As seen this week: some interesting paleomagnetic news out of Cambridge

Regular readers of our blog may be familiar with the work of Dr. Richard Harrison. We’ve discussed in the past how Professor Harrison’s Nanopaleomagnetism Group at the University of Cambridge has used our VSM/AGM system for paleomagnetic research. Also, last year, he authored a Magnetics Technology International article on the use of first order reversal curves (FORCs) for characterizing the magnetic properties of meteoritic materials, research performed with the help of our VSM/AGM. So it was nice to see his department receive some well-deserved publicity this week in the Washington Post, on the BBC, and in other mass media.

The BBC article, “Meteorite is ‘hard drive’ from space,” explains in everyday language how studying ancient metal-rich meteorites can provide insights into what may one day happen with the Earth’s magnetic core.

As noted in a university news article about the research, by analyzing the magnetization of the meteoritic metal on a nanoscale level, researchers were able to “capture the precise moment when the core of the meteorite’s parent asteroid froze, killing its magnetic field.” According to Dr. Harrison, this information “will help us understand how these processes affected the Earth in the past and provide a possible glimpse of what might happen in the future.”

It should be noted that our VSM/AGM was not used in this research. Nano measurements of this magnitude require very high resolution x-ray imaging, so the team at Cambridge relied on the BESSY II synchrotron of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) research center for their work.

For more about the group’s findings, see the paper published in this week’s Nature journal (subscription required).

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