Some people can detect Earth’s Magnetic Field, which sounds like a pretty sweet party trick


IMAGE/Wang, et al.

Could some humans be able to sense the Earth’s magnetic field? Evidence suggests that in addition to quite a few animal species, humans could be—yes, this is the real term—magnetoreceptors. In a recent study, scientists conducted an experiment that measured how alpha waves interacted with a trace mineral that they believe registers magnetism.

Once upon a time, scientists thought animal magnetoreception was impossible, too. As they started to understand that birds and other animals used magnetoreception to navigate in the world, they still thought there was no way humans could do it.

But that assumption seems up for grabs too. In an experiment last year—hat tip to Gizmodo for unearthing it again—researchers built a specially equipped Faraday cage where subjects were fitted with EEG sensors. Inside the structure of the cage, they arranged coils that generate a magnetic field when active. The coils could be switched into a “sham mode” with no magnetic field, but that still looked and felt the same otherwise.

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