The Substorm is a thing obscure
We cannot make it out for sure
But physicists with lots of nerve
Fill in details they can't observe
They see in it their own grand visions
Of tearing modes with no collisions
That squeeze away the plasma sheet
To make opposing fluxes meet
And in their merging, oh so swift
Great plasmoids are cut adrift
Or else the boundary is unfirm
It likes to shimmy, twist and turn
And as it moves in fast pulsation
Gives the storm's acceleration
Or maybe fireballs explode
Or all comes from some hybrid mode
Or maybe field line reconnection
Is driven by the tail's convection
Or by a catastrophe thermal
Or waves with features quite abnormal...
The satellites that cross the tail
Can never see such fine details
But scientists who ought to know
Assure us that it must be so.
Oh, let us never, never doubt
What nobody is sure about!
|[A guide for the perplexed: A magnetic substorm is an impulsive release of energy in the extended magnetic field of the Earth ("magnetosphere"), dragged out into a long nightside ("tail") by the solar wind. It manifests itself by a sudden burst of polar aurora and large electric currents in the Earth's ionosphere. Its mechanism has given rise to speculations (hinted at by the poem), but from isolated satellites occasionally traversing the tail it is hard to tell (here are some possible remedies). The poem is adapted from "The Microbe" by Belloc and shares the last two lines.]|
Author and Curator: Dr. David P. Stern
Mail to Dr.Stern: david("at" symbol)phy6.org .
Last updated 1 June 2007