Skip Navigation

Earth's Magnetic Field

The magnetic field is like a bar magnet inside Earth; the magnetic field can flip.

Atoms Practice
Estimated4 minsto complete
Practice Earth's Magnetic Field
This indicates how strong in your memory this concept is
Estimated4 minsto complete
Practice Now
Turn In
Sixth Sense
Teacher Contributed

A Sixth Sense

Why It Matters

What if you could determine your direction by detecting the Earth’s magnetic field with your eyes?

Certain birds use light-sensitive magnetosensors to migrate and current studies show that we may have the ability to develop this skill as well: http://www.ks.uiuc.edu/Research/magsense/

Are we developing our sixth sense?

Explore More

  1. Birds, bats, and turtles have been known to detect the Earth’s magnetic field to orient themselves much as we use a compass. Look up the magnetic declination of where you live: http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomagmodels/Declination.jsp Why do you think that the magnetic declination of where you live is different from someone that lives further north or further south?
  2. Using NOAA’s site as a reference (http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag/faqgeom.shtml), does the magnetic pole shift over time? Draw (by hand or digitially) a story that shows how this is recorded on the ocean floor.
  3. For fun: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2008/08/25/google-earth-shows-that-cow-and-deer-herds-align-like-compass-needles/

Resources Cited

Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign. http://www.ks.uiuc.edu/Research/magsense/

NOAA. http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomagmodels/Declination.jsp

Discover Magazine. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2008/08/25/google-earth-shows-that-cow-and-deer-herds-align-like-compass-needles/

Jeanna Bryner. Live Science. http://www.livescience.com/14694-humans-sixth-sense-magnetic-fields.html

Notes/Highlights Having trouble? Report an issue.

Color Highlighted Text Notes
Please to create your own Highlights / Notes
Show More

Image Attributions

Explore More

Sign in to explore more, including practice questions and solutions for Earth's Magnetic Field.
Please wait...
Please wait...