Maori hangi stones may help study magnetic changes | Pacific Beat

Maori hangi stones may help study magnetic changes

Maori hangi stones may help study magnetic changes

Updated 11 December 2012, 17:54 AEDT

A change conversation between a physicist and an archaeologist specialising in Maori studies has led to a breakthrough in studying the earth's magnetic field.

When stones are heated to a very high temperature, they lose their magnetic orientation, but when they cool down they pick it up again, which locks in the planet's magnetic field as it was at that time.

Dr Gillian Taylor, a physicist who has been studying the history of the magnetic field mentioned this to another staff member at Victoria University of Wellington from the department of Maori Studies, who suggested that stones used to heat earth ovens or hangis might be what she was looking for.

Stones from all over New Zealand were used in a test hangi at the university, and it was proved that they could indeed be heated to the temperature needed to act as a sort of magnetic recorder.

Dr Taylor tells Bruce Hill this could help scientists build a better historical picture of how the earth's magnetic field has fluctuated.

Presenter:Bruce Hill

Speaker: Dr Gillian Taylor from New Zealand's Victoria University of Wellington

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