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Albert Einstein Discussed Relationship Between Physics and Biology Decades Before It Was Established

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Before Einstein wrote this letter, researchers also found that scientist Karl von Frisch had presented a paper at Princeton University in April 1949 on a similar topic.

A paper published earlier this month revealed how Nobel laureate Albert Einstein had discussed the possibility of a relationship between biology and physics decades before it was actually established. A team of scientists from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology discuss in a recent paper what the German-American scientist had written to Glyn Davys back in 1949. It is speculated that Einstein’s letter was addressed to Glyn as a response to a query. In the letter, the scientist writes how studying the behaviour of bees can be used to extend our knowledge of physics. It was quite clear that Einstein saw the potential of new discoveries from studying animals’ behaviour.

Before Einstein wrote this letter, researchers also found that scientist Karl von Frisch had presented a paper at Princeton University in April 1949 on his new research on how honey bees navigate using the polarization patterns of light scattered from the sky. At the time, even Einstein was at Princeton. Through his research, Karl translated bees’ dance language, for which he eventually received the Nobel Prize.

Einstein had held a private meeting with Karl after he had presented his paper. In the recently discovered letter, researchers believe they may have found some insights into what must have unfolded during that meeting in 1949. The letter addressed to Glyn mentions, “I am well acquainted with Mr. v. Frisch’s admirable investigations." Hence it is believed that Glynin his letter may have mentioned Karl’s work on bees behaviour.

Glyn had joined the British Royal Navy in 1942 during the second World War. A trained engineer, he used to research the budding use of radar to detect ships and aircraft. Researchers point out in their study that during this time, it was also found that bats had bio-Sonar sensing. It is believed that this discovery and Glyn’s own ideas about the relation between physics and biology may have prompted him to write to Einstein.

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first published:May 25, 2021, 11:20 IST