Well the world is coming to an end tomorrow so this will likely be the last time I post on this site. If you are reading this then either nothing at all happened or you managed to survive and for some reason you are spending your time in the post-apocalyptic world on the internet. In reality end-of-world predictions are pretty profitable. Tomorrow’s Mayan based prediction seems to be a particularly good one. A quick Amazon search returns about 2000 books about the topic. Add in TV interviews, websites, end-of-world food stock-ups and people like this guy and you have a pretty hefty money making machine.
So today we will discuss another End of the World (EOTW) scenario that might gain popularity once tomorrow passes without incident. There will be no politics or economics in this post so you can relax.
The earth’s crust is constantly being reformed at mid ocean ridges, big long craters where the hot stuff from the centre of the earth rises up to cool. (Yeah I am dropping some geology on you) If you look at the crust of the earth carefully you will see banding and the bands are magnetic. That is, for alternating bands in this sequence the polarity of the rocks is reversed. The magnetic orientation of these rocks is determined by the Earth’s field at the time that particular portion of the crust was formed. Therefore, the conclusion is that from time to time the magnetic poles of the Earth change. We are in a period that we consider “normal” and everyone’s compass works. There are also periods called chrons where the magnetic poles flip, last time this happened was about 41000 years ago. North is south and vice versa – to a compass anyway.
What is the effect of this? Well the EOTW scenario here is that when this happens all the radiation from the sun and cosmic radiation from deep space will no longer be deflected around the Earth(the magnetic field does this normally) and we will all die. It is pretty straight forward but there are a few different variations. The solar wind will rip away our atmosphere, we will all die of radiation poisoning or something else horrible.
In reality when the poles flip the Earth’s field becomes very distorted and weak, estimated at about a quarter of its normal strength. It is still, however, strong enough to deflect everything it normally does and keep us safe. So you can strike this theory off your list of possible causes of the apocalypse.
Fortunately if you really are in the business of selling fear then you still have lots of material. Some crazy virus (zombies are so hot right now), nuclear weapon, rapture, aliens and Illuminati conspiracies are always good for a book or two. So just remember, the only thing you have to fear is that we will run out of things for people to fear.
And fear is just so good at getting people to spend and help out the economy. (had to)