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Magnetic pole reversals have always been a bit enigmatic, and I’ve found they tend to pop up quite a bit when people need strange and poorly understood scientific phenomena in anything from great novels and bad movies to the slightly more bizarre. It’s strange that it’s much simpler than, say, quantum mechanics, but because everybody is so used to north and south being fixed directions and not so concerned with what’s going on in an atom, it tends to freak people out a bit more.

We know that the north and south poles flip directions every once in a while. Every few hundred thousand years, anyway. The slightly freaky part is that we’ve never known what the flipping is like (although people speak as if they’re a gradual process and possibly quite dangerous for inhabitants of the planet… *cough* dinosaurs *cough*) and they occur randomly. It happens to the sun every few years, but of course nobody lives on the sun to care. Basically it’s potentially a huge global catastrophe that could be thousands of years away, or it might have already started.

But now there’s some new research coming out saying that the reversals are not random after all. I was hoping the article would have predicted when the next reversal should be, but it seems like they haven’t been able to take it that far yet. Anyway, it might just make for a nice show in Tahiti, in which case we don’t really have to worry too much about it. As long as the nightingales don’t get confused.

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