The northern lights might be a brilliant spectacle for some, but they spelled doom for some unfortunate sperm whales.
Geologists, archaeologists, physicists, and ancient potters – working together to solve one of the Earth’s greatest mysteries. Who would have thought?
Fee-shee go home.
Earth’s magnetic past wasn’t as simple as today.
Our planet’s magnetic field is the first and ultimate shield that guards life from the elements of space, particularly radiation. It’s enough to look at Mars, which also had a magnetic field but only for 500 million years, to see what could happen were it absent: what was once a “blue planet”, filled with vasts oceans of liquid water, maybe even vegetation and other life forms, is now a barred red rock. This invisible, protective shield likely existed shortly after the planet formed 4.5 billion years ago, when it was still a big blob of molten rock. It was only after the super hot iron liquid core lost enough heat to freeze (more properly said, it solidified) did the field become strong enough to allow life to foster. Previous studies estimated this happened sometime between 500 million and 2 billion years ago. A more refined analysis by University of Liverpool places the timeline between 1 billion and 1.5 billion years ago.
As soon as the phone starts ringing, these ants have a military-like reaction, forming a circle around the device. But why do they do this?
It’s no secret that many animals can sense the Earth’s magnetic field, but until now, researchers didn’t know exactly how they could do this – what the sensor was. Now, a team from the University of Texas at Austin has found a simple, antenna-like structure in the brain of the simple worm C. Elegans that appears to be able to detect magnetic fields.
The MESSENGER spacecraft spent four years orbiting Mercury, gathering valuable information and sending it back to Earth. But even in its final moments, as it crashed towards the surface of the planet, the spacecraft still did its job – it reported that Mercury has a magnetic field, likely millions of years old.
Many thousands of miles above our planet’s surface, electrons whiz through close to the speed of light. These electrons can streak past Earth in under five minutes, but can also become dangerous and have been known to destroy satellites and even injure astronauts in extreme cases. Most of the time, however, our gear and astronauts can rest safe since scientists have discovered
In Lewis Caroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871), the sequel to the classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice again enters a fantastical world, this time by climbing through a mirror into the world that she can see beyond it. Though far from Alice’s spectacular feat, scientists at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico demonstrated a new
As if dolphins weren’t special enough, scientists have added another quality to the list: they can sense our planet’s magnetic field. A surprising variety of animals can sense the Earth’s magnetic field – bees, birds, salmon, frogs, sea turtles, salamanders, lobsters, and rodents; now, you can also add dolphins to that list. French researchers have shown that, just like some of
Over the past six months, the Earth’s magnetic field – the bubble that protects our planet from incoming radiation and solar winds – has weakened by a factor of ten than what’s been registered in previous years. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), this discrepancy might indicate that the magnetic field is about to flip. An invisible shield Magnetic fields
Every dog owner can attest that canines are remarkable navigators, like some sort of living, breathing compasses. For some time, researchers have suspected that they can sense Earth’s magnetic field and use it in turn for navigation. A recent study confirmed this as a fact, however the findings came after studying the dogs in one of their most intimate poses
As the sun approaches the end of its 11-year-long cycle, scientists expect during one flash to change its polarity, ‘flipping’ upside down. You might think this would come at a cataclysmic expense, but there is absolutely no need to get alarmed. This happened every 11 years for as far as we can tell and each time the event wasn’t particularly
Using low-frequency laser pulses, a team of researchers has carried out the first measurements on a mineral called herbertsmithite. This (pretty awesome looking) mineral features a unique kind of magnetism. Insite it, magnetic elements constantly fluctuate, leading to an exotic magnetic state, unlike conventional magnetism in which all magnetic forces allign in the same direction and also unlike antiferromagnets, where
Our farthest scout in the Universe, the Voyager-1 probe, has traveled some 18.7 billion kilometers so far and it doesn’t show any sign of stopping. Soon enough, it will be the first man-made object to leave our solar system, when exactly however has been a matter of debate. For the past year or so, contradictory claims have made the matter
Driven by technological demand to breach the gigahertz (10^9 hertz) switching speed limit of today’s magnetic memory and logic devices, a team of researchers have devised a novel technique of switching magnetism that is at least 1000 times faster than that currently employed opening up the terahertz age (10^12 hertz). Hard drives, magnetic random access memory (RAM) and other computing devices typically employ magnetic switching
For years scientists have been studying the salmon migration path, which is one of the most fascinating, yet dangerous. Once it’s born in its freshwater breeding location, the salmon heads for salt water in the ocean, before it returns to its exact freshwater stream of birth in order to restart the process – a journey that lasts for years and carries the
Something really bad is going to happen, and the Earth’s rotation will shift, rotating the other way, which will cause a magnetic pole reversal, which is going to rain all sorts of havoc on terrestrial life. As the poles shift, there will be a massive continental drift, with landmasses plunging in towards each other, bringing earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and making
Photons are slippery fellas. Since they don’t have any electrons, they’re free to run through any matter, no matter how intense an electric field may be. Scientists at Stanford, however, have come by a monumental breakthrough after they devised a way to exert virtual force on photons using synthetic magnetism similar to the effect of magnets on electrons. The findings