Cracking Mystery Reveals How Electronics Affect Bird Migration
From a glitch in a bird experiment, scientists gain startling insight into the effects of weak broadband waves.
In the spring of 2005 Henrik Mouritsen was stumped. Mouritsen, a professor of neurosensory sciences at Germany's University of Oldenburg, had just launched an ambitious investigation into what part of the brain a migratory bird uses in orienting to the Earth's magnetic compass.
The animal navigation expert had all his ducks in a row: funding, lab space, graduate students, sophisticated instruments. But to Mouritsen's dismay, the birds themselves (not actually ducks, but European robins) refused to cooperate.
The birds' innate migratory behavior—well documented, fundamental to the research design, and the least of Mouritsen's concerns going into this project—had gone haywire.
It took Mouritsen and his team three years to get to the bottom of the birds' seemingly anomalous behavior. But in doing