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Earth Science

North Magnetic Pole Moving East Due To Core Flux 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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North Magnetic Pole Moving East Due To Core Flux

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  • by pwnies ( 1034518 ) * <> on Monday December 28, 2009 @08:45PM (#30577630) Homepage Journal

    ...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.

  • How convenient (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SlothDead ( 1251206 ) on Monday December 28, 2009 @08:49PM (#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!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 28, 2009 @09:25PM (#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:Global Warming (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 28, 2009 @09:52PM (#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!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 28, 2009 @09:57PM (#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:Moving east? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wylfing ( 144940 ) <brian.wylfing@net> on Monday December 28, 2009 @10:16PM (#30578364) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by PieSquared ( 867490 ) <> on Monday December 28, 2009 @10:18PM (#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.
  • by mi ( 197448 ) <> on Monday December 28, 2009 @10:47PM (#30578584) Homepage Journal

    First of all, allow me to commend you for the perfect analogy — laws are programs, and law-making is programming... Now, to answer your questions...

    Would you arbitrary limit the Linux kernel to 30,000 lines of code? Who gets to decide what kind of complexity is reasonable?

    Linux kernel is reviewed by thousands of people back and forth all the time. There are automatic tools verifying syntactic and even (rudimentary) semantic correctness. Thousands of "tinderboxes" test any changes for hours every days and report any deviations. The history of changes (diffs) is publicly available at all times, studied and discussed by even more people.

    The two thousands pages of the bill in question has never been read in full by a single person — and when such a feat was undertaken, by the time the hero finished, the bill was already amended to bribe another Senator, etc. No automatic verification tools exist, of course — even a spell-checker would break. The entire country will be the tinderbox — production testing the below alpha-quality software. Oh, and the earlier prototypes (State-wide programs) have been failures...

    And you object to somebody rejecting that software because it is too complex? What happened to coding guidelines, with each function and non-trivial block being carefully commented?

    You? Rush Limbaugh? Based on what metric?

    The metric is very simple — if I can't finish reading (and understanding!) it without somebody "committing" a significant change somewhere, it is too long... The "Senate version" was moved to vote after an all-nigher in the Speaker's office, for crying out loud. All those fancy promises (by the most technically advanced Administration, like, ever, dude) of legislation being posted online for days prior to vote have turned into lies. Unreadable, spaghetti-like code, no testing, and not even code review. Who could possibly object?

  • Re:Global Warming (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WED Fan ( 911325 ) <akahige.trashmail@net> on Monday December 28, 2009 @11:02PM (#30578670) Homepage Journal

    Reasonable people differ on the substance of legislation, but opposing something based on its complexity alone smacks of corrosive know-nothingism.

    O.k., Sparky, have you read the health bill? If you say you have, you are a liar.

    Blindly accepting that self-interested career politicians can bring together a patchwork of often contradictory sections of proposed law and amendments that will somehow fix an arguably broken system without creating more problems than it solves is just plain idiocy. The mantra in D.C. is "Fire...Ready...Duck...Aim...Why is everyone angry at us?"

    The simple fact that they rammed it through, at full speed without a fair reading and explanation is enough to make anyone wary.

    This is very much like you giving up on trying to get your wife to let you fuck her anally, so you just jam it in there before she has a chance to say, "no". You got what you wanted, she's going to have deal with the pain, then, she'll deal with you. We are the wife and congress is the jackass husband.

  • by pnewhook ( 788591 ) on Monday December 28, 2009 @11:39PM (#30578852)

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

    Actually without a magnetic field, and the generated magnetosphere, pretty much all life on earth will die.

  • Re:Moving east? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Monday December 28, 2009 @11:56PM (#30578942)

    The GEOGRAPHIC north pole doesn't drift appreciably, or flip - ever. If it did flip, the most obvious sign would be that the sun would rise in what we currently think of as the west, and set in what is now the east.

    Second most obvious sign. The first most obvious sign would be the kinetic energy of the shift ripping the Earth apart. IOW, it ain't going to happen barring some uberaliens or the Hand Of God adding that amount of energy to the system. You're in Velikovsky territory with *physical* pole shifts.

  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @12:02AM (#30578964)

    Odd, since even humans have lived through pole reversals before.

  • by pnewhook ( 788591 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @12:10AM (#30579008)

    Really? Pole reversals plural??

    How is that since Homo Sapiens only first arrived 195 thousand years ago, mitochondrial eve was 150 thousand years ago, and as far as we cal tell, the last magnetic flip happened 780 000 years ago.

  • Re:Global Warming (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DrLang21 ( 900992 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @12:37AM (#30579166)
    There is a world of difference between Law which affects every person in a country, or potentially in the world, without choice and an operating system that a customer chooses to use. On top of that, there are systems designers who do have a fairly complete upper level understanding of an entire operating system. In addition, there are software quality control measures in place to fend off garbage. Legislation has only those voting on it as quality control. If those voting are not given sufficient time to at least mostly comprehend the entire bill, then there is no quality control.
  • by DrLang21 ( 900992 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @12:45AM (#30579218)

    You ignore the possibility that multiple collaborating people could read the bill and together verify its correctness

    I do not accept this possibility. With proper quality control, there is a very careful and thorough review of the entire package before releasing it to production. This review might not go into line by line reviews, but it does go into code reviews and design reviews, verifying that everything has been thoroughly looked at. In addition, there is always the option to quickly amend missed fuck ups later. Law does not have the option to quickly amend fuck ups.

  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @12:59AM (#30579304) Journal

    I would be just happy having a chance for anyone other than the writers having a chance to peak at said bill, before it is rushed to vote by people who don't know what is in the bill any more than I do.

    How about a two week public review period before voting on it, so that many eyes have a chance to spot the flaws before irrevocably being instituted as law.

    But hey, I don't expect anything different from a bunch of drunk, check kiting, womanizing, failures who can't run anything, but feels entitled to run everyone else's life, while exempting themselves from all the crap they expect everyone else to live by.

  • Re:North Pole (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OctaviusIII ( 969957 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @01:18AM (#30579400) Homepage
    As Avatar taught us, overused clichés, when in the right hands, remind us why they became cliché in the first place.
  • Re:Global Warming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @02:12AM (#30579644) Homepage

    If I can't be expected to understand the laws as a normal human, then I can't reasonably be expected to follow them either.

  • by modecx ( 130548 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @03:29AM (#30579898)

    How about this: Well write a new law: Every bill will be readable for some set period before a vote, but in order for your representative's vote to count, he/she will have to pass a test derived from the law itself! We'll randomly select a number of universities to read the key points of the law, and submit one question each to the congress. A semi-unique test will be generated from a pool of questions for each congress critter, to minimize cheating, and they'll have the entire cool-off duration to study for the test.

    The test will consist of 20 multiple choice questions regarding the key points. If you get seven out of ten correct (a passing C grade in US schools), you get to vote in favor of the bill, otherwise the vote is recorded as negative. Also, each test and representative's grade point average will be posted on the interwebs for all to see.

    This would do several things:

    1) Chiefly, it's going to keep bills short and sweet, and easy to understand.
    2) It's going to force the parties to present reasonably intelligent and up-to-date candidates.
    (fewer ancient career politicians with no understanding of modern issues, for instance)
    3) Reduce or eliminate plausible deniability--if you vote for a bad law, you won't be able to say "golly, I didn't know"

    I think it would work.

  • by pedestrian crossing ( 802349 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:27AM (#30581306) Homepage Journal
    Insightful? Why hasn't this whole thread been modded off-topic? What I see here is a political discussion, nothing about the movement of the magnetic pole due to core flux....
  • Re:How convenient (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mce ( 509 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:29AM (#30581334) Homepage Journal

    The first "problem" with your calculation is that you are assuming a 10m worst case error, while for the kind of application you describe more expensive and accurate (e.g. dual-frequency) receivers would be used. Also, SBAS would be used whenever available, making the worst case errors even smaller and less likely to occur (good DGPS systems can reach 0.1m accuracy). Not to mention that at sea one always has open sky conditions, so no canopy or multipath problems (provided the antennae are mounted in a suitable location on the ship, obviously).

    The second problem is that you calculate the average error as being half of your calculated maximum error. This is wrong in two ways: first, your maximum error calculation is symmetrical, meaning that even by your crude method of averaging, the average would be 0; second, the calculation of the average error needs to take the probability of each value into account and the smaller errors are more likely than the extreme ones.

    The third problem is that you assume the worst case error to be constant over the duration of that "voyage of thousands of kilometers", which is totally unrealistic. A real-world GPS system maintains a history of past positions and uses this to correct for instantaneous errors.

    The fourth problem is that in the application you describe, the two antennae are located at a known and unchangeable distance from each other. This means that their physical movements are correlated and hence that the system has extra information at its disposal that it can use to detect physically impossible combinations of positional errors. The more extreme the errors, the more likely they are to be flagged as being suspect. This again can be used as input to the GPS system's calculations.

    Anyway, no sailor worth his or her salt relies on a single source of positioning data. Certainly not for a "voyage of thousands of kilometers".

  • Re:How convenient (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mce ( 509 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:47AM (#30581452) Homepage Journal
    Actually, I forgot a fifth problem: because the two antennae are only 379m apart, they would both face the same atmospheric/ionospheric errors. So it is highly unlikely that the antenna on the bow of the ship would see a worst case error in one direction and the one on the stern would see a worst case error in exactly the opposite direction. More likely, they would both be offset by roughly the same distance in roughly the same direction. This means that while the reported position of each might be off be a few meters, the ship's heading calculated from comparing both positions would be much closer to the true heading.

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.