A SCIENTIST has claimed that humans may be more in touch with the Earth than we realise as he believes that we have a sixth sense that means we can detect Earth’s magnetic field.
Birds, insects and some mammals such as dogs are able to detect the magnetic field of the Earth which they use to navigate the globe and a geologist says that he has detected it in humans too.
Joe Kirschvink from the California Institute of Technology claims to have identified magnetoreception – a magnetic sense – in humans in a small scale study.
The results of a small, unofficial trial involving just 24 participants were presented in April at the 2016 meeting of the Royal Institute of Navigation in which Kirschvink sensationally claimed that “humans have functioning magnetoreceptors”.
As the trial was small, it has not been taken as conclusive proof and the geologist has since been given $900,000 worth of funding to work with labs in Japan and New Zealand to help prove a magnetic sixth sense in humans, which is a testament to the fact that officials believe he may be onto something.
Scientists are still unclear how magnetoreceptors work, but experts believe that it is either down to Earth’s magnetic field triggering quantum reactions in proteins known as cryptochromes – which have been found in the retinas of birds and dogs – which relay magnetic information to the brain, or that there are receptor cells in the body that contain a magnetic iron mineral known as magnetite which position themselves in accordance with the magnetic field.
While Kirschvink sits more in the receptor cells camp, he hasn’t been trying to prove which one is real, but rather that humans have the ability to detect the magnetic field.
To achieve this, he designed a Faraday cage, which is a thin, aluminium shield that screens electromagnetic background noise using wire coils.
The participants, who were hooked up yo EEG monitors so Kirschvink could analyse their brain activity, were asked to sit inside the cage in a darkened room, and were exposed to only the Earth’s magnetic field with no interference.
Kirschvink then applied a rotating magnetic field to the inside of the cage and noted that when the magnetic field is rotating counter clockwise, there was a drop in the people’s alpha waves, which is a sign that the brain is processing.
Additionally, Kirschvink noticed that there was a slight delay in the neural response which is proof that the EEG monitor was definitely picking up on brain activity and not interference from the magnetism.
Although more tests are to be conduct, Kirschvink believes that he has proof.
He told Science magazine: “It’s part of our evolutionary history. Magnetoreception may be the primal sense.”