Further background information on Navigation based around Gravity and Gyros by Antonio Nafarrate

Let us take a fun ride to the North Pole and set up a pendulum. Once we are done we should launch it to swing taking care that we do not push it left or right so it swings in a nice vertical plane. After an hour has passed we notice that the plane of oscillation has rotated about 15 degrees. If we could see the stars we will find that the plane of oscillation is always aligned with the same stars. This results because it is the Earth rotating under the pendulum and this is exactly what the French Physicist Leon Foucault did but not at the North pole but at the Pantheon in Paris in front of a large audience. Some gentlemen assured that they could feel the Earth move and several ladies fainted according to reports of the time. It must have been a great show. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foucault_pendulum

One revolution of the Earth with reference to the stars is called a Sidereal day and it is equal to 23 hrs. 56 min, 4.0996 sec. Let us call it TP.  If the pendulum is set up at some other location X and we measure the time that takes for a complete revolution, say we measure TX. Then the Latitude of X is equal to the angle with a sine function equal to TP divided by TX.  More mathematically expressed : Latitude X = arcsine TP/TX .  So this is the formula that measures Latitude.

Many places have Foucault pendulums available to visitors. Foucault also coined the word “Gyroscope”. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyroscope

Foucault noticed that a long brass rod in the chuck of his lathe if set up to oscillate say in a vertical plane it will continue doing so even when he turned the lathe on.

Now let us go to the Equator and set up a spinning top. Instead of the ones that are toys like the ones that children have played since thousands of years let us make one out of a small electric motor so it will spin for a long time.

Before we play lets refresh some terminology from the Physics of Mechanics. The product of mass times velocity is called momentum and usually the letter “p” is the choice of the experts so we have p=mv (mass multiplied by velocity -simple enough), In dynamics of rotations there is a similar formula that momentum is called Angular momentum represented by L , the mass is the moment of inertia I and the velocity is the angular velocity omega. Then for the dynamics of rotations the formula is L=Iomega.

Now for fun we can launch our top, it may wobble as it develops full angular velocity but soon it calms down as it aligns with the direction of Gravity and appears to stay upright in a condition sometimes called “asleep”, if we give it a little push it reacts with some wobbliness until calms down again. The wobbliness before calming is called “precession”. Because it happens at a certain speed we can measure a “precessional frequency” in revolutions per seconds.

Our electric top has been made to look like those disk shaped ones with a stem in the upper part and pointy lower end to sit firmly on the ground and it may even be mounted in a frame as some tops sold as Gyroscopes but they are not unless the frame has three axis of freedom or a so called Cardanic suspension. After say one hour of spinning we can see that the stem that initially was pointing at some star now is pointing 15 degrees East of the star. What happens ?. Angular momentum is always conserved, what went wrong ?. Well actually the rotation of the Earth is sort of “pulling the rug” from under the top and forcing it to point East of the original position.

Now we will take our stationary spinning top onto Earth and we will carry it in our hands. We start by going East. We move our top smoothly avoiding sudden strong shakes as these will produce large transitory precessional motions. Precessional motions are when the top starts wobbling as it spins.

We will proceed along a parallel of latitude so the changes in the top’s position will be only in Longitude (360 degrees around the world North-South). Say that in the stationary condition the precessional frequency of the top is copied by a biological oscillator that is not affected by motions. Let us call this frequency f. The frequency will now increase to f+df . If now we move it West the frequency will become f-df . We have here some mechanism that in some way is a mechanical analog of the Doppler frequency shift (beat) so familiar in acoustics and optics.  (to understand the  Doppler effect see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doppler_effect).

By comparing these frequencies by the usual “beat” or interference method, a beat period related to the reciprocal of df (1/df) will be observed, assuming linear conditions and noting that for most cases f>>df (f is much greater than df), meaning that the tangential velocity of a point on the earth surface (except near the polar regions) is considerably larger than the velocity of motion of organisms under their own power, the zeros and maximum values of the amplitude of the beat will happen at equidistant points along the parallel independent of the velocity of motion. The integration of the velocity to obtain the distance becomes as simple as counting steps, the organism only has to count the beats to know how many units of distance it has moved from a “home” or reference meridian (longitude). It is needed to point  out here that the accelerations encountered during the top displacement do not count because they get fully cancelled by decelerations in the start to stop motion. Only the initial and final position determines the total integrated effect again if simple linearity is assumed.

We described how to measure the N-S displacements by measuring the rotation of the plane of oscillation of a Foucault pendulum but the beat method is also applicable for the N-S displacements. And again the displacements will be reduced to units of time.  It is possible that animals pick up these beats and integrate them unconsciously to deliver bearing and position.

The fact that Latitude and Longitude can both be measured in the same units, time, constitutes a very satisfactory result from a logical standpoint.

© Antonio Nafarrate 2014






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Does your dog wait for you (their owner) to come home? – An experiment

Please participate!
An experiment to see how dogs respond to their owners.
Does your dog wait for you (their owner) to come home? If this is your case please participate in this experiment.

Rupert Sheldrake is a hero of ours and has written a book we have reviewed “Dogs that know when their owners are coming home, and other unexplained powers of animals.” The experiment is explained in detail in appendix A of the book entitled: “how to take part in research.”

See this link for more background:

The experiment
If your dog waits for you (the owner) to come home, we are trying to establish when the dog goes to wait for you.

Log the following:

  • Date
  • Distance from home
  • Time of going home
  • Mode of transport
  • Time of arrival

Start with the time you decide to come home.

There must be a person at home to note down the time that the dog goes to wait for you.

Please note this time down and also the time that you get home.

Do this a number of times and see if you get any correlation between the timings on your journey home and the time that the dog goes to wait for you.

You should record the dates and times in a notebook or diary so that you can build up a proper picture of what is happening.

Only record the facts, which will speak for themselves.

What did you find?
Send us your findings to us and if you are interested send these to Rupert Sheldrake too. I think that you will find the answers very interesting.

Please participate!

Richard Nissen, editor

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Animals finding their way home

One of our board members, Antonio Nafarrate, has brought this intriguing piece of news to our attention - snakes in the Everglades can find their way home.

As we have always said, there is something going on with animals who find their way home and this is another example.

I have a friend, Jill Moss who lives in Cornwall, who, when her garden was invaded by snails would pick them up and mark them with nail polish and fling them far from her garden over a the wall.  She found that they were soon back inside her garden.

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Interaction between man and dolphins, written by Dante

Intro >>
Here is a lovely quote about the interaction between man and dolphins written by Dante in his Divine Comedy written in Italy in the early part of the 14th Century.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_Comedy for more.

In Canto 22  (in translation from the original)

“Just as dolphins do, when with the arched back, they signal to the seamen to prepare for tempest, that their vessel may be spared.”

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How do dogs relate to their owners?


Here is a little story which asks how dogs relate to their owners.  If when you read this you have opinions we would very much like to hear them and perhaps publish them.


A few years ago the mother of a friend died.  She had always kept an Alsatian dog who was her constant companion.

When his mother died he decided to take the dog to the mortuary to enable it to say goodbye to his mistress.  She had not been dead long by this time.

He took the dog into the mortuary and up to his mother’s body.

He expected the dog to show some sort of response, emotion perhaps, but he got nothing.  The dog simply did not connect onto the body at all.

Clearly the smells were still there but the body was no longer animated.

Was there a connection between the dog and his mistress on a spiritual plane?  What was the connection?

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Solar Activity Effects on Pigeons

How do pigeons navigate?

Racing homing pigeons navigate incredible distances with apparent ease. A champion racing pigeon can be released 400 miles from its home loft, in a place it has never been before, and return within 1 day. The last 40 miles of its journey, the bird navigates by sight. But over the other 360 miles, the pigeon determines its way home by “sensing” the Earth’s magnetic fields. We are not yet sure exactly how this mechanism works, but it does work — extremely well.

How can the Sun affect racing pigeons?

When there is especially strong activity on the Sun, such as a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), unusually strong surges of solar wind (charged particles from the Sun) can create a geomagnetic storm which distorts the Earth’s normal magnetic field. The pigeons can no longer rely on their normal guidance system and may become lost. Thus wise pigeon racers, especially those in very northern areas, keep track of solar activity and do not fly their birds under certain geomagnetic conditions.

How do we measure geomagnetic activity?

Geomagnetic activity is measured by what we call the ‘A’ Index, which ranges from 0 to 400 Nanoteslas (nT), a measurement of the strength of a magnetic field. 0 indicates virtually no geomagnetic disturbance, while 400 is the maximum disturbance. Another useful number is the “K” index, which tracks changes in the radio atmosphere and can affect pigeon navigation. The K index ranges from zero (no disturbance) to 9 in a maximum disturbance.

What levels of geomagnetic activity are dangerous for pigeons?

Any current reading of local figures over 150 nT in the A index of geomagnetic activity, or 4 or higher in ‘K’ index, is considered unsafe for training or racing pigeons.

Where can pigeon racers and fliers get solar activity data?

Geomagnetic stations track geomagnetic activity around the Earth. Their readings are freely available. The center of these activities in the USA is the Space Environment Center at Boulder, Colorado. There are other data centers in various parts of the world. Because the Earth’s geomagnetic field emanates from the poles, the affects are more dramatic in the far north and far south. Thus pigeon racers need to rely on local data, that is, data that accurately represents the state of the geomagnetic field in their particular geographical location.

Pigeon fanciers can pick up either “a” index (equivalent amplitude index of local geomagnetic activity) or “K” index (quasi-logarithmic local index of geomagnetic activity relative to an assumed quiet-day curve for the recording site). Because the indices are related, one can be computed from the other; see http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/info/Kindex.html.

Any current reading of local figures over 150 nT in the A index of geomagnetic activity, or 4 or higher in ‘K’ index, is considered unsafe for training or racing pigeons.

Both indices are necessarily tied to a specific geomagnetic observatory. The above data represent collections and averages. For other regions, you can obtain data from SIDC (click on the “Latest Space Weather data) or directly from your nearest site.

Where can I get more information?

Geomagnetic Activity and its Effect on Racing Pigeons

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Interesting link from a pigeon fancier on how pigeon’s navigate


Here is a very interesting article that talks about all the issues of racing pigeons.  He stresses three very important points.

First that in his opinion pigeons navigate very badly if on release the sun is not shining.  He thinks that they need the sun to navigate by if possible.

Second the wind direction is very important too. A Sami talked to me about navigating in bad conditions.  He did it by feeling the direction of the wind and keeping it at the same bearing.  In the article it describes what happens with there is low pressure system on the route that gyrates the wind direction.

Lastly racing pigeons are trained on a line North/South for instance.  Changing the race direction causes problems.

Please note that we think that pigeons change their strategy at different stages of the route.  They need a general sense of direction on release,  then they use remembered geographic way points, and near their loft they use hippocampus mediated neighbourhood mapping.<<<<<


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