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World Watch
Earth’s Magnetic Field

In case you didn’t know, the universe is a terribly hostile place for most lifeforms. Take our own star, for example. The sun gives life to everything on Earth, but it is also a violent inferno (one that is capable of destroying all living things). Fortunately, for us, our planet has protection—it is surrounded by a magnetic force field. Okay, perhaps “force field” is a bit sensationalist, but the actual description is just as inspiring. The Earth is encased in a magnetic field, which is generated by the rotating, liquid iron core at the center of the planet (otherwise known as a “dynamo”). And it seems that this magnetic field changes rather rapidly. A magnetic field shift in our planet is nothing new. The poles have flipped several times throughout Earth’s history. Around 800,000 years ago, we had our last flip. Prior to this, magnetic north hovered over Antarctica. Previously, scientists thought that this flip took centuries (some estimates suggested it could take as long as 7,000 years). They believed that this shift starts with the magnetic field weakening over the span of a few thousand years. Once this happens, the poles flip and the field springs back up to full strength again. However, a new study shows that the last time the Earth’s poles flipped, it only took 100 years for the reversal to happen.

Courtesy: Quarks to Quasars

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