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From: "Mitchell A. Bailey" <MAB@lindau.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) The Commonwealth: North or South
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 09:13:34 

Redhaven1@aol.com wrote:
> ... I apologize if this has already been discussed.  

It has, including a rather recent iteration which should be in the
latest volume. 

> In
> TBOTNS the Commonwealth is always refered to as being in the south and the
> Ascians are from the north, giving rise to the speculations that the
> Commonwealth might be in present-day South America.  But I seem to remember
> reading somewhere that scientists believe that the Earth's magnetic poles had
> reversed sometime in the past ....  Has anyone else
> heard of this?  ...

Since I've taken an interest in the 'magnetic' aspect of the issue, I'll
repeat that Urth, having been said to have solidified nearly through, is
unlikely to have a significant magnetic field. This is because a
planetary magnetic field is believed to be generated by the convection
and shear of a conductive more-or-less liquid core. E.g. the Sun,
Earth's core of molten nickel-iron, Jupiter's theoretical outer core of
highly compressed 'metallic' hydrogen. Bodies which are believed to be
nearly solid, such as the Moon, Mercury, Mars, have correspondingly
weaker magnetic fields. Therefore magnetic compasses and the magnetic
poles, which may have been utterly forgotten perhaps ages before
Severian's time to judge by their absence from the text, evidently are
nonexistentent and moot. 

BTW, I believe the phenomenon of planetary magnetic field reversal has
been attributed in theory to major meteorite impacts massive enough to
jar the circulating fluid. I can't think of any phenomenon, present or
legendary, in UNS most likely explainable in terms of a major impact
other than perhaps mass extinctions. Or maybe the immemorially ancient
underground facilities such as those which eons later became the House
Absolute and the basement of the Old Citadel were survival shelters
against just such a disaster prior to the first stellar empire.

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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