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howard-einsteinvonfrisch-inpress-2021.pdf (1.02 MB)

Einstein, von Frisch and the honeybee: a historical letter comes to light

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-01-01, 00:00 authored by A G Dyer, A D Greentree, J E Garcia, E L Dyer, Scarlett Howard, F G Barth
AbstractThe work of the Nobel Laureate Karl von Frisch, the founder of this journal, was seminal in many ways. He established the honeybee as a key animal model for experimental behavioural studies on sensory perception, learning and memory, and first correctly interpreted its famous dance communication. Here, we report on a previously unknown letter by the Physicist and Nobel Laureate Albert Einstein that was written in October 1949. It briefly addresses the work of von Frisch and also queries how understanding animal perception and navigation may lead to innovations in physics. We discuss records proving that Einstein and von Frisch met in April 1949 when von Frisch visited the USA to present a lecture on bees at Princeton University. In the historical context of Einstein’s theories and thought experiments, we discuss some more recent discoveries of animal sensory capabilities alien to us humans and potentially valuable for bio-inspired design improvements. We also address the orientation of animals like migratory birds mentioned by Einstein 70 years ago, which pushes the boundaries of our understanding nature, both its biology and physics.

History

Journal

Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology

Volume

207

Issue

4

Pagination

449 - 456

Publisher

SPRINGER HEIDELBERG

Location

Germany

ISSN

0340-7594

eISSN

1432-1351

Language

English

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal