The Journey to the Center of the Earth is a great story about human adventure, [tag]geology[/tag], the origins of man, exploration and envisioning, and the idea of reaching the center of the earth has captured the dreams and obessions of people, from ordinary faces to life-long scientists of our present times.
Why you ask would people want to reach the center of the earth?
The curiousity to know the unknown, to understand what is really under our feet are reasons enough to take this challenge. However, believe it or not, despite the [tag]books[/tag], [tag]movies[/tag], real scientific research and studies, we humans still have no exact idea of what our planet is like, on the inside.
Sure there’s the common model that the earth is made up of thin rocky crust, the land we’re walking on, floating on top of a liquid mantle which in turn surrounds the rocky core of our planet thousands of miles underneath our feet. But really, these are just theories that have yet to be fully verified and proven.
This geologic model of the earth has been challenged by a nifty program in the National Geographic Channel; called Naked Science: Earth’s Core. It was shown in Philippine cables yesterday afternoon, so watch out for replays.
It may sound like a geekfest but once you get into the program, it’s like watching those [tag]doomsday[/tag], end-of-the-world programs or movies. The difference is, it’s all scientifically possible and will actually happen. The program’s teaser says;
There is a place on Earth where no human could possibly survive. It is a place of incinerating heat and bone-crushing pressure. Thousands of miles below the Earth’s surface, a swirling, molten core of liquid metal generates a powerful magnetic shield, which protects us from deadly solar radiation. Scientists have recently uncovered evidence that this protective armour could be fading. Are weak spots in the Earth’s shield a sign that our planet’s magnetic poles are on the verge of flipping?
Say what?! What do they mean ‘flip’? What’s the earth’s magnetic field?
The answer is found here, but basically as what was stated above, the earth’s molten core of liquid, nickel and iron, swirls around as the earth spins and this creates a giant magnetic field that surrounds our planet. If you’ve used a magnetic compass before, it would show you the existence of this magnetic field by its needle pointing north no matter where you turn to face or even shake the thing.
Now this [tag]magnetic field[/tag] surrounds our planet like an umbrella. It protects us from the nasty and harmful radiation coming from the sun, otherwise, we would be getting far more uglier things than sunburns when we stay out and bask in the sunlight. This would mean the end of summer parties to the beach or the swimming pool.
However, there is a catch. Scientists have found out that the protective magnetic field has never been stable, it’a been changing for thousands of years and continues to do so even now. They call it ‘flipping the earth’s magnetic field’ or in the layman’s terms, “When the north goes south” literally. Once every thousands of years, the earth reverses its magnetic poles, the north goes south, and south goes nort. Again fopr example, using a magnetic compass when the earth flips its magnetic field, you would see your needle pointing to Mindanao as North, while the south end of the needle would point to Ilocos. More information and materials could be found here, complete with an animation, and another resource here. (You need to register for free in order to view the article from NYT)
So what does it all mean? How it will affect us? This is what I meant by ‘like watching those doomsday or end-of-the-world programs or movies.’ Our present generations have never acutally experienced a flipping of the earths’s magnetic field. It happens every thousands of years and when it does, something weird and nearly catastrophic happens.
Aside from ending the summer beach parties, animals who rely on the magnetic field for finding their way around the planet would be cofused or lost or go berserk. Worldwide power blockouts would occur because before a flip, the magnetic field weakens and disappears for a moment and so power grids would be affected by the incoming radiation from space. All of these are just predictions and experts say it may not lead to total catastrophe and chaos but we will be affected by the flip one way or another. It is also comforting to know that a complete flip would take 2,000 years and by that time, we would be prepared for any consequences…hopefully and if calculations are correct.
To make sure those calculations or studies would be correct and accurate, efforts are being made to somehow get a more accurate picture of what the earth’s core is like and how it really works. Extremely difficult and may seem impossible, but scientists are getting some kind of motivation for it, the red planet Mars. They say that Mars once had a magnetic field billions of years ago but has lost that field now and so the result, the plant became barren and lifeless.
If Mars lost its magnetic field, Earth can loose its own too. Knowing exactly when this will happen will make up prepared for the worst to come. To know that, we must understand how the earth’s core really works, and so there are a lot of important reasons why we should, somehow, journey to the center of the earth.