Matin Durrani - Science Journalist

Spotify playlist - Furry Logic: Electricity & Magnetism

Posted by Matin Durrani on 9 October 2016

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  It's time for the penultimate Spotify playlist featuring - or linked to - animals in my and Liz Kalaugher's new book Furry Logic: the Physics of Animal Life. Published by Bloomsbury, the book's now available to buy in the UK and is due to come out on 31 January 2017 in the US.

This playlist, which you can listen to here, features animals in the chapter on electricity and magnetism. Once again, I stretched the boundaries a little just to ensure there were songs I didn't mind listening to.

* Orion by Electric Eels - this song is by an obscure group that I can't seem to find much information about (and not to be confused with a 70s punk band of the same name). I've included it in honour of the South American fish (yes it's a fish not an eel) that I took a strange fascination with while writing Furry Logic. The electric eel can stun prey with voltages as high as 900 V using -- researchers have recently discovered -- a mechanism that's very much like that of a police Taser. The voltage stuns the victim, which it can then gobble up.

* X-Marks by the 2012 album by US singer and "Grammy showcase finalist" Omilani called Flowers, Birds and Bees. I like this song as bees have an innate ability to detect the electric fields of flowers (yep it's weird, but flowers can have electric fields). As you can find out in Furry Logic, experiments with bees on artificial petunias showed that bees could zero in on those flowers held at high voltage. They knew that X marks the spot.

* Can You Dig It? - the classic track from early 90s one-hit-wonders indie band The Mock Turtles who named themsleves after a creature in Alice in Wonderland. There's one kind of turtle -- the loggerhead turtle -- that's almost as strange as some of the creatures in Lewis Carroll's book. Born in Florida, they can circle the entire North Atlantic before returning to the very beach where they hatched. How do they do it? These turtles can detect the Earth's magnetic field, which they use as a compass to get back home. Weird  But not to be mocked.

* Cafe Oriental by Leipzig-based retro band The Hornets. This is the kind of weird song that turns up on Spotify when you do a search for "Oriental hornets" - strange wasps that live in the Middle East that, unlike other wasps, just love to hang out in the heat of the midday song. Turns out these sun-worshippers crave the light as they have a way of turning sunbeams into electricity. That's right - they have their very own in-built solar cell. Quite why, though, remains a mystery. Buy the book to find out more!