In this public Christmas lecture Prof Peter Hore will explain, expand and explore the amazing science that enables birds to navigate.
Small migratory songbirds are extraordinary navigators: weighing less than 30 grams, they fly thousands of kilometres, alone and at night, ultimately with centimetre precision.
To do this they use the sun and the stars, their sense of smell and physical landmarks but they can also perceive the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field – an internal compass.
Despite centuries of theorising, and more than 50 years of research, the mechanism of this remarkable magnetic sense remains tantalisingly obscure.
In this lecture, Professor Peter Hore will discuss the theory that the birds’ magnetic compass relies on a quantum mechanism in their eyes that is much more sensitive than previously thought possible.
With data collected from studies of the birds themselves, computer simulations and visualisations, and ideas about how the birds may actually “see” the magnetic field, come and find out how chemistry at the ‘nanometre’ scale could allow birds to find their way from Scandinavia to North Africa. This work could have major implications for conservation, navigation and how we think about the robins and other small songbirds we see in our gardens.
Mince pies and Christmas drinks will be provided!
The lecture will also be lived streamed for virtual audiences, just register for an online ticket and you will be sent a link.