Our co-editor Antonio Nafarrate has recently written these remarks 

Following the 2016 Royal Institute of Navigation (RIN) Conference on “Animal Navigation”, Dr. Painter claims that after some 50 years of work, the Magnetic “mechanism is not fully understood”. In my judgment, it will never be, because there is no such mechanism. The Geomagnetic Field (GMF) is only a minor perturbation to the true navigational mechanism which is Inertial (as I wrote in a published paper in 1989).

I believe that the Circadian Clock and Gravity are only cues for all species that Home or Migrate. Gravity is accurately sensed by the internal rotor in the molecule of ATP Synthase that has the structure that I anticipated in my 1989 paper and described in Science some 3 years later by Sir John Walker FRS and Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in 1997.

The GMF is useless for Navigation because it continuously and unpredictably drifts. It is strongly affected by unpredictable Solar activity and has undergone many reversals with no traces of animal extinctions as the reversals cross through zero. Furthermore, many Migratory bird species perch on power lines and are not affected at all or only a minimal local influence.

Similar conclusions were reported by Dr. Gerhard Gries and his team (gries@sfu.ca) about the effects of the GMF in the Waggle dances of Bees. The GMF has no influence at all.

My 1989 paper is simply the extension and correct interpretation of some work initiated by Charles Darwin in his “Collected papers” and in the “Power of Movements in Plants’. Darwin did not know the correct mechanical terminology and “invented the word “Circumnutation” when he should have said “Precession”.

A spinning top works as a Plumb Line pointing always to the center of the Earth (aligned with the local vertical). It does not work as a Gyroscope because it is receiving torque from the rotation of the Earth at the rate of 15 degrees per hour. When a spinning top is carried East or West the rotation rate is accordingly accelerated positively or negatively to adjust for the change in Longitude.

Initially you measure Latitude by some molecular mechanism similar to a Foucault pendulum.

Antonio Nafarrate
12 December 2016

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