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== Latest comic ==
 
== Latest comic ==

Revision as of 02:09, 19 June 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have an explanation for all 5 xkcd comics, and only 0 (0%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Magnetic Pole
People keep trying to come up with reasons that we should worry about the magnetic field collapsing or reversing, but honestly I think it's fine. Whatever minor problems it causes will be made up for by the mid-latitude auroras.
Title text: People keep trying to come up with reasons that we should worry about the magnetic field collapsing or reversing, but honestly I think it's fine. Whatever minor problems it causes will be made up for by the mid-latitude auroras.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a CONVECTION CURRENT IN THE OUTER CORE and a thing happening. Well, four things. Well, four things and a lizard. Include relevant wikipedia and news article links. Please mention here why this explanation isn't complete. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

Over the last couple of months, Earth's magnetic fields have been shifting rapidly. Although the magnetic fields do move regularly, the current shift has been unexpected and unprecedented. As many location systems are reliant on the magnetic fields to function, the accuracy of such tools is being shifted beyond the maximum acceptable error.

Locational and navigational systems use the magnetic field, in addition to a model, to do fancy math and pop out data. Due to the rapid shifts, a new model was scheduled to be out; however, because of the US government shutdown, the model has been considerably delayed.

As shifts occur, the error of geopositional data will increase until a new model is released. The effect is especially pronounced as you move toward the poles.

Cueball is saying that because of the currently published magnetic declination data being slightly incorrect, his schooners (old merchant sailing ships) may go off-course and crash on shoals. This is to illustrate how magnetic pole shift doesn't actually have much of an effect on too many people's daily lives, since most people don't need to worry about things like ship navigation and modern ships use navigation aids that does not rely on magnetic poles location – in contrast to old vessels which used a compass mostly.

Since the movement is only equal to about two-fifths of a degree, it wouldn't cause very much disruption for Cueball or require him to adjust anything about his lifestyle or habits, but since the speed of the change has been steadily increasing over the past few years, it may mean we are heading for a geomagnetic reversal in the next few decades; something very exciting indeed. During a magnetic reversal, the poles wouldn't just switch places, but several different poles would form and interact very chaotically, and, statistically speaking, it's likely that one of them would end up close enough to where Randall lives to cause auroras to become more common at some point during the transition

In the title text, Randall mentions that there are reasons people could be concerned, but says that they would be more than made up for by newly being able to experience mid latitude auroras.

Transcript

[White Hat and Cueball are talking to each other. White Hat has a cellphone in his hand, while Cueball is raising his hands in the air in mock exasperation.]
White Hat: I just read that the Earth's North magnetic pole is drifting rapidly.
Cueball: Oh no! I must update our declination tables post haste, lest our merchant schooners run aground on the shoals!
[Caption below the panel:]
I like when the Earth's magnetic field does weird stuff, because it's a huge, cool, urgent-seeming science thing, but there's nothing I personally need to do about it.


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