Scientists discover that all life is connected by electrical fields in a global electrical circuit. Even the smallest lifeforms, such as insects, can collectively impact the world. It’s important news as we navigate the Insect Apocalypse, not knowing exactly how insect extinctions will impact life on Earth.
It’s generally an abstract idea to say that “all life is connected,” something mystical or “woo.” In concept, it’s been understood since ancient times, such as the belief in animism among indigenous cultures worldwide. But to say that we are connected is mostly disregarded by the mainstream modern world, where materialist views dominate. In that world, scientists and (most of) the media require hard material evidence.
Well, more and more, they are finding that physical evidence, whether it’s electrical fields, the “Wood Wide Web” created by fungi, or through the ever-mysterious (spooky but proven real) quantum entanglement. In the latter case, it’s a fact that particles can communicate across vast distances, somehow without violating the speed of light, without any (as of yet) conceivable way of doing so.
Meanwhile, the observer effect alters the behavior of particles making up everything we see. How woo is that? Could everything we observe be a little bit woo, perhaps? It’s going to be interesting (and funny) to see how a largely materialist world reacts to this new reality. But back to the way insects are changing reality through electrical fields.
Everything Connects By Electrical Fields
At the end of a New York Times piece about insects and their collective electrical charges, we arrive at a finding from biologist Ellard Hunting, author of a new study that finds insects impact atmospheric electricity when they swarm. How are they changing the climate and the biology of their surroundings?
“There are many unsuspected links that can exist over different spatial scales, ranging from microbes in the soil and plant-pollinator interactions to insect swarms and the global electric circuit,” Huntin said. “It is all electrically connected, he added, a network of the living and the lifeless, the small and large scales.” (emphasis mine)
Aside from the revelation that swarming (endangered) honey bees can generate more electricity than a storm cloud, this statement sounds a lot like an ancient idea: panpsychism. Whereas quantum entanglement is associated with “spooky,” panpsychism is often associated with “trippy.” It’s the idea that everything living and dead is connected too, but rather than through electrical charges, a materialist view, it’s through consciousness, a dualist view.
Before the strict materialists click away, let’s go back to the hard science of insects and their trippy electromagnetic powers next.
Related: Robot Fireflies are Here and Can Be Tracked with Smartphone Cameras
More on panpsychism in the video below from Philosophy Vibe:
Honeybees More Powerful than Storms
We’ve all heard the metaphor of a butterfly flapping its wings and causing a hurricane across the world. Well, now, Ellard Hunting from the University of Bristol in the UK and his team discovered hard data that honeybees swarming near the university changed the electric fields of the atmosphere significantly. He described it as a “profound effect” and a surprising one on the atmosphere.
The weather monitors at the nearby field station recorded a spike in electric charges though there wasn’t a storm at the time.
“When I looked at the data, I was kind of surprised to see that it had a massive effect,” said Hunting. It was already known that individual bees carry a small charge, but a voltage of this magnitude had never been documented in swarming honeybees before.”
Comparing the charges, the team found the bees were “eight times as great as a thunderstorm cloud and six times as great as an electrified dust storm,” according to NewScientist.
Extrapolating to a model of a locust storm, they found such a plague would change the electrical field surrounding them with the power of a lightning storm.
It’s unclear why the bees do this, but the researchers have observed the insects picking up a charge when rubbing each other and while flying. Research shows that bees use electroreception to locate food, sensing the flowers’ electrical fields.
“For instance, flowers have an electric field and bees can sense these fields,” said Hunting. “And these electric fields of flowers can change when it has been visited by a bee, and other bees can use that information to see whether a flower has been visited. Or trees create an increased electric field in the atmosphere, and spiders can use this electric field to take off, and balloon, allowing them to migrate over large distances.”
Related: Scientists Learn How Corals and Trees Talk in Complex Ways
Positive and Negative Duality
The positive charge of the bee’s wings attracts negatively charged pollen. Scientists observe a similar dynamic in other animals.
“Honeybees, for instance, collect a positive charge as their wings — which beat more than 200 times a second — rub against molecules in the air, and use it to attract negatively charged pollen; they can also detect and modify the electric fields of flowers. Spiders spin negatively charged webs that reach out to trap positively charged insects, and they use the electric fields of trees to float through the air. Positively charged hummingbirds pull negatively charged plant stamens toward their beaks. The ecosystem is buzzing with electricity, albeit on a tiny scale,” writes the New York Times.
Other animals may be doing similar things. For example, research shows that electroreception is common in aquatic animals.
Does it seem like cosmic synchronicity that scientists are finding the power of honeybees as they are threatened with possible extinction? What happens when their positively charged wings no longer influence the atmosphere? We’ll truly find out how we are connected then, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Instead, it’s probably wise to start viewing everything as interconnected now, as scientists are proving more each day.
Featured image: Bee by umsiedlungen via Pixabay, Pixabay License with lightning by AbelEscobar via Pixabay