Up and down! What?

What happens when magnetic reversals occur? This is what I asked my professor during my first year at university when he mentioned the “reversals of the Earth’s magnetic field” and I remember that joking he answered: we will be “up and down”!

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Figure 1: Cartoon of a man being up and down.

Well, this would be an interesting experience but instead of us, our compass needle is reversing! This may sound boring but there is a lot more around this phenomenon. No human on Earth has experienced a magnetic reversal as we are too young for that (the latest one occurred 780,000 years ago); however there is evidence that it happened many times in the Earth’s history. Its discovery has played a major role in the development of Earth Science. Continue reading

From Volcanoes to Atolls: Science below a Disney/Pixar Short film

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Image 1: Disney/Pixar®

Science, Hollywood, a smiling volcano…. What do those things have in common? The Disney/Pixar short film presented with Inside Out! Science in films is not often successful or “scientific”. Just have a look at 2012, The Core, Japan sinks, Volcano, Dante’s peak, and maybe many others. Therefore it is a nice surprise to see that there can be science below this recent short film called “Lava”.

This film tells the story of a volcanic island “in the middle of the sea”, from its active state to its extinction. It’s based on Big Island (Hawaii) and its evolution. I propose you have a look at the science of “Lava” just by following the lyrics. Continue reading