Earth’s inner core has recently stopped spinning, and may now be reversing the direction of its rotation, according to a surprising new study that probed the deepest reaches of our planet with seismic waves from earthquakes.
The mind-boggling results suggest that Earth’s center pauses and reverses direction on a periodic cycle lasting about 60 to 70 years, a discovery that might solve longstanding mysteries about climate and geological phenomena that occur on a similar timeframe, and that affect life on our planet.
Of course, it must be noted this is more or less the plot of the 2003 disaster film The Core, but there’s no need to worry about averting an impending apocalypse by nuking the center of Earth. While the core’s rotation influences Earth’s surface environment, scientists think this periodic spin switch is a normal part of its behavior that does not pose risks for life on our planet.
Earth’s inner core is a solid metal ball that is 75 percent the size of the Moon. It can spin at different speeds and directions compared to our planet because it is nestled within a liquid outer core, but scientists are not sure exactly how fast it spins or whether its speed varies over time.