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The Earth’s Magnetic Shield Cracked, Are We Doomed?

[Sun] Flares to full! [Earth] SHIELDS UP!… HA! [Sun] FIRE EVERYTHING! [Earth] There’s a crack in the shields!! WHAT DO WE DO?! Hey sunny dispositions, Trace with Julian
for DNews. The Sun and the Earth are in a constant battle,
thanks to the Sun’s tendency to be an unfathomably large mass of incandescent gas… Yes, absolutely, it’s a gigantic nuclear furnace
where hydrogen is built into helium… At temperatures of millions of degrees! But as a result… the sun is constantly releasing
highly energized particles blasted away from these nuclear reactions. Mostly these particles are protons and electrons
with some alpha particles (the nuclei of helium), and heavier charged particles thrown in like
the nuclei of magnesium, sulfur, iron, neon, carbon, and titanium among others. Sometimes, the sun gets excited and releases
a mass of superheated, charged plasma — called a coronal mass ejection or CME. We’ve talked about them before. They’re crazy. And that’s when the Earth’s magnetosphere
is really challenged. These CMEs can be strong enough to damage
satellites, force airplanes to change course to avoid them, disrupt electronics on the
ground, and force astronauts to stay in the shelter of the International Space Station. The main thing stopping those pungently radioactive,
highly charged particles from hitting you and me on top of the head, is the Earth’s
trusty magnetic field… generated by the movement of iron through our mantle. The magnetosphere works like a shield, protecting
us from harmful CMEs and other charged particles, but our shield system has a crack in it! That’s right, new research from the GRAPES-3
muon telescope reads like a battle report from Star Trek. Trace’s Log, Stardate: June 22, 2015. A plasma ejection from the sun struck the
planet at 2.5 million kilometers per hour. The energetic collision caused a compression
of the magnetosphere between 2 and 5.5 times the width of Earth itself… causing magnetic
storms and radio blackouts all over the planet. We suspect the Romulans are involved. No we don’t. Trace out. Okay, lemme ‘splain. A muon telescope is a cosmic ray detector. It’s designed to keep an eye on cosmic rays
breaching the magnetosphere — it’s looking for cracks. And it found one. The magnetosphere is powerful, but not perfect. According to the data, published in Physical
Review Letters, the GRAPES-3 spotted a 20 giga electron volt collision with the magnetosphere
and then some leakage! A CRACK IN THE FIELD!!! REVERSE THE POLARIZATION! Sorry. For perspective, the Large Hadron Collider,
the world’s most powerful particle accelerator can hit a top energy of about 26 GeV when
accelerating only few protons at a time. This solar assault lasted for 2 hours at 20
GeV and coronal mass ejections are filled with plasma stretching half the distance from
Earth to the sun. Luckily for us down here under the shield,
it deflected the burst of solar plasma… But CMEs aren’t the only thing attacking Earth
at any given moment — there are also cosmic rays. To keep up the Star Trek references, the Sun
is like… the Romulan Fleet, but cosmic rays are more like a few shuttlecraft or escape
pods. They’re from other galaxies, black holes and
the like, and while they’re few, they are also constantly trying to leak down to us… This is where the “crack” comes in. When the CME assaulted the magnetosphere at
such high energy, our field deflected it. But while it did that, some low-energy cosmic
radiation leaked through! At that point, the energy was likely absorbed
by molecules in our atmosphere before it hit you or me. In fact, the muon detector doesn’t directly
detect cosmic rays or coronal mass ejections at all. Instead, it detects muons — subatomic particles
— that are created when cosmic rays hit the molecules of air in our atmosphere! So GRAPES-3 detected this burst of activity
(the crack) that normalized after the CME ended; shield integrity is nominal. Even though we’re okay down here, astronauts
on orbit are less so. People in space are bombarded with cosmic
rays! Unlike some larger energetic particles of
a CME, cosmic rays can penetrate the walls of the ISS (and the astronauts inside). There’s even a name for when one flies through
an astronaut’s eyeball… It’s called Cosmic Ray Visual Phenomena — and
the ray basically causes the rods and cones to activate, creating a sparkle or spot. Astronaut Don Pettit describes it like “dancing
faeries.” Of course, long term exposure to cosmic rays,
like on a trip to Mars, could cause permanent damage to brain cells. Not good. Luckily for us, the mantle keeps turning under
our feet, generating our magnetosphere shield, and keeping us safe from both CMEs and cosmic
rays… and from brain damage. Mostly. Mostly. Worried about radiation messing with your
brain? Find out how exactly this invisible thing
affects your DNA here. What’s your favorite Star Trek episode? Tell us in the comments and please make sure
to subscribe for more DNews.

100 thoughts on “The Earth’s Magnetic Shield Cracked, Are We Doomed?

  1. ur thumbnail field flux lines direction are incorrect. the filed goes out of the north pole to the south pole. you have them com I ng out of the south pole

  2. The poles flip on a semi-regular basis, albeit at intervals measured in millions of years, but polarization of iron in ore at ancient magnetic poles shows evidence of numerous historic twisting and flipping of the magnetosphere

  3. A photon was checking into a hotel and they asked him if they could carry his luggage to the room. He responded "No thanks, I am traveling light".

  4. Just send a giant cigar made of unobtanium into the core to jump start it with nukes. Because according to Hollywood anything can be fixed with nuclear fire.

  5. I wonder if a belt of iron or ferrous meteor fragments around the Equator could supercharge the Van Allen Belts. The Belts are normally spread out and only intensify when "squished" by a CME, but their really belts of Lightning in the sky, concentrate that around an iron ring and the shield would be denser near Earth.. but maybe its a good thing it stays spread out.. like Outfielders in a ball game.. they can swing for the fences and guide faster particles in long arcs a little bit at a time to miss Earth… come to think of it we (are) building an Iron Belt in the sky of expensive rare earths in all the geosynchronous satellites going up.

  6. How then is space x going to address the potential of their astronauts getting brain damage on a journey to mars?

  7. that TMBG reference tho


  8. I wish seeker could be more entertaining like DNEWS was, hah used to make me laugh at times and was a reason to why i subscribed

  9. So THAT'S what that was.. I was getting crazy EMF readings (4k-8k mg out of nowhere), usually around 4am in Australia, and my compass kept being wrong at random times of the day, throughout most of that year.

  10. Beaming Ultra Low Frequency radio waves at the ionosphere will cure the problem. It has history. Over the last few million years the mag poles have flipped over a few times. No known problems arise. Water and Boron are the ultimate barriers to Gamma Rays. Every nuclear reactor uses them.

  11. I literally love you too not for just all the awesome knowledge but you're amazing character and sunny sarcastic disposition which speaks to me and ways that really sink in thank you thank you love you thank you

  12. Brain damage? I presume the crack in the magnetosphere is located over Washington; it would explain so much!

  13. It's a tie between "Trouble with Tribbles" and the episode of "Voyager" where they finally make it home. A close second is every episode involving Q. Wait! No. When Data got his emotions chip.

    Awww poo. They are all my favorite, every single episode of every single iteration of Trek.

  14. Here is a code to a paysafecaard i dont need anymore so you guys can use it to buy some shit. 0633 953 626 904 734

  15. The earths electro magnetic field is spreading out because humans in the last 50 years have dramatically increased electro magnetic use. This is just metal plus electricity to make super strong magnets. Cern for instance is 1000,000 times stronger than earths natural. Increased power to the field makes it spread out further. Pull harder on the sun also. The same way we make magnets stronger, like by making copper coils and flowing electricity through. Our rotation around the sun could change, solar flares will be pulled towards us, im not sure on radiation, Earth is in the goldylocks zone of electromagnetic field because the strength keeps it compact. It's getting weaker because its spreading with increased power via man made electromagnetism. The poles could shift, the rotation around the sun may shift, We could be fried, Earth and the sun are right now pulling harder on each other because humans increased our planets overall magnetic pull via artificial electro magnets, We may all die.

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