A joint study between The University of Texas at Austin and researchers in China have found that groups of iron atoms in the Earth’s inner core can rapidly move and change positions instantly without changing its structure. This type of movement is known as “collective motion” and, according to phys.org, it’s like
dinner guests changing seats at a table
The results, which were informed by laboratory experiments and theoretical models, indicate that atoms in the inner core move around much more than previously thought.
The results could help explain numerous intriguing properties of the inner core that have long vexed scientists, as well as help shed light on the role the inner core plays in powering Earth’s geodynamo—the elusive process that generates the planet’s magnetic field.
You can read the full study on PNAS.