Trending November 2023 # Google Keep: Useful Productivity Tips You May Not Be Using # Suggested December 2023 # Top 13 Popular

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If you’re looking to get the most out of Google Keep, you’ve come to the right place. You can do many things to keep your notes nice and organized. For example, you can give each specific note color for an easy find.

The features don’t end there. Google Keep also lets you add labels, a collaborator, grab text from an image, add checkboxes and use voice to text. The list keeps going. Keep reading to find out about tips you might not be using to get the most out of Google Keep.

Helpful Google Keep Tips to Help You Stay Productive

Some notes may contain information for projects that need to be turned in before a specific date. In Keep, you can create reminders to particular notes. You can choose from standard date reminders or location-based reminders.

Let’s start with the date-based reminders. When you create a new note, you will see a bell icon at the top right. Tap on it and choose from the different times such as today, tomorrow, and Friday morning. If none of these times are good for you, tap on the Pick a date and time option.

To add a location-based reminder, tap on the Pick a Place option. You can choose from any locations you may already have, or you can select the Edit Location option and add another one. There’s a good chance that you will need to give the app access to your background location to send reminders.

If you make a mistake and need to make any changes, tap on the previously added address and delete option. You’ll need to repeat the steps to add the correct address. This is very useful if you need a reminder to buy the milk, so you’ll see that reminder when you’re near the market.

Add a Background Design to Your Keep Note

This is a feature you’re only going to see on Google Keep online and on the app. You can add a solid color or choose from the different designs that the app has to offer. You can choose from designs such as:








Video Celebration

How to Draw on Your Google Keep Notes





Add Voice Memos to Your Keep Notes – Android

There are times when you don’t have the time to type everything. Maybe there’s so much to add that typing it will simply take forever. In that case, you can always create a voice note. You can make a note like you usually would and tap on the plus symbol at the bottom left. Then tap on the Recording option. When you’re done, you’ll see how your recording is saved on your note.

Tap on the play button to hear your message, and if you’re not happy with what you listen to, you can permanently erase it by tapping on the trash icon.

Dismiss Your Notes with Style

When you don’t need a note anymore, there are two ways you can dismiss it. You can swipe right or left, or you can tap on the dots at the bottom right and select the delete option.

Improve Your Searching Skills

When you need to find a note, you can easily filter them by tapping the search bar. As soon as you tap, you’ll see the different options you can search with. You can choose from:







If you tap on the More option at the top right, you get additional options such as voice and URL.

How to Find Your Reminders

Settings your reminders is easy, and so is finding them. Tap on the three-lined menu and tap on the Reminders option. You should see a list of all the reminders you created.


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11 Useful Gmail Search Tips To Improve Your Productivity

Like many of you, I’ve been happily using Gmail for years. While there are many things to like about it, one feature in particular has always impressed: search. It’s no surprise that Google would add powerful search features to their email system, but there are many great features that go largely unnoticed. Let’s take a look at some of Gmail’s best search tips so you can get the most out of this awesome email service.

1. Search for Important Emails

Gmail has long been really great at understanding patterns where you consistently open up and read/respond to emails from certain senders. As those patterns build, Gmail will tag these emails as “important” with a yellow arrow above the sender’s name. Inside Gmail, it says: “Important according to Google Magic.”

To find these emails: inside the search box, type: “search query is:important.” If they are unread, you can also do: “search query is:important is:unread.” Make sure both of those queries are typed together to find both important and unread emails.

2. Find Attachments

This one feels pretty self-explanatory, as it will find all of your emails that contain attachments. This could be anything from a picture to a document to a book. To activate this search, type “has:attachment.” If you are looking for attachments from any one person, you can do “from:name has:attachment.” You can even add the filename or its extension (.pdf, .doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.) to get results that are more exact.

3. Find Large Files

This is another one that is pretty self-explanatory, but, in this instance, you are looking for any emails that include large files. To start your search, just type “size:xx” where the “xx” represents whatever number you are trying to find for a file size. This is especially useful if you want to locate large files that can be deleted so you can free up space in your inbox.

4. Find Emails from a Specific Person

You know those times when you cannot find the emails from your boss, teacher or furniture store from a week prior? Gmail makes them easy to find. Just type “from:persons name” and wait for the results to appear on the screen.

5. Find Exact Words and Phrases

Searching for phrases is another incredibly easy thing to do inside Gmail. All you have to do is include quotation marks around the intended word or phrase. For example: if you want to search for “dinner with Mom,” type in that phrase, then search and find your result. Note that you can also use this method with other search functions on this list to find an even more exact result if your word search or phrase is more common.

6. Find by Subject Line

Finding emails by subject line is incredibly easy. Type “subject:” followed by whatever word, phrase or name you would like to find. Any subject line that contains that word or phrase will appear in your search result. To help make it a little easier, Gmail magic will provide what it believes are the most relevant results.

7. Find Labeled or Unlabeled Emails

Labels are one of the most useful aspects of Gmail and very much what folders are to Outlook. Using them can help keep you super organized, which makes this search all the more useful. To find any email that has a label, search “has:userlabels,” and you will find every email that has a label. You can search “label:maketecheasier,” and every email from my communication with the MTE team will show up in the results.

8. Find Emails from a Certain Time Period

All too often you know around a general time frame of when an email was sent or received, but not the exact day. Fear not, as Gmail easily allows searches by a specific time period. You can use one of four searches including “after,” “before,” “older” and “newer.” In other words, you can set up a search that looks like “after:1/31/2023 before:3/1/2023,” resulting in emails from February.

9. Unsubscribe to Newsletters

One of the most important ways you can use Gmail search is to stop all of those pesky newsletters that arrive every day. Type “label:^unsub” and you will find any email that has an unsubscribe option. From here, you can go through every newsletter and begin unsubscribing at your leisure.

10. Find All Photos

Similar to finding attachments, there is a more specific search query to find any email that includes an image. Enter “filename:jpg” and start your search. You can also replace jpg with png, gif or jpeg to get a different set of results if necessary.

11. Find in Folders

Should you want to do a quick search of your inbox, sent emails or trash, you can easily do that. Type “in:foldername” and perform your search. If you want to look in your sent folder, your search would look like “in:sent maketecheasier.”

Wrapping Up

Using the same Gmail search function, you can also sort your Gmail Inbox by sender or subject. And don’t forget to check out these Gmail features to improve your email experience.

David Joz

David is a freelance tech writer with over 15 years of experience in the tech industry. He loves all things Nintendo.

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10 Google Tag Manager Variables You Need To Be Using

In this guide, I’ll be going over my top 10 Google Tag Manager variables and give you a brief overview of each one.

I won’t get too much into how each variable actually works but I will go into some of the ways you can use them in GTM.

Variables are like placeholders within Google Tag Manager that let you fill your tags, triggers, and other variables with this placeholder information. These variables get resolved during the page load and can hold different values.

The Top 10 GTM variables are:

1. Data Layer Variable

The first variable is the Data Layer Variable. If you have a Data Layer already set up on your page, you’ll be able to pull out the data stored in the value of Data Layer and transfer it to a Data Layer Variable as shown in the visitorType example below:

Once you have set up your Data Layer Variable, you will see it under Variables.

How to Set Up a Data Layer Variable?

To set up your Data Layer Variable, simply go over to Google Tag Manager and on the variables panel, create a new variable of the type Data Layer Variables. In this case, we want to pull out the value of our visitor logged out and store it in a Data Layer Variable. 

To do this, simply enter the key into the Data Layer Variable Name field and you’ll be able to then pull this out of the Data Layer and store it in a variable.

Once done, you will see that you’ve successfully set up the visitorType Data Layer Variable.

There are a few other tricks to this Data Layer Variable. You can check it out here: 

2. Auto-Event Variable How to Enable Auto-Event Variables?

To enable Auto-Event Variables, go over to your variable menu and Configure your built-in variables. 

3. Google Analytics Settings Variable

The third is the Google Analytics Settings Variable. Google Analytics Settings Variable is simply a variable that will fill out any areas that use this variable with the same value. If the value of this variable is then changed at a later date all the areas that use this variable will be updated.

This saves a lot of time manually updating and keeping track of important fields in your account.

Why Is Using the Google Analytics Settings Variable so Useful?

If you have Google Analytics installed through Google Tag Manager, and you have several tags that are sending data over to Google Analytics, you can use the Google Analytics Settings variable to fill out fields in GTM with your Google Analytics Tracking ID from one centralized location, making it easy to swap out this value for something else down the road. 

Setting Up a Google Analytics Variable

Below is an example of Tracking ID. This is something we would need to repeat all over again. For convenience, we can simply build a new Google Analytics Settings Variable that will prefill this Tracking ID field.

To build a new Google Analytics variable you should fill the Tracking ID and press Save. 

Here in the settings variable drop-down, choose the variable you made. Turn off the enable override settings in this tag so all the settings that would normally be put into these fields here are now governed by one central variable, the Google Analytics Settings Variable. 

4. URL Query Variable

The next variable is the URL Query Variable. This variable is particularly useful if you see any kind of query string in your URL and would like to get its information.  Learn more about URL variable in this post:

How to Pull Information through the URL Query Variable?

To pull out information through the URL Query Variable, go over and create a new variable of the type URL.

Choose Query as the component type, then type in the Query Key.

The key is whatever is in front of the equal sign of your desired value. In this sample, it would be simply s.

5. Referrer Variable

The Referrer Variable is a variable that is already built in and also enabled by default. You could find it under your variable menu shown below: 

What is a Referrer Variable?

Referrer Variable is the URL that the user just came from, before he entered a page. We could utilize this to always fire a tag when somebody comes from chúng tôi for example, or we could also utilize this in our other tags to send that data to our analytics tools.

6. 1st Party Cookie Variable

Unfortunately, Google Tag Manager cannot remember anything that was going on beforehand. Each page load means a new loading of Google Tag Manager. With web development, you can persist the data. And commonly there are cookies used to do this. You can set cookies with Google Tag Manager, but that will be for another post. 

How to View Browser Cookies? 

To view the cookies set on our browser, you need to open the chrome menu and go to Developer Tools. 

Here we get some useful information under the application tab. And Cookies right here we can see what data was set through different code on our website. 

Now in some cases, there’s more useful information. In other cases, it’s unusable because you don’t really know what it exactly means. But as I said, you could actually also set your own Cookies. 

For example, this Cookie here is this user newsletterSubscriber was set to true. Probably he came from a newsletter source. 

Building 1st Party Cookie Variable

To build a 1st Party Cookie Variable, all you need to do is go over to Google Tag Manager and under the user-defined Variables will choose a 1st Party Cookie Variable as our type. 

In this sample, the Cookie Name is newsletterSubscriber. And this should now pull out the right value from our Cookie. 

And voila, here we go. 

7. DOM Element Variable

This will open up the elements pane here and give you the visual representation of the document object model. With the DOM Element Variable you’ll be able to pull out any kind of node that you are interested in and get either an attribute or the text in between those elements. 

How Does It Work?

An example will be pulling out the cart menu, and the amount of the cart menu. You would need to either know the ID or the CSS Selector. Luckily in this sample there is a class called amount which you can utilize in your variable really easily. 

The selection method is CSS Selector because we don’t have an ID, and we have a class so, in the element sector, you put a dot first then the amount. Note that you need to know a little bit about CSS Selectors in order to do this.

And then we can choose the attribute that we want to pull out. Since we want to pull out the text, we can leave this empty for now. Then press Save. 

Screenshot of Google Tag Manager showing a variable configuration with CSS Selector as the Selection Method, .amount as the Element Sector, and a blank for the attribute name. 

Try it out!

8. Lookup Table Variable How to Rewrite an Existing Variable?

An example would be the variable we created earlier that would pull out the value from our cookie newsletterSubscriber, true. 

Now if you use this inside of an event tag, for example, you would simply see true in the action and you wouldn’t quite know what this means. So you would like to rewrite this variable into something more recognizable like subscriber. This is easily possible with the Lookup Table variable.

Now, let’s head over to Google Tag Manager and build a new user defined variable. And this time, we’ll go with the Lookup Table.

In the variable dropdown, choose cookie. 

If the input is true, then we want to rewrite it into Subscriber. If the input is false, rewrite it into a Non Subscriber. And for the default value, we can just set it to Unidentified.

Alright, let’s try this out! Our variable that we had before shouldn’t change. We still have cookie newsletterSubscriber true, but rewritten, we should have this in our Lookup Table as Subscriber. 

9. Regex Lookup Table Variable

The next variable is the Regex Lookup Table Variable. What you might have noticed is that when we created our Lookup Table subscriber variable, we need to be very precise with the names. 

If I type in anything extra or put a white space, it wouldn’t match up anymore. And we’ll just get undefined in our field value.

Therefore, the matching option that we have in this first input column is similar to “equals true” so the cookie newsletterSubscriber needs “equals true” in order for it to go into the output subscriber.

But what we also have available is a variable type of Regex Lookup Table. 

What is Regex?

Regex stands for regular expression. And if you’re familiar with Regex, you know that you can really get detailed in your search query, which can be very powerful. 

How Does It Work?

For example, we would like to classify all product pages into a product category. So we would like to have an output of “product”, simply to classify our product pages. And we can have one for category pages as well. We can easily do this with a Regex Table Variable. 

In the variable Configuration page, the input would simply be Page Path. If the Page Path contains anything like / product then the output should Product. And if there’s a /category in there, then the output should be Category.

So what I will do here is put around dot stars, which means everything multiplied. So let’s put this in the front and the back here and see if this works. Let’s save this, and refresh the page. 

And in all variables we now see the Regex table has the name Category that matches up the category page based on the URL path. 

And if you go to a product page, it also matches the name, Product,  in the Regex Table. 

You can become more sophisticated with Regex Table than you are with the normal Lookup Table. And this can be very valuable, for example, for content grouping and Google Analytics or to look at the Referrer.

10. Custom JavaScript Variable

And we have come to, champion, the variable that rules them all, which is the Custom JavaScript Variable. Now, the Custom JavaScript Variable is probably the most versatile, but also the most complicated to write yourself (or the easiest to use if you just copy the code you need). 

To be honest, the Custom JavaScript variable could potentially be used to replace all the variables that you have seen in this post, because JavaScript is the technology that is powering Google Tag Manager, and therefore will be able to do everything that Google Tag Manager does with only using JavaScript in this Custom JavaScript Variable. 

How Does it Work?

Let’s go with a little example. In Google Tag Manager, I can simply go over to the user defined variables again, and create a new Custom JavaScript Variable.

Here, we need to adhere to some conventions. One is to write an ominous function that returns a value.

To put this in right from the start in between, you can execute any kind of JavaScript code, you obviously would need to know a little bit of JavaScript. And also you need a return value.

As an example, let’s go with the current time, which we can get by writing a new Date and it’s return value as time. 

Refresh your page and in the variables, you’ll see a variable of the Return Type date with the current date and time as the Value. And this should dynamically change. You see here at the second level, that some of these are changing, depending on when the event loaded. 

Again, with a little bit of more JavaScript code, you could probably make this quite useful. I just hope that you understand the potential of this Custom JavaScript Variable.

JavaScript can really help you step up your measuring game, so make sure to learn the top 5 techniques in JavaScript for Google Tag Manager.

FAQ How do I set up a Data Layer Variable?

To set up a Data Layer Variable, go to the Google Tag Manager interface and navigate to the variables panel. Create a new variable of the type “Data Layer Variables” and enter the key into the Data Layer Variable Name field. This will allow you to extract and store the desired value from the Data Layer.

How do I use the DOM Element Variable? What is the Lookup Table Variable used for?

The Lookup Table Variable is used to rewrite or transform existing variables into more recognizable values. By defining input and output pairs in the lookup table configuration, you can map specific input values to corresponding output values.


Alright, so there you have it. These are my Top 10 variables that I use within Google Tag Manager. There are more out there and there are also many other use cases for these specific variables. 

Learn more about tracking conversion values which helps you accurately measure the financial impact of your marketing campaigns.

You Should Not Drink Human Blood. It Will Not Keep You Young.

Does a new study suggest the old drink the blood of the young? Not even a little. DepositPhotos

A recent study inspired headlines and tweets the likes of “drinking young people’s blood could help you live longer and prevent age-related diseases.” We at Popular Science would rather you not do that. Here are several arguments against drinking human blood.

Drinking human blood can make you very sick

For starters, a lot of blood you’ll encounter on the street carries some kind of pathogen. Drinking infected blood is a great way to get your very own infection. And unlike animals who’ve evolved to live on blood, humans can actually wind up with iron overdoses if they overindulge.

There are people feel compelled to drink the blood of others, and even follow rules to make sure they’re doing it safely and consensually. Some of the people who do this feel they have a genuine medical condition that is improved through the drinking of blood, but it’s important that you discuss these symptoms and feelings with your physician. And you definitely shouldn’t just take a shot of the first blood you’re offered.

Research is sorely needed to determine whether clinical vampires suffer from a medical ailment, psychosomatic symptoms, mental illness, or some combination of the three. Many say that they would happily switch to more socially acceptable supplements if they worked as well.

Side note: don’t inject human blood, either

A couple of years ago, police in Bucks County, PA picked up a man carrying a vial of red liquid. It turned out to contain the blood of someone who’d taken fentanyl—meant for later injection into the veins of another drug user. Its street name? BLOOD. Don’t do BLOOD, kids.

There are so many other bloods to consume!

If you’re really hankering for some blood, at least consider trying non-human types first. It’s a great source of protein. You can cure it into sausages, thicken it into sauces or soups, or even slap it into a pancake.

Like all animal products, blood can carry diseases and grow harmful bacteria if stored improperly, so it’s important that you use the same discretion you would in buying a piece of meat (don’t just go tearing into raw squirrels, and please, please don’t eat your own blood.) Ask your local butcher where you can get some of that sweet, sweet blood!

The study in question did not even suggest you should drink human blood

You may now be asking yourself why scientists are running around suggesting we drink the blood of our young. Well, rest assured: they are not doing that. In a review letter in the journal Nature titled “Facing up to the global challenges of aging,” researchers focused on a very real and pressing topic: the fact that people are generally living longer, but aren’t necessarily having a great time of it. As the big ol’ baby boom generation approaches old age, we must increasingly find ways to keep our elderly healthy instead of just keeping them around. Led by Linda Partridge of University College London, the team spitballs on various problems faced by our aging planet and how we might best confront them.

One of the many aspects of aging research the authors mention: studies in which the injection of blood plasma proteins from human umbilical cords prevented cognitive decline in mice.

As the fact checking site Snopes points out, some less-than-reputable publications decided to tie this in with (unpublished, and therefore totally unverifiable) research by Ambrosia LLC, an anti-aging startup backed by Silicon Valley Vamp Peter Thiel. Here is the state of the science: some very early-stage animal studies suggest mammals may reap some kind of benefit from the infusion of certain types of proteins found in young blood. Ambrosia claims to have made progress to this end in human trials; but because they have not shared their data with the scientific community, their reports are extremely suspect. It’s fair to assume they’re not as far along as they’d like their investors to believe.

10 Things You May (Or May Not) Know Cause Skin Cancer

Individuals suffer from skin cancer when the skin cells start growing abnormally. These cells develop as long as your skin is exposed to sunlight. However, as per experts, individuals can also suffer from skin cancer if they are not exposed to the sun. Experts it is noted that Ultraviolet rays will enhance the chances of skin cancer.

Types of Skin Cancer

Individuals can suffer from different types of skin cancer. As per experts, skin cancer can be treated if it is diagnosed early. All need to understand different types of skin cancer.

Bcc or Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell Carcinoma seems to be one of the most common types of skin cancer. This skin cancer mainly develops among persons with fair complexions. This develops new cells when the old cells die. You can notice a red or pinkish bump on the skin. Individuals can suffer from this problem due to long-run exposure to the sun, or sometimes indoor tanning can also develop this situation.

This skin cancer type is mainly common around the neck and arms, but you can also notice BCC on your chest, legs, or abdomen. Early treatment for BCC is always suggested else it can develop deeply.

Scc or Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This is another common skin cancer type. This skin cancer originates in the squamous cells. The prime cause of SCC is prolonged exposure to the skin. This skin disorder is not life-threatening, but untreated SCC can become large and can create major complications. Persons can notice red lumps on the skin or patchy skin due to SCC.

Precancerous Skin Growth

People can sometimes notice dry or patchy skin due to too much exposure to the sun. This skin problem is known as AK or actinic keratosis. As per experts, AK is not skin cancer, but it is the growth of precancerous skin.


Melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer, and it can spread fast. This cancer develops inside the moles or other dark spots on the skin. Hence doctors suggest starting treatment early to get the best result. Once an individual suffers from Melanoma, they can face the following problems.

Incurable sores

New inflammation around the border of the mole

Alteration in the mole surface

Causes of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer develops due to errors in the DNA of skin cells. In this situation, skin cells mutate uncontrollably and can cause skin cancer. Skin cancer begins on the top layer of the skin. The top layer of the skin is known as the epidermis of the skin, and it provides shed to the human body.

The prime cause of skin cancer is extended exposure to the ultraviolet ray of the sun. The UV ray damages the skin cells and enhances the skin tanning process. Once the skin cells get damaged due to constant exposure to UV rays and cannot get repaired on time, the skin cells start growing abnormally.

Apart from excess exposure to UV rays, skin can also get damaged due to genetics, skin types, etc. Besides exposure to sunlight, other factors that are responsible for skin cell damage are mentioned below.

Individuals suffering from a weak immune system can suffer from skin cell damage. People can suffer from a weak immune system due to virus infection or other health issues.

Moles are also responsible for skin cancer.

If any of your family members have already suffered from skin cancer, you are the likelier to get infected with this disease.

If any person has already inherited xeroderma pigmentosum, he or she can suffer from skin cancer.

Individuals can also suffer from skin cancer due to overexposure to radiation therapy.

Excess smoking can also enhance the situation of skin cancer.

If any person is undergoing Psoriasis treatment, he or she can also suffer from skin cancer.

Any individual who has previously suffered from skin cancer is more prone to suffer from the same disease again.

Age is also another major factor for individuals suffering from skin cancer.

Different artificial lights, like sunlamps etc, are also responsible for developing skin cancer.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Skin cancer is nothing much to worry about, and normal treatment can easily reduce the symptoms of skin cancer. Experts start diagnosing skin cancer with a visual examination. Professionals from reputed organizations like the American Cancer Society suggest individuals for self-examination to diagnose the symptoms of skin cancer. An annual doctor visit is also recommended for those who are at risk of suffering from skin cancer.

Doctors normally recommend two common tests for diagnosing skin cancer- Biopsy and Imaging Tests.

Biopsy − It is a procedure to remove the skin cells, and doctors collect the skin samples from the body for lab testing. Doctors perform three types of skin biopsies depending on the skin condition. These are shaving Biopsy, punch Biopsy, and excisional Biopsy.

Skin biopsy is necessary to diagnose and treat skin cancer. It will also help to diagnose other skin problems like Actinic keratosis, inflamed skin conditions, skin tags, skin infections, growth of moles, etc.

Imaging test − Imaging tests are necessary to diagnose the skin cancer type. This test includes a CT scan, x-ray, or PET scan. However, some experts don’t recommend imaging tests for skin cancer at an early stage because they feel imaging tests can develop other health issues.

Once doctors diagnose the skin cancer type and its stage, they recommend the necessary treatment options.

Doctors recommend excisional surgery for any type of skin cancer. This surgery will remove extra cancerous tissue.

Individuals who are suffering from recurring and extended skin cancer, doctors often recommend Mohs surgery as the best treatment. Here the layers of skin growth are removed one after another.

Radiation therapy is another treatment option that uses dynamic energy beams. This radiation therapy helps to kill cancer cells.

Chemotherapy – Drugs are used in chemotherapy to kill cancerous skin cells. Doctors inject this drug into the vein or ask the patient to take the pill.


Skin cancer can easily be treated if this is diagnosed early. Individuals normally suffer from this skin problem if they are overexposed to sunlight. Doctors suggest opting for necessary treatment to treat skin cancer early.

Space Weather May Be Killing Sperm Whales

The same phenomenon that creates the Northern Lights might also be confusing male sperm whales. In case you’ve forgotten already (really, how could you?), early 2023 brought a veritable tidal wave of beached spermaceti in the North Sea. No one could figure out why at the time, but thanks to a study in the International Journal of Astrobiology, we now have a working hypothesis: it was those gosh darned solar storms at it again.

So…what’s a solar storm?

Charged particles from the Sun are constantly flying towards the Earth and getting all mixed up in our magnetosphere, which is the magnetic field surrounding our planet. They mostly impact at the poles, where the magnetosphere has its poles and is therefore most susceptible to disruption. The collisions between particles give us an aurora (a.k.a. The Northern Lights). Sometimes the Sun spews more particles than normal during what’s called a coronal mass ejection, and when that cloud hits us, it creates a solar storm. They don’t just happen at the poles, though they are more frequent in those areas. And they happen on other planets, too.

What does this have to do with whales?

Solar storms can knock out systems that rely on the magnetic field, like GPS units and electricity grids. They can also knock out birds. Not literally—the birds stay airborne. But because some of our avian friends navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field, the disruptions caused by solar storms can pull them off-course.

Whales are similar to birds, at least in this respect. The going theory is that some species use the magnetosphere to navigate over long distances in much the same way that migrating avians do, since whales also travel quite far on a regular basis. It’s not the only way they navigate. Sperm whales use a lot of echolocation both to find their prey and to, you know, not crash into things.

Disruptions in the magnetosphere mess with that navigation system. Migratory birds seem to change altitudes in magnetically abnormal areas, and homing pigeons have more trouble finding their way. If whales use the same kind of internal navigation, they too might be running off course.

Image from page 66 of “The American whaleman : a study of life and labor in the whaling industry” (1928) Internet Archive Book Images

Sperm whales especially are used to quiet magnetic fields, because they live in warmer waters where the magnetosphere is calmer. The females and calves tend to stay in those climes, but young males leave their families to form bachelor pods. They travel north together, many of them bound for the Norwegian sea, where there are squids a-plenty—a delicacy in sperm whale cuisine. That area, along with the North sea, is far shallower than their normal feeding grounds, and dotted with many more land masses. It’s possible that if their internal navigation is out of whack, they could get disoriented and accidentally swim towards a shore. This wouldn’t be a problem in the open ocean, but in coastal regions it spells a beaching.

Do we know that this is how those sperm whales died?

Unfortunately, we don’t. These researchers have identified two solar storms that would align well, timing-wise, with the mass beachings we saw in 2023. But they couldn’t say for sure that this was the cause. Whale autopsies showed that the spermaceti were perfectly healthy and had recently been chowing on some squid, which implies that they were traveling south from their annual feeding fest when they got lost. Beyond that, we may never know for sure what happened.

It’s worth noting that past studies have found an association between solar storms and whale beachings, so this theory isn’t totally out of the blue.

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