Head North

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Magnetoreception (magnetoception) is a sense which allows an organism to detect a magnetic field to perceive location. Birds and fish use it. When humans are asked to walk North, they end up walking in circles.

It is, one theory states, that it is because of the content of magnetite in the beak that birds can navigate. Interestingly, humans also have magnetite in their nose. A scientist claims to have found the 6th magnetic sense: In 2016, Sciencemag.com quoted Joe Kirschvink, geophysicist at Caltech, of saying: "It's part of our evolutionary history. Magnetoreception may be the primal sense".

If humans possess such a sense, why not train it? "Head North" is the perfect wearable training instrument for modern human magnetorecetion practitioners. The "Head North" product embeds 36 buzzers in a head band and North is constantly indicated with +/- 5 degrees accuracy with a discrete buzz.

The idea behind "Head North" is not new. Cognitive scientist Peter König invented the "FeelSpace belt" back in 2004. Wired.com Magazine described the invention in 2007: "A wide beige belt lined with 13 vibrating pads — the same weight-and-gear modules that make a cell phone judder. On the outside of the belt were a power supply and a sensor that detected Earth's magnetic field. Whichever buzzer was pointing North would go off. Constantly.".

A test person described the impact of "FeelSpace": "I suddenly realized that my perception had shifted. I had some kind of internal map of the city in my head. I could always find my way home. Eventually, I felt I couldn't get lost, even in a completely new place.".

The term "Northing" has (according to Wikipedia) been "used by explorers to describe a general progress toward the North Pole". Isaac Israel Hayes used this term in an 1861 address to the New-York Geographical and Statistical Society saying, "The want of steam power curtailed my Northing"!

We propose that "northing" from now on also characterizes the process of using Head North to train ones 6th sense. As the magnetic North Pole seems to be on the verge of tipping, "Northing" may become "Southing" at one point, and regrettably Mars does not have a strong magnetic field so all Northing skills are useless on Mars. Apart from that there is every reason to train one's magnetoreceptive sense!

Go Northing or go Bust!

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  • ABOUT THE ENTRANT

  • Name:
    Soren Jensen
  • Type of entry:
    individual
  • Profession:
    Engineer/Designer
  • Number of times previously entering contest:
    3
  • Soren is inspired by:
    Identifying sources of 'micro stress' and trying to come up with simple, yet novel, solutions in order to reduce or remove the 'micro stress'.
  • Patent status:
    none