The Earth’s magnetic field protects life on Earth, shielding it from damaging radiation and moderating our climate. The result of electrical currents generated deep within the Earth through dynamic action, the magnetosphere is a fluid force that is constantly changing in strength and orientation. The very heart of our planet is a solid inner core of mostly iron that is about the size of the moon. Surrounding this solid inner core is a second layer made primarily of an iron-nickel alloy. The disparity in temperature between the inner core and the mantle causes the Earth to become a giant magnet. Given the fluidity of the system, it stands to reason that the magnetic field is not an immovable constant, but changes in its strength, orientation and polarity.
Since it was first pinpointed in 1831 by James Ross, the magnetic north pole has moved more than 600 miles, and in recent years, this change has accelerated from “an average speed of 10 km per year . Part of the natural order, over the last 20 million years, the poles have reversed, on average, every 200,000-300,000 years.
Discerned from magnetic signatures found on rocks and sediments, scientists today know that the poles routinely switch places. It’s not a sudden flip, but a slow process, during which the field strength becomes weak, very probably the field becomes more complex and might show more than two poles for a while, and then builds up in strength and aligns in the opposite direction.
Given the field’s waning strength over the last couple of centuries, some scientists believe we are approaching another long-term flip. However, if the magnetic field were to significantly weaken, we could (potentially) be in trouble. In recent years, scientists have found evidence that magnetic pole shifts can occur very quickly, although it is not clear if they typically result in complete reversals.
In the late 1960s near the village of Laschamp in the Massif-Central in France, scientists found incomplete evidence that led them to believe an extremely rapid, short-term magnetic reversal had occurred a mere 41,000 years ago (about the time the Neanderthal disappeared from Europe). Other evidence of a rapid pole shift was discovered in 1995 in hardened lava in Steens Mountain, Oregon.
Find Us On YouTube!Subscribe today to check out our free Daily Knowledge Youtube video series! Earth’s magnetic field, a familiar directional indicator over long distances, is routinely probed in applications ranging from geology to archaeology. The work was conducted in the NMR laboratory of Alexander Pines, one of the world’s foremost NMR authorities, as part of a long-standing collaboration with physicist Dmitry Budker at the University of California, Berkeley, along with colleagues at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The exquisite sensitivity of NMR for detecting chemical composition, and the spatial resolution which it can provide in medical applications, requires large and precise superconducting magnets. But chemical characterization of objects that cannot be placed inside a magnet requires a different approach.
Instead of a superconducting magnet, low-field NMR measurements may rely on Earth’s magnetic field, given a sufficiently sensitive magnetometer.
Paul Ganssle is the corresponding author of a paper in Angewandte Chemie describing ultra-low-field NMR using an optical magnetometer.
Earth’s magnetic field is indeed very weak, but optical magnetometers can serve as detectors for ultra-low-field NMR measurements in the ambient field alone without any permanent magnets.
In high-field NMR, the chemical properties of a sample are determined from their resonance spectrum, but this is not possible without either extremely high fields or extremely long-lived coherent signals (neither of which are possible with permanent magnets). A key difference between this and conventional experiments is that the relaxation and diffusion properties are resolved through optically-detected NMR, which operates sensitively even in low magnetic fields. The design was tested in the lab by measuring relaxation coefficients first for various hydrocarbons and water by themselves, then for a heterogeneous mixture, as well as in two-dimensional correlation experiments, using a magnetometer and an applied magnetic field representative of Earth’s. This technology could help the oil industry to characterize fluids in rocks, because water relaxes at a different rate from oil.


The next step involves understanding the depth in a geological formation that could be imaged with this technology. Eventually, probes could be used to characterize entire borehole environments in this way, while current devices can only image inches deep. Other authors on the Angewandte Chemie paper include Hyun Doug Shin, Micah Ledbetter, Dmitry Budker, Svenja Knappe, John Kitching, and Alexander Pines. For more information about the research in Alex Pines’ Nuclear Magnetic Resonance group, go here. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.
Texts and descriptions are fine and dandy, but to see planet Earth for what it is is another thing altogether. Magnetism is one of the two components of the electromagnetic field. All materials are influenced in varying degrees by the presence of a magnetic field, since its constituent particles are charged. Magnetism is a physical phenomenon related to the charge of the particles composing the material and its emission of photons, and as a result of these interactions, the objects undergo attraction or repulsion over other materials.
The universe is full of light photons with all known radiation in the electromagnetic spectrum through which light travels. Fundamental particles have a charge and a spin that provides the magnetic field and their motion or vibration provides an emission of photons which make up the electromagnetic field of the particle. Photons are emitted in all directions through this field, similar to a garden sprayer, but following a pattern of polarities. As the Earth is made of matter, the vast majority of photons emitted by the magnetic core have a spin in the same direction, creating a strong magnetic field. The sum of the photons with the same rotation generate significant electromagnetic force on Earth. If a small object in space starts a spin or orthogonal rotation of its photons emitting a field and conjugates with other fields, it can create a magnetic interaction. A material with unpaired electrons can emit electromagnetic charge, as their charges do not cancel as when it exists in even numbers. The materials that can have magnetism easily detectable are iron (atomic number 26), cobalt (atomic number 27), nickel (atomic number 28) and its alloys. Differences in electron configuration in the elements determine the nature and magnitude of the atomic magnetic moments. Placing together a north pole of a magnet with a south pole, the photons collide and overlap in spins that are contrary, then the rotation is void or canceled, only allowing a the electric field and gravity in bodies work, uniting them (although but the electric field is maintained and if they are aligned, will generate an electric charge is likely to occur as a row of electron flow). If overlapping photons have the same orientation of its rotation, the spins are then added or are strengthened, causing repulsion between the bodies by the bombardment of photons from the particles of both bodies. If a body is energized with electricity, will increase the density of the payload field, the number of collisions of photons excluding the external field interaction, aligning electrons were not aligned so increase the magnetic field strength. The larger the volume of a body, gravity will act with largely because the photon is relatively smaller, but as we get closer to the body, the electromagnetic field will be stronger.
Larger objects are always moving in orbits trying to strike a balance between electromagnetism and gravity, just as quantum particles. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Although we know that the magnetic field originates from several sources, exactly how it is generated and why it changes is not yet fully understood. So the idea that it could completely flip around, or collapse altogether, should cause us to worry, right? However, we are long overdue for a long-term reversal, since the last one occurred about 780,000 years ago. Many downplay the risk to humans, noting that the magnetosphere rarely disappears, so life on Earth remains largely protected during the reversal.


In fact, some researchers have opined that there is “a direct link between the demise of the Neanderthals . Now it has provided the basis for a technique which might, one day, be used to characterize the chemical composition of fluid mixtures in their native environments. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) conducted a proof-of-concept NMR experiment in which a mixture of hydrocarbons and water was analyzed using a high-sensitivity magnetometer and a magnetic field comparable to that of the Earth.
The work will be featured on the cover of Angewandte Chemie and is published in a paper titled “Ultra-Low-Field NMR Relaxation and Diffusion Measurements Using an Optical Magnetometer.” The corresponding author is Paul Ganssle,  who was a PhD student in Pines’ lab at the time of the work.
In ex situ NMR measurements, the geometry of a typical high-field experiment is reversed such that the detector probes the sample surface, and the magnetic field is projected into the object. This means that ex-situ measurements lose chemical sensitivity due to field strength alone.
In contrast, relaxation and diffusion measurements in low-field NMR are more than sufficient to determine bulk materials properties.
Relaxation refers to the rate at which polarized spin returns to equilibrium, based on chemical and physical characteristics of the system. There were attempts to perform oil well logging starting in the 1950s using the Earth’s ambient field, but insufficient detection sensitivity led to the introduction of magnets, which are now ubiquitous in logging tools.
Other applications include measuring the content of water and oil flowing in a pipeline by measuring chemical composition with time, and inspecting the quality of foods and any kind of polymer curing process such as cement curing and drying.
The combination of terrestrial magnetism and versatile sensing technology again offers an elegant solution. The current publication presents some of the work for which Berkeley Lab won an R&D 100 award earlierthis year on optically-detected oil well logging by MRI.
Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. Photons will be released with the same orthogonal spin direction of the particle which emits them, the  displacement vector will form an electrical component while its direction or polarity is the magnetic component.
Not all photons will be affected, because not all collide, but the field will be greatly reduced. If the molecules of this material are aligned, the magnetic charge is consistent with parallel spin photons, maximizing its angular momentum and directing full force of spin together, in contact with other quantum particles. The bodies are affected by electromagnetism of other bodies such as the sun, stars and galaxies that emit their own payload fields. Further, the sample of interest must be placed inside the magnet, such that the entire sample is exposed to a homogeneous magnetic field. A main challenge with this situation is generating a homogeneous magnetic field over a sufficiently large sample area: it is not feasible to generate field strengths necessary to make conventional high-resolution NMR measurements. On the surface of the earth there is a balance between the electromagnetic force and gravity, so that there is a relative stability.
When enough sediment collects, it tumbles like an avalanche, into the outer core, thereby cooling it. During this period, the field was even weaker, with only 5% of today’s field strength. As a consequence, Earth nearly completely lost its protection shield against hard cosmic rays, leading to a significantly increased radiation exposure. Some speculative studies have suggested that as the Earth’s magnetic field weakens we could see an increase in cloud coverage in the troposphere and an increase in the polar ozone holes .



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