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This Week at Physics

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Events on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Department Meeting
Time: 12:15 pm
Place: 5310 Chamberlin Hall
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Special Plasma Seminar
"Geomagnetic Secular Variation as a Window on the Dynamics of Earth's Core"
Time: 2:15 pm
Place: 2241 Chamberlin Hall
Speaker: Andrew Jackson, ETH Zurich
Abstract: One of the forefront questions of planetary geophysics is to understand how magnetic fields can be spontaneously created by so-called dynamo action. Giant strides have been taken in recent years in understanding the theory of convectively driven dynamos; yet equally important is the marriage between theory and observation. I will argue that we are on the cusp of a new level of understanding
brought about by new methods for incorporating observations and theory, akin to those used in meteorology and oceanography. In 1950 Sir Edward Bullard wrote an influential paper entitled "The westward drift of the Earth's magnetic field", with coauthors C Freedman, H Gellman and J Nixon. A comprehensive study of observations was tied together with the then nascent dynamo theory to infer properties
of the dynamics of the core. Sixty years on, we have a much enriched understanding of the theory of convectively driven dynamos, and an even more comprehensive database of observations stretching back several centuries. Equally important are the new satellite observations that provide global coverage with unprecedented accuracy over the last decade. In this talk I will try to show how the interplay between theory and observation can lead to beter understanding of the dynamical regime in the core.
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