The Magnetosphere Is Real

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It's easy to forget that invisible things are actually real. Take air or subatomic particles: out of sight, out of mind, out of reality.

That's why this picture of the Earth's magnetic field interacting with the solar wind last week is so amazing. It makes the magnetosphere real. Far above the tops of the clouds, in seeming emptiness, a fierce collision is taking place, throwing off that eerie green light. And we can see it!

Astronaut Doug Wheelock was hanging out in the International Space Station watching this with his own two eyes, so he snapped a photo and tweeted it.
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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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