Earth's poles switching their magnetism?

Orion

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Earth\'s poles switching their magnetism?

I was watching Naked Science yesterday and they were talking about the Earth's magnetic poles and why they are important. Then they said that they may be flipping, or in the first stages of flipping. They mentioned that they've done this many times in the "millions of years" the Earth has been around [though I'm not sure how they figured that]. At any rate, did anyone see that report or heard this before?
 

turbodog

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Re: Earth\'s poles switching their magnetism?

I have heard mention of this many times. We're pretty much just along for the ride on this one. When the past flips have happened, it's all at once. They don't spend much time "half flipped".

This has been used to date rock formations since the polarity of the earth (at that time) get recorded in the magnetical pieces trapped in the rock. It is useful for comparison purposes... sort of like tree rings in a forest.
 

jtice

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Re: Earth\'s poles switching their magnetism?

turbodog is 100% correct,,,

The poles have done this many times, and will again, and they do it rather quickly. Its not a slow process.

I first heard about it in rock samples also, especially rocks formed from lava, they can easily tell which way the poles were, from the direction the elements of the rock are facing.

Its really hard to beleave that this can happen, and it not have a major effect.
I am sure it will effect some things, but, what about things like birds flying south for the winter? My compass!? /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thinking.gif

Anyone hear when it should be complete? I know that it will start slow, and you will see some signs, and then, bam, it flips.
So, I wouldnt think its all that far off.
 

jtice

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Re: Earth\'s poles switching their magnetism?

I dont think it would effect the atmosphere all that much, I mean it will still be there. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

The atmosphere moves around etc anyway, it would probably adjust well.

I dont think I have ever heard anything about this actually hurting life on Earth. So I think we are all safe.
 

Orion

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Re: Earth\'s poles switching their magnetism?

PhotonBoy, that is what Naked Science was illuding to. If the magnetism lowers or stops, the cancer causing rays from the sun could drastically increase without the magnetism from the Earth doing it's thing. Maybe it WILL be a quick switch like others on this thread have said. I hope so. But then, the other question would be, how 'quick' would the change happen, and WHEN would it happen. Questions that really have no answer since there hasn't been a flip in recorded history [as they said on the program].
 

greenLED

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Re: Earth\'s poles switching their magnetism?

AAAAARRRGGHHH!!! WE're all going to die!!! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crackup.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crackup.gif
Just kidding!
 

Atomic6

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Re: Earth\'s poles switching their magnetism?

Poor Santa! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif
 

nerdgineer

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Re: Earth\'s poles switching their magnetism?

Haven't seen the program but - in general:

- cancer causing rays from sun (ultraviolet photons) are not affected by where the magnetic poles are. Amount reaching the Earth are affected by atmospheric phenomena like thickness of our ozone layer, which may change but not because of the poles moving.

- magnetic poles do affect where charged particles from space tend to hit the atmosphere, but again, these are stopped by the atmosphere - whose thickness is not affected by the magnetic poles. Result would be that the Aurorea Borealis would move to wherever the magnetic poles went instead of their current position near the Earth's rotational poles. I for one would hope they come to maybe Nevada. I wouldn't be able to see them if they came near LA because of light/air pollution which would be a waste, but in Nevada, there would be quality dark butI could still drive out and watch them /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

- really high speed charged particles (i.e. cosmic rays) can generate "radiation" (i.e. secondary particle emiissions) at the ground, but they move so fast they are not bent much by the Earth's magnetic field so their ground level effects should not change.

- Your magnetic compass would truly be messed up. But handheld GPS and lithium batteries should be really cheap by then, so I wouldn't worry, and finally..

- "Fast" in the astronomical/geologic sense is not the same thing as fast in the - say - sports commentary sense. It could easily take decades and possibly centuries for the poles to flip.
 

elgarak

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Re: Earth\'s poles switching their magnetism?

About the effects of higher radiation levels with changed magnetic field: The Earth's magnetic field moves the particles of the solar wind (electrons and protons) towards the magnetic poles, so that they enter the atmosphere there (and cause the Aurora Borealis from time to time) and not everywhere else. What would happen if the magnetic field would not be there? There has been a study by a British group, I believe (sorry, don't have a link), who ran a computer simulation of the effects of a missing magnetic field. Result: Zilch. The solar wind plus the Earth's rotation cause ion currents in the upper atmosphere. The magnetic field connected to those ion currents produces the same shielding as the "normal" magnetic field. It takes about 10-20min (!) to generate this new field. So no increased cancer levels, no heart attacks due to malfunctioning pace makers and no disoriented birds (all from the abysmal "The Core"). The only thing we have to do is throw away our compasses (ummmm...maybe we can recalibrate...). Thinking of it, the whole thing should cause Auroras in lower latitudes!
 

MaxaBaker

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Re: Earth\'s poles switching their magnetism?

Wow, this is exciting /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

My concern is how much money Cabela's will make off of people buying new compasses /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif (unless they just will use them backwards /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/icon15.gif )

Anyway, this seems pretty amazing. If anyone knows/finds out anything, try to keep this thread updated /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ooo.gif
 

Lurker

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Re: Earth\'s poles switching their magnetism?

Your compass would still work, you would just have to use the white end of the needle instead of the red end to find North. There would probably also be a change in declination and possibly dip angle, but these things have to be compensated for anyway, either in use or in the compass design. Worst case, you buy a new compass.

Also, scientists believe that at least some migratory birds use the magnetic field to navigate, but birds also use other cues and should be able to overcome the problem. I think scientists have purposely disrupted carrier pigeons' ability to detect the magnetic field by attaching powerful mangets to them and they were able to successfully navigate, probably following landmarks by sight and sound or other means that we cannot easily determine.

I don't think there is anything about this that would be catastrophic in any way.

I agree that something like this happening quickly is more on a geologic scale rather than something that is going to be in the newspaper headlines one day next week. It is probably like global warming. You have to look at it in terms of centuries, not years.
 

bindibadgi

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Re: Earth\'s poles switching their magnetism?

You didn't like "The Core"? What a classic! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crackup.gif

I love comedies.

Come to think of it, my favourite part was when we found out that not only had the Earth's core stopped rotating, but it was somebody's fault! ROTFLMAO.
 

Leeoniya

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Re: Earth\'s poles switching their magnetism?

attaching a Neodymium magnet to a carrier pigeon! that's comedy.

*attaches multiplatter hard drive to pet hamster...Harvey?*
 

Leeoniya

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Re: Earth\'s poles switching their magnetism?

he was...that is until he expired a few years ago /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif

i'm sure his navigation to the hamster wheel would have been unaffected by the biggest and strongest of magnets...or hard drives.
 

MaxaBaker

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Re: Earth\'s poles switching their magnetism?

[ QUOTE ]
Lurker said:
Your compass would still work, you would just have to use the white end of the needle instead of the red end to find North.

[/ QUOTE ]

That's why I said use it backwards /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif
 

mrg3013

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Re: Earth\'s poles switching their magnetism?

I saw an episode of Nova about this (Nova) From what I remember it went something like this: the earth's magnetic field appears to be collapsing rapidly. Various measurements taken in lava samples, British maritime records, etc. confirm this. Mars has no magnetic field and no atmosphere. Mars had an atmosphere once, but it disappeared about the same time its magnetic field did. The magnetic field acts as protection against solar wind/radiation/particles or whatever, which would "erode" the atmosphere away if the field was not present. Are we doomed? Well, no. In fact, records show that the magnetic poles switch on average every umpty-ump thousand years, and we're several hundred or maybe thousand years overdue for the next one. The "collapsing" of the field is just a precursor to it flipping. I think that the magnetic anomolies experienced in the Bermuda triangle are one of the symptoms. I got the impression that the time frame for this to happen was along the lines that our grandchildren would need new compasses. Here is the transcript
 

PhotonWrangler

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Re: Earth\'s poles switching their magnetism?

If there's a change in magnetic declination, I wonder whether this will affect the satellite industry. Satellite dish foundations are planted based on magnetic declination.
 

LowBat

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Re: Earth\'s poles switching their magnetism?

Those pigeons also have the ability of navigating by the stars. An experiment was done by placing them in a planetarium and they faced the same direction. Not sure how they suppressed the pigeons ability to tell magnetic north. Anyways, as more and more stars were gradually turned off the pigeons began to have trouble knowing which way to orient themselves. The theory is the star patterns are instinctively passed along, just like images of predatory birds to avoid are passed on.

And who still bothers with the primitive compass when we have handheld GPS units with colored moving map displays? The compass is now backup technology, and along the lines of knowing things like which direction the sun sets or how to find the North Star.
 
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