Matthew van Eerde's web log
I am a Software Development Engineer in Test working for the Windows Sound team. You can contact me via email: mateer at microsoft dot com
Stealing from XKCD again:
I have a similar problem with North and South. On the globe, there's a clearly marked "North Pole" and a clearly marked "South Pole."
Magnets also have North and South poles. These are typically labeled N and S respectively. Fine.
But if you consider the Earth as a large magnet (which it is), then you have to stick the N where the penguins live (Antarctica-ish) and the S where the polar bears live (Canada-ish...)
That bugs me.
My 2 cents:
I believe it's a question of the definition and assumption differing: magnetic north is not the earth equivalent of a magnet's N (assumption), but the end that attracts a magnet's N (definition).
In order words, "magnetic north" is a contraction of "magnetic pole-that-attracts-a-magnet's north".