An engrossing history of the science of one of the four fundamental physical forces in the universe, electromagnetism, right up to the latest indications that the poles are soon to reverse and destroy the world's power grids and electronic communications
A cataclysmic planetary phenomenon is gathering force deep within the Earth. The magnetic North Pole will eventually trade places with the South Pole. Satellite evidence suggests to some scientists that the move has already begun, but most still think it won't happen for many decades. All agree that it has happened many times before and will happen again. But this time it will be different. It will be a very bad day for modern civilization.
Award-winning science journalist Alanna Mitchell tells in The Spinning Magnet the fascinating history of one of the four fundamental physical forces in the universe, electromagnetism. From investigations into magnetism in 13th-century feudal France and the realization 600 years later in the Victorian era that electricity and magnetism were essentially the same, to the discovery that Earth was itself a magnet, spinning in space with two poles and that those poles aperiodically reverse, this is a utterly engrossing narrative history of ideas and science that listeners of Stephen Greenblatt and Sam Kean will love.
The recent finding that Earth's magnetic force field is decaying 10 times faster than previously thought, portending an imminent pole reversal, ultimately gives this story a spine-tingling urgency. When the poles switch, a process that takes many years, Earth is unprotected from solar radiation storms that would, among other things, wipe out all electromagnetic technology. No satellites, no Internet, no smartphones - maybe no power grid at all. Such potentially cataclysmic solar storms are not unusual. The last one occurred in 2012, and we avoided returning to the Dark Ages only because the part of the sun that erupted happened to be facing away from Earth. One leading US researcher is already drawing maps of the parts of the planet that would likely become uninhabitable.
Very informative. Great history. Flawless editing. EXTREMELY boring. I've read many history books, geology books, and The Great Courses, some exceeding 40hrs in length, but this one was the most difficult to finish. I literally had to turn it off several times while driving because it was putting me to sleep. That being said, I'm happy to have read it and gained the new knowledge.
Some terminology a little hard to grasp, but the pace and explanations usually pulled me through to a facinating perception of our World...our lil' Blue Marble in Space! 😉
What did you love best about The Spinning Magnet?
It is a unique book that deals with a scientific subject rarely addressed by other books--earth's magnetism. Although the author is not a scientist, he has superbly brought together developments in physics and geophysics and woven it as a story which includes great scientists of the past who contributed to the discoveries. The author actually visited many of the laboratories mentioned in the book and interviewed key scientists Thus, the book deals with a very interesting subject but also has a very human touch and humor.
What about P.J. Ochlan’s performance did you like?
The narration was pleasant, well paced and clear
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Yes, but I could not
Any additional comments?
I learned a lot of new things about terrestrial and celestial magnetism that I was unaware of despite having studied physics and despite keeping up with the developments in physics.
Would you consider the audio edition of The Spinning Magnet to be better than the print version?
I've not read the print version
What other book might you compare The Spinning Magnet to, and why?
There are a number of similar books that I would recommend - I'll mention them later.
Any additional comments?
If you have a vague understanding of current physics/cosmology, start here to rapidly expand your knowledge. The author is a journalist and gives a grounded (easily understandable) view of the way things work at the atomic level. I will be listening to this book again and again. It really is quite special (and scary for the future).
Then go to...
'The Quantum Astrologers Handbook' (Brooks - Quantum Mechanics - odd, but loved it)
'Reality Is Not What It Seems (Rovelli - Quantum Loop Theory - this guy is the best, I'm now a QLT believer)
'Our Mathematical Universe (Tegmark - multiverse but get's deeper into why maths is odd) then...
'Ripples in Spacetime (Schilling - GravWaves - amazing, v highly recommended).
I've just started on Parallel Worlds by Michio Kaku. It's a few years out of date (pre-LHC) but you need the previous books mentioned to grasp some of the concepts he throws out as asides.