Birds: Better Than Physicists

Alright, here’s one I’d really really like to write a more extensive explanation of, but don’t know if I’ll have time for. I’ve actually put off posting this twice now because I didn’t have time to write an accompanying explanation, but I recently found a nontechnical piece on the subject in Wired Science that does a decent job. Of course there are things I would like to have added, but it will have to do. Ask lots of questions if it seems incomplete :-).

The gist of it is: Scientists studying how Birds’ “inner compasses” work during migration have discovered reason to believe that they may be relying on a very complicated quantum-mechanical effect called “entanglement” to turn the atoms in their eyes into magnetometers. And interestingly, if that’s really how they do it, it means that birds are at least 25% better than the best of all physics collaborations at creating and maintaining this delicate state of entanglement.

I always knew there was a reason that birds were my favorite animal. I guess I had assumed it had to do with the wonderful birdwatching trips I used to take with my dad when I was younger.


About Colin West
Colin West is a graduate student in quantum information theory, working at the Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics at Stony Brook University. Originally from Colorado (where he attended college), his interests outside of physics include politics, paper-folding, puzzles, playing-cards, and apparently, plosives.

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