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Magnetic Storm

Program Overview

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Diagram of solar wind affecting Earth's magnetic field NOVA explores what creates Earth's magnetic field and why it might be headed for a reversal.

The program:

  • explains how scientists think Earth's magnetic field is generated and describes the role of the magnetic field in shielding our planet from radiation.

  • explores the possibility that Mars once had a magnetic field that protected an atmosphere.

  • shows how scientists use ancient pottery and volcanic rock to study changes in the direction and strength of Earth's magnetic field over time.

  • presents a working model of a self-sustaining electromagnetic dynamo thought to replicate the processes occurring in Earth's core.

  • relates when magnetic field reversals have occurred in the past and speculates when the next reversal might take place.

  • features a computer model showing the flipping of the poles.

  • discusses how cooling of Earth's core may be the cause of the weakening magnetic field.

  • explores how a changing magnetic field might affect life on Earth.

Taping Rights: Can be used up to one year after the program is taped off the air.

Teacher's Guide
Magnetic Storm
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