Feeds

Boffins finger reason for non-aligned cows

Power lines disrupt bovines' north-south grazing tendency

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The scientists who brought the world proof that, in keeping with ancient lore, cows really do graze along a north-south axis, have found the reason they sometimes fail to display their natural animal magnetism.

To recap, as we reported back in August last year, Sabine Begall and colleagues at the University of Duisburg-Essen examined 8,510 Google Earth images encompassing 308 pastures and plains worldwide, plus "deer bed" impressions in snow created by around 3,000 deer in over 225 locations in the Czech Republic.

The team reported that "whether grazing or resting, these animals face either magnetic north or south". Since the direction of the wind and sun "varied widely where the images were taken", the boffins concluded the beasts were reacting to the planet's magnetic influence.

However, it ain't always so, and here's why: The team now says it's proved that bovines' close proximity to overhead power lines - which emit a "mild electromagnetic field", as Wired puts it - is enough to disrupt their compass needle tendencies.

The researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences*: "These findings constitute evidence for magnetic sensation in large mammals as well as evidence of an overt behavioral reaction to weak [extreme low-frequency magnetic fields] in vertebrates."

Interestingly, this insight backs our own El Reg research into ruminant alignment. Avid followers of our in-depth cow coverage will recall that this hack last year observed around 20 local cows which were directionally all over the place. However, I can now confirm that the field in which they were grazing is indeed traversed by overhead powers lines. ®

Bootnote

*Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields disrupt magnetic alignment of ruminants. By Hynek Burda, Sabine Begall, Jaroslav Cerveny, Julia Neef, and Pavel Nemec. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 106, No. 11, March 16, 2009.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.