I’ve just finished reading your new book (Magnetic Reversals and Evolutionary Leaps) and find it fascinating. It’s written to a very non-technical audience. Yet this is surely one of its great strengths. Your compilation of extinction events and the subsequent explosions of life lends itself to no gradualist interpretation. The evidence you’ve compiled cries out for explanation and you’ve not hesitated to offer one. Kudos!
My problem is that I can’t for the life of me figure out what material it is in our atmosphere (or underground, or in the ocean) that’s supposed to go critical or what forces exactly are supposed to cause that criticality. I find myself in the same boat I was in when reading Velikovsky; unable to dispute the raw facts presented (explosions seem to have happened); yet unable to wholly agree with the conclusion. (what exploded?)
Did I simply miss something?
21 Jun 09
I’ll try to explain with this excerpt from my book (pp 154-155).
Explosions in the sky
The idea of explosions in the sky recently got a big boost from NASA.
NASA launched a fleet of spacecraft in early 1997 to study eruptions of Northern Lights called substorms. One unexpected result of the mission, dubbed THEMIS, was that the satellites observed small explosions in the earth’s magnetic bow shock where the solar wind first feels the effects of the earth’s magnetic field.
Sometimes a burst of electrical current within the solar wind will hit the bow shock and—Bang! We get an explosion.” said David Sibeck, project scientist for the mission at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
The satellites also confirmed the existence of giant magnetic ropes – twisted bundles of magnetic fields – connecting the earth’s upper atmosphere directly to the sun. “We believe that solar wind particles flow in along these ropes, providing energy for geomagnetic storms and auroras,” said Sibeck.
During a substorm over Alaska and Canada in 2007, the THEMIS mission spotted auroras surging westward twice as fast as anyone thought possible, crossing 15 degrees of longitude in less than one minute. The storm traversed an entire polar time zone, or 400 miles in 60 seconds flat, said Vassilis Angelopoulos, the mission’s principal investigator at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Angelopoulos estimated the total energy of the two-hour event at five hundred thousand billion Joules, equivalent to the energy of a magnitude 5.5 earthquake.
The first magnetic rope that THEMIS encountered was very large, about as wide as the earth, and was located approximately 40,000 miles (70,000 km) above the earth in an area called the magnetopause. The rope formed and unraveled in just a few minutes, providing a brief but significant conduit for solar wind.
If such explosions can happen in today’s world, just imagine how close to earth those explosions could occur during a magnetic reversal when we’ve almost completely – perhaps completely – lost our magnetic shielding.
See entire NASA article:
So there you have it, Joe. One quote from the NASA article that I didn’t include in the book might help:
The satellites have found evidence of magnetic ropes connecting Earth’s upper atmosphere directly to the sun,” said David Sibeck, project scientist for the mission at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. “We believe that solar wind particles flow in along these ropes, providing energy for geomagnetic storms and auroras.
We’re looking at the incredible power of electromagnetic forces, Joe. The particles in the solar wind spiral toward the earth on those magnetic ropes. When they come in contact with our magnetopause they collide with other particles to create those giant explosions.
It’s a giant particle accelerator aimed directly at our heads.
I hope this helps.
 THEMIS: Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during substorms
 When describing the explosions, NASA didn’t define the word “small.” But if the energy of the two-hour event was equivalent to the energy released by a magnitude
5.5 earthquake, the explosions must have been at least as large as that early-morning blast over Tunkuska.
 The magnetopause is where the solar wind and earth’s magnetic field meet and push against one another.