After last night’s show, I had a conversation with a Lyft driver who is a listener to Ground Zero. He said he really enjoyed the conversation about what I called the apocalyptic blueprint. I acknowledged that he felt that lately there have been some suspicious computational simulations and damage assessments that include some pretty earth-shattering things.

I agreed that tabletop exercises about what we should do if an asteroid hits the earth or if the black plague happens to break out seem a bit inauspicious. He explained to me that he was reading on some science website that geologists and seismologists are studying the earth and that as the magnetic field is shifting they are secretly preparing for crustal changes and geomagnetic fluctuations that may affect the planet.

I explained to him that mainstream science tells us that if the poles shift we really shouldn’t worry about anything.

He said, “you don’t actually believe that, do you?”

I told him no – but I would certainly look into what he was talking about.

Immediately when I arrived at the office today I decided to look into what he was talking about.

I stumbled upon an article that was published in Live Science about a month ago and sure enough, there was a story about something called, “Geomagnetic jerks.”

The Live Science article was headlined “Turbulent Blobs in Earth’s Core May Explain Sudden Jerks in the Magnetic Field.”

The article begins by saying that Earth’s magnetic shield defends our planet from the scourges of solar wind and cosmic radiation, making life on our planet possible. But every 10 years or so, it can be a real jerk.

The jerks are abrupt changes in the strength of Earth’s magnetic field. While some variations in this field are expected to occur gradually, over hundreds to thousands of years, these sudden wobbles in intensity last only a few years at most, and may only alter the Earth’s magnetism over specific parts of the world at a time. One of the first jerks documented, for example, briefly warped the field over Western Europe in 1969.

Since then, a new jerk has been detected somewhere in the world every 10 years or so, and scientists still don’t know what’s causing them. While many geomagnetic phenomena, including the northern and southern lights, result from electrified solar wind bashing into Earth’s magnetosphere, the jerks are thought to originate from deep inside our planet’s core, where the magnetic field itself is generated by the constant churn of liquid-hot iron. The exact mechanism of action, however, remains a mystery.

A new study published in the journal, Nature Geoscience, offers a potential explanation. According to a new computer model of the core’s physical behavior, geomagnetic jerks may be generated by blobs of molten matter released from deep inside the core.

In the new study, the researchers built a computer model that painstakingly recreates the physical conditions of Earth’s outer core, and shows its evolution over several decades. After the equivalent of 4 million hours of calculations, the core simulation was able to generate geomagnetic jerks that closely aligned with actual jerks observed over the last few decades.

These simulated jerks jiggled the magnetosphere every 6 to 12 years in the model — however; the events seemed to originate from buoyant anomalies that formed in the planet’s core 25 years earlier. As those blobs of molten matter approached the outer surface of the core, they generated powerful waves that rushed along magnetic field lines near the core and created “sharp changes” in the flow of liquid that governs the planet’s magnetosphere, the authors wrote. Eventually, these sudden changes translate into jerky disturbances in the magnetic field high above the planet.

This is something the scientists say creates a major obstacle to the prediction of geomagnetic field behavior for years to decades ahead,” the authors wrote in their new study. “The ability to numerically reproduce jerks offers a new way to probe the physical properties of Earth’s deep interior.”

While it’s impossible to confirm this simulation’s results with actual observations of the core it’s too hot and high-pressured to get anywhere near our planet’s center, having a model that can recreate historical jerks with high accuracy could be helpful in predicting the many jerks yet to come, the researchers wrote.

Knowing when the jerks are coming could also help monitor how they affect other geodynamic processes. For example, is it possible, as one 2013 study in Nature suggested, that the jerks affect time. They are harbingers of longer days. According to that study, sudden changes in the fluid flow at Earth’s core may also alter the planet’s spin by the slightest bit, actually adding an extra millisecond to the day every 6 years or so. Periods, where Earth’s day lengthened, seemed to correlate with several established instances of well-known jerks, the researchers reported.

Changes in the magnetic field can actually have effects on birds, fish and some other creatures that have what is called magnetoreception. Many creatures use it to navigate. Scientists have long wondered whether humans can do this, too. Now, a study of brain waves suggests people indeed have a “sixth sense” — for magnetism.

In a lab at the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, researchers discovered people form a distinct brain-wave pattern when they are exposed to a magnetic field that is equal in strength to Earth’s. But the pattern emerges only when the field points and moves in a certain way.

The discovery offers evidence that people respond to Earth’s magnetic field without knowing it. It’s not yet clear how our brains might use this information.

During the new experiment, 26 people each sat with their eyes closed in a dark, quiet chamber. It was lined with electrical coils. They created a magnetic field that was the same strength as Earth’s natural magnetic field. Researchers could tweak the electric current running through the coils. This would allow them to point the magnetic field in any direction.

Each person wore a cap that recorded their brain’s electrical activity as the magnetic field changed direction. Scientists compared those brain-wave readings with readings from trials where the magnetic field did not move.

The team focused on the brain’s alpha waves. These dominate in the brain as someone sits still and does nothing. But these signals tend to fade as someone uses their senses to smell, taste, hear or touch.

Sure enough, changes in the magnetic field triggered changes in people’s alpha waves. For people in the chamber facing north, the magnetic field pointed down toward the floor.

The subjects suddenly felt as if they were turned upside down.

Rotating the field left from northeast to northwest made the alpha waves’ height drop by an average of 25 percent. That change was about three times as strong as changes seen in a natural alpha wave when the magnetic field had not changed directions.

Curiously, people’s brains showed no response when a rotating magnetic field pointed up toward the ceiling. That’s the direction of Earth’s field in the Southern Hemisphere. This result didn’t change when four people were retested weeks or months later.

This test – makes me curious about whether or not we will most certainly feel or be affected by changes in a magnetic pole shift.

Even though mainstream science will tell us that we will not be affected – our inner compass may become confused and north may feel like it is south and south will feel like north.

I guess we will never know until a pole shift happens.

Meanwhile, there has been a new interest in revealing what are called world South-Up maps and wondering if they can also be seen as “the standard” as the magnetic shift may mean a new way or actually the old way of looking at the world map.

Technically speaking, even referring to the earth with words like “up” or “down” or comparing places with words “above” or “below” is flawed, considering that the earth is a spherical body or geoidal meaning it’s actually slightly “fatter” at the equator– and that fact that it is flying through 3 dimensional space with no reference of up or down.

However, the issue of “up” and “down” does become an issue when viewing the surface of the earth projected onto a flat piece of paper. And the effect of the orientation of a map is more significant than you might realize.

As all maps require orientation for reference, the issue of how to layout the map orientation is as old as maps themselves. As map orientation is completely arbitrary, it is not surprising that they differed throughout time periods and regions.

The convention of North-up is usually attributed to the Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy dating back to 90-168 AD. Justifications for his north-up approach vary.

In the middle ages, East was often placed at top. This is the origin of the term “The Orient” to refer to East Asia.

Another reason why the east was at the top of the map is that it was supposed to be biblically correct to do so. Christian maps from the same era called Mappa Mundi put east at the top, towards the Garden of Eden and with Jerusalem in the center. Some people have a problem with calling Jerusalem the capital of Israel – can you imagine how people would react to a map that has the city as the center of the earth?

Muslims believe that Kabaa at Mecca is the center of the earth. There are myths about how gravitational forces are different above the Kabaa stone.

During the age of exploration, European cartographers again followed the north-up convention…perhaps because the North Star was their fixed reference point for navigation, or because they wanted to ensure Europe’s claim at the top of the world.

While the orientation of a map might seem harmless, it can have a significant effect on one’s perception of the world, and the relative importance of the different place in it.

The orientation of our maps, like so many other features of the modern world, arose from the interplay of chance, technology, and politics in a way that defies our desire to impose easy or satisfying narratives. But at a time when the global south continues to suffer more than its share of violence and poverty, there are many people who are proposing that a flip of the map could overturn the unjust political and economic relationships in our world.

There is nothing inevitable or intrinsically correct – not in geographic, cartographic or even philosophical terms – about the north being represented as up, because up on a map is a human construction, not a natural one. Some of the very earliest Egyptian maps show the south as up, presumably equating the Nile’s northward flow with the force of gravity.

Arab map makers often drew maps with the south facing up, possibly because this was how the Chinese did it. In fact, the Chinese compass had the magnetic pull going south.

The truth is magnetic shifts and the changing of time due to the geomagnetic jerks the arrow of the compass can just as easily point south, since the magnetized metal needle simply aligns with the earth’s magnetic field, with a pole at each end. Indeed, the Chinese supposedly referred to their first compass magnets as south-pointing stones. Crucially, the Chinese developed this convention before they began to use compasses for navigation at sea.

By the time Europeans adopted the compass, though, they were already experienced in navigating with reference to the North Star, the one point in the heavens that remains fixed anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. Many mariners saw the compass as an artificial replacement for the star on cloudy nights and even assumed it was the pull of the star itself that drew the needle north.

A “south up” orientation of the land masses on the planet shows some interesting anomalies.

South America is not South of North America, but in fact diagonally south EAST of North America. If you draw a line straight south up from the Atlantic coast of Florida, you would just barely catch the western edge of South America.

The vast majority of the land is in the Northern Hemisphere more than 67%. This becomes very clear with the South-Up map, as all of the land seems to be bunched near the bottom of the map. Furthermore, even the southern continents of South America, Africa, and Australia are not very south at all. They all lie almost entirely within the tropics. The “southern” continent of Africa is actually mostly in the northern hemisphere.

Russia is still huge. The reason it might look bigger is simply that we’ve grown so accustomed to its size when viewing conventional maps, that we simply tune it out. Seeing the world “upside down” is almost like looking at the world for the first time, in which case the biggest country by far is sure to be immediately noticed.

Understanding where you are in the world is a basic survival skill, which is why we, like most species, come hard-wired with specialized brain areas to create cognitive maps of our surroundings.

Our inner compass is actually influenced by magnetic fields. However, it is also influenced by how we envision maps.

We have a long history of doing this by drawing maps – the earliest versions yet discovered were scrawled on cave walls 14,000 years ago. Human cultures have been drawing them on stone tablets, papyrus, paper and now computer screens ever since.

Given such a long history of human map-making; it is perhaps surprising that it is only within the last few hundred years that north has been consistently considered to be at the top.

Since each culture has a very different idea of who, or what, they should look up to, its perhaps not surprising that there is very little consistency in which way early maps pointed.

Given the fact that maps reflected the times, there have also been maps that show unknown continents like Lemuria and Atlantis. There have also been maps the purport to show openings in the earth that indicate that the earth may be hollow.

In a 1692 scientific paper, Edmund Halley – yes, he of comet fame – put forth the idea that Earth consists of a shell about 800 km thick, and of two inner concentric shells and an innermost core with about the same diameter as the planet Mars.

Halley did have scientific grounds for his rather bizarre thought-construct. It tried to explain why compass readings could be so anomalous: each of the inner spheres had their own magnetic poles and rotated at differing speeds. Halley proposed that the inner spheres might be inhabited.

Later theorists came up with variations to Halley’s model. In the seventeenth century, Leonhard Euler proposed a single-shell hollow Earth with a small sun 1.000 km across at the center, providing light and warmth for an inner-Earth civilization. Others proposed two inner suns and even named them, Pluto and Proserpine.

In the early eighteenth century, American John Cleves Symmes Jr supplemented the theory with the suggestion of ‘blowholes’: openings about 2.300 km across at both poles. Symes apparently was utterly convinced by his own theories: he campaigned for an expedition to the North Pole.

In between the time of the Great Depression and WWII, Admiral Richard E. Byrd of the U.S. Navy pioneered further exploration of the poles. And after a multitude of trips to the arctic territories, there is one Byrd narrative that sticks out more than the rest: his record-setting flight over the North Pole.

According to an alleged diary entry written during his polar flight, Byrd came across a warm, lush climate with Mammoth-like creatures and an ancient human race that had been residing within the Earth.

His plane was commandeered mid-air and landed for him by people in the center of the Earth who intercepted his plane with saucer-shaped aircraft. Upon landing, he was met by emissaries of a civilization many assume to be the mythical Agartha. These alleged Agarthans expressed their concern about humanity’s use of atomic bombs during WWII and employed Byrd as their ambassador to return to the U.S. government and relay their sentiment.

Of course, many people are aware of the Thule Society and their obsession with creatures that lived under the earth. The Nazis explored arctic regions to set up bases and test novel weaponry, but it is also well-documented that Hitler and the Nazis were obsessed with esotericism and the occult.

The rabbit hole goes deep here, with some going so far as to posit that Hitler could have escaped to an underground world.

There are Nazi maps believed to be instructions for reaching Agartha in the hollow earth.

The Hollow Earth theory has a particularly strong hold on the imagination of writers such as E.A. Poe, Jules Verne, E.R. Burroughs, H.P. Lovecraft, and Umberto Eco, who have all used the idea in their fiction.

To this day there is a small cadre of Hollow Earth believers who are fighting valiantly to validate their ideas through books, websites, meetings, and some extremely ambitious travel plans.

The wonders of the earth never cease and with the magnetic shifts and geological jerks aside, we wonder if we are ready for a life inverted where everything seems to be sounding as if it is coming out of the south end.