Letter sheds insight into Einstein’s world: Aussie researchers


SYDNEY, May 13 (Xinhua) — A previously unpublished letter from Albert Einstein revealed profound insights into one of the greatest minds in history, according to Australian researchers.

The letter, penned in 1949 by the physicist and Nobel laureate, discussed bees, birds and whether new physics principles could come from studying animal senses.

The researchers from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University said in a statement on Wednesday that it was a position still being realised within physics, with a growing body of research and understanding of how animals such as birds and bees find their way around.

The previously unpublished letter was shared with researchers by Judith Davys, a retiree living in Britain. Einstein had sent it to her late husband, radar researcher Glyn Davys, who had joined the British Royal Navy during WWII and researched topics including the budding use of radar to detect ships and aircraft.

RMIT’s Associate Professor Adrian Dyer has published significant studies into bees and is the lead author of the new paper on Einstein’s letter, published in the latest the Journal of Comparative Physiology A.

Dyer said the letter showed how Einstein envisaged how new discoveries could come from studying animals.

“Seven decades after Einstein proposed new physics might come from animal sensory perception, we’re seeing discoveries that push our understanding about navigation and the fundamental principles of physics,” Dyer said.

The letter also proved Einstein met with Nobel laurate Karl von Frisch, who was a leading bee and animal sensory researcher.

In April 1949, von Frisch presented his research on how honeybees navigate more effectively using the polarization patterns of light scattered from the sky.

The day after Einstein attended von Frisch’s lecture, the two researchers shared a private meeting.

Although this meeting wasn’t formally documented, the recently discovered letter from Einstein provides insight into what they might have talked about.

“It is thinkable that the investigation of the behaviour of migratory birds and carrier pigeons may someday lead to the understanding of some physical process which is not yet known,” Einstein wrote.

Professor Andrew Greentree, a theoretical physicist at RMIT, said Einstein also suggested that for bees to extend our knowledge of physics, new types of behaviour would need to be observed.

“Remarkably, it is clear through his writing that Einstein envisaged new discoveries could come from studying animals’ behaviours,” Greentree said. Enditem


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