Magnetism: What Is It?

What exactly is a magnet? Sure they are the things we stick on our fridges, but what are their properties and other types of magnets?

What are Magnets? A Magnet is something that is attracted or can stick to another magnet or a piece of metal. On the contrary, A magnet can also repel from another magnet. Magnets have two opposite poles;one the north pole and the other the south pole. If you were to cut or split a magnet, each piece would have a north and south pole.

How do I Know if it's A Magnet?

Well, like I stated above, any magnet, that is strong enough, will stick to metal. So if you really want to know, stick it on your refrigerator or try using it to pick up a paper clip. If you have two magnets, they will either repel or attract. When they repel, it means that the north or south side of one magnet is closer to, or trying to connect, with the same pole of the other magnet. Two magnets will attract and stick together if the opposite poles are touching. So the combination of trying to put : South and South or, North and North, will not work. However, If you put the opposite poles of two magnets together; South and North or North and South, they will stick or attract. Here is a great visual example:

Permanent and Temporary MagnetsA permanent magnet is a magnet that is fully magnetized at all times. This magnet does not lose the strength of it's magnetic force and does not need to be 'recharged'. Temporary magnets occur when one is near a permanent magnet. This causes it to lose its magnetism strength. The only permanent magnets are lodestone and magnetite, and many magnets can be temporary magnets, but the best is one that is made out of iron.

ElectromagnetsThis is a type of magnet created when electricity surges through it. When this occurs, the most commonly metallic object, will create a magnetic field as long as electricity is still going through it. The benefits of electromagnets is that we are able to control it; turn the object on and off at our convenience. The most common uses of electromagnets today include doorbells, toasters, and even power cathode ray tubes in a televisions which provide the color in our televisions. Here is a simple electromagnet:

How to 'Recharge' or Strengthen an ElectromagnetTo increase the power of an electromagnet, one can simply increase the amount of electricity going through it. When allowing more electricity to go through it, the magnetic field expands and strengthens the force near it. As shown in the picture above, to increase the power of an electromagnet you can also increase the number of coils that are around the metallic object, in our case, the nail. Another way to increase the electromagnetic strength is to  add iron to the core of the electromagnet.

 What are Magnetic Fields

By definition, a magnetic field is the area in which another magnet or a metallic object is effected by the force of another magnet.This is the area in which your magnet has power. But within a magnetic field, there are certain rules. As stated above, only opposite poles attract, it is impossible to make two similar poles attract by themselves. Using common sense, we know that the closer your magnet is to another magnet or metallic object, the more force or strength it has on that object. In addition, any magnet will have an effect inside a magnetic field, depending on how large and the strength of the magnets, the effects may vary from almost nothing to complete attraction.

OtherOne of the most common uses of a magnetic field is a compass. The magnet inside a compass's point changes as a reaction to the Earths magnetic field. The magnetic north, which is in Canada, is what the compass reacts to, not the true north, which we commonly refer to as the north pole.

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