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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, February 24, 2024

Ask Mr. Scientist: Magnetic Fields and Batteries

Dear Mr. Scientist,

I’ve heard the sun’s magnetic field is going to flip soon. Does this mean doomsday is upon us?

—Jason S.

Although it may sound scary, the sun’s magnetic north and south poles swapping places is no cause for alarm. This event actually occurs somewhat frequently—(about once every 11 years)—at the peak of each solar cycle. The sun’s magnetic fields weaken, go to zero, then reappear but with opposite polarity. This shift, however, will not have any devastating effects on the earth or its inhabitants, nor will it cause any increase in solar flares, coronal mass ejections, or any other solar events.

Dear Mr. Scientist,

I see warnings in all sorts of electronic things telling me not to mix old and new batteries, but swapping out just a battery or two seems to work just fine. Is this some sort of marketing ploy?

—Tara M.

They’re not after your money, it really isn’t a good idea to mix old and new batteries (or rechargeable and disposable ones either). In essence a battery houses a chemical reaction separated into two halves. When a battery is connected to a circuit, electrons flow from one half to the other and this flow of electrons is used to power the device. The risk is when one battery’s reaction has gone to completion while the other one has not. Depending on the type of batteries involved, the charged one can cause the reaction in the dead one to run in reverse and the battery may overheat, rupture or even explode.

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