Einstein: An article published on May 10 in the scientific journal Journal of Comparative Physiology A reveals that Albert Einstein suggested, in a letter written in 1949 to researcher Glyn Davys, that the behavior of migratory birds and homing pigeons could someday lead to the understanding of some physical process not yet known. Once again, the German mathematician and physicist was right: he had predicted a process discovered in 2008 – the geolocation of birds through a magnetic field.
The letter came to light after 72 years, after the recipient’s wife, Judith Davys, read an article published by the study’s authors about the mathematical skills of bees. The team then spent a year investigating the content of the correspondence.
The story behind the letter
In 1933, Einstein left Germany to work at Princeton University in the United States. There, in April 1949, he met scientist Karl von Frisch in a lecture. Von Frisch was presenting his new research on how bees navigate more effectively using light polarization patterns. He used this information to help translate the now famous bee dance language, for which he received the Nobel Prize.
The day after von Frisch’s lecture, the researcher and Einstein shared a private meeting. The meeting was not formally documented, but the recently discovered letter provides some insight into what may have been discussed at the time.
The research team suspects that Einstein’s letter is the answer to a question originally sent by Glyn Davys – who in 1942, during World War II, joined the British Royal Navy. As an engineer, Davys researched the use of radar to detect ships and aircraft – a new technology kept secret at the time.