Without the magnetic field, high energy radiation from space would affect the Earth's upper atmosphere much more dramatically – and high-energy radiation reaching the surface would be far higher. The levels of radiation without a planetary magnetic field would be so high as to profoundly alter the way life has evolved.
“In 1905, shortly after composing his special relativity paper, Albert Einstein described the origin of the Earth's magnetic field as being one of the great unsolved problems facing modern physicists.”
There maybe a gargantuan revolving molten iron core – the so-called Dynamo Theory – but it’s known from magnetised ‘stripes’ in extruded seabed rock that the Earth’s magnetic field completely (and rapidly) reverses every 200,000 to 300,000 years. There is no clear theory as to how these geomagnetic reversals might have occurred. If the Earth does have an internal ‘Dynamo’ it would seem unlikely that it could spontaneously reverse its rotation, or turn upside down.
Recent calculations regarding the formation of the 'dynamo' conflict with geological evidence :
Evidence is mounting that the dynamo could only have emerged comparatively recently. At the same time, geological clues show that the magnetic field has existed for most of Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history.
See: The paradox powering Earth’s magnetic field New Scientist, Jan 2017
A 2021 research project performed in New Zealand found that the last reversal was approx. 42,000 years ago. Noting that the global impact of such events “remains unclear” See : Science , Vol. 371, Issue 6531, pp. 811-818
Ideas for new topics, and suggested additions / corrections for old ones, are always welcome.
If you have skills or interests in a particular field, and have suggestions for Wikenigma, get in touch !
Or, if you'd like to become a regular contributor . . . request a login password. Registered users can edit the entire content of the site, and also create new pages.
( The 'Notes for contributors' section in the main menu has further information and guidelines etc.)