THE GREATEST disturbance in Earth’s magnetic field in Bratislava is in the vicinity of parliament and the castle, researchers from the Geomagnetic Observatory in Hurbanovo have discovered. It is probably caused by the electrical current from trams, the SITA newswire reported.
It is believed disturbances in the geomagnetic field can influence people and their ability to concentrate, which in extreme cases can result in accidents.
“Its influence on humans has not been sufficiently explored yet,” Igor Túnyi, a member of the board of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV) said. "Albert Einstein described the geomagnetic field as one of the biggest mysteries of physics."
The field is most disturbed during so-called geomagnetic storms caused by strong solar eruptions, which typically occur three or four times a year. People cannot detect them, but they can be measured using scientific equipment. A large magnetic storm occurred on November 17, 1989, at the start of the Velvet Revolution which ended communism in Czechoslovakia.
Scientists have also explored the magnetic field in connection with the birth of state officials. For instance, Túnyi said that Prime Minister Robert Fico was born at a time of absolute magnetic stability, while Education Minister Ján Mikolaj was born during a big magnetic storm.
The geomagnetic field is crucial for life on Earth, since it creates a natural shield against cosmic radiation without which life here would end. Its oscillations reflect processes in the Earth’s core. The field affects the signal of telephones, computers, and TV-sets, and information about it is used in aviation and by the armed forces. The biggest distortion in the field in Slovakia occurs near Banská Štiavnica, which is surrounded by ore mines.
The Geomagnetic Observatory of the Geophysical Institute of the SAV in Hurbanovo is one of the oldest in Europe.
It was founded in 1896 by the aristocrat and scientific enthusiast Mikuláš Konkoly-Thege. Today, it is a member of the global Intermagnet network.
21. Jul 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by Jana Liptáková from press reports