Friday, January 07, 2011

Helpful and Not So Helpful

The few remaining bits of Christmas trim will be tucked away today.

I do have help with this task....

Tate's enthusiasm for the work makes up for his lack of process understanding.

Tate: I thought you said you wanted to take the Christmas things down. I iz helping.
Me: I meant put the Christmas things away.
Tate: Oh.  Sorry. 

He isn't the only one around here who is a tad clueless about things.
This morning I read that all the birds falling from the sky around the world might be caused by the earth's magnetic pole shifting.

I have known that our earth's magnetic poles do shift from time to time; I have purposefully avoiding really getting a firm grasp of how that happens.  Trying to understand scientific stuff like that usually just makes me feel dumb.

Bernie happened to be chugging by with his second cup of coffee before commuting to work downstairs when I commented about the possibility that the birds were being affected by the magnetic poles shifting. I made the mistake of mentioning that I really don't understand how magnetic poles actually shift.

The earth clearly doesn't flop over...
Like do they shift after X number of years? 
After so many spins?
Does it just happen randomly?

(Now tell the truth...can you give a precise answers as to why the poles shift off the top of your head?)

Bernie managed to give me an answer that I sort of understand, using his hands to illustrate the point.  Seems that as the earth goes around the sun, the earth rotation and spin tips one end of the earth more towards the sun, then the other end more towards the sun, and that sets up the magnetic pull.

I think I get that.
So wouldn't that mean that the poles shift every year? 
And if that is the case, then why wouldn't birds be goofed up every year?More information was clearly needed.
 This site  from NASA was interesting.
I had no idea that there is one person who has a full time job keeping track of magnetic North.
(And wouldn't that make for a conversation stopper during party introductions?  "Oh my husband?  He travels around keeping track magnetic north for everyone.")

Some how it had also escaped me that magnetic North is in Canada. 
I always thought the North Pole was in the Arctic.
Right next to where Santa Claus and the Elves work and play.

(Canadians: Could one of you please figure out how to make magnetic North stop shifting around your country?  Put down the Molsons and get to work!)

Apparently the last time the poles reversed was 780,000 years ago.  Scientist can tell by checking out "the magnetism of ancient rocks".

Huh.  I thought all rocks were ancient.  Are there modern rocks out there?  I suppose volcanoes make new rocks but other than those, aren't all rocks made out of the original earth?

Scientists also reported that pole reversal happen about once every 300,000 years.  They are not sure if we are overdue for a reversal or not.

NASA included the pictures above to illustrate just how messy it can be when the poles reverse.
I'm thinking going on a hike with a compass would be a bad idea during a reversal.
NASA also added that when it happens, the Northern Lights will be seen in Tahiti.
How they can be sure of this fact, considering the last time it happened was, according to them,  780,000 years ago, is also mystery to me.

NASA isn't weighing in on the dead birds via pole shift or reversal idea.
Frankly, their website just made me even more confused than I was before.
I think I will just believe that Bernie, having passed several college classes in Magnetism, understands it and will inform me of any thing about it that I need to do something about.
Right now all that needs me to do something about is clearing up the Christmas stuff.
I just hope birds don't start falling from the sky around here.


ellen b. said...

Oh you have my head spinning and I don't know how to stop it. Send some magnetism this way would ya?! Fascinating stuff really that I totally don't understand but all I want to know is...Is it safe to fly in a plane during this time of shifting?

Vicki said...

STOP IT! Now I'm dizzy and my eyes won't stop spinning!!

My eyes glaze over when someone begins a scientific explanation (sorry, Doc...sorry, Bernie). I just can't take it. I prefer to remain contentedly clueless.

Google has a map or app for everything, doesn't it?!

Sara said...

Oy vey!

Vee said...

Do I dare? ;>

I don't get any of it. Further, I don't think the scientists do either. I believe that the most salient point in all this is the fervent wish that birds not start dropping on any of our heads.

A Lady said...

Is this some sort of "magnets and mormons" joke? :) (see the art of trolling on lolcats)

tate is sooooo helpful! him and cessa would get along just fine.

Lovella ♥ said...

I am so sorry about Canada messing with the magnetic north. . .
Oh my. .I need Bernie's hand signals to help me understand.
I read your explanation slowly and then over again and still. .it makes me dizzy.