If you feel like things are spinning out of control, there may be a good reason. Scientists have recently discovered that the Earth’s inner solid core is spinning faster than the planet itself. Two researchers at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y., made the discovery by analyzing data from 50 earthquake locations and from nuclear tests that took place between 1967 and 1995.
The solid iron inner core, which is 3/4 the size of the moon, is surrounded by a liquid iron outer core. The interaction between the two generates the Earth’s magnetic field (for more on the Earth’s magnetic field see “Compass master,” Issue No. 76). The inner core is moving fast enough to complete a rotation more quickly than the rest of the planet. In 100 years the inner core advances a quarter turn ahead of the rest of the Earth.