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Name: Tarel
Status: Student
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 


Question:
I am a geology honors student researching the cause of the K-T extinction. I am familiar with the various meteor, volcano, climatic change, etc. theories, my professor has also advised that every extinction event has also been accompanied by a pole reversal. From my understanding of the earth's magnetic field it absorbs all the gamma, x-rays and 1/2 of the uv radiation which is then fed into the earth at the poles. I have read information which states these reversals can occur rather quickly -- in a matter of months. I am wondering whether there is any scientific basis to believe that a pole reversal of an appropriate length would cause sufficient radiation deaths and mutations in the gene pool to cause an extinction event and the subsequent new diversity of life forms. Why or why not?



Replies:
Well, I'm not going to answer your whole question, but I do feel called to clear up one misconception you have. The earth's magnetic field helps to funnel only charged particles to the poles - uncharged radiation, such as gamma, uv, and x-rays, are completely unaffected by magnetic fields. The radiation that the earth's magnetic field deflects are ions - protons and cosmic rays (energetic extrasolar ions).

Dr. Barrans



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