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Friday 27th May 2016
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Would life exist if Earth didn’t have a magnetic field?


The world has a magnetic field which is created when the Earth reflects radiation from the sun. Would life be possible if we didn’t have a magnetic field?
David, High Wycombe


** Definitive **
Name: Andrew, Islington
Qualification: I like reading pop science books
Answer: We would not exist without the protection we get from the big iron core in the centre of the Earth which creates this magnetic field around us. The sun throws off huge amounts of radiation – a massive nuclear reaction – and these particles fly towards us unimpeded. If it wasn’t for the magnetic shield, they would hit us and it would destroy parts of your DNA. You wouldn’t fry, but you would get radiation sickness. The magnetic field repels the radiation by bending the particles’ route – the solar wind – around the Earth. That’s what the Aurora Borealis is towards the North pole.