7 votes

Animation of Earth's Magnetic Pole Shift

2 comments

  1. DonQuixote Link
    The recent stunning pictures of Jupiter from Nasa prompted me to explore what the magnetic pole of Earth in the process of shifting would look like over time. The attached simulation intrigues me...

    The recent stunning pictures of Jupiter from Nasa prompted me to explore what the magnetic pole of Earth in the process of shifting would look like over time.

    The attached simulation intrigues me because it bears a vague resemblance to the orbitals of electrons about the atomic nucleus. Although the magnetic fields of Earth have other inputs, I couldn't help but notice the field lines and their moving into different phases. Does anyone else notice this resemblance?

    I've often wondered if more advanced measurement techniques might someday give us much different views of the subatomic world, and to me, this animation hints at what we might find.

    1 vote
  2. PhysicsMonkey Link
    I don't know exactly what you mean by phases, but I see it hit periods of relative stability when the poles are opposed, and periods of transient behavior where the poles are at other angles than...

    I don't know exactly what you mean by phases, but I see it hit periods of relative stability when the poles are opposed, and periods of transient behavior where the poles are at other angles than 180 degrees apart.

    Implications for advancements to the Standard Model are minimal.

    Implications for understanding why the Earth has a magnetic field after 4.5 billion years to settle down temperature imbalances are still left open. Unless I missed something, they mention convection driving the dynamo. That convection transfers heat from hot to cold as the laws of thermodynamics say it has to. 4.5 billion years is a long time for there to still be a temperature difference left to drive anything, especially when it's been driving it the whole time.
    This is where the Standard Model could come into play, but I can't emphasize enough how thorough it is and how ridiculously well tested it's been for decades. When we're not talking about Einstein's Relativity, the Standard Model tends to be king... tends to be... and I don't think anyone has a plausible hypothesis for the heat source. So if it's shown to be there, something's going to be discovered.

    It's still an open question in physics as to why the Earth has a magnetic field. This video's model fits the currently popular hypothesis of vast currents of fluid iron moving in a dynamo. We can't test it directly, though. It's the curse of a geophysicist that everything they want to know about is behind a 60 km thick wall of rock under their feet.

    The model in the video looks plausible. It does not look predictive.
    I'm not qualified to hand out Nobels, and they probably wouldn't take my advice, but that's how big a deal it will be when we have a predictive model of how the Earth's magnetic field will change over time.