physics question #2300



Ed Kasica, a 12 year old male from Oldsmar, florida asks on October 11, 2004,

Q:

Why does a magnetic field in the form of a bar magnet effect the movement of a planaria? Does it have iron from its enviroment in its body?

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the answer

James Livingston answered on October 13, 2004, A:

We do not know for sure. Magnetic fields have been shown to affect the motion of many animals. In some cases, as in magnetotactic bacteria, the animal contains a significant volume of a magnetized magnetic compound such as iron oxide, rather like an internal compass, and the action of a magnetic field on those magnetic particles produces a force or torque that can affect the animal's motion. Similar but less pronounced effects have been observed in larger animals, but the mechanism has yet to be determined.

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