What if the Earth’s magnetic field died? – Jim Al-Khalili © Getty Images

Jim Al-Khalili: What if the Earth’s magnetic field died?

What if we lost the Earth’s magnetic field? That’s the question Professor Jim Al-Khalili tackles in his new novel, Sunfall. What threats from space does that leave us vulnerable to, and how might we protect ourselves?

Theoretical physicist and science communicator Professor Jim Al-Khalili has taken a break from writing popular science books to write his first novel. Sunfall (£16.99, Bantam Press) is a science fiction thriller set in the year 2041, when the Earth’s magnetic field has started to die, leaving life on Earth vulnerable to threats from space.


Scientists and engineers are thrown into a race against time to protect the Earth. All the science in the novel, from the futuristic technology to the apocalyptic event, are based on real science, as we understand it now.

In this episode, Jim explains how the Earth’s magnetic field protects us, how being a scientist helped inform his writing, and why fiction can be a frontier for science communication.

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