Sunday, April 26, 2009

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The Geomagnetic Apocalypse — And How to Stop It

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For scary speculation about the end of civilization in 2012, people usually turn to followers of cryptic Mayan prophecy, not scientists. But that's exactly what a group of NASA-assembled researchers described in a chilling report issued earlier this year on the destructive potential of solar storms.

Entitled "Severe Space Weather Events — Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts," it describes the consequences of solar flares unleashing waves of energy that could disrupt Earth's magnetic field, overwhelming high-voltage transformers with vast electrical currents and short-circuiting energy grids. Such a catastrophe would cost the United States "$1 trillion to $2 trillion in the first year," concluded the panel, and "full recovery could take four to 10 years." That would, of course, be just a fraction of global damages.

Needless to say, shorting out the electrical grid would cause major disruptions to developed nations and their economies.

Worse yet, the next period of intense solar activity is expected in 2012, and coincides with the presence of an unusually large hole in Earth's geomagnetic shield, meaning we'll have less protection than usual from the solar flares.

The report received relatively little attention, perhaps because of 2012's supernatural connotations. Mayan astronomers supposedly predicted that 2012 would mark the calamitous "birth of a new era."

But the report is credible enough that some scientists and engineers are beginning to take the electromagnetic threat seriously. According to Lawrence Joseph, author of "Apocalypse 2012: A Scientific Investigation into Civilization's End," "I've been following this topic for almost five years, and it wasn't until the report came out that this really began to freak me out." talked to Joseph and John Kappenman, CEO of electromagnetic damage consulting company MetaTech, about the possibility of geomagnetic apocalypse — and how to stop it.

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RIP John Michell

Here he is in 1993 speaking on 'Fort's Cosmology':

I'm very sad to report the death of world-renowned author and mystic John Michell, who was suffering from terminal cancer.

John, a huge inspiration to me, and I'm sure to many other Grailers, has been described as something of a national treasure. As the author of The View Over Atlantis, and many more books on traditional science, John was arguably the founder of the modern "earth mysteries" movement.

I last met him at the George and Pilgrim in Glastonbury, during the 2008 Megalithomania conference, when he listened patiently, spliff in hand, as I updated him on my research.

I remember him as an intelligent and kind-hearted gentleman.

The latest issue of Fortean Times (on sale Thursday 30 April) features a major tribute to him and his work.

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Reversals of Earth's Magnetic Field Explained by Small Core Fluctuations

April 23rd, 2009 By Lisa Zyga

According to a new model, small fluctuations in convective flow in Earth’s core can explain how the Earth’s magnetic field reverses. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

( -- Based on studies of old volcanic basalt, scientists know that the Earth’s magnetic field reverses at irregular intervals, ranging from tens of thousands to millions of years. Volcanic basalt rock contains magnetite, and when the rock cools, its magnetic properties are frozen, recording the Earth's magnetic field of the time. With this data, scientists estimate that the last magnetic field reversal occurred about 780,000 years ago.


Although volcanic basalt reveals when reversals occurred, it’s much more difficult to find evidence for why or how the ’s reverses. In a recent study, scientists from the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, both in Paris, have proposed a general mechanism that provides a simple explanation for field reversals. In their model, small fluctuations in convective flow in Earth’s core can push the planet’s sensitive magnetic system away from one pole toward an intermediate state, where the system becomes attracted to the opposite pole.

“We have found a mechanism that gives simple explanations of many features of the reversals of Earth’s magnetic field,” François Pétrélis of Ecole Normale Supérieure told “In particular, it explains the existence and the shape (slow phase followed by fast phase) of reversals, the existence and the shape of aborted reversals (‘excursions’), the statistical properties of reversals, and the possibility for very long durations without reversals (‘superchrons’).”

At present times, the Earth’s magnetic field can be described as a magnetic dipole, with the magnetic south pole currently located near the Earth’s geographic north pole, and the magnetic north pole near the geographic south pole (both magnetic poles are misaligned along the Earth’s rotational axis by about 11.3 degrees). The existence of such a long-lived magnetic field can be explained by dynamo theory, which describes how a convective, electrically conducting fluid that rotates can maintain a magnetic field.

As the scientists suggest, the reversal mechanism relies on the existence of a second magnetic mode, in addition to the dipolar field. The presence of a second mode, such as a quadrupolar field, can have significant effects on how the magnetic system reacts to changes in equatorial symmetry. As the researchers explain, the equator can be thought of as a plane of symmetry, and the convective flow in the Earth’s outer core is usually north-south symmetric. Previous studies on paleomagnetic data have proposed that reversals involve an interaction between the dipolar and quadrupolar modes, which would correlate with changes in equatorial symmetry. In support of this idea, some recent numerical simulations have shown that reversals do not occur when the convective flow remains equatorially symmetric.

“The quadrupolar field (it is likely to be a quadrupole but another structure could be possible) is also generated by the flow of the liquid core of the Earth, exactly like the dipolar field,” explained the researchers. “Most of the time, we observe a dipolar field because it is more easily generated by the flow, but in other conditions a quadrupolar field could be maintained, and this occurs in a temporary manner during a reversal.”

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Canada's UFOs: The Search for the Unknown


The Library and Archives Canada collection of government records on UFOs was acquired from the following four federal departments and agencies:

  • Department of National Defence
  • Department of Transport
  • National Research Council
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police

These documents were accumulated between 1947 and the early 1980s and represent all records filed with the federal government on UFOs. There are approximately 9,500 digitized documents in a variety of formats, including correspondence, reports, memos and procedures. Some are specifically concerned with particular UFO sightings, while others are more generic in nature; these may consist of reporting forms and procedures for recording events.

Although most documents contain a date (pertaining either to a sighting date or the date the document was actually created), some are undated. Similarly, approximately half of the documents refer to a specific UFO sighting location, while the others fail to mention a particular location.

Visit the virtual exhibition Canada's UFOs: The Search for the Unknown

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