Philosophical Society of Washington

Birds, Eels, and Turtles: Migration and Magnetism

Eugenie Mielczarek
Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, George Mason University

2087th Meeting Abstract
Friday, March 06, 1998 at 8:15 PM


The December 1947 issue of the Journal of Applied Physics published a paper by Henry Yeagley, Department of Physics of Penn State: “A Preliminary Study of a Physical Basis of Bird Navigation”. Fifty years later the Journal of Experimental Biology carried a review by Wolfgang and Roswitha Wiltschko, “Magnetic Orientation in Birds”. What happened in that fifty-year time span? …a study of data on 12,000 Italian racing pigeons and lots of experiments on migrating birds and other animals. Homo Sapiens need compasses, but evolution has provided some species with built-in abilities to navigate using one of the major physical features of our planet.

About the Author:

Eugenie Vorburger Mielczarek is Professor of Physics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Her experimental research for twenty years has focused on iron in biological systems. She has been a visiting scientist at the National Institutes of Health and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a winner of the Distinguished Faculty Award at George Mason University. She has advised National Public Radio, judged the U. S. Steel-American Institute of Physics prize for science journalism, and chaired the American Institute of Physics' book publication committee. She belongs to the East Coast Iron Club, a group of about forty scientists who study iron in biological systems. She is the primary editor of Key Papers in Biological Physics. Ms. Mielczarek received her B. S. Degree in physics from Queen's College, Flushing, N.Y., and her masters and Ph.D. degrees from Catholic University, Washington, DC.

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