them to run into buildings, wind turbines, and power lines more often than usual.

Re:So they still find their way? (1)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | about 6 months ago | (#46952625)

Hmn. My link didn't work, so let's try it here. This is a study on avian electromagnetic vision, with a simulation of what a bird sees when looking at the magnetic field of the Earth. http://www.ks.uiuc.edu/Researc... [uiuc.edu]

Adapt or die. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46949795)

Figure it out birds! Or else we'll replace you with lifelike robot birds that don't crap on my car.

Re:Adapt or die. (3, Funny)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 6 months ago | (#46949905)

This is exactly why they crap on our cars, picnic tables, and heads. It's retaliation, pure and simple. :)

Re:Adapt or die. (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 6 months ago | (#46950061)

This is exactly why they crap on our cars, picnic tables, and heads. It's retaliation, pure and simple. :)

That's why they need to be fitted with these. [challengertalk.com]

Re:Adapt or die. (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 6 months ago | (#46951453)

It's a little known fact that birds used to poo in pellets. Their new western diet just gives them diarrhea all the time.

Don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46955847)

My new robotic birds will spam you and crap on u, and deliver you beer.

Is this why they fly into airplanes? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46949823)

Could this explain why birds are frequently found crashing into planes or being sucked into jet engines? The plane's own equipment screwing with their navigation until they fly into it?

Re:Is this why they fly into airplanes? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46949891)

No. Those are the birds who, having been pecked on their entire lives, and misunderstood by the entire flock, have settled into a deep, dark fugue and have decided to end it all rather than giving this unfair universe the satisfaction of screwing them over for one more single fucking day.

Re:Is this why they fly into airplanes? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 6 months ago | (#46950097)

Many birds see polarised light patterns, a characteristic of water in nature. Very few natural things look like water in polarised light.

Polished metal does though. Glass too. And many painted surfaces.

This is why birds keep hitting windows. To their senses, the window looks like a nice pool of water to land in. As do parked cars.

Re:Is this why they fly into airplanes? (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about 6 months ago | (#46950653)

I would have thought that millions of years of evolution would have taught birds that vertical water surfaces don't exist.

Re:Is this why they fly into airplanes? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 6 months ago | (#46950805)

Nor did glass, until recently.

Re:Is this why they fly into airplanes? (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 6 months ago | (#46951095)

I don't buy the "glass mistaken for water" theory.

Why would a non-aquatic bird try to land in water? And head-first at full speed, at that?

I think they just don't see the glass and assume it's an open space. Birds avoid glass with a spiderweb pattern that's visible only in UV light.

Re:Is this why they fly into airplanes? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 6 months ago | (#46951215)

In the case of window collisions, yes - again, glass isn't something they evolved to cope with, so they have no instinct to be aware of invisible obsticles.

The polarised car thing is more of an issue for insects.

Re:Is this why they fly into airplanes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46957123)

I don't buy the "glass mistaken for water" theory.

Without evidence, there's no "theory" for you to buy; "glass mistaken for water" is just a hypothesis.

Re:Is this why they fly into airplanes? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46950977)

you mean like water falls?

Re:Is this why they fly into airplanes? (1)

c4320n (2551122) | about 6 months ago | (#46951089)

A waterfall is very, very far from a 'vertical water surface'. I doubt it the polarization of the light coming off of a waterfall makes it look any more similar to a pool of water than the colored light coming off of it does (that is to say, not at all).

Re:Is this why they fly into airplanes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46957173)

[Y]ou mean like water falls?

I don't think so — substantial waterfalls are typically opaque due to the large quantity of air mixed into their turbulent waters.

Re:Is this why they fly into airplanes? (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 6 months ago | (#46951063)

To their senses, the window looks like a nice pool of water to land in. As do parked cars.

Whoa could this explain why birds specifically poop on cars so much? Maybe they have some kind of instinct to aim their poop at water sources (oddly enough).

I'll have to see how much bird poop my car attracts when I paint it with plasti-dip which should look different.

Re:Is this why they fly into airplanes? (1)

cffrost (885375) | about 5 months ago | (#46959681)

To their senses, the window looks like a nice pool of water to land in. As do parked cars.

Whoa could this explain why birds specifically poop on cars so much? Maybe they have some kind of instinct to aim their poop at water sources (oddly enough).

I don't know... Has cognitive bias been eliminated as a possible explanation? Speaking for myself, I tend not to pay much notice when birds shit someplace/on something I haven't paid to clean.

long range planning always uses 3 generations. (-1, Troll)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about 6 months ago | (#46949883)

WWII is finally over as german scientists reject jet engines and embrace the mystical world of the spotted owl. Still, I am slightly uneasy about this and now support U.S. efforts to develop superior spotted owl drones.

Why does "no beta" always require 2 clicks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46949949)

Every time I click the "I don't want slashdot beta" and go back to the story, I have to click that AGAIN.

Every f'ing time.

The "no beta" never works with just "one click."

But then again, slashdot beta doesn't work, so why is it any surprise that this doesn't either?

Re:Why does "no beta" always require 2 clicks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46950129)

My bookmark has been http://slashdot.org/?nobeta=1 since before the Slashcott. I haven't had to worry about Beta for a while.

this is old news (1)

strstr (539330) | about 6 months ago | (#46950035)

we have known this. and we have known bees were being effected, as well.

and we know that humans and DNA are being effected by EMF.

watch this video that covers it. called "Resonance: Beings of Frequency" : http://vimeo.com/groups/docume... [vimeo.com]

In all living animals EMF causes activation of VGCCs intracell, causing release of calcium, that then creates nitric oxide and superoxidation, and injuries and sickness. You also have damage to DNA. The result is schizophrenia, autism, cancer, confusion, depression, anxiety, and other conditions.

There's a condition where about 5% of the worlds population is hypersensitive to this.

More details in this White Paper by Dr. Martin Pall: http://www.oregonstatehospital... [oregonstatehospital.net]

Entitled: Microwave Electromagnetic Fields Act by Activating Voltage - Gated Calcium Channels: Why the Current International Safety Standards Do Not Predict.

The paper was nominated for best research of 2013.

More information can be found on my website about government EMF weapons, radar and satellite systems that are also hurting people: http://www.obamasweapon.com/ [obamasweapon.com]

If you read over the Dr. Martin Pall paper you'll actually find that the governments of the world has known about the effects of EMF for decades but kept the information classified and hidden from the public for national security reasons. Meaning they wanted to be able to weaponize it and keep it all secret. :)

Another undocumented effect is radiowave heterodyning which allows a radar weapons platform to remotely beam signals into your head, which alter synaptic signals, allowing full remote control.

The birds are migrating from Analog to Digital (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46950053)

You can here it in their calls, heavy distorted digital sounding noise, sometimes sounding like 14.4 modems.

Ok, so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46950075)

There's no information on whether or not it's actually a problem. As the article states, birds have more than one means of navigation and they seem to still be migrating. So is there some group of birds that can no longer migrate because of this?

Re:Ok, so? (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 6 months ago | (#46951493)

Yup, the dead ones.

Proof is lacking (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46950559)

There are no proof we actually have any need for birds. We're probably just fine without them. Good riddance1111!1one

Re:Proof is lacking (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 6 months ago | (#46951111)

Came here for the bird denialists, leaving satisfied.

Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46950869)

They'll just evolve a better compass that locks on to GPS and cell towers.

Magnetic particles (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46952065)

While science is unclear how the birds' compasses work, it is theorized it employs the quantum phenomenon of electron spin.

There are actual magnetic materials in the relevant cells, working as a compass. Confusing readers is optional.

Re:Magnetic particles (1)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | about 6 months ago | (#46952703)

No reason to get snarky, especially when the original post is correct. There are magnetic materials in birds' eyes. However, they only register when exposed to a magnetic field under certain conditions, as a quantum phenomenon. It is an electron spin transfer that is delayed by the quantum Zeno effect to a timescale where the birds' retina can detect the difference.
It's not as simple as a compass that points them in the right direction. Birds use some seriously weird quantum tricks to see magnetic fields.

birds yes people no? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46955103)

Yeah the poor birdies are affected by emr but humans are crazy to claim it has an effect on them?

I have electromagnetic hypersensitivity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46956127)

Although i'm not very sensitivive to radio frequencies, appliances of all kinds are dangerous for me. Only after many years do I know the extent of it and know how to be selective about the electronics I keep around me. So I'm perfectly healthy, physically and psychologically until I'm exposed. Even then, since I can keep my environment 'clean', I quickly notice harmful radioations. Animals are more sensitive than humans in all sorts of things, and these kinds of studies are done occasionally so the relationships are not unknown.

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