BERKELEY, Calif., Oct. 20 (UPI) -- A lot of people were concerned the Earth's magnetic field would suddenly reverse at the end of the Mayan calendar, but that didn't happen. However, new data suggests that could happen within the next 100 years.
What that means is north on a compass would point toward what is now south and vice versa. The new data, collected by scientists from Italy, France, Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley shows such a shift happened within a 100-year time period around 786,000 years ago. Such a reversal tends to happen after a rapid period of weakening in the magnetic field, which evidence shows we are currently experiencing.
There's little need to worry. While the scientists who discovered this admit it could affect the electrical grid, they don't seem concerned. They note that cancer rates could theoretically go up during a period of little to no magnetic field protection from cosmic rays, but the world will not end. "Reversals are the rule, not the exception," NASA pointed out when discussing the possible event in 2012. Reversals have happened many times in the planet's history. "A reversal might, however, be good business for magnetic compass manufacturers," NASA joked.