Earth’s inner core (shown as bright yellow-white in this image) may have stopped spinning now.
of the world The inner core may have stopped spinning and is about to potentially spin in the opposite direction in the latest mind-blowing science news.
So what does all this mean?
Well, Earth has an inner core composed mainly of solid iron. It’s about 70% as wide as the Moon and separated from the rest of the Earth by a liquid outer core.
This outer core has a magnetic field that affects the rotation of the inner layer, while the gravitational force of the upper level, known as the mantle, also affects the rotation of the core.
This new study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Geoscience and led by scientists Yi Yang and Xiaodong Song from Beijing University in China, suggests that the inner core may have stopped spinning in the past decade.
Song and Yang told Vice that there are two major forces acting on the inner core – the electromagnetic force and the other being gravity.
There is an element of “check and war” between these two powers.
“We’re seeing strong evidence that the inner core is spinning faster than the surface. [but] It almost stopped around 2009,” Yang and Song said.
“Now it’s moving slowly[ing] In the opposite direction.”
Should we be worried?
It sounds like a big deal, but actually below the surface, Earth is pretty chaotic, so it’s not as alarming as it sounds.
The researchers came to this conclusion by looking at data from the seismic waves emitted by earthquakes that have managed to reach the Earth’s inner core for their study over the past 60 years.
And indeed, it was first revealed in the ’90s that the inner core regularly changes direction, but since then researchers have been divided over the exact speed of the spins.
In fact, Yang and Song believe from their research that this could be “a comeback in a decade of oscillation, with yet another turning point in the early 1970s.”
The scientists suggested that this “oscillation” cycle would likely last seventy years, so the inner core spends 35 years in one direction and 35 years in the other.
Still, not everyone agrees with these findings.
Geophysicist John Vidale of the University of Southern California was not involved in the research, but said the most reliable conclusion from this new study is that “this past 10-year period has had less activity than before.”
Do these findings matter?
It could help scientists understand how what’s going on deep within the Earth’s surface affects life where we live, such as how long each day is.
Song described the inner core as “planet within planet, so how it moves is obviously very important” – but how exactly the core works is still unknown.
It’s still unclear how fast the inner core spins and whether it changes.
Vidale told The New York Times: “It’s likely unrelated to life on the surface, but we don’t really know what it is. It’s up to us to figure it out.”