Grab a pocket compass and hold it flat. The arrow should point to the big red N for North - for now, that is. Although Earth's magnetic field is one of its greater mysteries, those measuring its power agree that the magnetic barrier around Earth has been decaying steadily for over 150 years. Geophysicists say the Earth's magnetic field is heading for a reversal, and the arrow on that same pocket compass will eventually point South.

When you were in school, your science teacher may have built a surprisingly strong magnet in class by coiling wire around a piece of iron and connecting it to a source of electricity. In the same way, the Earth acts like a massive electromagnet. Deep in its core, an electric current flows through super-heated iron producing a great electromagnetic field around the Earth. This field protects Earth from solar winds and dangerous particles. Some argue that migrating birds and animals use the magnetic power of the earth to keep on course to their destinations.

The famous German mathematician and physicist Carl Gauss first evaluated the magnetic field of Earth in 1835. Since that time scientists have made similar measurements every 10-15 years and have discovered that this field is deteriorating rapidly, and at an increased rate in recent years. This means that more radiation from the sun gets through, and satellites are already feeling the affects since they are outside the protection of Earth's atmosphere. As the magnetic field grows weaker and weaker, some doomsayers picture a day when it will disappear altogether. The India Daily newspaper described a host of potential problems as early as 2012, from increased earthquakes and volcanic eruptions to a bombardment of radiation, to swarms of lost and confused birds and animals.

However, most geophysicists put the pole reversal at least 1000 years into the future, and argue that the magnetic field will never go away altogether. Samples of magnetic rocks in the earth show that the poles have reversed themselves a number of times in the past without wiping out all life. Instead, the North and South poles will continue to move and weaken, and other poles will crop up in various places due to the strange electrical behavior deep below the crust, so that the Earth may have four or eight magnetic poles for awhile. Then, they say, the magnetic field will strengthen again with the North and South poles reversed.

Many questions remain unanswered, however. Geophysicists still do not know how the electric current in the Earth's core was started in the first place, or what keeps it going.

To read about how the Earth's magnetic field is evidence for a young Earth, see Russell Humphrey's article "The Mystery Of Earth's Magnetic Field" in the links below.


Related Links:

    The Mystery of The Earth's Magnetic Field - Institute for Creation Research
    Depletion of the Earth's Magnetic Field - Institute for Creation Research
    Earth - Magnetic Field Q&A - NASA
    Possible Answer To Earth's Magnetic Field Reversal - Space Daily
    Computer Models predict Magnetic pole reversal in Earth and Sun can bring end to human civilization in 2012 - India Daily