Magnetic Movie

Magnetic Movie

Magnetic Movie

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
July 9 2008 10:53 AM

Magnetic Movie

You are immersed in magnetic fields right now. Your computer, your house, your office, your street, your TV, your iPod... they all have magnetic fields around them, and you are embedded in them as well.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

The Earth's field surrounds all of us, and that interacts with the Sun's field, which goes out and touches Mars. For billions more miles beyond that, the Sun reaches out, and that has effects that can be measured.

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But now you can see them. Magnetic Movie, created by the company Semiconductor Films and filmed at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratories, uses animations based on magnetic measurements to visualize these fields. The result is a beautiful and yet very eerie -- and sometimes downright creepy -- movie depicting how these fields interact.

Magnetic fields are incredibly difficult to model and understand. I had to take a crash course when I was writing the chapter about solar flares in my book Death from the Skies!, and it was the hardest part of the whole writing process. I relied heavily on my friend (and genius) Craig DeForest, a solar astrophysicist here in Boulder at Southwest Research Institute. He schooled me multiple times on the ridiculous complexity of the solar magnetic field. The magnetic animation movie would have helped me a lot in understanding how this stuff works.

Tip o' the Faraday cage to BABloggee Rene Maggio.