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Editor's Note

Nature offers inspiration, and occasionally courage

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12:47pm, September 20, 2017

When Donald Griffin and Robert Galambos first reported that bats use the ricocheting echoes of sound waves to pilot through the environment, some scientists doubted it was possible. The team’s experiments, conducted in the late 1930s at Harvard University and reported in the early 1940s, coincided with World War II and the proliferation of active sonar systems for use on ships and submarines. “The notion that bats might do anything even remotely analogous to the latest triumphs of electronic engineering struck most people as not only implausible but emotionally repugnant,” Griffin later said.

But Griffin disagreed. In 1944 in an issue of Science, he proposed the term “echolocation” to cover not only “locating obstacles by means of echoes”

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