Does East become West?

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tom_hobbes

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Am I right in assuming that the after the next magnetic pole reversal East and West would logically have to be reversed also? Or would we just reverse NESW to become NWSE?<br /><br />The reason I got started thinking about it was this quote which turned up in David Langfords online fanzine, Ansible, which has a section devoted to noteworthy blunders.<br /><br />"A tall fountain of spray reached skyward, high enough that its top was touched red by the light of the sun rising in the west." From, <i>The Sword</i> by S.M. Stirling and David Drake <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#339966"> I wish I could remember<br /> But my selective memory<br /> Won't let me</font><font size="2" color="#99cc00"> </font><font size="3" color="#339966"><font size="2">- </font></font><font size="1" color="#339966">Mark Oliver Everett</font></p><p> </p> </div>
 
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askold

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Only the magnetic directions would change, not the geographic directions.<br /><br />Already, fewer people are using magnetic compasses - I mainly use GPS on my sailboat. By the time the magnetic poles change, I would guess that you'd only be able to find a magnetic compass in a museum, so it wouldn't matter.
 
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CalliArcale

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Yep. Geographic north is not defined by the magnetic field of the Earth. The reason for this is simple -- "north" was defined thousands of years before magnetism was discovered and exploited to produce compasses. People generally worked out which way was north by observing the Sun, which is more difficult but also more reliable.<br /><br />There is evidence that the Earth's magnetic pole has switched directions many times. I suppose we're just lucky that in the entire time humans have been using magnetic compasses, it hasn't switched once. It's drifted, but it hasn't actually reversed. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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askold

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Though some animals may not be so happy about the change. I read somewhere that scientists think that some migratory animals have the equivalent of a magnetic compass built into their nervous system. <br /><br />Hopefully, the magnetic field change will occur slowly so that animals get used to the change and geese don't fly north for the winter.
 
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siarad

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Seemingly humans do too so may be equally confused. Further we have a homing ability. Years ago a UK Uni. carried out experiments by taking a group of blindfolded students on a confusing journey & then asked then to point to the source direction & estimate the distance. They were surprisingly accurate & I seem to recall seeing Carol Mather now Vorderman, UK TV, amonst them.
 
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tom_hobbes

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I think birds use environmental cues as much as magnetic allignment. In an experiment a number of migratory birds were fitted with magnets to confuse them. They flew in the wrong direction till sunrise or sunset, at which point they reset their compass, as it were, and once more flew in the right direction. If I can find the study again, I'll post a link. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#339966"> I wish I could remember<br /> But my selective memory<br /> Won't let me</font><font size="2" color="#99cc00"> </font><font size="3" color="#339966"><font size="2">- </font></font><font size="1" color="#339966">Mark Oliver Everett</font></p><p> </p> </div>
 
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Saiph

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anyway, most compasses you use when camping and such, have a colored needle. You just have to remember that it's backwards (white is south now...), and viola! You're good to go. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p align="center"><font color="#c0c0c0"><br /></font></p><p align="center"><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">--------</font></em></font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">--------</font></em></font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">----</font></em></font><font color="#666699">SaiphMOD@gmail.com </font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">-------------------</font></em></font></p><p><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">"This is my Timey Wimey Detector.  Goes "bing" when there's stuff.  It also fries eggs at 30 paces, wether you want it to or not actually.  I've learned to stay away from hens: It's not pretty when they blow" -- </font></em></font><font size="1" color="#999999">The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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tom_hobbes

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He he...<img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />You're all correct. I just wanted to enjoy the idea of the sun rising in the west...<img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#339966"> I wish I could remember<br /> But my selective memory<br /> Won't let me</font><font size="2" color="#99cc00"> </font><font size="3" color="#339966"><font size="2">- </font></font><font size="1" color="#339966">Mark Oliver Everett</font></p><p> </p> </div>
 
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CalliArcale

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>I think birds use environmental cues as much as magnetic allignment. In an experiment a number of migratory birds were fitted with magnets to confuse them. They flew in the wrong direction till sunrise or sunset, at which point they reset their compass, as it were, and once more flew in the right direction. If I can find the study again, I'll post a link.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Now that's interesting!<br /><br />I recall a case recently where homing pigeons (which are known to be able to detect the magnetic field of the Earth) were demonstrated to not rely on magnetism for navigation. They may use it when they don't know the way, but if they're familiar with the area, they go off of landmarks. Homing pigeons fitted with GPS transmitters (but not otherwise confused in any way) were found to not take the shortest path home. Instead, they followed freeways and rivers. My guess would be that while the shortest path is the fastest, the path following visual cues is either easier, or more enjoyable to the birds, or possibly both. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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