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So I have a story about humans far off in the future on a different planet that have evolved to be more in tune with electromagnetism and magnetism. Their technology mostly works because of magnetism. And they worship crystals that give off "magnetic vibrations". They don't know what magnetism is really.

And neither do I... so,

is there any evidence that the human brain could pick up magnetic disturbances, fields, waves or something similar? So my magic rocks can "communicate" to my humans telepathically.

P.S. This is not actually magical I want it to be fairly believable/scientifically accurate.

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  • $\begingroup$ There is long way between "pick up magnetic disturbances" and "communicate telepathically". Which one are you really interested about? $\endgroup$ – Mołot Oct 4 '16 at 9:18
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    $\begingroup$ Pick up magnetic disturbances. If the rocks communicated at all it would be in pulses like three pulses mean "yes" and two pulses mean "no", sort of thing. Mostly I just want the peeps to sense that the rocks are active or not. $\endgroup$ – X_Wera Oct 4 '16 at 9:23
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In terms of detecting and responding to magnetic fields then yes, there are animals that we know for a fact can sense magnetic fields (homing pigeons for example). There are also a number of (mostly underwater) species that sense or even generate electric fields.

There have been experiments done to see if humans can do the same, but when I last read up on it the results had been inconclusive. If we do have the ability then it's weak or only present in some people.

However it would be entirely possible for humans to evolve the ability to do so. Even more likely would be them engineering themselves so that they can. Advanced genetic engineering could easily give us the ability to sense magnetic and electrical fields. Generating them would be considerably harder but also possible although keep in mind that both would be very short range.

For longer range telepathy you would need to switch to the EM spectrum and have people sending and receiving radio waves. That is much harder though, virtually impossible to evolve. Maybe possible to engineer.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, sending and receiving radio waves has already been engineered. Just use a radio. Or am I wrong? $\endgroup$ – user6415 Oct 4 '16 at 10:34
  • $\begingroup$ @openend As a built machine yes. Genetically programmed to grow organically in the brain...no :) $\endgroup$ – Tim B Oct 4 '16 at 10:58
  • $\begingroup$ The most difficult part of an organic brain radio would be 'growing' an antenna. I suppose some sort of dipole would easily fit into your brain (they fit into cell phones, after all) but the materials (aluminum or copper, probably) for an antenna would have to be present in much higher quantities than in our normal diet. Basically, you need to eat a lot of copper or aluminum as a baby/child to build an RF antenna into your body. I don't know of any carbon based organic compound that could be used instead. Maybe saltwater filled tubes? $\endgroup$ – kingledion Oct 4 '16 at 14:39
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Some people implant magnets under their skin for fun, so that they can feel the contours of the magnetic fields around power lines etc.; if everyone had such a facility, for example by incorporating particles of naturally-occurring ferromagnetic minerals in their skin, they could for example develop a sign language that allowed them to communicate without touching in a dark room.

There's no physical reason why an organism couldn't evolve to send and receive radio waves; vertebrate nerves already use electrical signalling, albeit with extremely small currents and voltages. A human nerve fiber of the right length (~12cm) will in fact pick up wifi signals already; it's just that, because the charge carriers in axons are ions, rather than electrons as in a metal wire, it's a very inefficient antenna. For useful radio, you would probably need to evolve a completely new type of organ, perhaps based on organic conductors like polyethyne.

To be pedantic, humans do perceive "magnetic vibrations" at certain wavelengths (400-700nm), since that's just another way of describing electromagnetic radiation, which is what light is.

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