What is a magnet and how it works

What is a magnet?

bar magnet

Image credit: Flickr daynoir

Generally, a magnet is an object that contains a magnetic field. It is characterized by the attraction of ferrous objects such as nickel, pieces of iron and cobalt. This discovery journey began way back in the early times when the Greeks registered an observation that lodestone, a naturally occurring element, attracted pieces of iron. When a magnet is freely pivoted, the end usually points in the N-S direction. The North Pole is basically the end that points in the North while the Southern Pole refers to the one that point in the South. In an experiment, findings recorded indicate that the like poles repel whereas the unlike poles are attracted to each other.

The magnetic field

This refers to the surrounding space of the magnet where the magnetic force is wielded. If a magnetic bar is place in this field, it experiences a magnetic force. However, the most important thing to note is that the field continues to exist even after the removal of the magnet. The point at which the magnetic field is directed is basically the direction of the resulting forces acting on the North Pole.

Magnetic field creation

The magnetic field is created by the flow of current in an object. It is from this observation that it has been inferred that the magnetic field is produced by electrical charges in motion. Thus, a bar magnetic field is as a result of the negative charge of electrons in the magnet.

The magnetic force lines

Like the method used to describe the electric field by drawing lines of force, the magnetic field is also given by drawing magnetic lines of force.  A force is experienced when a north magnetic pole is put in the magnetic field produced by a magnet. On the other hand, when the North Pole is set free, it moves due to the effects of the magnetic field path called magnetic line of force. In this case, the lines of force refer to the lines in the magnetic field on which the northern magnetic pole moves along.

Magnetic lines of force and properties:

  • The origin of the magnetic lines of force is North Pole and end in the Southern Pole.
  • The lines come closer to one another at the magnetic poles but are widely apart in other places.
  • The lines of force do not intersect at any point.
  • The magnetic compass aligns itself at a point a long the tangent to the lines of force.
2 Responses to What is a magnet and how it works
  1. kuron
    December 11, 2012 | 10:01 pm

    Thank you for Intresting post:)

  2. lolercoaster
    December 28, 2012 | 4:43 am

    That doesn’t explain anything, but no worries you won’t understand anything about magnets unless you take quantum mechanics and even then you won’t intuitively understand it.

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