In December/January 2011, “Alaska Magazine” published an article by our home-state creative non-fiction super-star, Sherry Simpson. (Read her books “The Way Winter Comes” and “Accidental Explorer.”)

The article is titled “Does Winter Make Bigger Brains” and here’s a quick bit to sum it up:

Alaska’s chickadees are smarter than Lower 48 chickadees. Alaska’s chickadees can navigate to precise locations across vast distances to pinpoint carefully stashed snacks that sustain their appetites through winter — in spite of terrible weather conditions, multiple locations, changing landscapes and the passing of time.

Yes, we can do similar feats with a GPS.

Albeit, the imperative difference between GPS devices and chickadees (where GPS technology falls short) is this: Birds don’t need batteries.

  • GPS pros: It’s a great mapping and locational device. It’s small and lightweight. Advances in design have made some models waterproof and shock-resistant.
  • GPS cons: No matter how great and technologically advanced the device, if you’re away from an outlet long enough, or exposed to sub-zero temperatures, the battery-life of your GPS will inevitably empty.

Imagine future GPS technology that untethers us from batteries and device-reliance. Imagine a technology that empowers us by enhancing our own navigational-intellect via memory prompts, instinct, and the development of our own internal geo-compass.

That’s what I want…that’s what I would trust.

Chickadees inspire it, we just need to design it.