This Incredible Image Reveals the Shape of Our Galaxy's Magnetic Field

Mesmerizing Aurora in Dramatic Landscapes of Fire, Ice, and Shadow

Aurora are beautiful, but the fire and smoke of Bárðarbunga step it up to gorgeous. The weekend kicked off with the Earth putting on a glorious display of green, blue, purple, and red, and countless photographers braved varied terrain to capture the ephemeral light for your viewing pleasure. » 9/13/14 12:01pm 9/13/14 12:01pm

A Timelapse Of Our Planet's Surprisingly Turbulent Magnetic Field

The ESA's SWARM trio of satellites are up-and-running. Here's a sweet animation put together using its first set of high-resolution scans showing the most recent changes in the magnetic field that protects our planet. » 6/19/14 4:40pm 6/19/14 4:40pm

Earth's magnetic field just might be gearing up for a reversal

Our planet's magnetic field periodically flips its direction, with the magnetic North and South Poles switching places. Such a reversal could wreak havoc on human society — and there's now reason to think one could happen soon... in geological terms, at least. » 7/15/12 1:28pm 7/15/12 1:28pm

Scientists use trout to unlock the secrets of magnetic cells

This trout looks guilty for a reason. It's hiding one of nature's most intriguing mysteries: the secret of magnetoception. For decades, behavioral experiments have suggested that a variety of animals possess this ability to sense — and navigate by — the Earth's magnetic fields, but identifying what, exactly, endows… » 7/10/12 8:30am 7/10/12 8:30am

How turtles sense Earth's drifting magnetic field

Turtles are one of many species that use their sense of Earth's magnetic field to navigate great distances. But the magnetic field is constantly drifting, and that can cause major confusion in such a long-lived species. Here's their ingenious solution. » 1/04/12 12:41pm 1/04/12 12:41pm

Quantum locking will blow your mind — but how does it work?

If case you haven't seen it yet, here's the quantum levitation (or, more accurately, quantum locking) video that's taken the internet by storm in the last 36 hours. » 10/18/11 12:59pm 10/18/11 12:59pm

Ultra-hot superconductors could spontaneously form in the vacuum of…

A hundred years ago next week, superconductivity was discovered. Now we know electric charge can flow through ultra-cold objects without resistance. How better to celebrate this anniversary than with an awesomely crazy idea about ultra-hot superconductors forming in deep space? » 3/30/11 4:00pm 3/30/11 4:00pm

Birds might actually be using quantum mechanics to find their way…

Finally a story about birds that doesn't involve them falling out of the sky. We know that robins, like many other animals, uses the Earth's magnetic field to navigate, but we don't know how. The answer could be quantum mechanics. » 1/09/11 2:30pm 1/09/11 2:30pm

The Earth's Magnetic Polarity is Due for a Reversal

Armed with a gigantic, spinning steel ball, researchers hope to simulate the Earth's magnetic field and discover how likely it is that our planet's magnetic polarity will flip sometime soon. Our magnetic field has reversed polarity in the past many times, though not in the last 780,000 years. So it's unclear what… » 9/18/08 12:20pm 9/18/08 12:20pm

Is Earth's Magnetic Field Failing Us?

Forget the ozone layer, global warming, and all of the other things environmentalists whine about: the one thing holding life together here on Earth is its powerful magnetic field. And for the past 150 years that humans have been measuring it, our only line of defense against deadly cosmic and solar radiation has… » 6/06/08 9:32am 6/06/08 9:32am

Magnetic Structures Larger Than the Sun

We've long seen the results of solar flares on Earth, but haven't been able to predict when they'll strike next. New research released last week has given us a better understanding of solar weather. The massive, looping jets of superheated gas that erupt from the sun are driven by giant magnetic structures that… » 4/08/08 11:40am 4/08/08 11:40am

Never Lose Your Balls Again

Adidas yesterday announced the rollout of a new space-age soccer ball that knows where it is. As it rolls around the soccer field, the smart ball uses a magnetic field to figure out its location — particularly when it's near the goal — and relays the data to the referee. No more analyzing footage to figure out what… » 12/14/07 10:06am 12/14/07 10:06am