Physicists on Finding the Current Status Quo in the Earth’s Core: A Test to our Imagination


It’s all in the center! 

To hurl a screw to the Earth’s core needs energies more than a billion times those required to leave a rocket out of our atmosphere. 

Imagine that you are quite closer to the outer core of the earth and walking through a 5 kilometer long tunnel whose diameter is just a few centimeters above your height. For our easy reference, we make the trip from east to west, for instance. First thing to note here is, it is a tunnel so it is spherical. After traveling half the way, defining up-down, left-right and forward-backward becomes mindbogglingly difficult, if not downright impossible. (Don’t worry about the light; we make sure there is enough lighting system in there!) 

Now let’s say, you reached the end of the 5 km length but it connects to another tunnel whose diameter is like a kilometer. That is to say, you have only two options – one, to show your back to it thinking enough is enough; or two, to jump on a surface half a kilometer below you, almost an abyss. Believe that you are a superman with abnormal powers. So you decide to jump as you know nothing happens to you. 

Here is the challenge! You do not possess powers sufficient to go against gravity or magnetic fields which are at their paramount performance there. All you know is if you jump, you must apparently fall, I mean fall down. You are just a step away from the edge of your little tunnel and you hit a small stone strong enough for it to fall into the new wider tunnel. Oooh! Surprise, surprise! In fact, eerie and scary! The stone did not go down, it went up. Glad that you actually observed it before jumping. For a moment, your vision and brain seemed to be deceiving and outsmarting your usual intellect. Now your face marks a wide open mouth, eye balls out of the eye lids and the neck upright into the ceiling. And you stay like that for another few minutes before you can recover. 

How on earth a stone falling from a 500 m high would “fall up” instead of falling down into the valley? Now you remember that you are equipped with a hardcore training in research methodology and you say, “Well, this must be my illusion. So it can be a hypothesis. I got to experimentally verify this now!” Now you look for another stone and this time, you throw it with your own hands. Bewildering experience, the stone goes up again and touches the roof of the wide tunnel instead of falling on its ground. You repeated it with more than 10 such stones of various sizes and weights, all in vain. All stuck in the roof! 

What must be happening? 

Along with the questions, risks, decisions and ideas, I leave the rest of the story to the reader’s imagination. Moreover, we have not started this entire ambiguous conundrum with considerations such as the tunnels have their own magnetic properties, not even the stones. Neither had we considered the possibility of gravity being reversed once the tunnel’s boundary is crossed. We not even worried about any other specific pressure or temperature conditions there. We have not set any conditions for it will not leave you in a pool of questions. All we did is, like what could have happened if Newton was born again with his past life memory and found that an apple was going straight up from the tree, in place of falling on his head. So it is all up to you; you are Newton born again! 

But the purpose of leaving you in such an edifice of imagination is to share about the scientific fact that pioneering seismologists, paleontologists and geologists (the varieties within a physicist) found about. With their invincible technologies and incredible computer simulations, they discovered that the magnetic field inside the Earth’s core keeps flipping over, that means, north becomes south and south becomes north, (think of a bar magnet for easy understanding) quite frequently. The scientists also ensure that this flip can cause in an overall flip in the entire planet’s magnetic field. This can make us call Canada-USA ring as the South America and Argentina pointed out somewhere in the North America on a modified map. 

How unlikely does it seem? But it happens quite oft. The last time this flipping of magnetic field happened was quite recently, like some 800,000 years ago. The contemporary scientific growth has enabled scientists to unlock the wilder enigmas about the center of the Earth by building the Earth core models in the laboratory, attempting to recreate the Earth core’s conditions in a lob space. These models are furnished to maintain the temperatures and pressures on par with the same parameters in the original core. For example, one of these models was made to raise its inner temperature to the extent of the original numbers in the core, and it took 10 years to reach that heat. This model is being worked on in Hyogo, Japan.

(Earth’s magnetic field when half way through with the reversal, before reversal, after reversal and during reversal; left to right clockwise)

Scientists all over the world pressingly express their opinion about our knowledge. We know much more about our outer space than the inner side of our cute blue planet, seemingly soft but unthinkably violent within. They also suggest that this is bound to happen as gaining the necessary knowledge about the Earth’s inner side costs colossal amounts of resources. Despite all this, human is self-motivated when it comes to understanding nature. We will never give up!


About Author

I am from Hyderabad, India. I am in an attempt of re-evolving myself somwhere in the midst of physics and communication. My educational background is physics, particularly biophysics. Scientific Communications such as grant and proposal writing, solicitation responding, technical writing, etc. in most of my professional journey are tagged with physics. I am glad to be a part of Durofy, a pool of young minds and souls!

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