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The New York Times On Earth's Magnetic Flip-Flop

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the all-topsy-all-turvy dept.

Science 519

TolkiEinstein writes "The New York Times reports that, relatively speaking, compasses may soon point South. It's long been known that Earth flips magnetically every half-million years or so, and, with the north pole's magnetic field at about 10-15 percent [less than] its strength of 150 years ago, many geologists feel a flip is coming up. Computer simulations also suggest that the current state of the magnetic field is indicative of an upcoming flip. Though it would take hundreds of years to complete, the impact on life may be significant but not catastrophic, including phenomena such as power-outages, satellite malfunctions and disruptions in the rhythmic functions of some animals such as loggerhead turtles. The EU plans to launch a trio of satellites in 2009 to assume polar orbits & monitor the field." (Cross your fingers for some nice solar wind.) Update: 07/13 17:02 GMT by T : Note: the summary here originally misstated the Times' article; the field 's strength has decreased 10-15 percent, rather than to 10-15 percent.

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First Post? (-1, Troll)

shagymoe (261297) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684476)

Most compases don't work anyway.

Re:First Post? (1, Offtopic)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684509)

if you're talking about the moral compass...

Bush's fault (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684480)

I'm sure this is Bush's fault, somehow, according to the left. I'm waiting for Peter Jennings to blame this one on Bush.

Re:Bush's fault (5, Insightful)

malchus842 (741252) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684515)

Modded funny, but you just watch - people WILL blame the government when it happens. No matter how much you try to explain, no matter how clear the explainations are, a significant number of people are going to blame the government.

It's also the case that whoever is in office is going to get burned by the problems - blamed for "lack of preparedness" or "failure to respond to the situation" etc, etc. And there will be calls for huge governmennt expenditures to "fix" or "solve" the problem.

Re:Bush's fault (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684557)

And there will be calls for huge governmennt expenditures to "fix" or "solve" the problem.

I guess I should put in for the government contract on repainting compass needles now and avoid the rush.

KFG

Re:Bush's fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684567)

I just hope Bush isn't in power for all the hundreds of years that it takes to complete.

Re:Bush's fault (0)

SamShazaam (713403) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684676)

Obviously we will have to have a government program to do something about this. Also we will have to provide some relief to those unfairly impacted . We can only imagine what scandals and conspiracies will yet be uncovered. Stay tuned. (please mod funny)

You know what IS Bush's fault? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684539)

800 US soldiers dying for absolutely NOTHING in Iraq. THAT is George Bush's fault.

Anyone that supports George W Bush and his war in Iraq is a fucking moron.

-Cecil

Re:You know what IS Bush's fault? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684589)

Anyone who posts offtopic shit AND talks out of his ass because he knows nothing about foreign policy is a ball-bag licking pickle puffer. Here's your sign, teabagger.

MOD THIS RUSH LIMBAUGH FAN DOWN (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684586)

Someone mod this jackass down. God I fucking hate right wing ideologues.=

Re:MOD THIS RUSH LIMBAUGH FAN DOWN (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684660)

Sooo ... there must be some truth to this post since it got you all riled up.

You don't seem to have a real defense either, just a lot of hate. Typical liberal. Emotion controls you, not thought.

Re:MOD THIS RUSH LIMBAUGH FAN DOWN (-1, Flamebait)

ThaReetLad (538112) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684748)

Soooo... you contend that only the truth riles, whereas slanderous lies and misinformation passed off as truth is OK. The problem is that in a public forum where no point of view has more weight or comes with better providence than another, people have no way to seperate fact from clever fiction.

Re:MOD THIS RUSH LIMBAUGH FAN DOWN (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684821)

Noooo... I never said only the truth riles.

There was not much to get riled about in that post if it was pure fiction.

In this case, the slanderous lies would be ones regarding Peter Jennings, since that's the object of the post. Are you saying he lies, or I did by posting a post about him. If he lies, then why get so upset? So what? But that's not what you mean, is it? You mean I lied about Peter Jennings. Which I didn't. That's why there are responses to this. People KNOW what I'm talking about. It's truth. Peter Jennings looks for every opportunity to blame Bush. That's a fact.

Re:Bush's fault (3, Insightful)

ScottGant (642590) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684636)

This will again turn into another non-event like Y2K and everything else these the-sky-is-falling people love drumming up to keep people afraid.

The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself...oh, and also Carnies. Circus folk. They're nomads you know. Smell like cabbage...very small hands....

Re:Bush's fault (3, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684639)

Why hasn't the government tried to get internation agreement for a Kyoto Accord on magnetism? We have to start cutting down on world-wide use of magets immediately! :)

Re:Bush's fault? No... (4, Funny)

N Monkey (313423) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684647)

I blame it on too many people walking around wearing tin foil hats.

He'll have to add this one to his "Axis of evil." (4, Funny)

b0r0din (304712) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684663)

"After careful consultation with my administration's junk scientists, we have expanded our Axis of Evil to include the earth's axis as well. This rogue, um, thingy is responsible for the destruction of...does this thing say turtles? But...we don't care about...oh...anyway, this rogue "magnetic thingy" can only be stopped by drilling in the Alaskan oil reserves, therefore stopping all magnetism from happening. These weapons of magnetic disruption must be stopped at all costs."

NYT demands that negative people be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684793)

allowed into the southern hemisphere.

Quack X, noted social critic, noted "all people, even those with low iron blood levels want to live their free with their polarity in the open".

Kerry's going to win the election, obviously (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684816)

It's a sign.

Kerry's done so many flip-flops, once he gets elected the whole damn earth is gonna do one....

Worldwide Aurora (5, Interesting)

TyrranzzX (617713) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684484)

And, since the magnetic field will be weakened, there'll be a supposed worldwide 24/7 aurora. Now that's kewl.

Re:Worldwide Aurora (2, Informative)

JosKarith (757063) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684506)

"since the magnetic field will be weakened"
You better pray not. The magnetic field is what keeps some of the nasty radiation in space out of our safe(ish) little bubble. If the magnetic field does weaken signifigantly, may I suggest investing in some Factor 3000 sunblock...

Re:Worldwide Aurora (0)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684521)

IANAPS (particle scientist?) but I seriously doubt that sunblock of any strength is going to be as effective against high energy particles as it is against UV rays...

Re:Worldwide Aurora (5, Insightful)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684603)

Someone watched "The Core" one time too many. Earth's magnetic field does nothing to deflect UV radiation. I would recommend lead-lined clothing, not more sunblock. :)

I for one.. (5, Funny)

caston (711568) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684485)

I for one welcome myself as part of the new Australian overlords...

Re:I for one.. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684503)

Yay! We won't be at the "arse end of the world" any more (to quote former PM, Paul Keating)

robot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684486)

robot

Hope we don't get irradiated... (3, Interesting)

Silverlancer (786390) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684491)

As the Earth's magnetic field is the only thing that protects us from the solar wind...

Re:Hope we don't get irradiated... (1)

Neva (630016) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684533)

Although the magnetic field has a great effect in blocking solar wind, I still suspect the particles in the atmosphere would absorb some of the charged particles in solar wind.

A physics student with a little spare time could probably calculate relative efficiencies of atmospheric and magnetic blocking.

Re:Hope we don't get irradiated... (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684574)

If I line the walls and ceilings of my home with magnets, will I be protected?

And, less seriously, what about tinfoil hats?

Re:Hope we don't get irradiated... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684544)

I was wondering about this. I recall years ago a British TV program called "Tomorrows World", which predicted the same thing in the near future.

They reckoned that if the poles were to flip it could damage life on earth. Anyone who knows something about this know more?

Re:Hope we don't get irradiated... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684661)

I'm a geologist and can tell you there has never been an extinction event associated with or correlated to a magnetic reversal. These are common events that have taken place quite a few times since life arose on this planet.

For whatever reason everything will turn out ok. That being said, they didn't have computers and power grids back then.

Steve Martin quote (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684721)

"I don't remember what I was going to say."
"Well it must not have been very important then."
"Oh, now I remember. I'm radioactive."

Turtles (5, Funny)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684494)

"and disruptions in the rhythmic functions of some animals such as loggerhead turtles. "

Could they have possibly picked a more random animal for that example?

And won't someone please think of the turtles?!?!?!?!?!

Re:Turtles (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684525)

Could they have possibly picked a more random animal for that example?

You're just more interested in the effect this will have on the CPIP. If there were a LTIP you'd think of the turtles a bit more yourself.

KFG

Re:Turtles (4, Interesting)

sould (301844) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684734)

Could they have possibly picked a more random animal for that example?

For some reason this made me curious about turtles & magnetism- a little research [google.com] turned up this guy's [unc.edu] page about turtle migration [unc.edu] at UNC.

It includes this gem:

To determine how turtles respond to magnetic fields that exist in different parts of the ocean or to magnetic field elements (such as inclination and intensity) that they encounter while migrating, each hatchling was placed into a nylon-Lycra harness as shown below. [empaphis mine]

Image is here [unc.edu]

save the turtels (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684761)

turn them 90 degrees!

Re:Turtles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684800)

Not really a random choice of an animal, since it's well known that loggerhead turtles are harcore users of magnetic fields for finding traces of their nests and the general ability to freely move without a gps embeded on da swinging thingis. * apart from that the choice could be well driven by the fact that thay get to be 100 years and speak fluent surf slang [allposters.com]

Re:Turtles (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684818)

Look, you may think that sounds funny and all, but in the next Disney movie with singing turtles, you'll be, ahem, singing a different tune when they can't find any singing turtles that have any rhythm left. No more singing ... under the sea!

Re:Turtles (1)

joib (70841) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684824)

.. and why do we have to so PC as to say "disruptions in the rhythmic functions". Come on, we're all adults, aren't we. It shouldn't come as a surprise to us that animals copulate. ;)

In Other News (3, Funny)

deutschemonte (764566) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684499)

Dr. Evil has launched several satellites to orbit the polls to harness the energy of the magnetic flop and create a death ray capable of destroying mankind.

All to extort the wealthiest nations on the planet for...one MILLION dollars.

Re:In Other News (1)

b0r0din (304712) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684555)

Dr. Evil: So you're saying this is caused by a core of liquid hot Mag-ma?

Number One: Yes, Dr. Evil, apparently the earth itself is changing.

Dr. Evil: Number One, what else do you have for me?

Number One: Well, the magnetic disruption has created an entirely new breed of ill-tempered sea bass.

Dr. Evil: About frickin time.

Ahh (1)

Safety Cap (253500) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684687)

Dr. Evil did not tolerate any presence of a Number One. Number Two on the other hand (played by Robert Wagner and Rob Lowe) was acceptable...most of the time. :)

Yes yes, well (1)

b0r0din (304712) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684741)

I got a whole bag of shhh...with your name on it. ;)

Hollywood Blockbuster? (5, Insightful)

BigDork1001 (683341) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684500)

Am I the only one who sees this becoming the next Hollywood blockbuster disaster movie? They've done asteroids, tidal waves, volcanos, global warming/cooling, alien invasion, and so they have to be digging for ideas. And of course in true Hollywood fashion they'll toss science out of the window for the sake of a better film.

Re:Hollywood Blockbuster? (5, Funny)

Flyboy Connor (741764) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684511)

And of course in true Hollywood fashion they'll toss science out of the window for the sake of a better film.

Rephrase this: "...for the sake of more special effects."

Re:Hollywood Blockbuster? (0)

chegosaurus (98703) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684592)

So more special effects don't make for a better film? Yeah, Jurassic Park would have *rocked* without those stupid dinosaurs.

Re:Hollywood Blockbuster? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684638)

So more special effects don't make for a better film?
No, they don't.

Terminator 3 had more SFX than The Terminator.
Attack Of The Clones had more SFX than The Empire Strikes Back.
Lawnmower Man had more SFX than Misery.

Re:Hollywood Blockbuster? (1)

Opie812 (582663) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684650)

So more special effects don't make for a better film?

Did you go to the George Lucas school of film?

Special effects can't make a bad movie good. They might make a good movie better...which may be the case in your example. (IMHO, of course)

Re:Hollywood Blockbuster? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684526)

Sure... and Bruce Willis will be casted to lead a pack of other celebs to launch some nuclear missile towards... eh... mmmm... Earth's inner core?

Re:Hollywood Blockbuster? (1)

kekeruusperi (771725) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684591)

Done already. [imdb.com]

Re:Hollywood Blockbuster? (0)

kmac06 (608921) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684608)

They already did this. I forget the name of the movie, but it involved a catastrphic failure of the Earth's magnetic field in a matter of months. The result of this, according to the movie, would be that the Earth would be 'cooked by microwaves from the sun'. The heros bored into the Earth and set of a nuke, somehow adding enough angular momentum to the Earth's core to stregnthen the field.

Pretty bad movie...

Re:Hollywood Blockbuster? (0)

beavis88 (25983) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684767)

I believe the name of the movie is "The Core" -- IMDB listing [imdb.com]

Re:Hollywood Blockbuster? (5, Insightful)

mork (62099) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684664)

> Am I the only one who sees this becoming the
> next Hollywood blockbuster disaster movie?

They have, see "The Core"

> And of course in true Hollywood fashion
> they'll toss science out of the window for the
> sake of a better film

They did ...

Re:Hollywood Blockbuster? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684703)

Too late. [imdb.com]

Re:Hollywood Blockbuster? (2, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684809)

in true Hollywood fashion they'll toss science out of the window for the sake of a better film.

Yeah, when they head to the north magnetic pole to fix it and meet Santa Claus, they'll totally ignore that Santa Claus is at the north physical pole! Luckly they'll stop the reversal with two seconds left on the clock.

magnetic disks (5, Funny)

psyklopz (412711) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684502)

I had my homework al done, but the magnetic poles flipped and wiped my harddrive...

Re:magnetic disks (2, Interesting)

altek (119814) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684737)

While the above comment is amusing, is there some truth to it as well? Would things such as magnetic media be affected?

I know, it's naive to think that we'd still be using the same types of data storage technology in a few hundred years, but for deep archive it's certainly possible.. I mean look at historical archives and libraries - they're filled with books, and that is simply the storage media of days past, so maybe it's not absurd to think about.

I don't even know if this would affect these things, but that's why I'm asking. Anyone?

Re:magnetic disks (1)

taromn (796346) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684754)

Haha good one, I'm sure that will be the new OH WTF NO HOMEWORK :( craze!

flapper's delight (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684505)

Flip to the flop and the beat don't stop.

Donate Fridge Magnets Now! (5, Funny)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684524)

What if we all donated spare refrigerator magnets, magnets from old hard disks, etc. and carefully arranged them at the north and south poles. These giant piles would hold the poles in place. Perhaps a lucky chain letter spam from Bill Gates would help get people to donate magnets to the cause.

Re:Donate Fridge Magnets Now! (5, Funny)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684613)

Just be careful to cut them in half first, sending the north half to the north pole and vice versa, because otherwise it wouldn't work of course.

Re:Donate Fridge Magnets Now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684768)

Good plan, but if we can't stop the flip-flop, we'll be in for a good spin as the earth rotates to realign with the fridge-magnets.

A few months ago... (1, Interesting)

Aardpig (622459) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684534)

...I met Gary Glatzmeier, the guy who originally discovered the reversal effect during computer simulations. He's really smart, but at the same time very nice with it -- often a rarity for scientists who hit the big time.

What about the auroras? (2, Interesting)

Zawash (147532) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684535)

The aurora borealis [exploratorium.edu] , or northern lights, occur due to charged particles entering the Earth's magnetic field, being guided to the magnetic poles.

If the magnetic field flips, what about the auroras? Will we have (weaker) auroras all over the place while the field changes?

Mayan Calendar ends in 2012, coincidence ??? (2, Interesting)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684537)

It will be hilarous if the poles flip about the time
the Mayan calendar ends, hopefully it will go as gracefully
as scientists have predicted .

As The southern hemisphere has its winter during our summer,
I am wondering if the seasons will flip flop as well ???

I also wonder if the polar shift will effect magma flows ...

I wonder if the magnetic field has any effect on plate tectonics too .

Hopefully not, It is suppose to be a weak force .

Peace,
Ex-MislTech

Re:Mayan Calendar ends in 2012, coincidence ??? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684554)

The seasons are such because of the earth's tilt, rather than any magnetic effects.

If you have kde run kworldwatch in speeded up mode to watch the sunlight distribution.

Re:Mayan Calendar ends in 2012, coincidence ??? (1)

madman101 (571954) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684559)

As The southern hemisphere has its winter during our summer, I am wondering if the seasons will flip flop as well ??? Huh, no as the seasons are caused by the tilt of the Earth's axis, not magnetic fields.

Re:Mayan Calendar ends in 2012, coincidence ??? (5, Informative)

Aardpig (622459) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684566)

It will be hilarous if the poles flip about the time the Mayan calendar ends, hopefully it will go as gracefully as scientists have predicted.

Unlikely, since a full flip takes a few hundred years; it is not a sudden, catastrophic effect.

As The southern hemisphere has its winter during our summer, I am wondering if the seasons will flip flop as well ???

Unlikely, since the seasons are defined by the orientation of the Earth's rotation axis to its Solar orbital axis; they have nothing whatsoever to do with the magnetic axis.

I also wonder if the polar shift will effect magma flows ...

Unlikely; the fields are far to weak, and get even weaker during a field reversal.

I wonder if the magnetic field has any effect on plate tectonics too .

Unlikely, for the reasons I give above.

Re:Mayan Calendar ends in 2012, coincidence ??? (1)

Dyslexicon (639846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684707)

I also wonder if the polar shift will effect magma flows ...

Unlikely; the fields are far to weak, and get even weaker during a field reversal.

actually, i'd expect this to be a likely effect. it's well known that the earth's magnetic field is due to the rotational motion of magma in the earth's core. It makes sense that if the magnetic field is changing, then the motion of the magma is also changing in some related way.

Whether this actually has an effect on the magma flows we see here on the surface... who knows. Maybe not, but i'd certainly believe it possible.

Re:Mayan Calendar ends in 2012, coincidence ??? (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684578)

As The southern hemisphere has its winter during our summer,
I am wondering if the seasons will flip flop as well ???


If it takes the physical poles along with it, yes.

KFG

Will it really affect us? (2)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684540)

the impact on life may be significant but not catastrophic, including phenomena such as power-outages, satellite malfunctions and disruptions in the rhythmic functions of some animals such as loggerhead turtles

And just how would this be different to any other day.

Apart from compasses pointing south and and increased demand for factor 500, we shouldn't all begin to panic needlessly.
The compass was a pretty shoddy means of navigation anyway, with the movement of the poles and all. And sunbathing?! What kind of pasttime is that?!

This could affect global warming though. Combined with the greenhouse effect we could all be fried little geeks.

I wonder if it would be possible to set up a network of gigantic electromagnets and attempt to impede or even reverse the earths magnetic flip flop?

Time for the editor to RTFA (5, Informative)

johnmig (638946) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684549)

It has to be pointed out that there is a significant difference between "The field's strength has waned 10 to 15 percent." which is what the article says; and "the north pole's magnetic field at about 10-15 percent it's strength of 150 years ago" which is what Timothy says. The former means that the field strength is still 85 to 90 percent of the original value (still nearly intact), while the latter means that it is only 10-15 percent of that value (nearly gone). This distiction not insignificant. That being said, it's still neat to follow (even though I don't think that I'll be around at the end).

Re:Time for the editor to RTFA (1)

kzinti (9651) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684810)

The former means that the field strength is still 85 to 90 percent of the original value (still nearly intact), while the latter means that it is only 10-15 percent of that value (nearly gone).

And yet, miraculously, my I-top still functions. Better try to break that spin record while I still can...

What (0, Troll)

TheProcrastinatorTM (539571) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684556)

> with the north pole's magnetic field at about 10-15 percent it's strength of 150 years ago

Re:What (2, Informative)

TheProcrastinatorTM (539571) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684569)

Doh, stupid enter key....

What I meant to say before bumping the enter key on an incomplete post was...

In the summary, it says the field is at 10-15% of where it was 150 years ago, but the article says it has WANED 10-15%, which would actually make it 85-90% of where it was 150 years ago...

Re:What (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684623)

Don't blame it on the enter key. It's an enter key. Admit it, you simply failed to either:

1) comprehend what the article was saying, or

2) properly proofread your posting.

I'll vote #2, failure to proofread.

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684560)

Already did an album about this: http://www.birdsongsofthemesozoic.org/2004/magneti cflip.htm

Typical - So typical (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684572)

As is the case with most /. posts, paying attention to detail gets thrown out the window.

From the poster's text:

"and, with the north pole's magnetic field at about 10-15 percent it's strength of 150 years ago"

From the article itself:

"The field's strength has waned 10 to 15 percent, and the deterioration has accelerated of late"

Those two quotes are not the same. The poster's lack of attention to detail has turned the articles 10 to 15 percent reduction (a relative value) into a 10 to 15 percent strength (an absolute value). The meaning is totally different, and the poster should apologize for spreading mis-information.

PBS special on this (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684575)

They talked about global cancer rates rising from the years of diminished radiation protection. They also showed how during the transition period the magnetic "poles" will travel randomly around the globe, making random locations radiation hot spots.

Remember "Core"? (1)

Silverlancer (786390) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684576)

The movie where "the core stops turning"?

The radiation won't go through the atmosphere instantly, but over time it may make holes in the ozone layer that will allow blasts of high-energy solar radiation through. This won't be good.

Plus every single satellite in orbit will be fried in mere minutes.

Re:Remember "Core"? (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684780)

*Sigh*. Yes, we remember The Core [intuitor.com] , renowned as having the worst physics in a movie, ever.

This would be good but (4, Funny)

orin (113079) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684577)

This would be good for Australia. No longer "down under" ... finally "on top".

Re:This would be good but (1)

Jondor (55589) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684651)

Yeah. the belly button of the world.. collecting all the fluf...

Re:This would be good but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684662)

Well, the earth has both the real poles and the magnetic poles and only the second will flip, so it will be more a case of repainting the compasses because the real one is still at the same place :P

Re:This would be good but (1)

Sunspire (784352) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684722)

North and South are completely arbitrarily chosen conventions in any case. Wouldn't it be cool if when the compasses showed north to be what we now consider the south pole to simple flip around all the maps :) People don't realise how it's all relative in any case, it's very strange to look at 2D world maps from Europe or far east Asia when you're familiar with USA produced maps. All the different maps are centered over their respective areas. It makes sense of course, but it looks alien at first glance.

Or will we just re-define north as being the opposite of the magnetic pole and get rid of all non digital compasses?

Interesting Show (4, Informative)

fdiskne1 (219834) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684587)

I had heard about this theory, but never believed it. Then I saw a Nova [pbs.org] show on PBS [pbs.org] called Magnetic Storm [pbs.org] . It's very well made and very interesting. By the end of the show, I believed the poles are set to reverse and it's just a fact of nature. Nothing we can do about it except research and prepare our way of life so things don't go to Hell in a handbasket.

Like in Rand McNally? (2, Funny)

BearJ (783382) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684597)

Does this mean we'll all have to walk on our hands, and hamburgers will eat people?

Re:Like in Rand McNally? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9684712)

Yes. Yes it does.

Finally! (1)

Domini (103836) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684607)

I'll be living in the nothern hemisphere... going home now to turn my world map upside-down to get used to it that way... (north always up?)

Me.

In Burt Rutal we trust! (0)

notany (528696) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684632)

Take us away!

Magnetic chaos (5, Informative)

Nosher (574322) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684643)

Then real fun with the flipping of the magnetic field is not that it moves uniformly from one pole to another over time, but that as it breaks down, tens or hundreds of "north" and "south" poles can develop which are spread all over the planet - see this article in New Scientist [newscientist.com] . With any luck, maybe my house might end up at one of these new "North Poles" for a while, so at least I can say I've been there :-)

Why read the Times for Science? (5, Informative)

arrogance (590092) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684672)

How about Scientific American [sciam.com] for how long the reversals take?
the average duration of a reversal is close to 7,000 years. The analysis further suggests that the timescale of the transition differs at various latitudes. During the last polarity shift, approximately 790,000 years ago, sites close to the equator underwent the 180-degree change over the course of 2,000 years, but the process took closer to 10,000 years in midlatitude regions.
There's also a good article on WHY the reversals take place [sciam.com] by Gary A. Glatzmaier, the guru of terran magnetic reversals. You gotta specialize in something I guess.

Why read deliberate dis-info at all. . ? (-1, Flamebait)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684794)

Ahhhh! 'Scientific American', a comfortable tool for subtle mind herding. It took me years to figure out just how tiresome that magazine really is. A voice piece for orthodox science.

Any page real estate they give to alternative view points was usually done in such a way as to subtly steer the reader's mind into thinking that s/he is choosing to believe the conventional wisdom out of their own free choice based on the evidence displayed, while forgetting entirely that the evidence is being picked and then editorially filtered by very biased men. Not a rigged jury; (The jury is the reader). It's more like both the lawyer for the defense and prosecution are both working toward the same goal.

In any case, pole shifts are the least of anybody's concerns. Based on everything I've looked at, they seem to me more like a result of bigger events than they are the main attraction.


-FL

Less a flip and more a migration... (3, Informative)

TheQuestion (124286) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684679)

I'm not a geologist, but don't things on this scale happen very slowly? You wouldn't go to sleep one night with your compass pointing north and suddenly have it point south when you woke up. This would happen gradually over hundreds or thousands of years. Although this is geologically overnight, the magnetic pole wouldn't move significantly during a person's, or turtle's, lifetime.

Having said that, I doubt even the turtles that rely on the field for navigation would notice. They would adapt to sense the less powerful field over time or they would loose the need to use it. Navigation is done by point of reference. And since the navigational lines of force are moving so slowly, the turtles wouldn't care. The North Pole being 200 miles from where it was for the turtle's great grandparents really doesn't matter to today's turtle. He just wants to get back to where he started from a year or so ago. The shift should be slow enough for him to do this.

The reduced magnetic field seems to be much more of a concern. But, again, we will adapt much like the turtles will. But instead of adapting our biology, we'll adapt our technology. It's not that we can't make a satellite or power grid that can handle solar wind and storms; it's just that we haven't done it. Why not? We haven't needed to. Think of the reduced magnetic field as job security.

I knew a magnetic Pole once (2, Funny)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684708)

Evana Kiniski -- it was amazing. you couldn't take your eyes off her. She had huge....tracts of land.

flushing ? (2, Funny)

TTL0 (546351) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684801)

the impact on life may be significant

i wonder if toilets will flush counter-clockwise ?

Down under? (0, Redundant)

October_30th (531777) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684826)

Oh dear.

Does this mean that after the flip, Australia won't be referred to as "down under" anymore?

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