back to article North will remain North for now, say geo-magnetic boffins

Earth's magnetic field flips from time to time, but boffins are now confident it won't happen again any time soon. Research published April 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) says Earth scientists' assessment of our magnetosphere suggest we're more likely to see a …

  1. Alister Silver badge

    North will remain North for now

    Well that'll save confusion in Korea, anyway, otherwise they'd have had to swap ends at half-time...

  2. jake Silver badge

    Re: North will remain North for now

    I think that's what Kim is hoping for; he's out of raw materials.

  3. DNTP Silver badge

    There is no pole flip.

    ˙ǝuıɟ sı ƃuıɥʇʎɹǝʌE

  4. harmjschoonhoven

    Re: There is no pole flip.

    For the Chinese the compass has always been a south pointing device.

    BTW two weeks ago bought a fine antique (19th century) compass made by Gebrüder Fromme G.M.B.H., Wien. ø 100 mm, resolution 20'. Enough to observe the daily variations of the Earth magnetic field.

  5. Big John Silver badge

    Re: There is no pole flip.

    European medieval world maps often had East at the top. Something about the Holy Land being in that direction...

  6. herman Silver badge

    Re: There is no pole flip.

    Damn, it would be terrible if the East and West poles would flip. We would all turn Japanese.

  7. Alister Silver badge

    Re: There is no pole flip.

    We would all turn Japanese

    You really think so?

  8. ShelLuser

    But even if this would happen...

    How big would the effects be? I mean, does anyone actually their compass in this day and age? The reason I ask is because I can't help get the impression that most of that has been replaced by GPS.

  9. Ledswinger Silver badge

    Re: But even if this would happen...

    The reason I ask is because I can't help get the impression that most of that has been replaced by GPS.

    A reduced magnetosphere might play havoc with the satellites, added to which many GPS devices rely on a a magnetic compass sensor to set their orientation. If you buy a really cheap, nasty phone without a compass but with GPS you'll find how frustrating this can be.

  10. DNTP Silver badge

    Re: But even if this would happen...

    One of the things keeping satellites, such as the GPS system, functioning is the natural protective effect of the Earth's magnetic field. Most simulations of pole flip events conclude that there will be a lengthy (in human terms) weakening or loss of that protective effect

  11. GeoGreg

    Re: But even if this would happen...

    The Earth's magnetic field protects both biological and electronic systems from the effects of radiation. While the biosphere has survived many reversals, some significant fraction of individual humans might not. Or so I've heard.

  12. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    Re: But even if this would happen...

    It's fun. For satellites, I guess it depends on their altitude, and then the effects of any reduced magnetic field. So increased radiation exposure may mean more errors, damage and shorter lifespan. But then if it also affects our atmosphere, if that's heated and expands, drag increases. So may need more orbital corrections, which uses fuel & again could shorten lifespan. And might mean any new space station would need a load more radiation shielding.

    And for biologists, may help answer questions about which animals or birds use magnetic fields to navigate. But most of this stuff is based on geological timescales, so an 'abrupt' change could be 100ka+ away, +/- a LOT of uncertainty. The movie 'Core' shows a possible solution, and I'm sure The Boring Company would be up for a fresh slab of tax money to prepare ourselves.

  13. Wiltshire

    Re:

    They used two geologically-recent events as their model: one at Laschamp around 41,000 years ago, and the other at Mono Lake, 34,000 years ago.

    There's a funny coincidence Shirley:

    Milankovitch cycles (of precession and obliquity) include a 41,000 years period.

    I forget what has a 34,000 year cycle. Any ideas?

  14. Def Silver badge
    Joke

    "...what has a 34,000 year [old] cycle."

    I'm pretty sure my mum has one in the garage somewhere.

  15. Chris G Silver badge

    Re: "...what has a 34,000 year [old] cycle."

    Isn't that the average time span between the two Houses of Parliament and their members being fully in agreement with each other with all members present, awake and voting honestly?

  16. jake Silver badge

    Re: "...what has a 34,000 year [old] cycle."

    You had me until you included "honestly". That's a once in a geon event.

  17. herman Silver badge

    Re: "...what has a 34,000 year [old] cycle."

    My granny had one, but the wheel fell off.

  18. DougS Silver badge

    Just a coincidence

    In order to suggest even entertaining the idea this is more than coincidence you'd have to explain what about this particular point in the Milankovitch cycle would cause a magnetic excursion, or point not just to one 41K years ago, but also ones 82K, 123K, 164K and so on...

  19. David 132 Silver badge

    Re: Just a coincidence

    Is it just me, or does "Milankovich 41K" sound like a really crappy Soviet-bloc 8bit computer?

    Never mind. As you were.

  20. jake Silver badge

    Re: Just a coincidence

    Soviet-bloc? Might want to review your history.

    For some reason, I'm Balkan at making a joke about 8-bit computing.

  21. TheVogon Silver badge

    "They used two geologically-recent events as their model: one at Laschamp around 41,000 years ago, and the other at Mono Lake, 34,000 years ago.

    Those events might have been then, but im not clear why you think to the present day would be a cycle length. The most impacting Milankovitch cycles are 100,000 years in length which consides with ice ages.

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018