In a previously unknown letter written by Nobel prize-winning physicist, Albert Einstein considered if new physics understandings could result from examining how animals are sensing the world surrounding them.

An ABC News report said, developing revolutionary physics theories was not the only thing on Einstein's mind. It appears that the physicist also had a strong interest in the bees and the birds.

The said letter was addressed to an engineer at the Royal British Navy, Glyn Davys, in 1949, also mentioning Karl von Frisch, a well-known bee researcher.

Einstein's writing also suggested that his thought processes were ahead of time, with a study on animal sensory systems not developing for another 70 years.

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Einstein’s 72-Year-Old Letter Containing New Physics About Animal Senses Revealed in Study
(Photo : Ochoa54 on Wikimedia Commons)
Nobel prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein


Curiosity About Science Beyond Mathematics and Physics

The said letter, which a team led by RMIT researchers led, was published in The Journal of Competitive Psychology A.

According to vision scientist, Adrian Dyer, from RMIT in Melbourne, the letter verified that Einstein was curious about science beyond mathematics and physics.

He said, one of the reasons he thinks Einstein has remained well-known and popular in today's society is that, he had a "very multidisciplinary way of thinking about the world." Dyer is a co-author of the paper that published the letter.

Trained Birds

Scarlett Howard, who studies bee cognition at the Melbourne-based Deakin University, together with colleagues, published in 2019, a series of papers that demonstrated the cognitive powers of bees, like their ability to understand the notion of zero and solve simple mathematical problems.

If they are to show the birds three blue dots, Dr. Howard, also the paper's co-author said, they were trained to add one. More so, if the birds were shown three yellow dots, they then, should subtract one.

Basically, Howard added, they basically taught the birds "plus one and minus one." 

This particular study got the attention of the media. A similar Press Stories report also said, it caught the attention of a widow, Judith Davys, residing in the United Kingdom.

Davys had read the study on the mathematical problem-solving skills of the researchers, and contacted Dyer about the 72-year-old letter she had kept. The letter, which was addressed to Davys' late husband, was indeed, from Einstein.

After they confirmed with the Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem that Einstein's letter was authentic, Dryer and his research team spent a year assessing it and piecing together what prompted the physicist to write it.

Reply Letter

The research team suspected that Einstein's was a reply letter to Mr. Davys, who then examined the use of radar to identify ships and aircraft, described by reports as a top-secret study topic during that time.

The researchers, to put this letter in context, dived in to news archives, articles that had been published in England in 1949.

They found a story that featured the discovery of von Frisch that honey bees are using polarized sunlight, traveling in one direction, to find their way out, a discovery that ultimately earned him the 1973 Nobel Prize.

A similar report is shown on In Other News's YouTube video below:

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