Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
The uncertainty of science: For reasons that scientists do not understand, the Earth’s magnetic field has been undergoing unexpected shifts in the past two years, causing its north pole to move significantly and somewhat quickly from Canada across to Siberia.
Earth’s north magnetic pole has been skittering away from Canada and towards Siberia, driven by liquid iron sloshing within the planet’s core. The magnetic pole is moving so quickly that it has forced the world’s geomagnetism experts into a rare move.
On 15 January, they are set to update the World Magnetic Model, which describes the planet’s magnetic field and underlies all modern navigation, from the systems that steer ships at sea to Google Maps on smartphones.
The most recent version of the model came out in 2015 and was supposed to last until 2020 — but the magnetic field is changing so rapidly that researchers have to fix the model now. “The error is increasing all the time,” says Arnaud Chulliat, a geomagnetist at the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Centers for Environmental Information.
Note that they have delayed the release of the World Magnetic Model until January 30, claiming the delay is caused by the government shutdown. Seems bogus to me. As I have already noted, these scientists aren’t slaves. If they think this is so important, and they have completed their work (which the article suggests they have), they can release the model, regardless of the federal government’s funding.
Hat tip reader Stephen Taylor.