How Important Is Earth's Magnetic Field?

Earth's magnetic field has typically been understood to shield the planet from solar wind, but recent observations of Mars and Venus have sparked a debate over the supposed shield.

The long-held theory that Earth's magnetic field protects its atmosphere from solar winds has some new challengers. "The controversy stems from recent observations that show Mars and Venus are losing oxygen ions from their atmospheres into space at about the same rate as Earth. This came as something of a surprise, since only Earth has a strong dipolar magnetic fieldthat can prevent solar wind particles from slamming into the upper atmosphere and directly stripping away ions. 'My opinion is that the magnetic shield hypothesis is unproven,' said Robert Strangeway from UCLA. 'There's nothing in the contemporary data to warrant invoking magnetic fields.'"

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'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
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In U.S. first, drug company faces criminal charges for distributing opioids

It marks a major shift in the government's battle against the opioid crisis.

George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The nation's sixth-largest drug distributor is facing criminal charges related to failing to report suspicious drug orders, among other things.
  • It marks the first time a drug company has faced criminal charges for distributing opioids.
  • Since 1997, nearly 222,000 Americans have died from prescription opioids, partly thanks to unethical doctors who abuse the system.
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