Alanna Mitchell

Award-winning Canadian science journalist.

Did you know that our planet is a big, spinning magnet?

Or that it is constantly making and remaking its own magnetic field? Or that, right now, there is a titanic battle going on inside the Earth’s molten core as different magnetic factions wage war against each other, striving for dominance?

It’s true. Not only that, but this intimate internal battle is gaining strength and these rearguard cabals are trying to topple the system we have now. When they succeed, the Earth’s two normal magnetic poles – north and south – begin the long trek to switch places. North becomes south. South becomes north. In physics-speak, the planet’s magnetic field changes direction.

The process can take as much as thousands of years. And during that time, the magnetic field wastes away to about a tenth of its usual force, exposing everything on the planet to dangerous solar and cosmic rays.

That could scotch the electromagnetic structure of civilization, putting us back into the equivalent of the Victorian era, technologically speaking. Creatures on Earth will be exposed to more UV radiation and their ability to navigate to find food and mates could be impaired, even highly endangered ones like sea turtles and whales.

Yet hardly anyone on Earth knows that this is afoot.

That’s why I wrote my new book The Spinning Magnet. It tracks the story of how we know all this, including the fantastic findings of the 20th century that proved that the Earth’s magnetic poles have switched places many times and the up-to-the-minute analysis that tells us that our planet’s molten core is in such turmoil right now that the poles may be forced to change places once more.

It’s been breathtaking to research and write.

Take a look:

“Alanna Mitchell weaves a scientific mystery in the best possible way, exploring the ancient puzzle of our planet’s electromagnetic field, following scientists as they attempt to decipher its clues, leading us to a better understanding of Earth’s invisible and powerful electromagnetic field. The result is a compelling tale of unseen and unforeseen natural forces – and a reminder that we’ve staked our home on a planet that remains infinitely strange, dangerous – and ever full of wonder.” Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York

“A spellbinding scientific detective story, told over the ages…nimbly explains magnetism’s role in everything that matters. Each chapter is filled with exciting new revelations written in clear, crisp prose. A skilled writer, Mitchell puts magnetism on the map!” Timothy J. Jorgensen, author of Strange Glow: The Story of Radiation

“Alanna Mitchell pulls off the rare trifecta in science writing: an engrossing plot of a planetary mystery, authentic character portraits of scientists and their passion for their work, and explanations of complex physics in easily understandable terms.” Sabine Stanley, professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins University

“The Earth’s magnetic field – an invisible cloak that shields our bodies and our technologies from deadly harm – tends to be taken for granted. In reality it’s a fickle, ill-understood phenomenon… [The Spinning Magnet is] an engrossing book that features a new surprise on every page.” Sean Carroll, author of The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself

“A fascinating untold story of science that is full of mystery and intrigue, and written with a great deal of style.” Mark Mlodownik, author of Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvellous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World

11 thoughts on “Home

  1. Andy Miller says:

    Alanna. Looking forward to your show in Vancouver. We want you to share this scientific mystery with us at a global conference….of 1500 climate crisis psychologists, coaches, and wellness practitioners, whose clients are spinning out. Our job is to shepherd clients through liminal space.. Here is the backgrounder for our conference which we are calling a festival of creative coaching.


  2. Andy Miller says:

    We want you to share this scientific mystery with us at a conference….if climate crisis psychologists, coaches, and wellness practitioners whose clients are spinning out. Our job is to sober herd them through this liminal space. Here is the backgrounder in our conference which we are calling a festival of creative coaching.


  3. Albert W. Taylor AOCA says:

    Good Alanna
    With reference to your writings on Beothuk history and in particular the maps drawn by Shanawdithit. I was born in Millertown on the shores of Red Indian Lake and at the age of thirteen became fascinated by those maps as published in Howleys book which was in the school library. That was in 1953 and I have been searching to identify the location those incidents. I have documented an in depth transition of the lake and in 1996 identified the location, in my viewpoint, where all those incidents occurred but without a voice endless conclusions are unknown. Help.
    I would like to share these viewpoints as I have longer on the shores of the lake than Shanawdithit.
    With Thanks


  4. Darrell Beaton says:

    I just came across an old copy of Canadian geographic dated October 29, 2018. I finished reading your article titled “Outbrake”. I thought this article to be a very informative and it filled in a lot of gaps about the Spanish flu and pandemic history. It was really really informative and I thank you for this. You were ahead of the curve!


  5. Steven Dirst says:

    Just finished,your excellent book The Spinning Magnet. Well done. Informative and entertaining. Hats off!


  6. Hi, Bobby. If you’re still interested in getting in touch, could you please try me on email — thanks


  7. Hi! Sorry I missed this until now. Sure, I’d be delighted to join your talk show, if you’re still interested. My email is


  8. jraineswgnam says:

    Hi Alanna!
    I’m a producer for WGN Radio in Chicago. My station broadcasts 38 states and part of Canada. I was wondering if you would be interested in joining our talk show Sat morning (2-5am my time) to talk about thr changing if the poles, Spinning Magnet. My host is fascinated with it and we’ve been looking for a great interview. I know it’s early, but I do podcast after the show so I can send you a link to listen. We feel live interviews are better, and my host has a decent following. Please let me know if you’re interested, or if we could work something out!
    I look forward to hearing from you.


  9. Steven R Warren says:

    I just read your article about Earth’s impending magnetic field reversal. I’m most concerned about my toilet being impossible to flush, as you state. Can you give me tips on how to fix this? Do I need a bigger magnet for my toilet? Hopefully President Trump will stop the magnetic field from reversing. Keep up the great journalism!


  10. Stephen John Langford says:

    Dear Alannah Mitchell,

    Just wanted your say that your show in Sydney was terrific and brave. I suggest people be encouraged to join with other people, maybe join Friends of the Earth, or maybe the Greens, or (like me) Socialist Alliance, and not to be left alone feeling inadequate with the invaluable information you gave us. People have to connect, not feel isolated, and take action.

    I am putting all my Canadian relatives onto you. Well done, what you are doing. You would find a friendly ally in my relative, Freda Guttman in Montreal, I think.

    Best wishes…. Stephen Langford OT (Order of Timor)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: