Are you one of those people who have started the countdown to the end of the world?
Indeed, according to the Maya Calendar, the Golden Age is going to finish, as the previous ages of Water, Air, Earth and Fire.
Some researchers believe that one of the approaching cataclysms will be the magnetic pole reversal! Of course, this doesn’t mean that the North Pole will replace the South Pole, and vice versa! 🙂 It’s simply a change in the orientation of the Earth’s magnetic field, so that the positions of the magnetic north and the magnetic south will be interchanged; this means that our compass would point towards Antarctica rather than to northern Canada…but first of all, what is exactly the Earth’s magnetic field?
Magnetic fields are usually created by the movement of electrical charges: in this case, it is generated by electrons flowing in the moving molten iron which is in the outer core of the Earth.
The complex motions of electrons generate our planet’s magnetism through a process known as dynamo effect. We can approximate the Earth’s magnetic field to the field of a magnetic dipole located at the centre of the Earth, tilted of about 10° as opposed to the rotational axis.
It’s a bit surprising, but the North magnetic Pole is so-called because it’s attracted towards the Earth’s North Pole, but it actually corresponds to the South Pole!
This magnetic field plays a very important role since it protects us from the solar wind, deflecting the energetic charged particles emanated by the Sun; this way, the ozone layer is safe and it can protect the Earth from ultraviolet rays. The particles are allowed to enter only into the polar cusp regions, where the polar field lines become “open” and the particles produce the aurorae.
When a rock is formed, it usually acquires a magnetization parallel to the ambient magnetic field, so studying the rock magnetization, scientists have found that the axial dipole has changed several times in the past and each polarity interval has lasted about several thousand years.
Luckily, the geomagnetic reversal occurs very slowly and irregularly, and nowadays the magnetic field of the Earth is weakening, although this doesn’t mean it’s near to collapse. Moreover, scientists have noticed that the magnetic poles (which are not the geographical ones, as I said before) move at varying speeds, as they have always been doing.
Anyway, people have really different points of view about this topic: some of them believe that the pole shift destroyed entire civilizations in the past and that it can be one major reason in mass extinctions in the future. In particular, before the reversal, the magnetic field turns off and this it would create many problems: cosmic rays could damage our DNA, there would be earthquakes everywhere and new volcanoes would form. Don’t worry, this is only the MOST catastrophic and pessimistic theory! Other people think that the geomagnetic reversal is chaotic in nature and that it occurs at random intervals, so there is no way to predict when the next one will take place.
To sum up, I think that there’s no scientific evidence or any proof to say that the world will come to an end in a few months, as the Maya predicted…but this (even if absurd) idea gives me the possibility to share with you Horace’s reflection about life: seize the day, take advantage of all the opportunities that are given to you, you can’t know what tomorrow will bring, so don’t waste your time, make today the best of your days!