Saturday, December 18, 2010

Earth's Magnetic Field: Inside Measurements, Sort of

"First Measurement of Earth's Inner Magnetism Made"
OurAmazingPlanet Staff, (December 17, 2010)

"For the first time ever, a scientist has measured the strength of the magnetic field inside Earth's core, some 1,800 miles (2,896 kilometers) underground.

"It turns out the magnetic field in Earth's core is about 50 times stronger than on the planet's surface, and the new number may help scientists narrow down the possible heat sources that fuel the mysterious processes of the planet's interior.

" 'A measurement of the magnetic field tells us what the energy requirements are and what the sources of heat are,' said Bruce A. Buffett, a professor of Earth and planetary science at the University of California, Berkeley, who made the measurement.

"Scientists think that Earth's heat comes from three sources: the residual heat from the formation of the planet around 4.5 billion years ago, when the planet was hot and molten; the release of gravitational energy as heavy elements sink to the bottom of the liquid core; and the radioactive decay of long-lived elements...."

This measurement - or, rather, the results of an analysis of very precise measurements of twitches in the direction of Earth's axis - will help folks who study the planet's inner workings. With more information, they'll be able to make more accurate models of Earth's interior.

All of which won't get the snow shoveled off the Lemming's driveway: but it'd be a poor world, without a search for knowledge. In my opinion.

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