magnetism, phenomenon associated with the motion of electric charges. This motion can take many forms. It can be an electric current in a conductor or charged particles moving through space, or it can be the motion of an electron in atomic orbit. Magnetism is also associated with elementary particles, such as the electron, that have a property called spin.
Each time you turn on a light, listen to your stereo, fly in an airplane, or watch TV, you are depending on the principles of magnetism to work for you.Magnetism is a force of attraction or replusion that acts at a distance. It is due to a magnetic field, which is caused by moving electrically charged particles. It is also inherent in magnetic objects such as a magnet.
A magnet is an object that exhibits a strong magnetic field and will attract materials like iron to it. Magnets have two poles, called the north (N) and south (S) poles. Two magnets will be attacted by their opposite poles, and each will repel the like pole of the other magnet. Magnetism has many uses in modern life.
- What is a magnetic field?
A magnetic field consists of imaginary lines of flux coming from moving or spinning electrically charged particles. Examples include the spin of a proton and the motion of electrons through a wire in an electric circuit.
A fundamental property of a magnetic field is that its flux through any closed surface vanishes. (A closed surface is one that completely surrounds a volume.) This is expressed mathematically by div B = 0 and can be understood physically in terms of the field lines representing B. These lines always close on themselves, so that if they enter a certain volume at some point, they must also leave that volume. In this respect, a magnetic field is quite different from an electric field. Electric field lines can begin and end on a charge, but no equivalent magnetic charge has been found in spite of many searches for so-called magnetic monopoles.
Michael Faraday, credited with fundamental discoveries on electricity and magnetism (an electric unit is named "Farad" in his honor), also proposed a widely used method for visualizing magnetic fields. Imagine a compass needle freely suspended in three dimensions, near a magnet or an electrical current. We can trace in space (in our imagination, at least!) the lines one obtains when one "follows the direction of the compass needle." Faraday called them lines of force, but the term field lines is now in common use.
On Earth one needs a sensitive needle to detect magnetic forces, and out in space they are usually much, much weaker. But beyond the dense atmosphere, such forces have a much bigger role, and a region exists around the Earth where they dominate the environment, a region known as the Earth's magnetosphere. That region contains a mix of electrically charged particles, and electric and magnetic phenomena rather than gravity determine its structure. We call it the Earth's magnetosphere
Only a few of the phenomena observed on the ground come from the magnetosphere: fluctuations of the magnetic field known as magnetic storms and substorms, and the polar aurora or "northern lights," appearing in the night skies of places like Alaska and Norway. Satellites in space, however, sense much more: radiation belts, magnetic structures, fast streaming particles and processes which energize them. All these are described in the sections that follow.
The magnetic field of an object can create a magnetic force on other objects with magnetic fields. That force is what we call magnetism.
When a magnetic field is applied to a moving electric charge, such as a moving proton or the electrical current in a wire, the force on the charge is called a Lorentz force.
The most common source of magnetic fields is the electric current loop. It may be an electric current in a circular conductor or the motion of an orbiting electron in an atom. Associated with both these types of current loops is a magnetic dipole moment, the value of which is iA, the product of the current and the area of the loop. In addition, electrons, protons, and neutrons in atoms have a magnetic dipole moment associated with their intrinsic spin; such magnetic dipole moments represent another important source of magnetic fields. A particle with a magnetic dipole moment is often referred to as a magnetic dipole. (A magnetic dipole may be thought of as a tiny bar magnet. It has the same magnetic field as such a magnet and behaves the same way in external magnetic fields.) When placed in an external magnetic field, a magnetic dipole can be subjected to a torque that tends to align it with the field; if the external field is not uniform, the dipole also can be subjected to a force.
All matter exhibits magnetic properties to some degree. When placed in an inhomogeneous field, matter is either attracted or repelled in the direction of the gradient of the field. This property is described by the magnetic susceptibility of the matter and depends on the degree of magnetization of the matter in the field. Magnetization depends on the size of the dipole moments of the atoms in a substance and the degree to which the dipole moments are aligned with respect to each other. Certain materials, such as iron, exhibit very strong magnetic properties because of the alignment of the magnetic moments of their atoms within certain small regions called domains. Under normal conditions, the various domains have fields that cancel, but they can be aligned with each other to produce extremely large magnetic fields. Various alloys, like NdFeB (an alloy of neodymium, iron, and boron), keep their domains aligned and are used to make permanent magnets. The strong magnetic field produced by a typical three-millimetre-thick magnet of this material is comparable to an electromagnet made of a copper loop carrying a current of several thousand amperes. In comparison, the current in a typical light bulb is 0.5 ampere. Since aligning the domains of a material produces a magnet, disorganizing the orderly alignment destroys the magnetic properties of the material. Thermal agitation that results from heating a magnet to a high temperature destroys its magnetic properties.
|Circles of Magnetism I||You can make a magnetic field that's stronger than the earth's!|
|Circles of Magnetism IV||Two parallel, current-carrying wires exert forces on each other.|
|Curie Point||When a piece of iron gets too hot, it is no longer attracted to a magnet.|
|Diamagnetism||A grape is repelled by both the north and south poles of a strong rare-earth magnet. The grape is repelled because it contains water, which is diamagnetic. Diamagnetic materials are repelled by magnetic poles.|
|Eddy Currents||A magnet falls more slowly through a metallic tube than it does through a nonmetallic tube.|
|Magnetic Lines of Force||Iron filings will trace out the lines of a magnetic field in three dimensions.|
|Magnetic Pendulums||Copper coils become electromagnetic swings.|
|Magnetic Shielding||Explore magnetic shielding, lines of force and the concept of permeabllity with low cost material.|
|Magnetic Suction||This experiment shows how your doorbell works.|
|Motor Effect||A magnet exerts a force on a current-carrying wire.|
|Strange Attractor||The attraction and repulsion of magnets produces entrancing, unpredictable motion.|
|Stripped Down Motor||As motors go, this is about as simple as it gets.|