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North Magnetic Pole Moving East Due To Core Flux

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the looking-forward-to-2012 dept.

Earth 346

National Geographic is reporting that the migration of Earth's magnetic pole has accelerated again and is now racing in Russia's direction at a blazing 40 miles per year. This movement began in earnest around 1904 at about 9 miles per year and has been accelerating since. "Geologists think Earth has a magnetic field because the core is made up of a solid iron center surrounded by rapidly spinning liquid rock. This creates a 'dynamo' that drives our magnetic field. Scientists had long suspected that, since the molten core is constantly moving, changes in its magnetism might be affecting the surface location of magnetic north. Although the new research seems to back up this idea, Chulliat is not ready to say whether magnetic north will eventually cross into Russia. 'It's too difficult to forecast,' Chulliat said. Also, nobody knows when another change in the core might pop up elsewhere, sending magnetic north wandering in a new direction."

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In soviet russia... (1, Insightful)

pwnies (1034518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577630)

...magnetic north will eventually cross into Russia

Well everything is backwards in Soviet Russia. It was only a matter of time before magnetic North pointed South.

Russia is not that bad they just lunched D-12!! (0, Offtopic)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577682)

Russia is not that bad they just lunched D-12!!

Re:In soviet russia... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30578088)

Especially since the magnetic north pole is actually near the south pole. This is why a magnetic north pole on a compass points north towards the Earth's magnetic south pole.

North Pole (5, Funny)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577638)

In Soviet Russia North Pole comes to YOU!

Re:North Pole (0, Redundant)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577814)

In Soviet Russia North Pole... wait... damn, I *knew* someone would beat me to that.

Global Warming (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30577640)

Yet another impact of "global warming". Heating the globe is melting the no-longer-solid iron center. Yikes.

Re:Global Warming (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30578152)

I hope congress immediately passes a 3000 page bill to solve this issue now! Something must be done and there isn't time to read or think about it!

Re:Global Warming (-1, Offtopic)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578200)

3000 page bill

Reasonable people differ on the substance of legislation, but opposing something based on its complexity alone smacks of corrosive know-nothingism. Would you arbitrary limit the Linux kernel to 30,000 lines of code? Who gets to decide what kind of complexity is reasonable? You? Rush Limbaugh? Based on what metric?

Re:Global Warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30578266)

Based on what metric?

Girth.

Re:Global Warming (1, Offtopic)

mmcxii (1707574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578328)

So what you're saying is that you're ok with passing large chunks of legislation even tho no single person could possibly have the time to read over it and give it a little time to settle in as to what it means?

Re:Global Warming (0, Offtopic)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578414)

Yes, I am. Aren't you comfortable using an operating system that's too large for any one person to understand in its entirety?

We're long past the days when a single human being could understand all the details of our most complex systems. What a single person can do is learn the broad outlines, and look up detailed information as needed. It's called reductionism, and it's the foundation of all progress we've made since Aristotle.

Each word of that 3,000 page bill has been read thousands of times, even if not by the same person each time. What's wrong with that?

Of course, your response will be that we shouldn't need laws that are that complex in the first place. Well, what do you base that on? Your gut feeling? Modern society is complex. Maybe it needs nuanced and sophisticated laws.

Have you considered that the people harping about a "3,000 page bill" are the ones who passed the byzantine Medicare Part D system? That maybe they're exploiting the hysterical reaction some people have to the page count to serve their ulterior interests? Besides, you know what would be simpler than the current bill? Single payer.

Then think faster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30578346)

I think you've had plenty of "time to read or think about" global warming, unless you never learned to read.

What, no mention of geomagnetic reversal? (5, Informative)

WebManWalking (1225366) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577644)

Re:What, no mention of geomagnetic reversal? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30577768)

It's moving East, not South.

Re:What, no mention of geomagnetic reversal? (1, Offtopic)

MickDownUnder (627418) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577804)

> It's moving East, not South.

Hmmm.... *BRAIN STRAIN*.... ummm... wouldn't any direction from the north pole be south?

Aaaah... This is one of these unfunny geeky jokes that I'm not quite geeky enough to get.

OK OK I fell for it... jokes on me.

I feel like such a jock now?

Re:What, no mention of geomagnetic reversal? (5, Informative)

synaptik (125) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577932)

> It's moving East, not South.

Hmmm.... *BRAIN STRAIN*.... ummm... wouldn't any direction from the north pole be south?

Since magnetic North does not coincide with true North, then magnetic North can move East by simply circling true North in a counter-clockwise direction, as viewed from above the (true) North Pole.

Re:What, no mention of geomagnetic reversal? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30577954)

The magnetic pole has never been at the geographic pole for as long as we have been able to chart it, so it's entirely possible for the magnetic north pole to move east without moving south.

Re:What, no mention of geomagnetic reversal? (2, Funny)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577782)

So, what you are saying is that the earth is reversing the polarity of its flux capacitor?

Re:What, no mention of geomagnetic reversal? (0, Offtopic)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578012)

Yes but it's okay we just need to realign the neutronium field with a 10 terraquad poloron burst.

I blame Global Warming!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30578484)

I blame Global Warming!!! ^H^H^H^H^H^H umm, I mean Climate Change

and the south? (2, Interesting)

LiquidMind (150126) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577658)

I remember reading/hearing in geology (or astronomy? whatever) class that every so-many-thousands of years, the magnetic poles just switch.

If i'm not just making that up, then this is the first articles of many we'll see...

Re:and the south? (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577724)

iirc, the switch seems to have been a fairly regular event, going by geological evidence, at least until recently.

seems its over due, altho i am unsure about the exactly by how much...

Re:and the south? (3, Informative)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577744)

every so-many-thousands of years, the magnetic poles just switch.

and traditional compasses are nearly useless during the transition period as the north/south polarity breaks up into mini-poles, which are regional and in constant flux.

Re:and the south? (2, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578230)

Further to the interim multiple poles, other interesting things happen, the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurora_(astronomy) [wikipedia.org] aurora will appear over those poles, making for interesting light shows, where ever the poles should momentarily settle. The larger problem with momentary pole shift, is solar flares and the ability of radiation from those events to reach to the earth's surface depending upon which temporary pole they align with. So some kind of warning system will be required to reduce human exposure to those very temporary events and possibly the temporary cancellation civil air flights at those regions during those times, if any should coincide.

It will be interesting to see what impact it gas on migratory birds and what measure will need to be taken to alleviate that impact. Mutation levels in microscopic life will also need to be monitored to pick up upon any dangerous microbe mutations that might have an impact upon people or agriculture.

Overall it is going to be pretty interesting and any risks involved can be pretty readily minimised with some carefully thought out preparation and planning. On the plus side, you can expect regional tourism to take a major boost should an aurora temporarily settle over a major city, on clear nights you could expect a whole city to spend the next day half awake, aurora parties.

Re:and the south? (3, Interesting)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578454)

It will be interesting to see what impact it gas on migratory birds and what measure will need to be taken to alleviate that impact.

You mean by the birds? Adaptation and evolution should nail it.

If you mean by us, we could help by shooting birds that aren't traveling along the correct heading as they fly over Wasilla during the summer.

Re:and the south? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30578260)

It does indeed flip every once in a while, but exactly how long passes between flips varies wildly - there have been times when it was about every 400,000 years for millions of years, and times when it flipped every 176,000 years (on average) sustained over several million years. Are we overdue? We don't even know. Certainly it's not too soon for one to happen, but it also wouldn't be terribly surprising if we went another hundred thousand years without a flip.

And when it does happen, you won't just wake up one morning and have a compass that points south... the field will drop to about nothing at times, and there will be lots of local magnetic poles, before there is again one north and one south pole, at least decades (if not hundreds of years) later. And then we'll have a geographic north (defined by the rotation of the planet) almost exactly opposite of magnetic north, which will be stupid. Which is why it's a good thing compasses will be nearly useless for quite some time beforehand, during which time we can get used to defining north by the spin of the earth instead of the ever-changing magnetic field.

How convenient (4, Insightful)

SlothDead (1251206) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577670)

It is actually pretty cool that this happens at the time our technology is so advanced that we can have electronic compasses that simply use GPS to figure out where they are so they can point to the geographic north pole, instead of towards the magnetic one. Imagine how inconvenient it would have been for people if this had happened a view hundred years earlier; they would have to do some extra calculations to navigate their ships.

Yay for technology!

Re:How convenient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30577832)

How does a GPS device know which way it's facing without a magnetic compass? Please enlighten me.

Or do you simply mean that with both GPS and a compass, they can automatically correct for geographic north?

Re:How convenient (4, Informative)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577900)

GPS can determine heading in two ways.

The first way only works if the GPS receiver is moving, in which case it can calculate a course based on your current and previous positions. This course is then approximately your heading - although it can include a pretty large error due to drift (when in a ship or an airplane).

The second way only works if you have two (or more) GPS receivers a reasonable distance away from each other (say, fore and aft or port and starboard on a large enough ship, or in the tips of the wings of an airplane). Then the GPS device has two positions, and the line through them is your heading (if they're placed fore and aft) or your heading + or - a constant angle (for example, + or - 90 degrees if they're places port and starboard).

Re:How convenient (1)

JaWiB (963739) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578022)

My handheld GPS also has a built-in compass.

Re:How convenient (4, Informative)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578100)

If it works when you're standing still (and you can confuse it with a magnet), it's probably a fluxgate compass [wikipedia.org] .

Re:How convenient (2, Informative)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578156)

There's also the gyrocompass [wikipedia.org] , which finds true north, and which doesn't depend on the earth's magnetic field. It'd work on Mars.

Re:How convenient (4, Informative)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578226)

I highly doubt a handheld GPS would have an inbuilt gyrocompass. Those things need constant power to keep the gyroscope from slowing down, and if the power fails you have to recalibrate it, for which you need to know your exact heading. Which is why, on ships, they usually have their own backup power source (usually a battery) in case the main and backup power generators are down.

That, and they're pretty big and heavy. They even get their own room [navis.gr] (I also linked to this page in another post about gyrocompasses I made a few minutes ago):

Almost every naval vessel and merchant ship today carries at least one master gyrocompass, installed in its own gyro room.

Re:How convenient (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578306)

Interesting link. Thanks!

Re:How convenient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30578514)

Neat! How does this gyrocompass actually find true North all on its own? It must be very smart to know where the Earth's axis is actually located.

Somehow, I rather think that gyrocompass needs to be aligned using something. A mag compass perhaps? Astro observation? GPS? Maybe magic wand?

Re:How convenient (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578438)

GPS can determine heading in two ways.

false [nujournal.net]

Re:How convenient (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577976)

Triangulation based on the fact that the position of the satellites it's getting it's signal from are known.

On the other hand, even if we didn't have GPS, we've had gyrocompasses [wikipedia.org] for a long long time now. And they don't rely on magnetic fields whatsoever.

Re:How convenient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30578034)

You can't find the orientation of a single GPS device using GPS triangulation. That only gives you your position. Rotating your device will not affect the signals that you get from GPS satellites (which is just a time).

Re:How convenient (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578192)

Mostly correct, as long as the device has only one antenna. However a device with two can.

Assume you have a spherical cow with antennas attached to it's head (A) and tail (B).

As long as the distance between A&B is greater than twice the error margin for your GPS receiver, taking a reading from both gives you your orientation. More antenna or a greater distance between A&B equals more accuracy.

Granted, as the commenter previous to my original comment indicated, you need a large cow for this, it's not going to be implemented in your hiking/hand held GPS. But it is something that's used in vessels (ships, aircraft, and I wouldn't be surprised if some types of commercial or military vehicles used this method).

I do apologize though, I made a poor attempt at explaining that previously.

Re:How convenient (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578358)

Plus, even if it used the magnetic compass, software updates could tell the software how to compensate.

might not have GPS (4, Informative)

r00t (33219) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578158)

Without a magnetic field to stop the solar wind, satellites tend to die.

Granted, GPS is military and not LEO, so it might be built a bit better than most.

Re:might not have GPS (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578548)

the not next to LEO was a typo, right?

Re:How convenient (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578532)

while gps can tell you where you are, it cant tell where north is, unless i have misunderstood the system.

at least not as long as your standing still. Tho if you move in some direction, it can tell you on what axis the change was, and calculate north based on that.

A relative look at scale: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30577700)

this comes out to be 4.81872031 inches per minute.

A relative look at scale in real-world numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30577806)

Earth's north magnetic pole is racing toward Russia at almost 40 miles (64 kilometers) a year due to magnetic changes in the planet's core, new research says. - National Geographics

So it's NOT 40 miles, it's 64 km.

64 km / 365.25 days = 175.2224503764545 meters per day, 7.300935432352271 meters per hour, 12.16822572058712 cm per minute, 20.28037620097853 mm per second.

That's 2.3 centimeters per second. Forget global warming, it's the Earth axis that's moving and screwing everything. On Christmas day, snow was fucking MELTING over here and we're way up north. Melting snow used to be for the beginning of march.

2012. Galaxy/universe pole shift. It's happening, wether we understand it or not.

An Inconvenient Proof (4, Funny)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577880)

That's 2.3 centimeters per second. Forget global warming, it's the Earth axis that's moving and screwing everything. On Christmas day, snow was fucking MELTING over here and we're way up north. Melting snow used to be for the beginning of march.

Don't be ridiculous. We have humans now on the planet, AND the magnetic core is shifting. Coincidence? I think not.

If we plot C02 emissions alongside the rate of change of the magnetic north pole, even a 5th grade could see they're correlated.

Humans are to blame for magnetic drift.

QED.

Re:An Inconvenient Proof (2, Funny)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577968)

George Bush called. He wants credit for this one, too.

Re:An Inconvenient Proof (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578120)

>>George Bush called. He wants credit for this one, too. /slaps own forehead

Right! Damn, I forgot to add Bush into my proof.

Bush is ALWAYS a valid reason for any negative conclusion.

Forgetting to add Bush as a cause to any effect is worth a full letter grade deduction on a proof.

Re:An Inconvenient Proof (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578094)

If we plot C02 emissions alongside the rate of change of the magnetic north pole, even a 5th grade could see they're correlated.

Humans are to blame for magnetic drift.

I'll fire up my SUV to help. We need to take the Magnetic North Pole away from the vile Canadians.

Re:An Inconvenient Proof (2, Funny)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578126)

Is it really necessary to politicize even the purest scientific discoveries, and to turn even the slightest enrichment of our collective knowledge into an opportunity for a fleeting partisan jab?

Merry Christmas to you too.

Re:A relative look at scale in real-world numbers (1)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577896)

I think that you are off by a magnitude: 64*10^6mm/(pi*10^7)s ~ 2.03 mm/s

more accurately: 64*10^6/(365.25*3600*24) ~ 2.028 mm/s

The poles are flipping? (4, Informative)

MickDownUnder (627418) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577714)

This article covers it...

http://scienceblogs.com/highlyallochthonous/2009/02/is_the_earths_magnetic_field_a.php [scienceblogs.com]

I've heard it from several sources though, they have geological proof that the earths magnetic field has been periodically flipping and reversing its polarity, and that it does this at periodic intervals, and that we are in fact due for a flip any millenia now.

Re:The poles are flipping? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577766)

they have geological proof that the earths magnetic field has been periodically flipping and reversing its polarity, and that it does this at periodic intervals, and that we are in fact due for a flip...

Are you sure they weren't talking about politicians?
     

Re:The poles are flipping? (5, Funny)

MickDownUnder (627418) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577828)

I said "millenia" not "millisecond"

Re:The poles are flipping? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577884)

Will make navigation sort of hard with a compass.. "North, well its sort of in that direction, kind of...."

Re:The poles are flipping? (4, Informative)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578078)

This is why the International Maritime Organisation [imo.org] has agreed on the following rules (taken from SOLAS chapter V [icomia.com] (Safety Of Life At Sea):

2.5 All ships of 500 gross tonnage and upwards shall, [...] have:
.1 a gyro compass, or other means, to determine and display their heading by shipborne non-magnetic means [...]
.2 a gyro compass heading repeater, or other means, to supply heading information visually at the emergency steering position if provided;
.3 a gyro compass bearing repeater, or other means, to take bearings [...]

Gyrocompasses [wikipedia.org] are useful for many other reasons: they point to true north instead of magnetic north, which means you don't have to correct for magnetic declination [wikipedia.org] (the difference between true north and magnetic north) and magnetic deviation [wikipedia.org] (the difference between compass north and magnetic north, an error caused by local magnetic influences such as the steel in a ship's construction). They can also give your heading digitally, which means you can connect repeaters to it, and autopilots etc. can use its output.

From

this page [navis.gr] :

Almost every naval vessel and merchant ship today carries at least one master gyrocompass, installed in its own gyro room. A transmission system links the master gyrocompass to "repeaters." These are used on the ship for such purposes as steering, position finding, and course recording.

Re:The poles are flipping? (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578092)

  1. Nobody uses the earth's magnetic field for navigation [wikipedia.org] these days.
  2. The magnetic reversal, when it happens, will not be sudden. The dipole moment of Earth's magnetic field will gradually become less prominent, and quadropole (and higher-order) moments will strengthen. Gradually.
  3. Even without magnetism and modern technology, astronomical observations [wikipedia.org] can provide a heading.

Re:The poles are flipping? (4, Informative)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578254)

A lot of pilots use the earth's magnetic field for navigation. When flying around under visual flight rules in an analog cockpit (which make up the majority of general aviation aircraft), the magnetic compass backs up the gyro-based heading indicator. Every 15-20 minutes, the heading indicator is realigned with the compass heading when in straight and level, unaccelerated flight due to the effects of precession, making that magnetic field very important. Even in a glass cockpit, the FAA requires a backup magnetic compass in case of computer or electrical failure.

Re:The poles are flipping? (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578314)

The problem with astronomical observations is that you need a precise time, though.

Re:The poles are flipping? (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578504)

AIUI, precise timekeeping is only needed for longitude. Can't you find your latitude and heading by looking at the north star? (The elevation of the north star above the horizon is equal to your latitude.)

Re:The poles are flipping? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30578396)

Nobody uses the earth's magnetic field for navigation [wikipedia.org] these days.
Tell that to pilots who have lost electrical systems (meaning GPS and other radios are gone) in air. BTW, "Nobody" is a helluva lot of people and is probably more than a bit of hyperbole.

The magnetic reversal, when it happens, will not be sudden. The dipole moment of Earth's magnetic field will gradually become less prominent, and quadropole (and higher-order) moments will strengthen. Gradually.
Which, in some ways,is even worse since the error isn't noticed until things are whacked. Little errors can cause really bad things to happen.

Even without magnetism and modern technology, astronomical observations [wikipedia.org] can provide a heading.
Except during the daytime out in the oceans where you need accurate clocks to know where you are (remember, you nixed modern technology like accurate chronometers).

Re:The poles are flipping? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30578412)

I love astro-head! Put some peanut butter on your taint/ass and get ready for the best rimjob of your life!!!

This explains (2, Funny)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577722)

This explains why paper notes I've left on my fridge with magnets keep sliding down. So in this conspiracy, the magnetic reversal is the blame of either the Russians or the makers of sticky note paper.

Re:This explains (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577792)

This explains why paper notes I've left on my fridge with magnets keep sliding down. So in this conspiracy, the magnetic reversal is the blame of...

I kinda expect that. But when they start sliding up is the time to panic.
     

The Core (0, Offtopic)

IonOtter (629215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577820)

Alright, who fired D.E.S.T.I.N.I.? [wikipedia.org]

Moving to Russia from Canada (4, Funny)

WoodenTable (1434059) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577838)

As a Canadian, I feel there's only one rational response to the Russians taking our magnetic north pole (which is sort of owned by the whole of humanity and indeed the planet itself, but has been held in our trust for some time).

All out nuclear war.

And the only downside is nuclear winter! Winter! We can handle a few more months of that each year, easy. It's win-win, really!

Re:Moving to Russia from Canada (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577926)

You only say that because you haven’t got any non-winter months in the first place! ^^

Re:Moving to Russia from Canada (4, Funny)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578020)

Yeah, I think summer falls on a Thursday this year.

It's time for war! (1)

Inominate (412637) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577972)

We cannot allow a magnetic pole gap!

Re:Moving to Russia from Canada (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578420)

The global warming and nuclear winter will counteract each other.

What about the South Pole? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30577866)

Please help this simpleton to understand.

North pole shifts towards Russia, how about the South pole?

It takes two to tango, right?

So, does the South pole shift as well? To where?

A sincere thank from this simpleton for anyone who can help out !

Canada! (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577938)

As a Canadian I hope we do not lose the national treasure of having the Pole anytime soon!

North, South and Reversal (5, Informative)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30577984)

TFA is only about north. South is moving also, but not nearly as much. Two magnetic poles are not a rigid dipole. Maybe in the core, but at the surface they're fairly independent. Given this, it's quite possible that past geomagnetic events were not 'reversals' with north and south sliding past each other and popping out the other side. Rather north and south might wander far enough out of opposite that the Earth's external magnetic field is far off center, and/or very strong over some parts but weak over others. Conceivably they could 'collapse' by becoming too close. The magnetic field would appear to go away although the generator (and whatever drives it) is still operating. I think this makes more sense than the direct reversal in that it assumes the generator to stop operating, which I find unlikely, and start again of its own accord, which smacks of a planetary "and then a miracle occurs". The data does support this hypothesis as being at lest possible. In 2005 magnetic north of 500 miles from true north, while magnetic south was 1750 miles from true south. Either the dipole is off center, which contradicts the generator idea, or the dipole is bent.

Re:North, South and Reversal (0)

TheEvilOverlord (684773) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578072)

Conceivably they could 'collapse' by becoming too close. The magnetic field would appear to go away

I really hope not. We'd fry and so would the communication satellites if the magnetosphere vanished...

Re:North, South and Reversal (2, Insightful)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578370)

Don't be ignorant. We know for a fact that geomagnetic reversals (including a period of dozens to hundreds of years without a significant magnetic field) happen several times every million years. They are not accompanied by mass extinctions. Therefore, we would not fry. Maybe the incidence of skin cancer would increase by an order of magnitude, and perhaps the amount of atmosphere lost to the solar wind would be above average for a while, but that's about the worst of it.

Satellites are of course another story, but our magnetic field is not the only thing between the inhabitants of the earth and instant baking in the solar wind.

Re:North, South and Reversal (1)

Drethon (1445051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578084)

Do magnetic fields get bent?

Re:North, South and Reversal (4, Interesting)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578444)

Do magnetic fields get bent?

Yes actually they do.

The face of the magnetic 'sphere' that is facing the sun (and thus the solar wind and all the magnetically charged particles that come with) push against the magnetic field, so that part of the planet surface sees it much closer inward.

On the other side of the planet, it gets stretched further from the earths surface, and tapers off towards the end due to the charged particles flowing around it (Think an airplane wing, but in all three dimensions instead of two)

In fac, it is the flow of these charged particles, starting at the side of our magnetic field facing the sun, that are pushed faster, and end up following the magnetic field and in to the earths pole. This causes the auroras in the sky at the poles.

If the magnetic field ends up weakening, the field lines could even split and earth would have multiple poles wandering around the surface until two other fields met up and merged later on.
If that was to happen, the multiple poles would redirect charged particles from space down on more heavily populated areas of the planet and possibly have some health affects on us fragile humans.
The up side is you will have many auroras at night over many spots on earth.

And when will we have (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30577988)

an East Pole so that we can have a Western and Eastern Hemisphere?

Clearly this is all explained by... (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30577994)

Global warming!! After all, it explains everything else...

Re:Clearly this is all explained by... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30578290)

the fact that humans have been removing large amounts of iron from the Earth since 1200 BC. This has been altering the amount left in the Earth's core to the point where it's causing Anthropomorphic Global Magnetic Change (AGMC). Clearly this must stop. We must implement an iron cap and trade in order to reduce the human use of iron so the Earth's magnetic poles won't change. Think of the children. Where is Al Gore?

Re:Clearly this is all explained by... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30578524)

Someone mod this idiot down; this is the tenth offtopic conservative jab against global warming I've had to scroll past.

Core Flux? (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578004)

Like a flux capacitor? Global warming? We're all doomed!

It's a usrr supper weapon (-1, Offtopic)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578006)

It's a usrr supper weapon

Re:It's a usrr supper weapon (1)

Missing_dc (1074809) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578142)

It's a usrr supper weapon

Much like Borscht!

Moving east? (-1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578008)

So it's moving east from north. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's not a useful trajectory as its considered he point from which our basis of geographic location is based - the north pole. So where is it heading?

And, importantly to me and mine, where will that put the north pole in 40, 50 years at the current rate of acceleration? Could this sort of be like the 'wobble' of a top before it falls (meaning we're due for a sudden shift, soon)?

40 miles per year is incredibly fast, especially since it's apparently speeding up. I've read that significant pole shifts have occurred in the past (in 50k year increments, IIRC), and that currently, we're some time overdue for the next.

I've also read postulations that glaciers were not caused by 'ice ages' per se, so much as they were the remains of the north pole ice cap after a shift. I can't find the link right now to the information I found truly interesting (correlation of past poles with existing glaciers) but there's a fair amount of info out there about it. (Some people are correlating it with 2012/doomsday, so be forewarned.)

It's a particularly interesting topic if you look at the archaeological records of our past; specifically, the polar relation/geographic locations of Egyptian, Mayan, and other ancient peoples' religious/whatever sites. They seem to predict a pole shift, or at least make subtle suggestion to one occurring in the past.

Re:Moving east? (2, Insightful)

Wylfing (144940) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578364)

I've also read postulations that glaciers were not caused by 'ice ages' per se, so much as they were the remains of the north pole ice cap after a shift. I can't find the link right now to the information I found truly interesting (correlation of past poles with existing glaciers) but there's a fair amount of info out there about it. (Some people are correlating it with 2012/doomsday, so be forewarned.)

Oh good grief. TFA is about movement of the magnetic north pole. This has nothing whatever to do with the axis of rotation of the Earth, or its axial tilt. A wandering magnetic pole isn't going to cause glaciers, or probably any other climatic effect for that matter. A useless compass is about the maximum inconvenience you're likely to encounter. I suspect this "fair amount of info" about glaciation you're referring to is found on the same web sites as the 2012 apocalyptic garbage you seem to believe.

Re:Moving east? (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578394)

As others have said here before, it's the North Magnetic Pole [wikipedia.org] , not the Geographic North Pole [wikipedia.org] where Santa lives.

In 2001, the North Magnetic Pole was determined by the Geological Survey of Canada to lie near Ellesmere Island in northern Canada at 8118N 11048W. It was estimated to be at 8242N 11424W in 2005.

Yeah, it's accelerating, just look at these data! (2, Informative)

MathiasRav (1210872) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578042)

40 miles per year? That's a speed, not an acceleration.

Re:Yeah, it's accelerating, just look at these dat (2, Informative)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578080)

It started at 9 miles per year. Source: TFS OR TFA

Re:Yeah, it's accelerating, just look at these dat (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30578198)

Don't bother trying to explain the facts to this asshat and his illiterate moderator. This is Slashdot. People rarely pull their head from their ass long enough to learn something. They all think they're too smart for that nonsense.

Re:Yeah, it's accelerating, just look at these dat (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578268)

Ahh ok, that does explain alot.

Greedy Russians (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578082)

First the Russians tried to claim most of the North Pole by saying it was in their territorial waters. Soon, they're gonna try claiming the magnetic North Pole too.

In Soviet Russia... (3, Funny)

MiddleHitter (473147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578106)

In Soviet Russia, Compass needle points to YOU!

When I was your age.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30578166)

magnetic north pointed north!

re: the moving North pole. (1)

Cr0vv (1223332) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578214)

Yeah, been saying this for a year + now. There is an intruder in the Solar system that NASA is not talking about (and why would they?) causing this magnetic influence. This, and many more global dots need to be connected to understand the very broad implications this has on Earth. The intruder happens to be a highly magnetic planetary SYSTEM that has been causing the accelerated global changes to the weather and sea level that will lead to a massive global catastrophe. blackcrow.

Re: the moving North pole. (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578234)

I really can't tell whether you're kidding or not [rationalwiki.com] .

Re: the moving North pole. (1)

Cr0vv (1223332) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578272)

I am absolutely serious, you need to know that. I have a great deal of information on this as it is my all-consuming activity now, between my 2 businesses, singing a new girlfriend. Blackcrow.

Its the American's fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30578256)

the real question is when will they start blaming this shift on the american public?

Re:Its the American's fault (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578350)

They will, like everything else,.blame the Americans for it. They might say something like all of our electronic useage has caused the magnetic drift of the North Pole to Russia. Just like they blame us for global warming, peak oil, and the New World Order that did 9/11 as an inside job, etc.

At one time the North Pole pointed to the Draco star instead of Polaris, and every few thousands of years the North Pole moves anyway before human beings even learned how to pollute or use fossil fuels or electronics, etc. That is because according to TFA the core of the Earth shifts and it effects the magnetic field.

Geomagnetic reversal [wikipedia.org] is the key term here that most people are ignorant of, and they always want a scapegoat to blame for their problems anyway. Might as well be us Americans, the cause for all bad things on the planet, eh?

What about Santa? (1)

starbugs (1670420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30578302)

Will this mean Santa will wear one of those furry Russian hats?

I always wanted one for Christmas, I think my chances are getting better.

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