There are times that I rail against technology, particularly when people can’t leave their mobile phones alone, but one instance popped up this week where the internet and easy access to film footage shows how advantageous it now is to us.
The esteemed American university Cornell, in what they call up-state New York, has a well-regarded ornithological studies department, which has just produced the definitive birds-of-paradise show – and it’s wonderful. For the first time that I’m aware of, you can now see all 39 species of birds-of-paradise, one after the other, with titles and in glorious colour, just by logging onto their website. I don’t need to say how fascinating birds-of-paradise are, so do yourself a favour and go have a look. There’s also lots of background information about how the footage was shot over eight years and 18 expeditions to New Guinea and Australia. Just go to: www.birdsofparadiseproject.org and have a wonderful time.
Science was certainly my thing this week, as we also covered the new research claiming that racing pigeons navigate by using infrasounds, which are huge sub-sonic waves emitted by the earth that humans can’t hear. When you read stories like this, it makes me wonder just what else there is happening on the planet that we can’t sense. The research showed that on the rare occasions whole races of pigeons got totally lost and did not return to their dovecotes, something disrupted the infrasonic waves between them and their homes, making it impossible for them to tell where they were. The main culprit for a disaster in 1997, when 95 per cent of birds racing between England and France got lost, was Concorde. Apparently, the subsonic airplane disrupted the infrasound waves, so fundamentally the poor birds became flotsam and jetsam on the wind. It's astonishing stuff. We may all look at the humble pigeon in a completely different way.
Hasta la vista...