October 17, 2016

Reversing magnetic north and south

DEEP DOWN in the southern hemisphere scientists are trying to find out when the North Pole is suddenly going to become the South Pole.
According to the British Geological Survey, a world-renowned geoscience center, “The Earth’s magnetic field has had many highs, lows, and reversals in its past. The last reversal was around 800,000 years ago. So the Earth is known to be able to re-generate its field and has done so during human pre-history.”

A report from the scientific body says that South Georgia sits within a weak spot in the Earth's magnetic field known as the “South Atlantic Anomaly” (SAA). In this area, radiation from space penetrates deeper into the atmosphere.

“The SAA is growing and spreading westwards from South Africa as the Earth’s internal magnetic field rapidly weakens in this region. Scientist believe this may be evidence of a coming reversal in the direction of the Earth’s internal magnetic field,” says the report.

Well, I knew that scientists had examined ancient rocks whose construction revealed that the magnetic field was once reversed, but I never realized it had happened several times, and I never thought it would occur again in my lifetime. Can you imagine what’s going to happen?

All our maps, charts, and  atlases will have to be redrawn with a new north at the top, a north that we call the south at the moment. Geographic globes will have to be remade upside down. You can throw away your GPS and compasses  because the sun will rise in the west and set in the east. The blue bits on bar magnets will have to be painted over with red, and vice versa.

Antarctica and the penguins will be at the North Pole and all the polar bears will have to move to the South Pole. The South Pacific will swop names with the North Atlantic. The Northwest Passage will become the Southeast Passage and the trade winds will blow northwest and southwest.

South Carolina and North Dakota will have to change to North Carolina and South Dakota. Google Earth will have to turn upside down and have all its lettering changed. And lord knows what-all else.

Gawd, what a mess. I can’t believe those secretive scientists are springing this on us at the last moment. I’m having a hard enough time coping with the concept of global warming. The idea of turning the whole world on its magnetic head is overwhelming. I think I need to lie down for a while. Either that or drink a beer. I think I’ll try the beer first.

Today’s Thought
The more science learns what life is , the more reluctant scientists are to define it.
— Leila M. Coyne, San Jose State University

An Italian immigrant was having trouble with English irregular verbs.
“I can’ta weara my wool skirt anymore,” she said. “I have send it to the cleaners and they shrinked ... shrank ... shrunk ... Oh!” she broke off in desperation. “I putted on weight.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, for another Mainly about Boats column.)


Anonymous said...

Not sure what you are worried about. True North can stay where it is. Magnetic North/South are most often not aligned with True North/South anyway. Is it really a problem to have declination be 180 degrees, other than for the people who get away with never accounting for declination?

Alden Smith said...

Of course only one thing will change - that is that a compass needle will point south instead of north.

This scenario reminds me of stories from the Middle Ages when leap years weren't accounted for in Calendars, so that over time the calendars got out of sync with the seasons. When the calendars were adjusted forwards a couple of months people rioted in the streets because they thought their lives were being shortened.

The question I would like answered is - Why exactly are there NO Polar Bears in Antarctica?

Mike K said...

The Polar bear question is relatively easy to answer. The Polar bear is a variant of the Grizzly species and there being no Grizzlies in South America and there being no land bridge to Antarctica, they simply had no way over. Personally I've always been puzzled by the lack of Penguins in the Arctic. Give that the little beggars can swim, how come they never made it up the other end?

Eric said...

Well, there are some interesting suppositions here.
First; I would question exactly what, or who, it was that decided to make it "law" that the Arctic Circle was at the "Northern" rotational pivot point of the Earth?
Second; Who, or more appropriately when, was it decided that this moment in time is 8:41pm, October 25, 2016?
Third; The Sun, that flaming light in the sky, is the only factor in determining how hot, or cold the Earth is.
What we "call" North/South, has no meaning to 99.9999999% of the population of idiots who inhabit the Earth. Only the birds and fishes will know when the magnetic particles in their brains force them away from their birth place. Oh, and they won't know it's happening, because all the other birds and fishes will change, as well.
Time is a much more significant factor to all those idiots who think they are the apex of the food chain. They have no idea which way is East, even though the Sun rises in that direction every day of their life. Take away 72 hours of electronic connection, and they will fall dead from a lack of knowledge.
My point is that just like "climate change"(which used to be global warming), has been decided by a "consensus of scientists", in just the same way "they" decided which way is North, and what time it is.
It won't be difficult to fix compasses, and no geographic names will have to change, "they" will just not tell us South is now North.
Good question Alden Smith but I think Mike K answered it.
Mike K. Polar Bears swim too. In fact they float. They only drown when they swim under ice packs. Why there are no Penguins in the Arctic? One breeding Polar Bear couple could wipe out the entire population of Penguins on the "South Pole", in how many years? Five? Two? Twenty?

Mike K said...

Hi Eric, As soon as I wrote my supposition about the lack of Polar Bears in the Antarctic and my question about the lack of penguins in the Arctic, I realized that the presence of one explains the absence of the other. Wondered how long it would take someone to point this out. Yes PB's do swim some quite long distances but I wouldn't fancy their chances across the Drake Passage.

Adam said...

You have to look on the bright side. If the Pacific Northwest swaps with the Pacific Southwest, then SoCal will get some much needed rain and there will be pretty girls in bikinis rollerskating all over Bellingham.