A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM

David P. Stern Laboratory for Extraterrestrial Physics NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
Received 26 January 2001; revised 28 December 2001; accepted 9 September 2002; published 23 November 2002.

[1] The history of geomagnetism began around the year 1000 with the discovery in China of the magnetic compass. Methodical studies of the Earth’s field started in 1600 with William Gilbert’s De Magnete [Gilbert, 1600] and continued with the work of (among others) Edmond Halley, Charles Augustin de Coulomb, Carl Friedrich Gauss, and Edward Sabine. The discovery of electromagnetism by Hans Christian Oersted and Andre-Marie ´ Ampere led Michael Faraday to the notion of fluid ´ dynamos, and the observation of sunspot magnetism by George Ellery Hale led Sir Joseph Larmor in 1919 to the idea that such dynamos could sustain themselves naturally in convecting conducting fluids. From that came modern dynamo theory, of both the solar and terrestrial magnetic fields. Paleomagnetic studies revealed that the

Earth’s dipole had undergone reversals in the distant past, and these became the critical evidence in establishing plate tectonics. Finally, the recent availability of scientific spacecraft has demonstrated the intricacy of the Earth’s distant magnetic field, as well as the existence of magnetic fields associated with other planets and with satellites in our solar system. INDEX TERMS: 1714
History of Geophysics: Geomagnetism and paleomagnetism; 1739 History of Geophysics: Solar/planetary relationships; 1599 Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism: General or miscellaneous; KEYWORDS: geomagnetism; history; lodestone; magnetic survey; geomagnetic dynamo; solar magnetism Citation: Stern, D., A millennium of geomagnetism, Rev. Geophys., 40(3), 1007, doi:10.1029/2000RG000097, 2002.

1.

INTRODUCTION

[2] This brief history follows two earlier ones on magnetospheric physics [Stern, 1989, 1996] and is directed at three audiences: (1) geophysicists seeking to complement their professional expertise with its underlying history, (2) students of geology and geophysics, interested in the origins and underpinnings of their disciplines, and (3) historians of science, looking for information about the evolution of the discipline of geomagnetism. It is meant to be a starting point rather than an exhaustive review, and those who seek more details may seek them in the many references. The article supplements a recent web site (home page http:// www.phy6.org/earthmag/demagint.htm, by D. Stern) which covers the same subject but at a more popular level. A chronology of the events covered here is given in Appendix A. For a list of “who was who” in the history of geomagnetism, please see the web site (home page http://www.phy6.org/earthmag/authors.htm, by D. Stern), which gives the names of the scientists who are cited in this article, including their first names. All too often, first names are reduced to initials (for example, in reference lists), and when no other record exists, the scientists’ full names are lost from history. [3] History is an integral part of scientific knowledge. It not only provides the framework of its field, explain-

ing how its concepts arose and developed, but it also provides an insight into the actual path of progress, something scientific articles and texts generally omit. Geomagnetism is of particular interest, because it may well claim to be the oldest discipline in geophysics. In its long history, several threads can be distinguished, now and then intersecting but largely independent. It is this pattern which the article is meant to highlight.

2.

EARLY DISCOVERIES

[4] The year 2000 was an important anniversary in geophysics. It marked 400 years since William Gilbert published in London his book De Magnete (Latin for “On the Magnet”) [Gilbert, 1600; see also Barraclough, 2000; Schroder, 2000; Chapman, 1944; Watson, 1944], ¨ proposing among other things that the Earth itself was a giant magnet, thus explaining the strange directivity of the compass needle (Figure 1). See also historical appendix given by Chapman and Bartels [1940], chapter 26 “Historical Notes,” pp. 898 –937. It may also be, very approximately, the 1000th anniversary of the discovery of the magnetic compass. The ancient Greeks knew about “lodestones” (or loadstones), rare natural magnets, with the power to attract iron [Mitchell, 1946]. One

This paper is not subject to U.S. copyright. Published in 2002 by the American Geophysical Union.

Reviews of Geophysics, 40, 3 / September 2002 1007, doi:10.1029/2000RG000097

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Figure 1. Front page of the 1628 edition of De Magnete [Gilbert, 1600].

site where such stones were found was near the city of Magnesia in Asia Minor (now Turkey), and from that (perhaps) came the term “magnetism.” However, it may have been an unknown Chinese scholar around the year 1000 [Mitchell, 1932; Knapp, 1962] who first placed a lodestone on a “boat” floating in a bowl of water and observed that wherever and whenever the experiment was performed, the boat always rotated to face south (though some claims date this Chinese discovery as much as 1000 years earlier). The magnetic force merely rotated the needle, it did not pull it bodily southward, or in any other direction. Apparently, the Chinese also knew steel needles could be permanently magnetized, for Shon Kua (1030 –1093) wrote “fortune tellers rub the point of a needle with the stone of a magnet in order to make it properly indicate the south.” According to Andrade [1958; see also Smith, 1992], the earliest European

mention of magnetizing iron by having it “touched by a lodestone” dates to about 1200. [5] The discovery spread from China to Europe, and it would be hard to imagine the great sea voyages of Vasco Da Gama, Christopher Columbus, and Ferdinand Magellan without its help. The magnetic compass also found another use: small folding personal sundials, timepieces that needed to be aligned northward to work properly. But the phenomenon itself was a mystery. According to some reports, helmsmen on British ships were forbidden from eating garlic (on pain of flogging), because of the irrational belief (dating back to Pliny) that the pungent fumes destroyed the magnetic power and thus could disable the compass. [6] This brief history tries to tell the story of the compass needle and its more sophisticated successors, from those early days to the present age. It avoids

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mathematics and fine details, and also glosses over the details of paleomagnetism, which is outside this writer’s expertise; instead, it seeks a synoptic overview, a broad outline of the subject, referring readers interested in more detailed or technical aspects to articles and books; more general expositions may be found in the books by Aczel [2001], Vershuur [1993], and Livingston [1996]. The author has also set up on his World Wide Web domain a related set of web pages, with Spanish, German, and French translations, at http://www.phy6.org/earthmag/ demagint.htm. [7] We know from Alexander Neckam (1157–1217), a monk at St. Albans, that by the year 1187, magnetic needles were being mounted on pivots, free to rotate toward any horizontal direction like modern compass needles [Mitchell, 1932]. That design is also mentioned in a 1269 letter by the Frenchman Petrus Peregrinus (Pierre Pelerin de Maricourt), who conducted some simple experiments on magnetism. [8] Wrought iron is “magnetically soft” and loses its magnetism when removed from the lodestone, but highcarbon steel can remain permanently magnetized. The traditional way to make a compass was to fashion a flat steel needle and balance it horizontally on a pivot, then magnetize it by stroking with a lodestone. But a strange thing was observed: after the needle became magnetic, its north pointing end always slanted down, as if it had gained weight. Its tip had to be snipped off (or a counterweight attached) to maintain the balance. The slant of a balanced needle after it was magnetized was noted by Georg Hartmann in 1544 [Chapman and Bartels, 1940, section 26.5]. His observation was recorded in a letter found in the Konigsberg archives, only discovered in ¨ 1831. [9] A British compass maker named Robert Norman tried to track down the reason for this behavior. By 1581 he had found it [Mitchell, 1939; historical appendix in Chapman and Bartels, 1940]: north of the equator, the force on the north pointing end of the needle was not at all horizontal, but slanted downward into the Earth, at an angle now known as the “dip” or “inclination.” He demonstrated this in an ingenious experiment (Figure 2) with a needle threading a small ball of cork, which was carefully whittled down until, in a goblet of water, it neither sank to the bottom nor floated to the surface. Only after that did Norman magnetize the needle, observing that a magnetized needle free to rotate in any direction pointed down as well as northward. [10] The other discovery of those early years was that even the horizontal part of the force was not directed exactly northward, but usually varied by a few degrees from true north (i.e., celestial north, derived from the motion of the Sun and stars), an angle now known as the declination [Mitchell, 1937]. Compass builders rotated their dials to compensate for the discrepancy, so that a compass used in (say) the Baltic was calibrated differently from one used in the Mediterranean.

Figure 2. Robert Norman’s experiment (De Magnete [Gilbert, 1600, book V, chapter 9]).

3.

WILLIAM GILBERT

[11] This was the scene when William Gilbert (1544?– 1603) developed his interest in magnetism. A distinguished doctor, president of the Royal College of Physicians [Langdon-Brown, 1944], Gilbert set out around 1581 to find all he could about magnetism, from books, experiments, and observations. In the process he discovered or confirmed all the main properties of permanent magnetism, the way poles rearranged themselves when a magnet was broken (previously noted by Petrus Peregrinus), the way magnetism was induced in iron placed next to a magnet, how a heated bar of iron lost its magnetism (though the attraction itself could cross a flame), and how a hot bar of steel, pounded by a blacksmith as it cooled while aligned in a north-south direction, became weakly magnetized, capturing the prevailing field of the Earth (Figure 3). [12] Gilbert also studied other types of attraction, especially the attraction of straws and other light objects to certain materials, after these were lightly rubbed with cloth or fur. One such substance was amber, fossilized pine pitch, called “electron” by the Greeks, who already knew of its attractive properties. Gilbert therefore named this the “electrick force” and studied its differences from magnetic attraction, for example, its susceptibility to humidity. He did not note that two distinct types of electric charge existed, and also puzzled over the attraction between droplets of water, which tended

It rewards the reader with delightful nuggets. that the Earth’s rotation around its axis stemmed from its magnetism.B-4 ● Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM 40. Galileo. A blacksmith pounding a cooling bar of steel while it is aligned in the north-south (septentrioauster) direction. nor does it seem to have been the intention of Moses or of the Prophets to promulgate any mathematical or physical niceties. [13] Gilbert guessed that the reason the compass needle pointed north was that the Earth itself was a giant magnet. the two directions would indeed be the same. to free his library of its contagion. with which the minds of the studious are blinded!” [16] If magnetism and rotation went together. and the modern observational approach.” Today. quite different from the impersonal prose of today’s journals. articles of heresy. deformed labours. in some circles at least. some copies of De Magnete had the offending pages torn out. De Magnete stands as a benchmark on the boundary between medieval scholarship. reproduced not only the observed northward pointing properties. obtained his copy as a gift from “a peripatetick philosopher of great fame. Edward Wright. He supported his hunch by a simple experiment. chapter 12]). However. Gilbert wrote: “Oh that the gods would at length bring to a miserable end such fictitious. but to adapt themselves to the understanding of the common people and their manner of speech. In Gilbert’s age. mystical. crazy. a magnetized sphere he named the “terrella” (little Earth). as I believe. while the oceans are nestled in deep gashes. and his strong support. who highly praised the book. tried to blunt the charge by writing Nor do those things which are adduced from the sacred scriptures seem to be specially adverse to the doctrine of the mobility of the Earth. 1600. his claim that the Earth was not the immovable center of the universe. such as the one made Petrus Peregrinus. a process now attributed to surface tension. book III. were. just as nurses are accus- tomed to adapt themselves to infants. why did a small “declination” angle (Gilbert called it “variation”) exist between true north and magnetic north? Gilbert ingeniously proposed that if the Earth were a perfect sphere. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS Figure 3. citing claims of accepted authorities without bothering to check them. He constructed a scale model of a magnetic Earth. and not to go into every unnecessary detail. the Earth’s shape is not quite spherical: continents rise up. to fuse together. and by sliding a small compass around its surface (or placing it in different positions next to a compass). [15] Still. The bar captures some of the Earth’s magnetism (De Magnete [Gilbert. [14] He also believed that the close proximity of magnetic north and true north was no accident. voiced in his book. of the theory of Copernicus. in introducing the book. Commenting on attempts to use magnetism for generating perpetual motion. but also the dip angle (Figure 4). Since Gilbert attributed magnetic attraction to .

of the bubonic plague. 1896. [17] He therefore suggested that the compass needle near the eastern and western edges of the Atlantic Ocean would be deflected toward the nearby continents. the mass of the Earth (but not. supposed to lye between Magelan’s Streights and the Cape of Good Hope” [Bullard. Chapman.” (De Magnete [Gilbert. Idea Longitudinis. [23] The Paramore set out in October 1698. proposed ingeniously by Edmond Halley [Bullard. Chapman includes poems by Halley honoring Newton and the inventor of the compass. In 1634. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM ● B-5 Figure 4. 1600. 1913. The 1943b article is the same as 1943a. (The 1943a article by S. 1941.” a man without whose help and encouragement Newton’s Principia might not have been published. Clark. Bauer. The . chapter 2]).40. Just to make sure. as was indeed observed at that time. apparently. Harrison countermanded Halley’s orders and spoke insultingly of him before the crew. He thought he could locate four distinct magnetic poles. to the water filling the oceans) he proposed that the elevated portions added to the pull. horizontal on the equator. [21] The name of Halley (1656 –1742) is nowadays most commonly associated with that of a periodic comet whose return he predicted. an active member of the “Royal Society. endemic in London and probably a professional hazard to doctors. while the gashes decreased it. Evans. Gilbert also verified the effect experimentally. until Halley had the man arrested and turned the ship back to England. he appeared in it next to a diagram of his spherical shells. 1943a. Lieutenant Harrison. However. Inclination of a compass needle near the surface of the terrella depends on its position: vertical at the poles (on the magnetic axis). the variation will continue perpetually immutable. The “Orb of Virtue” is Gilbert’s term for “sphere of influence. 1988. their Lordships of the British Admiralty lent Halley a small sailing ship. he was also one of the main pillars of the British scientific community around 1700: the second Astronomer Royal. He was as well the leader of the earliest global magnetic survey. Edmond Halley (see section 4) later found the opposite effect occurred near Brazil. book V. in 1603. proposing a way of helping navigation at sea. but it was troubled by both leaks and by a personal conflict between Halley and the navy officer in charge of the ship. Perhaps considering this task an insufficient justification of the expedition. how could its magnetism vary? [20] The only solution left. The modern theory of the Earth’s field actually suggests that the solid inner core of the Earth might rotate at a slightly different rate [Buffett and Glatzmaier. and that some rotated differently from others. each magnetized differently. both on page 231. but he died not long afterward. but this is a completely different process and permanent magnetism is not involved. using a terrella that had “a certain part corroded to resemble the Atlantic or great Ocean. 1943b. this was probably not a valid modeling). [22] Feeling the need for more accurate magnetic charts of the Atlantic Ocean. 1981] that the magnetic declination observed near London had undergone a systematic shift. [18] Because continents and oceans do not shift over the historical timescale. 1981]. 1956. the 52-foot Paramore (or Paramour).) Halley was so proud of his theory that when at age 80 he had his portrait painted. 2000]. one generation later. Henry Gellibrand (1597–1636) showed [Malin and Bullard.” He found that the needle was deflected away from the gash (but since the depth of the ocean basins is less than 1/1000 of the Earth’s radius. If the Earth was permanently magnetized (and in the 1600s no other magnetization was known). Subsequent observations confirmed such variations and also showed them to be worldwide and without any clear-cut pattern. they also gave him a second one: “to stand soe farr into the South. till you discover the Coast of the Terra Incognita. though. It turned out that Harrison had published a small book. and instructed him to carry out a magnetic survey of the Atlantic Ocean and its bordering lands [Thrower.” 4. 2000] was that the interior of the Earth consisted of concentric spherical shells. belonging to two different layers. where a court of inquiry upheld him and gave him sole command of the ship. EDMOND HALLEY [19] In 1601 Gilbert was appointed physician to Queen Elizabeth I. He was therefore no longer around when his prediction of “perpetual immutability” was demonstrated to be false. 1956]. but without the second poem. Gilbert confidently predicted that magnetic declination would not change: “Unless there should be a great dissolution of a continent and a subsidence of the land such as there was in the region Atlantis of which Plato and the ancients tell.

Shamos. and Halley was among its reviewers. Some highly unusual wildlife was seen and later. of suspending them. [30] The twisting moment (torque) of the suspension wire is proportional to the angle of twist. A magnetic needle was suspended from a long thin twistable wire. and dodging the ice became a dangerous game: Between 11 and 12 this day we were in iminant danger of loosing our Shipp among the Ice. known as the “torsion balance. but also found that static electric charges sometimes interfered with his magnetic observations. Helena. a London clockmaker and instrument builder. [28] The 24-hour “diurnal” magnetic variation was barely observable. this sensitive instrument allowed much more to be measured than the magnetic diurnal variation.” Three strange islands appeared on the horizon. The calibrated knob on top. with the legend “The sea in these parts abounds with two sorts of Animalls of a Middle Species between a Bird and a Fish. having necks like Swans and Swimming with their whole Bodyes always under water only putting up their long Necks for Air. [29] Coulomb’s instrument. by suspending from its end a nonmagnetic bar and timing its back-and-forth oscillation around the equilibrium position. Newfoundland. of accounting for their regular diurnal variations. long enough and thin enough that even a small torque produced a notable twist. at the end of August. the first known use of contour lines: for the next century. about 3 points on our Lee bow . the instrument was so sensitive. but next day he realized they were nothing but enormous floating icebergs. If next a long magnetic needle is suspended. Halley in 1702 extended his chart. Sea being smooth and the Gale Fresh wee got Clear: God be praised. 1959. As it turned out.B-6 ● Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM 40. Coulomb’s torsion balance. Barbados. and of the inevitable loss of us all in case we Staved our Shipp which might easily happen amongst these mountains of Ice in the Foggs. such lines were known as “Halleyan lines. can be twisted. of making sure that they are in the true magnetic meridian. and finally.” The offer was renewed in 1775. a diurnal variation. From Halley’s survey the first magnetic map of the Atlantic was compiled with contour lines connecting points of equal declination. 1971. showed in 1722 that the direction of the magnetic force in London underwent a 24-hour cycle.” By incorporating observations made by others. for instance. back to England.” served as model for magnetic instruments over nearly two centuries. By 1 February 1700. St. In 1741 he and Anders Celsius in Uppsala. and in 1773 the Paris Academy of Sciences offered a prize for finding “the best manner of constructing magnetic needles. p.” [25] But there was no “Terra Incognita. from which the magnet is suspended. the ship continued to Tristan da Cunha. 5. after Shamos [1959]. it showed in that region two rather unusual creatures. that we could not See a furlong about us. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS book was presented to the Admiralty and the Royal Society but received an unfavorable report. when Halley’s magnetic map appeared. [26] After this encounter. the ship reached southern latitude 52 40 . and one end is placed near a magnetic pole of the same kind. Indeed. and was claimed in 1777 by a French military engineer. Brazil. for the fogg was all the morning so thick. when on a Sudden a Mountain of Ice began to appear out of the Fogg. in being alone without a Consort. which are so thick and frequent there. and observing the shifts of a spot of light reflected from it (Figure 5). never to be found. could be accurately measured by attaching a small mirror just above the needle. Figure 5. 59]. Bermuda. Charles Augustin Coulomb [Gillmor. Sweden also observed simultaneous perturbations due to the polar aurora [Chapman and Bartels. 1940. Beckman. Then a dense fog descended. CHARLES AUGUSTIN DE COULOMB [27] It is only natural that when scientists develop any method of measurements.9. This danger made my men reflect on the hazzards wee run. section 26. the end of the . and finally. and can be measured. they push it to its limits. in which the cabin boy was swept overboard. That twist. and Halley sketched them in his logbook. and it was reprinted and revised many times. Careful observation of the position of the tip of a long compass needle by George Graham (1675–1751). [24] The Paramore set out again in September 1699 and soon encountered a severe storm. furthermore. that Coulomb not only had to place it inside a glass enclosure to shield it from stray air currents. 2000].

and also their attraction. the way a magnet would do. No one else noticed and Oersted said nothing. the magnetic needle moved. but try as he would. and by 21 July Oersted announced it to the world in a four-page report. In a tremendous feat of imagination and insight. a much weaker force and much more difficult to measure. for in 1797 he won a gold medal for an essay on “Limits of Poetry and Prose. ´ 6. For a while all nature seemed in harmony. 1959. again.. but his interests must have been much broader. and that one demonstration involved heating the wire by an electric current from the battery. e. This demonstrated that Newton’s law of planetary attraction. However. and was discussed at a meeting where among others Andre-Marie Ampere ´ ´ (1777–1836) was present. so much like gravity!. but in the months that followed he conducted many experiments. unsuccessfully trying to understand what had happened. Most probably it was only by accident that the wire passed over the compass or near it. 1989. [31] By methods like this Coulomb showed that the magnetic repulsion between magnetic poles. Accidentally or not. He charged a similar pith ball on an insulating stand inside the enclosure. HANS CHRISTIAN OERSTED AND ANDRE´ RE MARIE AMPE [33] This nice symmetry was upset in 1820 by an unexpected connection between magnetism and electricity. [35] Oersted’s interest centered on electricity and chemistry and on what then was still a novelty. not as a static charge. [39] A report of Oersted’s discovery (and of its confirmation by de la Rive in Geneva) reached Paris on Monday. Magnetism. but they all agree that Oersted’s equipment included a magnetic compass. would have existed even if ´ there were no permanent magnets. and soon afterward. Two years later he struck a friendship with a poor boy of 14 who had just arrived in the city. In the spring of 1820 he arranged at his home a lecture on electricity and magnetism. Anders studied law and later became quite famous in his field. pp. Segre. the electric battery. 1993]. and the best scientific minds of Europe turned at once to exploit and explore this new “electromagnetism”. Vershuur. Perhaps Oersted intended to provide a text from which translations could be made. had nothing to do with the attrac´ tion or repulsion of magnetic poles. [34] Hans Christian Oersted (1777–1851) was born in Rudkoebing in southern Denmark. Their friendship continued for the rest of Oersted’s life. the compass needle followed suit and also reversed. It turned out. made the two balls share their charge by touching each other. but no. Nevertheless. in 1796. confirmed a completely new view of magnetism [Williams. This is not the place to tell how Luigi Galvani and Alessandro Volta introduced an entirely new way of generating electricity. that the strength of electric forces also decreased like the inverse square of the distance.40. this was Hans Christian Andersen. the needle tried to turn at right angles to the electric current! And when the connections to the battery were exchanged so that the current flowed in the opposite direction. Oersted could not decode it. it was no mean feat: here was the first clear-cut evidence connecting electricity and magnetism. as well as an electric battery and a thin metal wire. 121– 127]. as well. and whenever the current ceased. written in Latin just like Gilbert’s book [Shamos. Segre. Still. held in the laboratory. indeed! Replacing the suspended magnet with a small straw covered with wax. by always attracting and never repelling. Ampere said in essence. carrying a pith ball at its end (counterbalanced by some object at the other end of the straw). Instead. in a series of elegant experiments. Ampere implied. [37] Oersted would have been less puzzled if the wire had attracted the needle. a town so small it lacked a school [Dibner. Volta’s “voltaic ´ cell” and “voltaic pile” were the ancestors of today’s “dry cells” and car batteries. whenever the wire was connected to the battery and a current flowed. Hans and his younger brother Anders found willing teachers among local citizens and acquired enough education to be accepted in 1793 by the University of Copenhagen. acting on a long-standing suspicion that a link existed between electricity and magnetism. 1962]. and again measured the force against the twist of a wire. although Oersted later hinted that he had put it there deliberately. 1984. Now the extra torque (deduced from the extra twist of the knob) can tell the strength of the repulsion. later a writer of folk tales. How much like gravity. an electrical current generated by a chemical process [see. varied inversely with the square of the distance. for Latin certainly was no longer a universal language of scholars. Coulomb repeated the experiment with electrical forces. 1984]. The experiment was easy to repeat. [38] There was surely a message here. of which only gravity differed. Ampere solved much of the riddle ´ within one week. as it was in Gilbert’s time. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM ● B-7 needle will be repelled to a new position. 11 September 1820. inversely proportional to the square of the distance. three fundamental forces. ´ [40] The fundamental interaction in magnetism. before a group of friends and/or students. it returned to its old position. [36] Accounts differ as to what exactly happened. Hans took up medicine and science. [32] Finally. the knob from which the wire is suspended can now be twisted to restore the needle to its previous direction. generated by rubbing. the basic ingredient of magnetism was the electric current.” After some travels he joined the university in 1806 and became a regular professor in 1817. all obeying the inverse squares law. but as a continuous flow of electric charge. Henry Cavendish used a similar torsion balance (an experiment possibly proposed by the Reverend John Michell) to measure the gravitational attraction between massive spheres.g. because its basic .

Gauss and Weber constructed the first magnetic telegraph. [50] In their magnetism lab. like that of soft iron. CARL FRIEDRICH GAUSS AND ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT 7. Humboldt was also quite interested in magnetism [Malin and Barraclough. a permanent magnet or a coil with current circulating in it. [42] The study of magnetism began with the lodestone. however. 1996]. not realizing its historical significance. Gauss and Weber also devised a clever method of using an auxiliary magnet to measure not only the direction of the Earth’s magnetic force. drawing another piece of iron in such a way that it could be compared to a loadstone. because now every instrument could be calibrated locally. but iron was in no way essential. 1999]. The exposure may last no more than a brief instant. [49] During this visit. will not accomplish the same result. but only in the presence of an active source. The magnetism of iron. the wires attracted. THE LODESTONE [48] The work of Oersted and Ampere drew to the ´ study of magnetism one of the sharpest minds of Europe. which greatly helped spread public interest in science. 1979]. Peter Wasilewski. He exposed latent lodestones to natural lightning at the Langmuir Laboratory for Atmospheric Research in New Mexico. built atop a peak where lightning often strikes.” 8. A druggist of Mantua showed me a piece of iron entirely changed into a magnet. chapter 12) he cited the following passage from a book published in Italy: . occurring only when the ore underwent certain geological changes. using it until lightning knocked down the wire. a five-volume encyclopaedic compendium of the natural sciences. and found they became magnetized.B-8 ● Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM 40. [47] In hindsight. [45] Wasilewski believes (as had been proposed before) that the magnetization was produced by the strong electric current which briefly flows when lightning strikes an outcrop of suitable rock. and had handed it over to a blacksmith. undergraduate physics students use the Gauss method for measuring the strength of the Earth’s field as a standard lab experiment. Gilbert. is “soft” and disappears again when the source is removed. may have come about because ´ iron atoms contained small circulating currents. That Gauss did. They devised a new suspension for observatory magnets (big magnets. [44] Even magnetically “hard” substances. had been at length bent by the force of the winds. When two currents flowed in the same direction along parallel wires. that of Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777–1855). Wasilewski and Kletetschka. Humboldt showed Gauss his collection of magnetic instruments and encouraged him to apply his talents to magnetism. [41] Ampere then showed that an electric current ´ circulating around a wire loop acted like a short magnet. Gauss was a professor of mathematics at the German university of Gottingen and rarely traveled away from home. Some such ores can support magnetism. because the magnetic forces of all its loops added up. magnetite. however. when it had for a long time held up a brick ornament on the top of the tower of St. Now this piece of iron. who currently studies these matters at NASA. it made possible for the first time a global network of magnetic observatories. become magnetic only if exposed to a sufficiently strong magnetic field. together with his young assistant Wilhelm Weber (1804 – 1891). “by the turning of its extremities towards the poles for so long a time. 1991]. Ampere implied. but the field strength must exceed a certain minimum. William Gilbert had a clue to this process but (not surprisingly) missed its significance. [46] Interestingly. what created those strange minerals in the first place? [43] Lodestones are an iron-rich ore. Inserting an iron core in a current-carrying coil increased its magnetic pull. but also its intensity. Augustine in Rimini. and two coils with the same axis attracted or repelled. 1977. a surgeon named Maestro Giulio Caesare discovered that it was like a magnet and attracted iron. Today. found that a certain transformation to a fine-grained structure was needed. slow to respond. and stayed there as house guest of Alexander von Humboldt [Dunnington. by lining up the magnetic domains of the iron. Their magnetism. independently of any others. and when the currents flowed in opposing directions. attributed it to long-term exposure to the Earth’s magnetism. Actually. and remained so for a period of ten years. Humboldt (1769 –1859) was a naturalist who had earlier explored the jungles of South America and later the author of Kosmos. Exposing a “latent lodestone” to the weak field of the Earth. depending on whether their flows were parallel or opposed. they repelled each other. but in ¨ 1828 he attended a conference in Berlin. which could be lined up so that they reinforced each other [see also Livingston. and at this point one can finally look back and ask. When the monks wished to bend it back to its former shape. contributing greatly to the understanding of the Earth’s magnetic field [Garland. 1955]. we would guess that the church tower had been hit by lightning. under high temperature and pressure [Wasilewski. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS feature was the force between electric currents. like the instant when a magnetic tape or disk rapidly passes in front of the recording head. In De Magnete (book III. In 1832. even for millions of years. later replaced by more nimble instruments). which had magnetized the iron (and possibly also bent it). A current flowing in a coil of 1000 turns produced magnetism 1000 times stronger.

. but all its efforts were blocked by polar ice. “magnetic storms. Gauss and Weber started it in 1834 by setting up the “Gottingen Magnetic Union” (Gottingen ¨ ¨ Magnetischer Verein). Continue the process long enough and your wheel gets as round as you may wish. an international network of observatories. and by cutting off these in a suitable way. In the following summer it managed to move only a few miles.. [59] The Rosses were denied any further support by the British admiralty.g. previously used for analyzing gravitational fields in celestial mechanics. As long as all magnetic forces could be ascribed to a collection of magnetic poles. but in 1829 they found an independent backer: Felix Booth. but Sabine had sailed with it. The method used by Gauss also showed that at least 99% of the field originated inside the Earth. [57] Humboldt had earlier noted large-scale magnetic disturbances (possibly already observed by George Graham) and gave them the name they still bear. Gottingen too ¨ was under British rule until 1837. most of the world was left uncovered. According to Sidney Chapman. Alaska. and another (with positive powers) for those originating on the outside. [52] The attraction of the Earth’s gravity. an east-west sea lane among the icy islands of northern Canada. because it alone had outposts around the globe.40. [58] The British participation was greatly helped by three dedicated explorers: Rear Admiral John Ross (1777–1856). After a series of careful magnetic measurements. 1964. but its pattern across the world was remarkably similar. However. 1991]. Far away. such a “spherical harmonic analysis” can describe the magnetic field to any desired accuracy. cut off the four corners. but because of its simple structure. owner of Booth’s distillery (Booth’s gin is still being made). 1979]. First. the main component of the magnetic field of the Earth. The change in the magnetic attraction of the Earth was quite small. Incidentally. and were fortunate to be picked up by a whaling ship. [56] Alexander von Humboldt then stepped in and asked for the support of the British Royal Society [Cawood. a single mathematical expression. one attracts like 1/R 2 and the other repels like 1/R 2 .” which became “Boothia Peninsula” on today’s maps [Serson. combinations of such harmonic potentials could describe them as accurately as was desired (this holds in any simply connected current-free region). it was introduced to geomagnetism by the French mathematician Simeon Denis Poisson (1781– 1840) [Chapman. and also of a bar magnet. discover the north magnetic pole [Good. but a small difference remains. [53] With two equal and opposite magnetic poles. to fully describe the field. Olsen et al. derived largely from satellite data. tried to get through in 1818 and failed. his nephew James Clark Ross (1800 –1862). James Clark Ross became convinced that the pole was no more than 100 miles west of the . 4]. and with favorable weather sailed it to the eastern shore of a long peninsula jutting northward from North America. two distinct expansions are needed: one (the main one. Barraclough and Malin. 1981]. The force is three-dimensional. carry those expansions to hundreds of terms [e. and the attraction of one tends to cancel the repulsion of the other. known as the harmonic potential. and an artillery officer named Edward Sabine (1788 –1883). It took crafty politics and the collaboration of many individuals to establish the worldwide network of observatories which actually conducted such a survey. the British navy had searched for a “Northwest Passage” to the Pacific Ocean. 2000]. and his observations convinced him he had actually passed north of the magnetic pole. Humboldt also got the Russian Czar to support a chain of observatories across Siberia and even one in Sitka. [60] At Boothia the Victory stuck in ice for the winter. 1981. If the Earth repelled instead of attracted. They bought a 150-ton paddle steamer. Today’s models of the Earth’s magnetic field. each making an angle only slightly smaller than 180 . [54] The process somewhat resembles the turning of a square piece of wood into a round wheel.” or “happy land of Booth. however. depending on direction and going down like 1/R 3 : that is the “dipole” field. They had not managed to traverse the Northwest Passage. The participation of the British Empire was essential. They named it in honor of their sponsor “Boothia Felix. which operated from 1842 to 1864. in inverse powers of R) for fields originating inside the Earth.” whose field weakens with distance like 1/R 4 . An 1819 expedition. rarely exceeding 1% of the total value. moved on by sledge. [61] They did. diminishes with distance R like 1/R 2 . reached a bit further before ice stopped it. suggesting a large-scale phenomenon. with Sabine conducting magnetic observations. the only change would be a sign reversal. That was spherical harmonic analysis. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM ● B-9 [51] But perhaps the most lasting contribution was the use of a precise mathematical method to represent the global magnetic field of the Earth and to combine observations at many locations. Combining two equal but slightly separated dipoles that almost cancel each other gives a “4-pole. For many years. and after the third winter the explorers abandoned it. the distances from the poles are about equal. under Edward William Parry. like that of a single magnetic pole. while these observatories covered Europe quite well. one is left with 16 corners. and its involvement was helped by the curious fact that due to a kinship of ruling families. 9. the Victory. and so on: With enough terms. EXPLORATIONS AND SURVEYS [55] It took the ingenuity of Gauss and Weber to devise the tools for conducting a global survey of the magnetic field of the Earth. This leaves eight obtuse corners. The Rosses. can describe it all. p.” The worldwide net of magnetic observatories confirmed that such “storms” were worldwide phenomena.

St. 1963]. 1988. 1989].) are gaining strength. about half the Earth’s. is offset a few hundred kilometers from the Earth’s center.” By 1841. was reached by Douglas Mawson in 1909. and the dip needle pointed within 1 minute of arc of the vertical. [66] If all the Earth’s magnetism comes from its liquid core (whose radius. He was lucky to find the magnetic pole so far south: Because of the gradual change in the Earth’s magnetic field. However. with perhaps more than one pair of magnetic poles? And could it be that 2000 years after that. by satellites whose orbits sweep above the entire Earth every day. 1994] across land. because they diminish much faster with distance R. like higher powers of R. and as a young man he attended free scientific lectures by Humphry Davy. Segre. is it possible that the dipole part will become very small. it was inhabited). his measurements indicated that he was very close: A horizontal magnetic needle. too. Russia established 10 stations in its own territory and one in Beijing. apprenticed by his parents to a bookbinder. the field at the surface has weakened. and by a Danish satellite aptly named “Oersted. Britain’s leading chemist [Knight. Many scholars. [63] The new tool of spherical harmonic analysis provided the first quantitative description of the Earth’s magnetic field. aboard special nonmagnetic ships. the more complex parts (four-pole. while other observatories were set up elsewhere. the Rosses and Sabine (later Sir Edward Sabine) became their leading lobbyists and supporters. 1982.” launched in 1999 [Olsen et al. but with opposite polarity? The geomagnetic record suggests this is not likely to happen. that the two-pole (“dipole”) part of the field greatly exceeded all others. and since those decrease faster with distance. 1985]. Faraday took advantage of his job to read books brought to the bindery. It is now at the edge of the Arctic Ocean. and that the trend will probably change. 10. and that such reversals have apparently happened many times during the Earth’s magnetic past. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS spot where the Victory was wedged. Dublin. taking careful notes of what he heard. and the first worldwide magnetic charts could be drawn. it also tells us (section 15) that the above scenario cannot be ruled out. raised the British flag and claimed the land for the British crown. just that the complicated parts have grown at the expense of the dipole. a flood of magnetic data began arriving. the magnetic center. ´ [69] Faraday (1791–1867) was the son of an English blacksmith. Cape of Good Hope. The first steps toward understanding that source were made by a slightly younger contemporary. Just measuring it accurately was challenging enough. Figure 1]. [62] When Gauss and Weber began organizing a global magnetic survey. not outside it. and in 1831 it was near the end of a long southward excursion [Dawson and Newitt. Science aroused his interest. MICHAEL FARADAY’S LINES OF FORCE (FIELD LINES) [68] Gauss avoided speculating on the source of the Earth’s magnetism. far north of where it was then. 1984]. suspended on a silk string. and most recently. the East India Company (also British) added four more in India and Singapore. Helena. if we wait 1500 –2000 years. [67] So. for a total of 53. 1965. until it again dominated the global structure of the magnetic field. built a stone cairn to mark the spot. among them a volume of the Encyclopaedia Britannica with an article about electricity. by Magsat in 1980 [Langel and Estes. When Davy dismissed his assistant for brawling and advertised for a replacement. The south magnetic pole. 1992. more recently it has moved offshore. while the overall structure of the field becomes complex. although. magnetic surveys have been carried out repeatedly [Good. Ross spent the entire day making measurements. the nondipole components of the field are much stronger there. as expected. [64] The analysis has shown. Toronto. the location of the dipole which fits observations best. is known from seismology). [65] Even though the measured strength of the magnetic field is decreasing. as well as of its slow “secular” variation [Bloxham. The surprising feature is that since the time of Gauss. Calculations indeed confirm that the sum total of that energy has changed very little. the way it does now. aided by local Eskimos (as desolate as the area was. Michael Faraday [Williams. The British had set up stations in Greenwich. 2000]. the decline accelerating somewhat after 1970. rather than weaker. also collected earlier compass observations and tried to derive from them models of the field before the era of Gauss. Since then. and “Van Diemen’s Land” (Tasmania). and in the process. in Antarctica. much of the worldwide network was actually in operation. as the strength of the field associated with the largest spatial scale (dipole) decreases. etc. As the dipole part of the field is weakening.B-10 ● Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM 40. most recently. the strength of this “dipole” component has steadily declined by about 5% per century. On 1 June. the dipole part will have continued to grow in the opposite direction. showed no preference for any direction. it would be more accurate to say that it is becoming more complex. In other words. Theory suggests that the total magnetic energy cannot easily change as quickly as the observed changes in the field. In other words. Bloxham and Gubbins. Jeremy Bloxham and Andrew Jackson. he set out toward that spot. Fara- . and soon were the de facto leaders of a “magnetic crusade. proving that it originated inside the Earth. if one wants to be a stickler for accuracy.. the two-pole terrella has always been a good approximation to the actual field. that associated with smaller scales increases. both its direction and strength. The first worldwide survey had begun. the pole changes its position. 2000]. In the summer of 1831. as well as by some Soviet satellites. 1985. These included surveys by Vanguard 3 in 1959 [Heppner.

plasmas are so rarefied that collisions are rare. from a simple idea which grew into an extremely useful and versatile one. To serve a useful purpose (e.. North is on top. Cowling [1957] or any text on plasma physics). winding a conducting wire around a magnet. In most of space. The Sun consists of plasma. [72] Those “lines of force” (today we call them field lines) spread out from the south pole of the terrella. gases hot enough to contain free electrons and positive “ions. arch around its middle. only very occasionally do free electrons recombine with positive ions. he found that at every point in space. [73] (Please note that purists sometimes name the ends of a bar magnet “north seeking” and “south seeking” rather than “north” and “south. and in such plasmas. reversing the process. space around the Earth is filled with plasma. where they are spaced widely apart. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM ● B-11 Figure 6. All these concepts sprang from the visual and intuitive imagination of Faraday.40. [76] Magnetic field lines in space thus assume yet another role: defining the direction in which ions and electrons travel most easily. and ended up with the job. by connecting them with continuous lines. producing electric currents. microwaves all belong to the same family. It also tells about the strength of that force: Where the lines crowd together. radio waves. charge a storage battery). as do electric currents and heat carried by them. day applied. discovering (for instance) the basic laws of electrolysis.g. magnetic field lines are like the grain in a piece of wood. Much of space above the Earth’s atmosphere (and indeed. but unlike Faraday. extended that notion and showed that an “electromagnetic field” could support a wave motion which spread at the velocity of light and had the observed properties of light. or it could arise from relative motion between the source and the conductor. He had a remarkable talent of expressing complicated scientific ideas in simple words. however. throughout the universe) contains plasmas. FARADAY’S DISK DYNAMO [77] Oersted and Ampere had shown that electric ´ currents were the primary source of magnetism. the region where magnetic forces could be sensed. the force is strong. through the fields of magnets. also a skilled mathematician. wrapped around an iron core. a current following a wire. and was noted for his lucid lectures and writings. turned it into a magnet. 11. James Clerk Maxwell. Faraday rose to make a name for himself in the study of chemistry and magnetism. connected to the rotating wires while at the . and such space later became known as a “magnetic field. Plasma waves also flow differently along magnetic field lines and across them. sending his notes as proof of his interest. Faraday discovered that electric currents were generated in a closed conducting circuit only if that circuit sensed a changing magnetic field. it is weak. [75] More was to come in the 20th century. 1991] that space in which magnetic forces could exist was itself modified.” atoms stripped of some electrons. where free ions and electrons are rare and neutral atoms and molecules are the rule.” Faraday’s younger contemporary. Faraday made visible the overall pattern of those directions.g. those currents. guided by them the way a bead is guided by a wire on which it is strung (e. This not only describes the pattern of the directions of the magnetic force.” because if the Earth’s field were due to a bar magnet near its center. The change could come from variations in the strength of the magnetic source. which outlines the “easy” direction in which the wood readily splits. the force on his magnetic needle (including the downward dip) had a certain direction. Magnetic field lines of a magnetic dipole at the center of the Earth. What he lacked in formal schooling and mathematical analysis he made up in intuition and insight. which have no real existence but merely help visualize positions on the globe. [70] Starting as little more than Davy’s servant. like lines of latitude and longitude.. They started out as no more than a visualization aid. did not produce any electric current. Faraday. X rays.” though today “generators” is the more common term) in which conductors are whirled around and around. for example. a good friend and outstanding physicist. where field lines enter the Earth. [78] This led to machines (once called “dynamos. felt [Baggott. and vice versa. Light. of course. [71] One notable contribution was a simple way of visualizing the magnetic force. had to be led outside the rotating part. When Gilbert explored the “orb of virtue” around his terrella. However. That is usually done by metal rings attached to the rotating shafts (but electrically insulated from them). and converge again near the north pole (Figure 6). and ions and electrons spiral around magnetic field lines. Instead. the north seeking end of that bar would be closer to the south magnetic pole. This is quite unlike the familiar environment near the surface of the Earth. In a rarefied plasma.) [74] Magnetic field lines have a strange history. making the concept of electromagnetic fields one of the foundations of modern science and engineering. usually not for long.

such flows are quite possible. it resists the rotation. or vice versa. braking its motion and at the same time returning energy to the storage battery.) [83] While Faraday’s disk dynamo illustrates the principle of dynamo action.B-12 ● Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM 40. a wire ´ carrying an electric current through the magnetic field encounters a force. depending on the direction of rotation and on the magnetic polarities of the two magnet faces. so that one has to invest energy to overcome it. p. In some electric cars. the moving conductor was the flowing water. Faraday’s experiment with a “fluid dynamo” at Waterloo Bridge. Faraday reasoned. believed to be largely molten iron. dipping into the water at both banks (Figure 8). same time touching sliding contacts mounted on the nonrotating part. because there is also the matter of energy. Like a careful accountant. As Ampere had shown. [82] (Inject current from some outside battery. nature always balances her ledger books. unless one requires huge currents driven by tiny voltages. Faraday’s disk dynamo. part of which moves across the magnetic field while another part stays fixed. The idea was sound. [79] Not every motion qualifies. By overcoming that resistance. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS Figure 7. The shaft and disk form the moving part of the circuit: The magnet and the wires that complete the circuit are stationary. The magnetic field was provided by the Earth. the energy invested exactly equals the energy needed to drive the current. and the circuit was closed by a nonmoving wire strung across Waterloo Bridge. 206 –208]. in the presence of voltages due to chemical interactions of metals. From the sliding contacts other wires lead the current to wherever it is needed. That idea ultimately became the foundation of modern dynamo theory. and not surprisingly. Figure 8. Faraday devised the simplest of all dynamos. and one notes that instead of a solid wheel. which reappears as the energy needed to drive the electric current. a rotating fluid eddy would serve just as well. In that space. from the axle to the rim. But in a large volume filled with conducting material. [85] Faraday had also experimented with electric cur- . a metal disk rotates on a shaft parallel to the field lines. was the flow of the river Thames through London [Williams. the current also tends to flow symmetrically (a symmetry upset by the placement of the sliding contacts and external circuit). the so-called “Faraday disk. including the Earth. are generated.” Imagine the space between the poles of a magnet (Figure 7). the motor becomes a dynamo when the car coasts downhill. [84] The basic “dynamo conditions. very massive conductors would be needed. and the copper wiring used in conventional machinery would be completely inadequate. Instead of a dynamo. [81] Because of the symmetric arrangement of the disk and magnetic field. and you gain energy. To carry such currents. the liquid core of the Earth. or on the Sun. you have a motor. Only when the force opposes the motion. also occur under other conditions. one near the periphery. and the wires are electrically linked to the disk by two sliding contacts. rotate in the opposite direction so that the motion is helped by the magnetic force rather than opposed by it. so with appropriate rotation of the disk. with straight magnetic field lines connecting one pole to the other. Many types of dynamos can similarly become motors rotating in the opposite direction. it is not a practical generator of electricity. 1965. [80] Using these principles. one on the axle. One of them. spinning between two magnetic poles. but the voltage generated was too small to be detected.” a magnetic field and a closed conducting path. which seeks to explain how the magnetic fields of the Sun and the planets. we invest energy. creating a dynamo. Suppose it flows from the axle to the rim: The magnetic force on an electric current is perpendicular to both the current and the magnetic field lines. for instance. briefly described in section 14. does a current flow.

prominences arching high above the Sun (turning to dark linear features when passing in front of the Sun) and bright areas near sunspots.” now commonly known as “polar aurora”). were found to be associated with solar phenomena. but until 1851 it attracted little notice. Their most significant feature. Using the . The length of the sunspot cycle turned out to vary. as well as in the number of days when no spots were observed. he observed the Sun and looked for it. Unfortunately. independently by Galileo. sunspots practically disappeared for a 70-year period starting around 1645 (“the Maunder minimum”). and by 1843 he noted a cyclical rise and fall in their number. Newton. astronomers. 1958. were visible on its surface. lasting about 5 minutes [Meadows. He introduced the “Zurich ¨ sunspot number. a spectrograph adapted to scan the Sun in a single spectral color.” and suddenly sunspots and their cyclic behavior became a hot scientific topic. He then published a table of his yearly totals. of the “aurora borealis. dark sunspots. but otherwise the mechanism was in principle possible. where daylight would obscure it. and observations of northern lights far south from their usual locations (i.S. Sporadic reports of earlier observations also exist. Phillips.. may similarly generate a voltage. This led to valuable insights into how the geomagnetic field might be generated. tuned to the red H line of hydrogen) isolated light from higher layers in the Sun’s atmosphere and revealed many new features. also in England. quite unlike the sources of the Earth’s field which are buried deep in the Earth’s core. tracing sunspot cycles before Schwabe’s time.g. Galileo speculated that they might be clouds floating in the Sun’s atmosphere. also devised independently in France by Henri Alexandre Deslandres (1853–1948).” [92] But what were the sunspots themselves? We now believe that they appear darker because they are slightly cooler than the regions that surround them. Hale also found that “solar flares. year after year. 1992]. founder of great observatories. [87] Sunspots were first reported in 1609. 1958]. Then Alexander von Humboldt republished it (extended to 1850) in the third volume of his “Kosmos. Pieter Zeeman discovered the “Zeeman effect” by which the characteristic colors (“spectral lines”) of elements. however. 1970. noting that their period and other properties depended on latitude. a German pharmacist and amateur astronomer living in the town of Dessau [Meadows. One of his inventions (in 1892) was the spectroheliograph. Schwabe was looking for a yet unknown planet of the Sun. Such a planet (given by other searchers the tentative name of Vulcan) would be hard to spot (except during a total solar eclipse) because its position in the sky would always be close to that of the Sun. whenever the sky was clear. and designer of novel instruments [Wright. This was followed 17 hours later by a very powerful magnetic storm. Schwabe also had to identify and track sunspots. Large magnetic storms. they were not investigated systematically. and when spots again became frequent. SUNSPOTS [86] The story of the Earth’s magnetism is strongly tied to that of solar research. Newton. taking into account the fact they usually occurred in tight groups. were much more frequently seen in H light. and if its circuit were closed through the high atmosphere. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM ● B-13 rents flowing through glass containers from which most air had been removed. by George Ellery Hale (1868 –1938). noted below. eastern seaboard.” He therefore speculated that the Gulf Stream. ¨ [90] Rudolf Wolf (1816 –1893) of Berne (later of Zurich) collected earlier observations. [89] To properly conduct such a search. and big ones indeed often preceded magnetic storms. Whereas in white light the Sun presented (apart from its spots) a bland appearance. but concentrated sources of that field. studied the rotation of sunspots around the Sun. During those years the interest of astronomers wandered elsewhere. 1966]. 1970. Sir Edward Sabine (1852) found an association between the sunspot cycle and the occurrence of large magnetic storms. [88] The 11-year sunspot cycle was discovered accidentally by Heinrich Schwabe (1789 –1875). another British observer) saw by chance a bright outburst of light in a group of large sunspots. in several ways. a broad flow in the Atlantic Ocean along the U. although Carrington cautiously commented “One swallow does not make a summer.40. with their separation depending on the intensity of the field. strongly suggesting a connection. moving inside the orbit of Mercury.. but the average value was near 11 years. These included mottling of the surfaces. He did so from 1826 onward. and Fabricius [Newton. producing a photographic image. [91] In September 1859. it might generate there the light of the polar aurora.” such as the one observed by Carrington and Hodgson. was discovered only in 1908. 1958]. And not only did the Sun have a magnetic field. the spectroheliograph (e. all of whom used the newly invented telescope. often split into two or more components of slightly different wavelength. 12. Hodgson. blocking some of its light. Carrington (as well as R. except from Rudolf Wolf. His speculation was completely wrong. and day after day. to make sure none was mistaken for a new planet.” an empirical criterion for the number of spots.e. leader among U. Scheiner. Schwabe hoped to observe it as a dark spot moving across the face of the Sun. In those rarefied gases he observed glows somewhat similar to the polar aurora or “northern lights.S. [93] In 1896. when emitted by a gas located in a strong magnetic field. and Richard Carrington (1826 –1875). because the unaided eye can see large sunspots when thick haze dims the Sun near the horizon. since the actual atmosphere is too poor a conductor of electricity to complete the circuit from the ocean to the upper atmosphere.

3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS Zeeman effect.. [96] However. in the sense that two particles which share the same field line at any time. hot enough to conduct electricity (i.” they greatly increased the sensitivity of Hale’s method. The region at which this wind originates is permeated by magnetic fields. As some solar wind ions move out radially to the Earth’s orbit and beyond. on the Sun and in the Earth’s core.) the opposing magnetic force on the current creates a torque matching the applied one. was always the same. What came first. Energy must be supplied by the outside force which rotates the disk. they continue to share the same field line. and others. but it would still exist. and was opposite to the leading polarity south of the equator. 1919b. and was therefore more likely to be fulfilled by large-scale flows. like the ones above the poles in Figure 6. 1978]. of the order of 5 gauss. rising until (neglecting friction. The idea survived in part because nothing else seemed to lead anywhere. with a typical field intensity of 1500 G (0. [94] Hale’s method was greatly refined by Horace Babcock [Babcock. 1929]. such field lines are “frozen” into the plasma. 1919c. the magnetic field needed for producing the current. both these polarities were always reversed. have meanwhile rotated with the Sun to other meridians. although the idea itself ´ ¨ may be older. and some researchers began to wonder whether solutions existed at all. the more have their “roots” rotated and therefore the greater the difference in solar longitude from those roots. typically 3 years after sunspot minimum. A Faraday disk can serve as a model of such a dynamo. 1963. Robert Leighton. At the poles the corona displayed rays or “plumes” in a pattern which reminded observers of magnetic field lines of a dipole. but also a general dipole field of the Sun. The existence of such a field had been suspected from a feature of the solar corona. chicken or egg? Actually. The longer these particles have traveled through space. with an average period near 22 years. viscosity. Cowling (1906 –1990). not infinite. Hale in 1908 showed that sunspots were in fact strongly magnetic. [99] A useful concept in the theory of plasmas and of conducting fluids is the “freezing” of magnetic field lines. THE DYNAMO PROCESS ON THE SUN [95] The Sun is a giant ball of gas. the field carried by the first group forms the local interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). no such channeling exists. and the presence of iron is not essential: If the electromagnet has an iron-free core. rather than in the laboratory. e. others on the same field lines but deeper in the Sun’s atmosphere stay behind. In fluids whose conductivity is merely large.. That eliminated easy and simple solutions.15 T). suggesting that field lines emerged from the Sun at one of the pair and reentered at the other. 1919a. and in 1919 Sir Joseph Larmor proposed that such currents could be produced by a self-sustaining fluid dynamo [Larmor. Using the polarization of Zeeman lines to construct a “solar magnetograph. usually continue doing so later on. that can play the role of a rotating disk. even when the flow has separated them and has deformed their magnetic field. ´ ´ Alfven and Falthammar. to the point where not only sunspot fields could be observed. [97] Larmor suggested that a similar situation might arise in an electrically conducting fluid.e. The magnetograph also showed that this field reversed each 11-year solar cycle. 1960. By the “field line preservation” theorem. Cowling showed that field lines slowly slipped from their “frozen” positions. the “solar wind” which flows more or less radially outward from the Sun is a hot plasma and may be viewed as such a conductor. In a conventional dynamo. followed by two alternative suggestions (and his follow-up note of 1927 did not get any closer). 1985]. if its magnetic field is created by an electromagnet. [101] Out near the Earth. much hotter than anything that exhibits permanent magnetism. powered by the output current of the same disk (other types of generator also can be so designed). developed by Walen [1946] and by Alfven [1950. Sunspot magnetism therefore had to come from electric currents. [100] For instance. acceleration. He was quite tentative about it. The criterion for “extremely high” also involved the dimensions of the flow. Solar wind particles on the same field line will therefore be on different meridians than the “roots” of that line on the Sun. etc. It can be shown that in a fluid with extremely high electrical conductivity. the electric current is channeled by wires wrapped in insulators. The spots generally appeared in pairs of opposite polarity. The particles left behind on the Sun.g. just one brief paragraph. what comes first in a dynamo. if conditions are appropriate. the Sun’s outer atmosphere. in any solar cycle. previously seen only during total eclipses of the Sun. the magnetic field produced in it may be much weaker. suggesting that the magnetic field lines curve to form a spiral. however. which ultimately be- . in a way forcing it to generate the required magnetic field. or the electric current needed to produce the field? This sounds a bit like asking. but implementing it (finding such flows in a conducting medium) proved quite difficult. a plasma). suggesting that the sunspot cycle was a magnetic phenomenon. in which suitable flows are produced. and the magnetic polarity of the “leading” spot north of the equator. who proved that the fluid dynamo problem had no axially symmetric solutions [Cowling. on the other hand. In the following solar cycle. [98] Attempts to model fluid dynamos were further discouraged by the “antidynamo” theorem of Thomas G. circulation of the fluid due to heat convection. 1933. 13. 1963]. 1992. even a very weak initial field is amplified exponentially. Eddy. originating in the global solar dipole and in sunspot regions. In a continuous conducting fluid. One spot was usually ahead of the other in the direction in which the Sun rotated.B-14 ● Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM 40. Phillips.

2000] that it arose from cyclonic motion. such stretching may be expected from the observed uneven (“differential”) rotation of the photosphere.40. [110] If a fluid dynamo exists inside the Earth. becoming visible as sunspot pairs. and the propagation of earthquake waves has suggested the core is liquid. in opposite directions north and south of the equator. toroidal and poloidal fields. while toroidal field lines form circles around the axis of symmetry. deg Period. THE EARTH’S DYNAMO Figure 9. unless that “seed field” itself gets reinforced. with a solid inner core in its middle [Brush. If the Sun had started off with a dipole field. This curvature has indeed been observed by spacecraft. and it can be shown that each class decays independently of the other. with about half the radius of the Earth. If the field is axially symmetric. they become denser. but what is actually observed is different and much faster. 1956a. The intensity of the IMF. poloidal field lines lie in meridional planes (like those of the dipole field). suggesting that the solar wind “remembers” its solar roots for days and even months after leaving the Sun. as function of the latitude in degrees. however [Elsasser. [107] The scenario envisioned above began with a dipole field.1 27. days Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM ● B-15 0 10 20 30 40 26. and theory predicted that a growing “magnetic pressure” (proportional to B 2 ) would develop in the tube-like region those lines occupy. from the toroidal wraparound direction to the meridional direction. every magnetic field can be resolved into toroidal and poloidal parts. 1956b]. 1958]. the entire dynamo process comes to a halt. 1979. one can foresee that after some time. the differential rotation would have gradually wrapped field lines around it (Figure 9). electric resistance would cause a gradual decay of the field. for instance. 14. whereas that of the undistorted dipole decreases much faster. The rotation period. The reason is that the process requires a conducting fluid. That pressure pushes plasma out of the tube. In principle. which is purely poloidal. [105] The original idea was that this happened not too far below the visible surface (today we are less sure [Parker. and without the seed. [108] Resistive decay might take many millions of years. [106] A subtle problem needs to be addressed. and Eugene Parker suggested [Parker. is shown in Table 1 [Newton. As field lines become draped around the Sun. it has to be in its core. [104] The difference in periods presumably reflects heat-driven flows in the Sun. Field lines embedded in the plasma were also twisted. 1980]. 2000] suggests that the Sun’s magnetism may extend to a substantial depth. like the one seen in hurricane. In a spherical geometry. [102] The stretching of magnetic field lines in general implies an amplification of the magnetic field. [103] On the Sun. electrical resistance will cause the currents that produce it to decay. [109] The above ideas of the solar cycle were developed by Babcock [1961] in the 1960s.6 comes wrapped tighter and tighter. like that of the Sun. like R 3 . magnetic fields can be divided into two classes. . its intensity at the Earth’s orbit would be much weaker than what is actually observed. and its value in days. If for some reason the dynamo process creating the field stopped. meaning the intensity B of the wrapped field would grow. The stretching of the field line due to uneven rotation adds and amplifies a toroidal field. which returned part of their field back to the poloidal component. 2000]). nonsymmetric modes also exist in each class. However. If the Sun’s field were a pure dipole. 1955. the interaction between the rising motion of plasma above sunspots and the Sun’s rotation caused the plasma to rotate around a vertical axis as it rose. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS Table 1. the visible surface layer of the Sun. the reversal of the poloidal field (and hence also of the toroidal field it produces) every 11-year solar cycle. reducing its density and causing parts of the tube to float up and break the surface. Schematic view of the way the faster rotation of the Sun’s equator might wrap magnetic field lines around the Sun. However. decreases with distance R from the Sun like R 1 (for the azimuthal component. Rotation Period of the Sun as Function of Latitude Latitude. 1955. namely. Its high density fits a liquid metal. This suggests some sort of feedback. but many unsolved questions remain. Note that since the field’s direction is reversed in opposite hemispheres. the main field due to the Earth’s core and observed near its surface is poloidal. More recent work [Parker. the spots leading the pair in the direction of the rotation have opposite polarities north and south of the equator.6 28.4 29.9 27. at the Earth’s orbit and throughout the solar system. for instance. including the causes of the uneven rotation. as seen from Earth (whose motion around the Sun adds to it about 2 days) can be measured from the apparent motion of sunspots. proportionally to the “seed” poloidal field. in the direction of the rotation) or like R 2 (for the other components).

one can learn about changes in the direction of the local magnetic field. 1947]. and Blackett finally ruled it out by an experiment with a spinning gold sphere [Blackett. at right angles to each other. 1952. because of Cowling’s antidynamo theorem. and by comparing the magnetization of their lava flows from different times (especially if such flows can be dated by some method). Braginsky suggested that the solidification of molten iron and its deposition on the inner core could also supply the heat which produced the flows and thus drive the dynamo effect. The method devised by Gauss to represent the Earth’s internal field outside the region of electrical currents can be generalized to describe any toroidal and poloidal fields. Walter Elsasser at Columbia University tried to find mathematical solutions to the dynamo problem [Elsasser. a class of events also deduced from the paleomagnetic record.. 1997. with no closure in sight. 1964b] in Russia surprised the world by producing an entire class of solutions which were almost symmetric: a symmetric field. 1946. The problem of feedback from toroidal to poloidal modes was addressed by the “alpha-mode” dynamo of Steenbeck et al. 1971]. Bullard [1949] pointed out that a modest amount of heat generation by radioactivity would suffice. the magnetic field jumped to a new higher plateau. a simulation run with a much smaller inner core produced no reversals at all. Inglis. plus a small addition. 1964a. [117] One interesting development has been the mathematical simulation of the dynamo process. Massey. equator. 1906]. By then it was known that in electrons and protons.. Roberts and Glatzmaier. such as the circulation of liquid iron in the core. They showed that fluid turbulence whose statistical properties had no mirror symmetry could lead to a mean electromotive force. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS generally believed to be iron (possibly. Buffett. 15. and that was viewed as the initiation of dynamo action. initially. Because the addition was small. [111] For a while. Blackett (1897–1974). noted by Gilbert (Figure 3). 1974]. [115] All these were solutions of the “kinematic dynamo problem. a relatively abundant element. [1966] of the Institute of Astrophysics in Potsdam. Other examples were then found. etc. using highspeed computers [Glatzmaier and Roberts. The simulations also found occasional “excursions” in which the field seemed to head toward a reversal but then reasserted its original polarity. An interesting “dynamo experiment” in the laboratory was reported by Lowes and Wilkinson [1963]. namely. While Gilbert suggested that the Earth rotated because it was magnetic. it becomes magnetized in the direction of the prevailing magnetic field.B-16 ● Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM 40. When the angular velocity exceeded a certain value. 1947. [114] For a while some scientists wondered whether any solutions existed at all. Bernard Brunhes (1867–1910) found ancient lava flows in France whose magnetization appeared to be reversed [Brunhes. DIPOLE REVERSALS AND PLATE TECTONICS [118] When lava flows out of a volcano and hardens. [113] Meanwhile other physicists. Stanislaw Braginsky [Braginsky. which led to even more complicated ones. 1987. proportional to its angular momentum. and this generalization should in principle be applicable to represent the flows and fields in the Earth’s core. 2000]. highest at the pole. 1912. [119] Volcanoes are often active for long periods. [112] Arthur Schuster (1851–1934) was the first to propose the idea [Schuster. in the direction of the underlying average field. the result is often a black rock known as basalt. Interestingly. includes appendix by Sydney Chapman) was evidence against the idea. with other elements dissolved in it). Germany. 1999. This may be viewed as a generalization of Parker’s idea for explaining the solar cycle. Coe et al. Basalt is slightly magnetic. Dynamo action is generally obtained. and its main supporter in the 20th century was Patrick M. this explanation argued the opposite: The Earth was magnetic because it rotated. Then in 1964. and as it solidifies and cools. leading researchers to assume a most general class of fields and motions. 1976. that every spinning massive object developed an intrinsic magnetic field. the field asymmetries observed on the Earth’s surface were due to secondary processes. the procedure converged. [116] Considerable progress has taken place since then [Levy. Unfortunately. or in between. the same reason that molten iron sinks to the bottom of a blast furnace. who spun two iron cylinders (each representing an eddy) inside a container of mercury. 1956b]. around 1950. whether it was uniform across the interface. a British physicist who was awarded the 1948 Nobel prize for his work on cosmic rays [Blackett. According to that view. Jacobs. driving electric currents whose magnitude was times the magnetic intensity. 1981. Warwick. and the Japanese geophysicist Motonori Matuyama (1884 –1958) examined the evidence and suggested that the magnetic sig- . The iron has sunk to the center of the Earth because it is heavy. Glatzmaier et al.” in which the flow pattern of the conducting fluid could be freely specified. A realistic model of the dynamo also requires a mechanism and a source of energy driving the flow. The process is somewhat similar to the capture of the prevailing magnetic field by a cooling bar of steel. 2000]. spin and magnetic moment were related: could not the same hold for matter at large? However. another idea was proposed. but the complexity of the field and the frequency of main field reversals (discussed in the next section) depend greatly on the distribution of the heat loss. The simulation assumes a heat source in the core and heat loss through the core-mantle interface. the observation that the field did not weaken in deep mines (Runcorn [1948]. no axially symmetric solutions were expected. This produced complicated relations. 2000.

[123] His explanation was the theory of “continental drift. when the geophysics community finally accepted the reality of magnetic reversals. airplanes. Matuyama proposed that long periods existed. with a relative scarcity of inbetween depths. 1985). the crust of the Earth slowly slid around the interior. Kious and Tilling. [128] Two prominent geophysicists. using substances which entered magnetic saturation at a stable and well-defined field value. du Toit. somewhat like one of Halley’s layers.ucsd. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM ● B-17 natures were evidence of actual reversals [Matuyama.) [129] The convincing evidence. 1929]. approximately halfway between the continents to its east and its west.g. and by the 1950s.” a raised ridge running roughly north-south. the way ice slabs floated in the Arctic Ocean. Deutsch. 1996]. Wegener’s theory had little support among geophysicists. Georgi. Some were proton precession instruments. 1962. On land. 1961] (this started the term “seafloor spreading. [125] A few diehards kept Wegener’s ideas alive [e. He then collected evidence showing that the fit between matching edges of continents extended to geological formations and even to fossils of animals and plants. Other such linear features were found in the Pacific and Indian oceans.. a variant of it emerged. 1973. starting with a study of Icelandic basalts. caught by bad weather while returning by dogsled from a supply mission to a weather station on top of the Greenland ice cap. Like others before him. Soon. Britain’s leading theoretical geophysicist. but tended to cluster at two levels [McGill. later awarded the ´ 1970 Nobel prize. The ridge was clearly volcanic. 1955]. 1929]. [127] The resolution of all these controversies came from the seafloor [Bullard. deep slots in the ocean floor. while old seafloor descended again to lower levels at oceanic trenches. 1951. where such instruments . Kious and Tilling. they could easily operate aboard ships. Oceanographic surveys had shown a “mid-Atlantic ridge. [120] Unfortunately. electromagnetic magnetometers (developed in World War II) became available to geophysicists. Cox et al. the situation was complicated by the work of Louis Neel (1904 –2000). and of John Graham. proposed that the seafloor might be spreading out from the ridges [Dietz. Robert Dietz (1914 –1995). [121] Meanwhile. Austria). This explained phenomena such as coal seams in the polar islands of Spitzbergen (Svalbard) and evidence of glaciation in countries such as South Africa and India. by deriving the deviations from the smooth global field (“anomalies”). Wegener noted that the coastlines of some continents. the theory of polar wandering. Figure 1]. Others were fluxgate magnetometers. 1967. 1999].. however. Oreskes. expanded it in 1914 while recovering from wounds received in World War I. and all were linked in a worldwide pattern. 1987]. 1988. In the late 1950s.40. pp. 1980]). who was at the time with the Naval Electronics Laboratory Center in San Diego. at age 50. and published it in 1915 in a German book titled The Origin of Continents and Oceans [Wegener. when it was debated in a seminar in Cambridge and then put to a vote by the participants: Only one voice was raised against it (E. Only in the early 1950s did Jan Hospers. Cox. trouble arose in interpreting magnetic data: Observations from the same period but from different continents disagreed in assigning the positions of ancient magnetic poles. and polar explorer named Alfred Wegener (1880 –1930) proposed a radical new idea [Hallam. 1975.edu/sio/ archives/siohstry/dietz-biog. or even (a bit later) aboard satellites. and he even found it difficult to secure a university position in Germany (he ended up as professor in Graz. the edges of the continental shelf fit even better [LeGrand. so that areas now in the polar zone once had temperate climate.” though the idea began with Hess [Frankel. He first formulated it in 1912. By that theory.” [124] His theory was vigorously attacked. generally parallel to chains of islands. came from magnetic surveys. new seafloor was formed by lava emitted from the ridges. as well as variations in the magnetization of crustal lava. the continents and the ocean floors. 1996. would fit together remarkably well (as was shown by Alex du Toit (1878 – 1948) and later by Carey and Bullard (1907–1980). a German meteorologist. that their resistance to such motions would be too high. Wegener went one step further and proposed that such slabs could slowly move or “drift. especially the ones bordering the Atlantic Ocean. related to the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) method now extensively used in chemistry and for medical imaging. in the early years of the 20th century. Unlike the suspended-needle instruments. as shown by a concentration of earthquake epicenters along it and by volcanic islands located on it. private communication. at their website http://scilib.” Geologists had previously proposed that continents were slabs of lighter rock floating on top of denser material below. though. in the past history of the Earth in which the polarity of the magnetic poles was the opposite of what it is now. 1973. convince many in the geophysics community that most rocks with reversed magnetism were not self reversed but were relics of epochs when the Earth’s had reversed magnetic polarity [Hospers. especially by Sir Harold Jeffreys (1891–1989).html. promoted by Keith Runcorn (1922–1995) and Thomas Gold. 204 –205]). (A biography of Robert Dietz is available from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. 1937]. such as the Azores. Jeffreys argued that the layers on which continents floated were too viscous to permit such drifts. Wegener died on a polar expedition in 1930. 1982. [122] It was long ago noted that elevations on the Earth were not smoothly distributed. Frankel. In their view. and vice versa [Runcorn. geophysicist. These instruments were accurate enough to map the magnetism caused by local materials of the Earth’s crust. [126] The theory reached its peak in the early months of 1955. and Harry Hess (1906 –1969) of Princeton University. who showed that some materials exhibited spontaneous self reversal of their magnetization.

But external sources also existed: Magnetic storms (typically changing the field by 1% or less) were worldwide phenomena and seemed to indicate that a powerful electric current was established around the Earth’s equator. 2001. of course. such electrons would in fact spiral . and at the trenches the plates descended again. The renowned French mathematician Henri Poincare ´ (1854 –1912) then calculated that. so the underlying layer. at least with straight converging field lines. Even Vine and Matthews met resistance. Their idea was that the seafloor indeed spread out from the mid-ocean ridges. for example. The continents were not plowing through the lithosphere. It was finally cited in a non-scientific journal [Lear. but the overall size of the Earth. The process was somewhat analogous to that of a tape recorder. See. where navigational radio aids allowed accurate determination of position. the way ships plow through the ocean. p. At such locations the aurora is a rare phenomenon. of the Earth’s crust). Legrand [1988]. As found in 1741 by Hiorter and Celsius in Sweden [Beckman. The map (Figure 10) graphically illustrated the remarkable symmetry of the striping. 2000]. Auroral ribbons often consist of many parallel rays (Figure 11). 1998] he sent an electron beam toward a magnetized sphere representing the Earth. off the eastern seaboard of the United States) nothing remarkable seemed to take place. flowing at an undetermined distance for many hours or even days. slowly unrolling in opposite directions while faithfully recording the Earth’s magnetic field at the time they emerged. [130] In 1962.B-18 ● Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM 40.) 16. 1986.. to both sides. however (for instance. near the magnetic pole itself they are rarely seen. Each magnetic stripe therefore consisted of lava that cooled during an epoch of a certain magnetic polarity (wide stripes from long epochs. they sat on top of conveyer belts that carried them along. Lawrence Morley [Morley. Wegener had the right idea. did not change. Its dancing and glowing ribbons (usually a shade of green. 224].” in this case. with the seafloor near the mid-oceanic ridges behaving like a pair of magnetic tapes. it indeed descended into deep oceanic trenches. Frankel [1982]. [132] For a long time. He found that such beams tended to follow magnetic field lines. and Glen [1982]. at about an inch a year. each aligned with the direction of local magnetic field lines. the lithosphere. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS were used in the search for oil. see also Cox. Arthur Schuster in 1911 gave it the name we still use. 1989]. but it is not so for residents of central Alaska or Canada. 1967]. of course. 1966. Morley’s contribution was not acknowledged. (Note that this section is a very abbreviated and cursory summary of a broad subject on which an extensive literature exists.e. then as the plates moved. [134] This idea. was divided into “plates” which constantly moved.. which independently also occurred to Fred Vine and Drummond Matthews [Vine and Matthews. until Jim Heirtzler [Heirtzler. because the referees of Nature and Journal of Geophysical Research to which he submitted his article and) rejected it as too speculative. often several times stronger than those of worldwide magnetic storms. say [rather] than in the Journal of Geophysical Research” [Morley. all stripes tended to be parallel to the central ridge. on the other hand. One referee wrote: “His idea is an interesting one—I suppose— but it seems more appropriate over martinis. Some plates also rotated. Heirtzler et al. acquired the prevailing magnetization. [133] But where did the seafloor go at the edge of the continents? In some places. and some regions slipped alongside others (“transform faults”). often in long stripes of opposite magnetic polarity. the ring current [Smith. only in part related to geomagnetism. 1973. instead. 1963]. [131] Now and then. constantly fading or brightening. off Japan. [136] The polar aurora (sometimes known as aurora borealis or northern lights) also seemed to be linked to the magnetic field. [137] What caused all this? Kristian Birkeland (1867– 1917) in Norway thought (correctly) that the glow came from fast electrons hitting the high atmosphere. narrow stripes from short ones) and. but nature carried it out differently from what he thought. later elaborated. and the magnetic imprint reversed direction too. the observed magnetic anomalies showed no consistent patterns. From this came the idea that just as the higher parts of the Earth’s crust formed separate continents. for example. the main dipole reversed its direction. Elsewhere. Plate material was continually created at the oceanic ridges. 1963]. but sometimes red) tend to maintain a constant distance from the magnetic pole of about 2000 –3000 km (i. 1968] produced a two-dimensional map of the striping of the Reykjanes Ridge near Iceland. Above the ocean floor. Lear. more distant from the poles. Inside a glass vacuum chamber [Brundtland. a constant “magnetic latitude”). the patterns were well ordered. MAGNETIC STORMS AND RING CURRENTS [135] The method used by Gauss and his followers to analyze the observed magnetic field showed that at least 99% of it originated inside the Earth. and tried to simulate the phenomenon on a small scale [see Stern. became the theory of “plate tectonics” (“tectonics” means “building up. which like Gilbert he named terrella (Figure 12). In great magnetic storms they temporarily descend to lower (magnetic) latitudes and become visible at centers of population. bright displays are also accompanied by local disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field. 1968. and was then gradually carried away to either side of the ridge. which guided them to the poles of a magnet or a terrella inside the chamber. however. 1967] proposed an explanation. As the lava oozed out (a process later photographed from research submarines) it hardened. the continents sitting on top of them were carried along.

and Birkeland termed such events polar magnetic storms. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM ● B-19 Figure 10.40. . along auroral arcs. ¨ [139] Birkeland also observed magnetic disturbances associated with auroras. However. using a network of four ground stations. along those lines and would be reflected from regions of more intense magnetic field. [138] Auroral outbursts were known to be associated with solar activity. Map of magnetic striping of the seafloor near the Reykjanes ridge [Heirtzler. linked at their ends to distant space. these were localized and could not be observed at lower latitudes. and concluded that they arose from electric currents flowing in the high atmosphere. 1968]. where the circuit somehow closed. the mathematician Carl Stormer (1874 –1957). The auroras and their associated currents occasionally intensified for an hour or so. and Birkeland guessed that they originated in beams of electrons emitted from the Sun. Unlike regular magnetic storms. preferring instead to occur in large ring-shaped regions around them [Stormer. could explain ¨ why the aurora avoided the magnetic poles themselves. 1955]. closer to the cone’s apex. neither he nor his younger associate.

not like those of the aurora. The sudden confinement was expected to compress the Earth’s field lines. however. since these were the points (on any given field line) closest to the center of the Earth. See also Stern and Ness [1982]). 1957] that low-energy particles. were launched in early 1958 and discovered an intense belt of trapped fast protons. Stern. woodcut by Fridtjof Nansen.phy6. provided their numbers were large enough. By the theorem of field line preservation or the “freezing” of field lines (see section 13 on the solar dynamo). containing equal numbers of positive charges and electrons. for it could be shown that electrostatic repulsion would disperse such beams long before they reached Earth. attaching them to neighboring ones and gradually transporting them all the way around the Earth [Stern. 1989. Fred Singer. above the magnetic equator. Many trapped particles would therefore be reflected before reaching the dense atmosphere. and added unexpected features to the picture. many of them carrying scientific instruments. it could not penetrate the Earth’s magnetic field. of either sign. the electric current they carried around the Earth was in the direction required by the ring current. Stormer traced some of their motions by numerical ¨ calculations (in 1908 these had to be done by hand). Instead. but how this happened they did not know. THE MAGNETOSPHERE [145] (Relatively few references will be cited from here on. also available on the World Wide Web (http:// www. Electrons would be transported in one direction. [146] Sputnik 1. Stern and Ness. moving in the way proposed by Singer. To do so. The lines defining the “curtains” of the auroral arcs follow magnetic field lines. and explained a small abrupt jump in magnetic intensity (“sudden commencement”) observed on the surface at the start of many magnetic storms. 17. launched on 4 October 1957. [141] However. [147] The satellites did find belts of trapped ions and electrons. 1982]. In the field of the Earth. But not beams of electrons. could also do the job. It was followed by several thousand others. Scientific satellites soon confirmed some earlier guesses. but the sliding motion would stop and reverse (as Poincare had ´ shown) whenever the particle approached regions of more intense magnetic field. Sydney Chapman (1882–1970) and Vincent Ferraro (1907–1974) proposed in 1930 that the Sun emitted huge clouds of plasma. Figure 4]. 1996. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS Figure 11. ions in the opposite one. that of the ionosphere. e. and in either case. disproved or modified others.org/Education/bh2_1. not a temporary one present only during magnetic storms [e. because more than 350 are given by Stern [1996]. its ions and electrons would have to attach themselves to terrestrial field lines and share them with terrestrial plasma. satellites.. particles which initially did not share field lines cannot suddenly start doing so.S. Such particles spiraled around field lines while sliding along them. and could stay trapped for a long time. as Birkeland had suggested. showed [Singer. The first U. but they were a permanent feature.html). [142] Field lines linked to the Earth’s poles would therefore remain confined inside a “Chapman-Ferraro cavity” around which the cloud would wrap itself. [143] The ring current presumably consisted of charged particles trapped in the Earth’s magnetic field. The polar aurora. was the first artificial satellite of the Earth. [140] The correlation between magnetic storms and activity on the Sun indeed suggested that something was being emitted by the Sun toward Earth..B-20 ● Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM 40. bouncing back and forth across the equator (Figure 13). where most magnetic observatories (as well as centers of population) were located. Chapman and Ferraro speculated that somehow the cavity also generated the ring current. S. Explorers 1 and 3 built by James Van Allen and his team at the University of Iowa. [144] Singer noted a slow secondary mechanism that would meanwhile move trapped particles from their guiding field lines. the magnetic intensity increased as one approached the “feet” of the field line in the atmosphere. such a cloud could travel without dispersing.g. This “inner radiation belt” turned .g. Being electrically neutral. but his work concentrated on particles with extremely high energies.

it did so at all times. found to contain protons and electrons of moderate energies but in much greater numbers. was Figure 13. The calculation indicated that an extremely hot plasma like that of Sun’s corona could not be held in gravitational equilibrium. however. Though Parker’s prediction was at first controversial. dense enough to constitute a radiation hazard (astronauts can cross it safely. That was the solar wind. the way the Earth’s atmosphere was. not just during magnetic storms as Chapman and Ferraro had assumed. out to be a secondary product of the cosmic radiation. and with it also the intensity of the ring current. it was not extensive enough to carry the ring current. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM ● B-21 Figure 12. [149] The Sun indeed emitted plasma which flowed out radially at great speed.40. That was done by the outer radiation belt (2– 8 RE). Cosmic rays provide a rather weak source. but again.3 and 2 RE (Earth radii) from the Earth’s center. and more extensively by the space probe Mariner 2 in 1962. predicted in 1958 by Eugene Parker. Magnetic storms greatly increased its population. Not to scale: actually the orbit is much narrower near the Earth. Kristian Birkeland with one of his terrella experiments. peaking at distances between 1. after he tried to calculate the equilibrium structure of the Sun’s corona. . expanding radially in all directions. In 1961. spacecraft instruments soon confirmed it. though some of the outer belt and of the ring current existed at all times. [148] The inner belt. Parker’s calculation suggested that the Sun continually sloughed off plasma in a supersonic stream. its flow was measured by a “Faraday cup” placed aboard Explorer 10 by Herb Bridge and Bruno Rossi (1905–1993). but the trapping is quite stable. Schematic view of the motion of an ion or electron trapped in the Earth’s magnetic field. Instead. but only if they do not linger). which is a population of extremely energetic protons believed to fill our galaxy. allowing the protons to accumulate over a long time.

” and the name is still used. which Birkeland claimed accompanied the aurora. It forms an intricate pattern first traced by Alfred Zmuda and James Armstrong. which contain rather little plasma. One occurred on the sunward side. but auroral electrons are then energized only close to Earth. using a “piggyback” (free ride) magnetometer aboard the Navy satellite Triad. is that auroral electrons (and their associated electric currents) are guided along magnetic field lines. each linked to one of the polar caps (Figure 14). the two “tail lobes. 1986] that two such points were formed on the magnetopause. On the sunward side the solar wind compressed the magnetospheric cavity. at which they split up and reconnected. the origin of many of the magnetic disturbances observed in space and on the ground. The reason auroras are rare near the magnetic poles. If the interplanetary field points exactly south. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS Figure 14. which plowed through the ordinary solar wind and created shock fronts ahead of themselves. Magnetic storms. and in that way contribute to the outer ring current. too. the Earth’s field lines were stretched out in two great bundles. creating an abrupt boundary at an average distance of about 10. What he called polar magnetic storms are now known as magnetic substorms. a layer of hot plasma which turned out to be the main source of auroral electrons. Birkeland currents provide the energy for most auroral arcs.” The “sudden commencement” jumps of the magnetic intensity. named them “Birkeland currents. again with some modifications. Later spacecraft would observe these bundles at distances of more than 3 times that of the Moon. Except for the inner belt. but occur fairly regularly along large rings surrounding each pole. On the night side.5 RE. [154] The electric current system. but there exists a loophole. 1961. Like most physical processes. though its structure was somewhat different from what Birkeland had proposed. on the other hand. hurl them earthward. MAGNETIC RECONNECTION [155] In such a brief description it is hard to do justice to the extensive field of magnetospheric physics. Magnetic field lines from the “auroral oval” lead back to the plasma sheet. The magnetic field of the plasma sheet is weak. must usually be paid for in energy. the source of that energy seems to be the solar wind. Magnetic field lines can change their linkage and “reconnect” in new ways. could push it to distances of 6 RE and even less. at the onset of many magnetic storms. and that turned it into a somewhat unstable region. Magnetic field lines and the bow shock (not a field line) in the Earth’s magnetosphere. If the separation between interplanetary and terrestrial field lines were strictly enforced. They represent violent changes in the plasma sheet which energize its ions and electrons.B-22 ● Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM 40. [151] One feature which no one had expected before the satellite era was the long magnetic tail behind the Earth. [156] James Dungey in England proposed [Dungey. the plasma flows along the thick arrows in Figure 15: the solar wind plasma arriving from the left and the magnetospheric . so named by Chapman. associated with magnetic storms. whereas those from the magnetic poles themselves (and the regions near them) end up in the twin bundles of the tail lobes. getting their main push in the lowest 1–1. Milo Schield. [150] By then Explorer 12 had crossed a well-defined boundary on the sun-facing side of the Chapman-Ferraro cavity (renamed by Tom Gold “magnetosphere”). and John Freemen. the universal currency of physics. who at first viewed them as component parts of magnetic storms. it would be rather difficult to transmit energy from one region to the other. who theoretically predicted such currents in 1969. though some interplanetary clouds. Stern. [153] Birkeland’s observations were also validated. with some named features (not to scale). with hairpin-shaped magnetic field lines.5 RE of their guiding field lines. if the plasma in which they are embedded flows through an “x-type neutral point” (or “neutral line”) at which the field intensity drops to zero and field lines cross in the pattern of the letter x (Figure 15). the boundary of the magnetosphere. create very powerful disturbances of this kind and seem to be the main agent replenishing the ring current. suggesting that the cavity also existed at all times. [152] Wedged between the two bundles. those of the magnetosphere. was also observed. 200 RE from the Earth and beyond. before it was realized that they occurred at other times as well. following the arrival of a fast cloud. though the details still need to be worked out. turned out to mark the arrival of fast plasma clouds.” was the tail’s plasma sheet. The boundary was named “magnetopause. where interplanetary magnetic field lines and terrestrial lines formed an xshaped neutral point (or a continuous line of such points). 18. Alex Dessler.

The process ended (in Dungey’s original theory) at a second neutral point in the distant tail. Since the fields do not have to supply energy. Dungey’s view of plasma flow (thick arrows) and magnetic field lines (thin ones) at an x-type neutral point. a region of electric forces.” plasma coming from the right. also had their own magnetic fields [Bagenal. they can maintain the trapping indefinitely without requiring any additional energy input. The details of such processes (to the extent they are understood) are. electrically conducting core. after which the two plasmas were again separated. With southward slant activity was likely. introducing a bend in each open field line. the rotation of the Earth. 1966] that the most important factor promoting magnetic substorms. Electric fields therefore have a central role. and other factors. [157] This. reconnection is expected to become increasingly difficult. toward the magnetic equator. Furthermore. and in adding energy to those particles. such as the velocity and density of the solar wind. and energization of plasma in the magnetosphere all involve a complicated interplay between magnetic and electric fields. It thus came as a surprise that other planets of the solar system. then the lines on the left (southward) are interplanetary. however. Dungey assumed. The northern half of the terrestrial field line must link up with the interplanetary half which comes from the south. will also grab positive oxygen ions from the ionosphere and accelerate them upward. energy and plasma easily flowed from the solar wind to the magnetosphere. starting in the polar regions of the Earth and extending to interplanetary space. If the field line slants northward. The northern half of the terrestrial line then connects to the northern half of the interplanetary line. was that of Jupiter. The interplanetary field lines just have the “wrong direction” for linking up. and along such lines. constituting there an important element of the substorm process. 1992]. which cause the fluid to circulate. large Birkeland currents. It was found [Fairfield and Cahill. the bending is more severe. as happens during magnetic storms. for example. but details will have to wait for more thorough studies of the magnetosphere. If this point is at the front-side “nose” of the magnetosphere in Figure 14. acceleration. 19. and the plasmas attached to the newly reconnected lines then flow outward. in Figure 15. and the presence of energy sources in the core. using simultaneous data from a much larger number of satellites than is available now. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM ● B-23 Figure 15. were much less important. an electric field. with northward slant it was inhibited. PLANETARY MAGNETOSPHERES [164] The internal magnetic field of the Earth results from the interplay of some very definite features: the existence of a liquid. and those that exit on top and bottom are “open. Static magnetic fields can trap and steer electrons and ions without changing their energy. [160] Magnetic reconnection may also occur in the plasma sheet. Air Force satellite S3-3. where reconnection reunited the two terrestrial halves and the two interplanetary halves. If the northward slant is steep. it can also help them move from one field line to another. and vice versa. In early . and other active phenomena was the slant of the interplanetary magnetic field. where many join the ring current. created “open” field lines. is not only able to energize particles. a similar process joins the southern halves. any “parallel electric field” which does so. [163] In addition. [159] The actual process is probably much more complicated. but one of its predictions was amply confirmed. and the biggest one by far. electric forces parallel to magnetic field lines are also instrumental in accelerating (negative) auroral electrons downward. enter regions of magnetic trapping or escape from them. By its nature. [165] The first planetary magnetic field investigated. very different from the Earth. up or down. on the right (northward) terrestrial. both in bringing fresh particles into the ring current. at which the direction of the terrestrial line gradually changes over to that of the interplanetary one. such “ion beams” were discovered in 1977 by the U. [162] On the other hand. electric fields are also essential to the energy exchange in substorms and to reconnection.40. reconnection is a bit more complicated. completely beyond the scope of this brief and nonmathematical overview.S. [158] If the interplanetary field lines pointed not southward but just slanted toward the south. [161] Reconnection.

[173] Voyager 2 unexpectedly found the magnetic axes of Uranus and Neptune to be inclined by about 60 and 45 (respectively) to their rotation axes.” Planetary Radii Earth Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune 6378 71. It is much bigger.” [167] In 1959. and that was where the signal was coming from. the most intense one in the solar system.14 11. [166] They found another conspicuous radio source [Franklin. Then in 1973 the space probe Pioneer 10 passed by Jupiter and found there. the astronomers speculated “the cause of this radiation is not known but is likely to be due to electrical disturbances in Jupiter’s atmosphere. but also ions of sulfur and sodium. which are bigger than ours and whose absorption creates distinct dips in the radial distribution of plasma. [171] This remarkable phenomenon was anticipated by Goldreich and Lynden-Bell [1969] and by Piddington and Drake [1968]. while the probe Galileo is currently in orbit around it. Frank Drake observed Jupiter’s emissions and concluded from the relative intensities in a range of wavelengths that their radio waves were probably produced by electrons trapped in a strong magnetic field. were visited by Voyager 2. so much that it has been referred to as the Jovian “magnetodisc.2 16 1 20.6 0 59 47 10 0. Jupiter. then began surveying the surrounding sky.4 0. is some 20. The strange radio signals observed by Franklin and Burke came from Jupiter’s radiation belt. an enormous planetary magnetic field and a very intense radiation belt.” of field lines which threaded Io [Connerney et al.000 times that of the Earth.800 24 9.005 11 50–100 16–22 18 23–26 1955. The shape and properties of a planetary magnetosphere depends on the angle between the flow of the solar wind (i. but unlike the Crab.31 4. Jupiter’s core may well consist of hydrogen. In publishing their result. who suggested it as an explanation for the curious effect of Io’s position in its orbit on decameter wave radio emissions from Jupiter’s magnetosphere. Standing next to the array one night. but its polarity is in the opposite direction of the Earth’s (until the next reversal.. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS Table 2. [168] The strength of the source of Jupiter’s dipole field. and Ken Franklin and Bernie Burke calibrated it using a known source. observed from the Earth and from orbiting telescopes.e.300 25. Io.” [170] Jupiter’s magnetic field has some interesting interactions with the planet’s larger moons.600 24. the strength of the bar magnet which. its dipole moment.22 0. It contains not just protons and electrons. its plasma seems to corotate with the planet up to the dayside boundary with the solar wind. km Dipole Tilt and Sense. its position shifted as days passed. and observed the magnetic field of its currents [Acun et al. with active volcanoes and a thin atmosphere. hours Magnetic Moment. creating a magnetosphere much more flattened than the Earth’s.. is a bizarre world heated internally by its tides. 2000]. Saturn.23 0. 1 RJ is about 10 RE).1 0. [169] The Jovian magnetosphere is very different from the Earth’s. and for those . Jupiter also has intense auroras. producing currents of a few million amperes which flow between Io and Jupiter’s ionosphere. ˜a 1981].B-24 ● Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM Magnetic Fields of Earth and of the Giant Planets [from Bagenal. two young radio astronomers started working with a cross-shaped antenna array of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism.000 600 50 25 0.. and unlike the Earth’s. [172] All four giant planets. the innermost large moon. Uranus and Neptune. deg Solar Wind Density. Like the Earth’s dipole. The array could select signals from a narrow range of directions. extending to 50 –100 RJ (Jupiter radii. That current is concentrated near the equator. so intense that after just one pass through it. 1992] Spin Period. probably emitted from the moon Io (see below) and it carries a very extensive ring current. gave a comparable field.7 17. Bernie noted a star overhead and asked Ken “what is that bright thing up there?” It was Jupiter.28 0. its axis is inclined by about 10 to the rotation axis. cm 3 Distance to “Nose. and the relative motion between it and Jupiter’s magnetosphere creates a dynamo circuit. when the Earth’s radiation belts were already known. the Crab Nebula. (The first two were also visited by Pioneers 10 and 11 and by Voyager 1. What produces that field is still unclear.03 0. compressed by the huge weight of the planet’s outer layers to where it becomes a metal and conducts electricity [Nellis.) In all four the dipole moment. Its ionosphere and/or body conduct electricity. was much greater than that of the Earth (Table 2). The theory of Goldreich and Lynden-Bell was finally confirmed in 1993 by the observation of infrared emission from the foot points in Jupiter’s ionosphere of the “Io flux tube. Along with its radiation belt. and the probe Ulysses flew by Jupiter. the direction from the Sun) and the magnetic axis.9 10.3 9. sure enough.400 60. Planet Radius. The space probe Voyager 1 passed close to the Io flux tube on 5 March 1979. Pioneer 10 suffered some (minor) radiation damage. gauss 40. at least). MEarth Mean Equatorial Field. 1959]. 1993]. if placed at the center.

an airless rock only moderately bigger than our Moon. planetary magnetic fields observed by distant space probes suggest that several different processes of planetary magnetization may exist. tiny Mercury. Alexander Neckham describes pivoted compass. which suggest a hot interior. at some time in the past they might have possessed one. Columbus sails for America. On Mars. their magnetospheres undergo wild variations during each rotation.40. nearly another century passed before modern computers allowed the terrestrial dynamo to be even approximately modeled. as major problems are resolved and attention turns increasingly to details. these patches (as observed by the Mars Global Surveyor) create fields about 20 times stronger than the surface magnetization of the Earth (as distinct from the Earth’s core magnetic field) would create at the same distance of observation. [179] All these changes helped geomagnetism stay in the forefront of geophysics. monitoring of the global magnetic field. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM ● B-25 two planets. Saturn is big enough to produce metallic hydrogen in its core.” announcing the discovery of magnetic dip (inclination). The origin of all those fields is unknown. Magnetic storms (first observed in the 1700s) and related northern lights remained a mystery until after 1958. Researchers who feel frustrated by their inability to conduct direct observations on the Earth’s core should note that the source regions of those fields are even less accessible. It has been the good fortune of geomagnetism to succeed in doing so over four centuries. too. Meanwhile. That would agree with the giant volcanoes (apparently extinct) observed on Mars. as long as they can lay claim to yet unsolved mysteries. but as the spacecraft passed through its nightside tail. A player’s “soldiers” survive only as long as they have access to some unoccupied “breathing space. The solar wind is only stopped by its upper atmosphere. as the study of planetary magnetic field enters its second millennium. APPENDIX A: A CHRONOLOGY OF GEOMAGNETISM [180] 1000 1187 1269 (approx) Chinese discover that lodestone floating on “boat” prefers south-north direction. [176] Planetary magnetic fields thus seem to be the rule. which continued from there to Mercury.” Disciplines of science are like that. and the European Space Agency is planning a Mercury mission as well. each trying to surround and “choke” pieces of the opponent. together with astronomical studies of sunspots. Then in the early 1800s a new class of phenomena entered the picture. As a result. And finally. but it is to be hoped that the field still has a long way to go. Geomagnetism shows how disciplines may rejuvenate themselves by shifting their focus to new targets and new methods. not the exception. creating a completely different type of magnetosphere. led by 1919 to the notion of the self-exciting dynamo. in particular. that angle varies rapidly as the planet rotates. Letter by Petrus Peregrinus describes properties of magnets. Though this seemed like a promising way of explaining the Earth’s internal field and its time variations. surprised observers by being magnetized. The past never guarantees the future. magnetism caused by electric currents. Venus was found to be unmagnetized. ˜a 1974] have permanently magnetized patches of rock on their surfaces. too. rotating very slowly. at least in our solar system. [174] The planet Venus was visited by Mariner 10 in 1974. when artificial satellites started probing the Earth’s distant magnetic field. and dynamo theory turned out to be consistent with reversals.. where two opponents using black and white counters take turns placing them on the intersections of a board ruled in squares. perhaps explaining their large dipole tilt and complex field geometry. Robert Norman publishes “The Newe Attractive. [175] Mars [Acun et al. William Gilbert’s De Magnete: Earth 20. notes declination changes in mid-ocean from easterly to westerly. although each manages to contain some trapped particles. and interestingly. the observation of rock magnetism suggested the occurrence of magnetic reversals. NASA has scheduled the Messenger mission to fly to Mercury and orbit it. In the 1960s these observations combined with Wegener’s ideas of moving continents and with studies of mid-ocean ridges to produce the science of plate tectonics. Its magnetic field is weak and probably does not extend far enough to trap many particles. On the other hand. suggesting that even if they now lack a dynamo field. The magnetic fields of Uranus and Neptune might be generated in relatively poorly conducting “icy” interiors. [178] Geomagnetism started with the mapping and . They only “live” as long as they touch some unsolved areas. though the origin of those fields may be quite different from that of ours. the Venus ionosphere. although the volcanoes themselves are not associated with magnetic patches. in one form or another. 1999] and the Moon [Fuller. Thus. it observed a sudden spasm in which particles were apparently energized. Work by Faraday in that direction. more like a comet tail. One is reminded of the Japanese board game of Go. its magnetic and rotational axes are the same within observational accuracy. ASSESSMENT 1492 1581 1600 [177] Often in a field of science the lode of research seems to run out. it faces more unanswered riddles than ever before.

1909 Douglas Mawson reaches the southern magnetic pole. Babcock proposes empirical theory of sunspot cycle. Faraday tries to detect a dynamo current in water flowing in the Earth’s field. concludes from their magnetization that reversals were real. too) obey an inverse squares law. sunspot cycle widely accepted. later introduces disk dynamo. Mariner 2 maps solar wind and its streams. Sabine finds evidence that magnetic storms follow the sunspot cycle. Kristian Birkeland begins experimenting with electron beams and terrellas.” Drake proposes Jupiter has a radiation belt. Faraday discovers electrical induction. von Humboldt urges Gauss to study magnetism. later shows magnetic forces (electric ones. 1959 Tom Gold coins word “magnetosphere. and Hines. Edmond Halley conducts the first magnetic survey. Bernard Brunhes publishes first evidence of reversely magnetized rocks. 1912 Arthur Schuster proposes magnetic storms are evidence for a “ring current” in space. 1946 Walter Elsasser tries to calculate dynamo solutions. 1931 Alfred Wegener dies in the snows of Greenland.” the first battery. Oersted discovers magnetism due to electric currents. The Rosses and Sabine reach the northern magnetic pole. 1963 Morley.” later (1836 –1839) develops spherical harmonic analysis of the scalar magnetic potential. circling the Earth.” He also suggests aurora is caused by electron beams emitted from the Sun. Henri Poincare calculates a simple ´ motion of trapped particles. 1919 Joseph Larmor proposes that magnetic fields of sunspots may be produced by a self-sustaining dynamo action. 1951 Jan Hospers publishes study of Icelandic lavas. Gauss founds “Gottingen Magnetic ¨ Union.B-26 ● Stern: A MILLENNIUM OF GEOMAGNETISM 40. Andre-Marie Ampere explains ´ ´ magnetism in terms of forces between electric currents. enveloping the Earth’s magnetic field. Birkeland proposes the existence of “polar magnetic storms. Graham in London and Celsius in Sweden observe simultaneous magnetic perturbations due to the polar aurora. 1957 Sputnik 1 and 2 begin the era of spaceflight. 1961 Hess and Dietz propose Earth’s crust spreads out from mid-ocean ridges. Vine. Eugene Parker predicts the solar wind. and Matthews propose that magnetic banding of the ocean floor . 1955 Franklin and Burke detect radio emissions from Jupiter. 1962 Magnetopause crossed by Explorer 12. Heinrich Schwabe publishes first evidence for the sunspot cycle. 1930 Chapman and Ferraro suggest magnetic storms are due to plasma clouds from the sun (not electron beams). Eugene Parker proposes way for solar toroidal fields to strengthen the poloidal field. Later Gauss develops method to measure magnetic intensity and an electrical telegraph. 1918 Alfred Wegener publishes The Origin of the Continents and Oceans. Coulomb introduces his torsion balance. Fred Singer proposes a ring current carried by trapped low-energy particles. followed by large magnetic storm. 1958 Explorers 1 and 3 discover the inner radiation belt. 1952 Runcorn promotes “polar wandering” to explain magnetic reversals. George Graham discovers diurnal variation of declination. Hale uses the “Zeeman effect” to show sunspots are intensely magnetic. Richard Carrington observes white light solar flare. Henry Gellibrand discovers the secular variation of declination. Axford. Magnetic reconnection and plasma convection in the magnetosphere proposed by Dungey. von Humboldt publishes Schwabe’s work. Pieter Zeeman discovers splitting of spectral lines emitted in magnetic field. 1929 Motonori Matuyama produces evidence that reversely magnetized rocks may have originated when the Earth’s magnetic polarity had reversed. 1933 Thomas Cowling proves self-sustained dynamos are never axisymmetric. 3 / REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS 1634 1699 1722 1741 1777 1801 1820 1820 1828 1831 1832 1834 1843 1851 1852 1859 1892 1895 1896 1903 1906 1908 itself is a great magnet. George Ellery Hale introduces spectroheliograph. Alessandro Volta demonstrates his “voltaic pile. at the edge of Antarctica. 1947 Giovanelli: magnetic neutral points near sunspots are site of flare energy release.

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