Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Things that people do with their money. And is the end of the world nigh?

How the other half live!

I know the rich are more likely to own fancy paintings than I am. And I know that some people like to live on huge boats that they call yachts but which don’t look anything like my idea of a yacht. And if you own a painting then you should have it where you can see it and not lock it away in a vault somewhere. But really, would anyone sensible sail around on the high seas with a painting worth millions ... and then complain because his children throw breakfast cereal at it? Apparently some rich people do this! But at least someone is benefitting from it, in this case the art expert giving yacht owners courses on how to care for their art.

Then there are the people who go for cosmetic surgery, not because they have had some horrible disfiguring accident but because they have an idea of how they should look in an ideal world. Nose jobs have been around for as long as I can remember but now the whole business has got ... well, a bit more big business.

It seems that people used to turn up at cosmetic clinics with a magazine article featuring some famous person and request that their nose or jawline should be changed to resemble that of the celebrity in question. Nowadays they get out their mobile phone and show a selfie, but not any old selfie. This is usually a selfie that has been worked on and edited with Snapchat or other airbrushing techniques. And usually it’s a kind of disneyfied, idealised image with huge eyes and perfect features - as a rule something unattainable!

This is being referred to as “Snapchat dysmorphia” or BDD, body dysmorphic disorder. There is a term for every kind of disorder!

But all these oddities pale into insignificance as I read that the North Pole is on the move. Apparently the magnetic north pole is moving about 34 miles (55 kilometres) a year. It crossed the international date line in 2017, and is leaving the Canadian Arctic on its way to Siberia.

Who even knew that such things were possible?

Somehow I imagine a kind of stick, or indeed a pole, going through the earth from the North Pole to the South Pole. Okay, this is rather a childish concept but there is a certain logic to it. So, if the North Pole is drifting, is the South Pole doing the same? The scientists say it is but more slowly.

It’s not a new phenomenon. Since 1831 when it was first measured in the Canadian Arctic it has moved about 1,400 miles (2,300 kilometres) toward Siberia. Since 2000, its speed jumped from about 9 miles a year (15km) to 34 miles a year (55km).

How do they know these things? Those scientists are pretty clever people!

Now, if the North Pole is moving into Russia, does that mean that Mr Putin can claim it as theirs? Just a thought!

Such changes in the magnetic north must be creating a bit of havoc for navigation. And it could affect stuff like satellites and mobile phones.

And there is more! “In general Earth’s magnetic field is getting weaker, leading scientists to say it will eventually flip, where the north and south pole change polarity like a bar magnet flipping over. It has happened numerous times in Earth’s history, but not in the past 780,000 years. “It’s not a question of if it’s going to reverse, the question is when it’s going to reverse.”

Once more, I ask how they know this stuff!

My imagination goes into overdrive. If or when the magnetic field flips what happens to gravity? Do we all fly off into space?

The scientists try to reassure me. “When it reverses,” I read, “it won’t be like a coin flip, but take 1,000 or more years, experts said.” Hmm!

And to think that I was worried about Brexit!

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