Quantum compass might help birds ‘see’ magnetic fields

Nature

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Quantum compass might help birds ‘see’ magnetic fields

Hear the latest science news, with Benjamin Thompson and Nick Petrić Howe.

In this episode:

00:45 Homing in on the molecule that helps birds find their way.

How migratory birds sense magnetic fields is a long standing mystery in sensory biology. Now researchers have isolated a molecule within the eyes of these birds that might act as a compass using quantum mechanics.

Research paper: Xu et al.

07:28 Research Highlights

How spending time on land boosts the brainpower of amphibious fish, and the neural pathway of sneezing has been revealed.

Research Highlight: Amphibious fish get smart — by working out on land

Research Highlight: How the brain makes us go ‘Achoo!’

09:52 Exoplanet Earth

Astronomers have catalogued almost 2,000 stars from which the Earth could be detected passing in front of the Sun. The team suggest that these stars would be good targets to search for planets that could harbour life.

Research Article: Kaltenegger & Faherty

18:46 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the unexpected science kicked up by the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars, and how science is embracing the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Nature News: Mars helicopter kicks up ‘cool’ dust clouds — and unexpected science

Nature News: How scientists are embracing NFTs

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doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-01715-3

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