As we drive into town, we have noticed that cows seem to align themselves in different ways in different pastures. Some of you with real cow experience may be able to add some sense to this highly technical discussion by people who have probably never seen a cow close up.
Magnetic cow findings cause row among Google Earth researchers
November 15, 2011 by Bob Yirka
(PhysOrg.com) -- Sometimes, scientists hard at work in their field, come across findings that they cannot explain, and instead of simply writing a paper describing what they’ve seen, they instead choose to write a paper describing what they think their observations have shown. Case in point, back in 2008, a group of guys with Biology and wildlife backgrounds were apparently sitting around looking at pictures taken by Google Earth, when they noticed that there seemed to be a pattern in the way some cows in a pasture aligned themselves. After looking at more pictures, a larger pattern began to emerge. Oddly enough, the cows seemed to be aligning themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field lines. The group, led by Hynek Burda wrote up a paper describing what they’d found and had it published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Later, the team did additional research and found that no such kinds of lining up occurred around power lines which they thought might disrupt the cow’s ability to sense magnetic fields.
When the paper came out, it was followed by a bit of media noise, some of which poked a little bit of fun at the whole idea. Others responded that cows lining up is nothing new, they do it to get the best angle on the sun to help keep warm, or to avoid a cold wind. But to do it based on the Earth’s magnetic field, seemed, well, a little out there.