Condon Lecture to discuss magnetic sensing by animals


CORVALLIS - The 2003 Condon Lecture at Oregon State University will discuss the sensing of the Earth's magnetic field by organisms as simple as bacteria and as complex as whales.

Joseph Kirschvink, a professor at the California Institute of Technology, will speak on "Birds, Bees, and Animal Magnetism: Unraveling the Biophysical Basis of Magnetic Field Sensitivity in Animals," on Wednesday, Oct. 8, at 8 p.m. in the LaSells Stewart Center on the OSU campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Kirschvink has been a pioneer in using a superconducting magnetometer to study tiny magnetic particles in Earth materials and even in humans. His discovery that putative bacteria in a meteorite from Mars contain magnetite grains resembling those in the Earth's bacteria is the best evidence yet that the red planet supported life.

Kirschvink received his doctorate from Princeton University and has taught at the CalTech since 1981. In 2002 he received the university's Richard P. Feynman Prize and delivered the American Geophysical Union's Carl Sagan Lecture, and this year Asteroid Kirschvink was named for him.

The Condon Lecture Series, named for Thomas Condon, Oregon's first professor of geology, is devoted to bringing the results of recent scientific research to general audiences.