The letter, written to radar researcher Glyn Davys in 1949, was released by the latter’s wife.
The letter also proves Einstein met with Nobel laurate Karl von Frisch, who was a leading bee and animal sensory researcher.
In April 1949, von Frisch presented his research on how honeybees navigate more effectively using the polarization patterns of light scattered from the sky.
The day after Einstein attended von Frisch’s lecture, the two researchers shared a private meeting.
Although this meeting wasn’t formally documented, the recently discovered letter from Einstein provides insight into what they might have talked about.
“It is thinkable that the investigation of the behavior of migratory birds and carrier pigeons may someday lead to the understanding of some physical process which is not yet known,” Einstein wrote.RMIT University, “Previously unknown letter reveals Einstein’s thinking on bees, birds and physics” at Phys.org (May 13, 2021)
Would Einstein count birds’ use of magnetic sensing for migration?
The paper is open access. ‘Einstein, von Frisch and the honeybee: a historical letter comes to light’, with Adrian Dyer, Andrew Greentree, Jair Garcia, Elinya Dyer, Scarlett Howard and Fredrich Barth, is published in the Journal of Comparative Physiology A (DOI: 10.1007/s00359-021-01490-6).
2 Replies to “In previously unpublished letter, Einstein suggests that new physics discoveries might come from studying animals”
Old Al was way behind the curve on this. Electricity was first studied and understood in nerves and muscles.
Magnetic navigation of pigeons was assumed but not fully understood in 1918, and probably earlier. From the WW1 Signal Corps manual on pigeoneering:
“The ear appears to play an important part in the sense of direction. It includes three parts, the external ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. At the top of the inner ear there are three semicircular canals which appear to be the nerve conductors of orientation. It is possible that their great sensitiveness enables the pigeon to perceive magnetic and atmospheric impressions, and to determine the direction of the loft, either at departure or during the flight, when on account of atmospheric disturbances the bird has temporarily lost its way. “
I don’t know how much credit Einstein should be given for anticipating ‘new physics’ for understanding the migratory behavior of birds.
The article comments that “One theory for the origin of magnetic sense in birds is the use of quantum randomness and entanglement. Both of these physics concepts were first proposed by Einstein.”
Yeah sure it is correct that Einstein, along with Podolsky and Rosen, (in the infamous 1935 EPR paper), developed the concept of entanglement, he did so in order to try to disprove quantum theory, and/or to try to prove that quantum theory was “incomplete.
In fact Einstein went so far as to infamously deride quantum entanglement as being ‘spooky action at a distance’.
In fact, it took several decades to prove Einstein wrong and that ‘spooky action at a distance’ was real.
Thus while Einstein may have anticipated that ‘new physics’ would be needed to explain the migratory behavior of birds, and while he may have helped develop the concept of quantum entanglement, it is also true that Einstein resisted the entire concept of entanglement that he had helped develop.
So just how much credit Einstein can actually be given for anticipating quantum behavior in birds is very much an open question.
In fact, I would argue that Schrodinger, in his book “What Is Life?”, went much, much, further than Einstein ever did in clearly elucidating the fact that quantum principles would be needed to explain all of life in general, (and not just the quantum principles at play in the migratory behavior of birds).
As Jim Al-Khalili explains, “To paraphrase, (Erwin Schrödinger in his book “What Is Life”), he says at the molecular level living organisms have a certain order. A structure to them that’s very different from the random thermodynamic jostling of atoms and molecules in inanimate matter of the same complexity. In fact, living matter seems to behave in its order and its structure just like inanimate cooled down to near absolute zero. Where quantum effects play a very important role. There is something special about the structure, about the order, inside a living cell. So Schrodinger speculated that maybe quantum mechanics plays a role in life”.
And indeed quantum principles have now been found to be ubiquitous within life.
In the following paper entitled “Quantum criticality in a wide range of important biomolecules” it was found that “Most of the molecules taking part actively in biochemical processes are tuned exactly to the transition point and are critical conductors,” and the researchers further commented that “finding even one (biomolecule) that is in the quantum critical state by accident is mind-bogglingly small and, to all intents and purposes, impossible.,, of the order of 10^-50 of possible small biomolecules and even less for proteins,”,,,
And this follow up article stated that, “There is no obvious evolutionary reason why a protein should evolve toward a quantum-critical state, and there is no chance at all that the state could occur randomly.,,,”
What is so devastating to Darwinian presuppositions with the finding of pervasive quantum coherence and/or quantum entanglement within molecular biology, is that quantum coherence and/or quantum entanglement is a non-local, beyond space and time, effect that requires a beyond space and time cause in order to explain its existence. As the following paper entitled “Looking beyond space and time to cope with quantum theory” stated, “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,”
Darwinists, with their reductive materialistic framework, simply have no beyond space and time cause that they can appeal so as to be able to explain the non-local quantum coherence and/or entanglement that is now found to be ubiquitous within biology. Whereas Christians readily do have a beyond space and time cause that they can appeal to so as to explain quantum entanglement. As Colossians 1:17 states, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
It is also important to realize that quantum information is also conserved. As the following article states, In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed.
The implication of finding ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, and ‘conserved’, quantum information in molecular biology on such a massive scale, in every important biomolecule in our bodies, is fairly, and pleasantly, obvious.
That pleasant implication, of course, being the fact that we now have very strong empirical evidence suggesting that we do indeed have an eternal soul that is capable of living beyond the death of our material bodies. As Stuart Hameroff states in the following article, “the quantum information,,, isn’t destroyed. It can’t be destroyed.,,, it’s possible that this quantum information can exist outside the body. Perhaps indefinitely as a soul.”
Thus in conclusion, I don’t think Einstein can be given nearly as much credit for anticipating that quantum principles would be at play in migratory birds as the authors contend since Einstein infamously derided quantum entanglement as being ‘spooky action at a distance’.
Moreover, since Einstein had a problem with ‘spooky action at a distance’ then I hold that ‘Quantum Vitalism’ , (S, Hameroff; 1997), where quantum principles play a ubiquitous role in all of life, would have been a bridge way too far for Einstein to ever accept and/or to anticipate.