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The Spinning Magnet

The Force That Created the Modern World – and Could Destroy It

Alanna Mitchell

Many times through deep history Earth’s magnetic poles have switched places, leaving our planet’s protective shield weaker and life vulnerable to devastating solar storms. The last time it happened was 780,000 years ago, long before humans emerged, but it won’t be long until it happens again. 

And when it does, will it send us back to the Stone Age?

The Spinning Magnet is a fascinating insight into what may lie ahead.

From the pivotal discoveries of Victorian scientists to the possibility of solar radiation wiping out power grids, and the secrets of electromagnetism, Alanna Mitchell reveals the truth behind one of the most powerful forces in the universe.

  • Publication date: April 4, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781786075505
  • RRP: £9.99
  • Pages: 336
  • Publication date: June 7, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781786074249
  • RRP: £16.99
  • Pages: 336
  • Publication date: June 7, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781786074256
  • RRP: £4.99
  • Pages: 336


‘Stokes the reader’s curiosity about one of the most critical but invisible forces in the universe.’

BBC Sky at Night

‘Mitchell’s portrait gallery is researched with a depth and breadth that make its protagonists’ triumphs and failures compelling. She also gives entertaining accounts of today’s working geoscientists… Her interviews provide insights into their thoughts and actions that transcend the stereotypes of inscrutable nerd or heroic explorer.’


‘The Earth’s magnetic field…tends to be taken for granted. In reality it’s a fickle, ill-understood phenomenon. Alanna Mitchell delves into the mystery, in an engrossing book that features a new surprise on every page.’

Sean Carroll, author of The Big Picture

‘A fascinating untold story of science that is full of mystery and intrigue, and written with a great deal of style.’

Mark Miodownik, New York Times bestselling author of Stuff Matters, winner of the Royal Society Winton Prize

‘A compelling yarn describing our historical efforts to understand the force that created the world, and as the subtitle warns, could bring about its end…Destined to become a classic of popular science.’

E&T Magazine

‘Captivating scientific history…an invaluable contribution to the popular science shelf.’


‘A compelling tale of unseen and unforeseen natural forces – and a reminder that we’ve staked our home on a planet that remains infinitely strange, dangerous – and ever full of wonder.’

Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner’s Handbook

‘In The Spinning Magnet, Alanna Mitchell pulls off the rare trifecta in science writing: an engrossing plot of a planetary mystery, authentic character portraits of scientists and their passion for their work, and explanations of complex physics in easily understandable terms.’

Sabine Stanley, Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Applied Physics Lab, Johns Hopkins University

‘Mitchell draws us into a spellbinding scientific detective story, told over the ages, as she nimbly explains magnetism’s role in everything that matters. Each chapter is filled with exciting new revelations written in clear crisp prose. A skilled writer, Mitchell puts magnetism on the map!’

Timothy J. Jorgensen, author of Strange Glow: The Story of Radiation, winner of the American Institute of Physics’ Science Communication Award

Alanna Mitchell

An award-winning journalist, Alanna Lentin is the author of Dancing at the Dead Sea: Tracking the World’s Environmental Hotspots, which has won international acclaim and published in the US, Canada and the UK (Transworld).

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