According to researchers, humans can also pick up on Earth’s magnetic field. That sounds like a superpower a Marvel hero has, but it is the reality, and it’s called magnetoreception. The magnetic field of the Earth is used by many animals to navigate, from pigeons to turtles. That has been observed by researchers when they have seen their preference to align themselves with the field.
However, debates regarding this theory might never actually stop regarding the reasons that make these phenomena exist. Whether the power of magnetoreception is in humans, too, still needs to be discovered. Scientists do have their own ideas that strengthen this hypothesis, however.
“We have not as a species lost the magnetic sensory system that our ancestors [millions of years ago] had,” said Prof Joseph Kirschvink, leader of the research from the California Institute of Technology. “We are part of Earth’s magnetic biosphere.”
Humans can also pick up on the Earth’s magnetic field, thanks to magnetoreception
Kirschvink and colleagues in the US and Japan, writing in the journal eNeuro, described how after building a six-sided cage they made a discovery. The walls were formed out of aluminum, so the setup from electromagnetic interference would be shielded. In addition to that, coils were also in the walls because they make the currents pass to produce magnetic fields similar to the Earth’s strength.
To make the experiment work, each participant was facing straight ahead towards the north in the dark while sitting still on a wooden chair. The team used an electroencephalogram (EEG) during this experiment to measure the brain waves of the participant.
Some other experiments played with the Earth’s magnetic fields in different ways. For example, some were rotated or fixed in one direction. Some participants were only exposed to the natural magnetic field of the Earth. The most interesting thing regarding this experiment is that the participant had no idea it was happening. So, humans might also be capable of magnetoreception, such as birds and other animals.
Jasmine holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies, and is the former Deputy Director for Media Relations with the Modern Coalition. Jasmine writes primarily in our LGBTTQQIAAP and Science section.