Thursday, July 15, 2004

Strong Evidence Earth Magnetic Field Collapsing for a Reversal
In March 2003, "The Core," a Hollywood film, gave a wildly exaggerated portrayal of what would happen if the field vanished. People with pacemakers fall dead. Pigeons fly into people and windows. And the planet, a scientist warns, will fry in a year.

Dr. Tarduno said that practical effects on things like satellites and the ozone layer would be the same no matter whether the field reversed or simply weakened and bounced back. A major collapse of the Earth's magnetic shield, he added, could let speeding particles penetrate deeper into the atmosphere to widely knock out power grids, as solar storms do occasionally.

The consensus among biologists seems to be that the reversals are slow enough, and the Earth's creatures resilient enough, that most would learn to adapt. They note the lack of correlations in the fossil record between flips and mass extinctions.
To better understand the current collapse, the European Space Agency plans to launch three satellites in 2009. The spacecraft, flying in polar orbits a few hundred miles up, are to map its intricacies until perhaps 2015.

No comments: