Dust devils produce magnetic fields

By Sid Perkins, 15:49 PM April 15, 2008

Scientists who chase dust devils report that the tiny twisters can produce a small magnetic field that changes magnitude between 3 and 30 times per second.

When grains of sand and clay collide inside a dust devil, they generate electric charges, says William M. Farrell, a geophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Negative charges typically transfer to the smaller, lighter particles, which are lofted higher than the heavier grains. As these charged particles swirl, t...

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