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On the Origin of Myths in Catastrophic Experience, vol. 2: The Earth's Aurora

On the Origin of Myths in Catastrophic Experience, vol. 2: The Earth's Aurora

ByMarinus Anthony van der Sluijs

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In this second volume, the earth’s magnetic field and aurora take centre stage. Geomagnetic reversals are rare occasions when the field dwindles, the north and south magnetic poles trade places, and minor poles come into play. This process remains incomplete in the much more frequent case of a geomagnetic excursion. Throughout human history, people have personified and mythologised the aurora. If a geomagnetic excursion had occurred within human memory, they could have observed spectacular transformations of the lights, even at low latitudes, and enshrined these in myths, monuments, images and rituals. Many elements of the primordial condition described worldwide may thus be explained – awe-inspiring luminous rings, arcs and columns, often dynamic and structured, that seemingly held up a gloomy, low-hanging sky. Evidence is cited for two excursions that could have informed age-old traditions in this way. Specialists dispute both and a way out of the controversy is proposed. The unique effects that a geomagnetic reversal or excursion must have on the aurora are further explored through possible contemporary parallels on other solar-system bodies and in experimental work on terrellae, of which a historical survey is given. A wealth of new information is provided throughout on the history of geomagnetic studies and auroral physics. XXXIII + 516 pages. With foreword by Dr. C. J. Ransom, 168 black-and-white illustrations and alphabetic index. For the table of contents and a few random sample pages, see


Publication Date
Jul 8, 2021
All Rights Reserved - Standard Copyright License
By (author): Marinus Anthony van der Sluijs


Perfect Bound
Interior Color
Black & White
US Trade (6 x 9 in / 152 x 229 mm)

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