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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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  • and the south? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LiquidMind ( 150126 ) on Monday December 28, 2009 @08:48PM (#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...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 28, 2009 @09:12PM (#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 !

  • Re:and the south? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Monday December 28, 2009 @10:03PM (#30578230) Homepage

    Further to the interim multiple poles, other interesting things happen, the [] 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.

  • by dissy ( 172727 ) on Monday December 28, 2009 @10:29PM (#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.

  • Re:and the south? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Monday December 28, 2009 @10:30PM (#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:Global Warming (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Entrope ( 68843 ) on Monday December 28, 2009 @11:06PM (#30578696) Homepage

    An operating system may be too large and complicated for any one person to understand. A code of laws might also be that complicated.

    A single bill, however, is most closely analogous to a patch -- or at most a patch series -- and no open source OS would accept a patch that no one claims to understand. Are you willing to run code on your computer by maintainers who accept that kind of patch? If not, why are you willing to live your entire life according to laws that are equally poorly understood and maintained?

    Even beyond that, computer programs tend to be inherently less ambiguous and more deterministic than laws. These traits allow useful decomposition of programs into a hierarchy that allows a person to focus on single parts of the whole. Because laws lack those traits (and especially in the US where courts look at history and precedent), it is much harder to decompose laws into elements that one can analyze separately. This is compounded by legislatures being loath to revise even obviously outdated or buggy laws, which makes it hard to correct bugs in the law. (The Internet has many examples of dumb or silly laws; an obviously buggy one is the US federal law prohibiting compensation for bone marrow donations by classifying bone marrow as an organ.) On the whole, it is much more important for legislators to understand the whole of the law than it is for software developers to understand the whole of a program.

    Voters are well-known to be rationally ignorant of their choices at the ballot box. Your argument is essentially that legislators should be rationally ignorant regarding the laws they vote on. Is that really what you want to encourage in law-makers?

  • Very strong evidence (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mister_playboy ( 1474163 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @01:01AM (#30579322)

    The largest body of evidence for this is found in the striping of the ocean's floor. In the areas where rock material moves up from the mantle and solidifies, the molten rock aligns with the current magnetic field before it cools, and this alignment cannot be changed once the rock becomes solid. The entire ocean floor is banded with a north/south/north/south alignment pattern, implying the reversal is very consistent from a cosmological timescale perspective.

    This reversal of the field occurs approximately every 800000 years, with a period of 1000-2000 years around the switch where the magnetic field is disorganized and significantly weaker than normal. This period has very big implications for lifeforms on Earth... obviously not enough to totally end life, but enough to kill lots of animals from various causes (extra solar radiation, messed up internal compass, disrupted migration patterns,etc.).

  • Re:Global Warming (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xmundt ( 415364 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @01:13AM (#30579372)

    Greetings and Salutations.
              It is one thing to pass a 3000 page bill that Congress understands. However, too often today, they get a 1000 page bill a day or two before they have to vote on it. I find it difficult to believe that your average Congress-person can read and understand a 1000 page bill in two days and make a rational decision on whether passing it is good for the country as a whole, and, not just a few special interest groups.
              Actually, I suspect that far too many of the bills that run through Congress these days are WRITTEN by special interest groups, and, simply emailed to their favorite Congress-person's office for injection into the pipeline.
                Pleasant dreams.
                Dave Mundt

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

    by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @02:34AM (#30579714) Homepage

    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.

    Read between the lines. Our congress critters never gave a damn about quality control from the beginning. It's as though they are the system administrators of a giant network. Instead of performing maintenance, they just keep installing software (features through law) while at the same time keep the system hobbling long enough to pass on to the next generation of congress critters that come after them. It's one giant fucking game of "Hot Potato"!

    So what happens when your network of servers becomes too bloated and difficult to manage? Two options. First: attempt to clean it up, which is never going to happen. Second: format and reinstall OS and only the apps and userdata you really need. Basically, you have a revolution and start over. That time might come sooner than we all thought I'm afraid.

    And we call them civil servants??? I call em douchebags!

  • We Want Vague Laws. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tjstork ( 137384 ) <> on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:41AM (#30581854) Homepage Journal

    Vagueness in law is a feature.

    Laws are as specific as the Congress cares to make them. While we think a lack of precision in law is a fault, sometimes they are buggy by design. Many a times, Congress will write something that is intentionally vague, hoping the courts will either sort it out, or go the right way, or essentially make new law as circumstances merit.

    As much as we talk about Congress not doing what we want, they know exactly what we want, how we vote, how we feel about issues, etc. The disconnect is that you, me, or other people, all totally do not at all understand what the country as a whole wants, and that is something both political parties are extremely familiar with. They are politicians and they are good at what they do.

    In short, we're not going to get better, more civic minded government, until we get better ourselves. I mean, come on, who wants to hear the truth that taxes need to go up and entitlements need to be capped to balance the budget in a meaningful way. WE've known this for 30 years, yet, the voters really do prefer, to buy all this stuff and not pay for it, so what do the pols do? Borrow it.

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl