6.29.2009

Oceans charge up new theory of magnetism

·A radical new idea may revolutionise our understanding of one of the most vital forces on Earth.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article6493481.ece
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Earth's magnetic field, long thought to be generated by molten metals swirling around its core, may instead be linked to ocean currents, according to controversial new research.
It suggests that the movements of such volumes of salt water around the world have been seriously underestimated by scientists as a source of magnetism.
If proven, the research would revolutionise geophysics, the study of the Earth’s physical properties and behaviour, in which the idea that magnetism originates in a molten core is a central tenet.
[...]
“Everyone accepted this, but in reality there has never been any proof,” said Gregory Ryskin, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern University in Illinois. “It is just an idea we have accepted for a long time without questioning it enough.”
His research suggests that Earth’s magnetism is actually linked to ocean movements. The salt in seawater allows it to conduct electricity, meaning it generates electrical and magnetic fields as it moves.
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