Quantum compass might help birds 'see' magnetic fields

Researchers isolate the protein thought to allow birds to sense magnetic fields, and astronomers pinpoint the stars that could view Earth as an exoplanet.

In this episode:

00:45 Homing in on the molecule that helps birds find their way.

How migratory birds sense magnetic fields is a long standing mystery in sensory biology. Now researchers have isolated a molecule, found within the eyes of these birds, which might act as a compass using quantum mechanics.

Research paper: Xu et al.

07:28 Research Highlights

How spending time on land boosts the brainpower of amphibious fish, and the neural pathway of sneezing has been revealed.

Research Highlight: Amphibious fish get smart — by working out on land

Research Highlight: How the brain makes us go ‘Achoo!’

09:52 Exoplanet Earth

Astronomers have catalogued almost 2,000 stars from which the Earth could be detected passing in front of the Sun. The team suggest that these stars would be good targets to search for planets that could harbour life.

Research Article: Kaltenegger & Faherty

18:46 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the unexpected science kicked up by the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars, and how science is embracing the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Nature News: Mars helicopter kicks up ‘cool’ dust clouds — and unexpected science

Nature News: How scientists are embracing NFTs

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