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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Magnetic Cows


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7575459.stm

"Dr Begall and colleagues first decided to study the natural
behaviour of domestic cattle.

"The researchers surveyed Google Earth images of 8,510 grazing and
resting cattle in 308 pasture plains across the globe.

""Sometimes it took hours and hours to find some pictures with good
resolution," said Dr Begall.

"The scientists were unable to distinguish between the head and rear
of the cattle, but could tell that the animals tended to face either
north or south."


It says "tended" -- to me this means "we found a statistically
reliable difference that allows us to publish". It doesn't mean the
effect would be strong enough to see on your own, with one set of
cattle.

Thinking back to our childhood pasture -- it was so hilly that I
think we would have ascribed any tendency to either the hills or the
prevailing wind or the afternoon sun.