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North Magnetic Pole Racing Toward Siberia 187

RogerRoast sends along a backgrounder from Scientific American on the best current theory as to why the north magnetic pole drifts. "The NMP, also known as the dip pole, is the point on Earth where the planet's magnetic field points straight down into the ground. Scottish explorer James Clark Ross first located the NMP in 1831 on the Boothia Peninsula in what is now northern Canada... [T]he NMP drifts from year to year as geophysical processes within Earth change. For more than 150 years after Ross's measurement its movement was gradual, generally less than 15 kilometers per year. But then, in the 1990s, it picked up speed, ... bolting north–northwest into the Arctic Ocean at more than 55 kilometers per year. If it keeps going it could pass the geographic north pole in a decade or so and carry on toward Siberia."
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North Magnetic Pole Racing Toward Siberia

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  • by Sir_Lewk ( 967686 ) < minus herbivore> on Monday December 27, 2010 @01:17PM (#34677272)

    Luckily the core is pretty absurdly massive. It's not going to suddenly lose all of it's kinetic energy without dumping it somewhere, a process which undoubtedly would be pretty impressive and noticeable.

    Also, that movie was terrible. ;) (and not just for it's absurd physics, because Sunshine (with an even more absurd premise) was actually pretty good)

  • Re:World stability (Score:4, Informative)

    by mangu ( 126918 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @01:22PM (#34677324)

    Everyone knows that you regain stability by moving all your poles into the right hand plane.

    Only if the positive portion of the plane is on the left side. In Australia, perhaps?

  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @01:24PM (#34677348) Homepage Journal

    The biggest problem is if the molten core shifts around, then the localized heat sources change, which changes the temperature of the ground surface, the oceans, and the atmosphere given enough time. This would eventually lead to civilization-annoying weather pattern changes, causing regular cycling climates (hot summer, cold snowy winter) to become either more extreme (hotter summer, colder winter) or tilted (hotter summer, winters that are cold and rainy). This of course distorts any functioning agrarian society while the whole disaster continues; things have to be moved around after the weather settles down again.

    And for the record, the earth's magnetic core is a molten iron blob subject to magnetic fields. The sun is a huge nuclear generator radiating a huge magnetic field. What happens when you rotate one around the other? Hint: nuclear bombs won't produce the kind of momentum that keeps that much metal spinning for millions of years... that would blow the whole planet to dust.

  • by carlhaagen ( 1021273 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @01:34PM (#34677414)
    The magnetical north pole is on the opposite side of the planet, close to our geographical south pole; a compass' N needle points towards the magnetical south pole, but as we use compasses to orient towards our geographical south pole, we simply mark the needle N.
  • Re:Eeep! (Score:5, Informative)

    by jc79 ( 1683494 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @01:34PM (#34677418)
    Parent is wrong. Ordnance Survey maps are NOT magnetic north aligned. They are aligned to OS Grid North, which is fixed wrt the UK (but not congruent with True North). Each printed map sheet has a diagram indicating the deviation from grid north of magnetic north at the centre of the sheet at a given epoch. When taking a bearing with a protractor compass, it is necessary to account for the magnetic deviation before following that bearing (in Scotland, magnetic north is currently 2 deg west of grid north).
  • Well... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Zinner ( 873653 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @01:53PM (#34677566)
    Actually, the correct names are "North Seeking Pole" and "South Seeking Pole" shortened to North pole and South pole. The North (seeking) pole of the compass needle actually does point north. In the arctic, a standard hypothetical test monopole is repelled, making it north.

Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982