Nearly everyone has tried to make two refrigerator magnets touch each other. If the magnets had the same pole exposed, it would be very difficult to get them to touch. Opposite magnetic poles attract and similar poles repel each other. The driving force behind this is known as a magnetic field. Bar magnets simply illustrate this phenomenon.
Magnetic fields give magnets their ability to “stick” to other magnetic metals. Electric currents, either in in wires or electrons in orbits, induce a magnetic field. The relationship between electricity and magnetism makes it possible to develop energy producing devices like the electric generator. The fields are bipolar, commonly seen in long magnets such as a compass. Magnetic fields have a specific flow depending on the pole.
When a magnet is electrically induced, two poles form to create the magnetic field, called north and south. Magnetic forces exit the north end and enter through the south end. When two magnets with the same pole face each other, the two identical forces tend to repel each other. For example, two north ends have magnetic forces that exit the same end. The two forces push on each other to give a repelling effect. When you place the two magnets closer to each other, you need to exert more force to make them touch each other.
Types of Magnets
A magnet is an object that has a magnetic field surrounding it. An electric current through a wire can induce a magnetic field around the wire. When this happens, the magnetic field surrounds the length of the wire in a circular fashion. Coils with electric currents tend to act like a typical bar magnet. There are two distinct poles that form instead of a circular force. Bar magnets are commonly called permanent magnets as they stay in their magnetized state until the alignment of atomic magnets is altered. A bar of iron is typically not a magnet, but can be magnetized to have the electrons flowing in a particular pattern.
Earth’s Magnetic Field
One of the most famous magnets is that of the Earth. A moving iron core deep inside the planet is responsible for inducing the large magnetic field. People do not feel a strong magnetic force on the surface of the planet due to the force depleting the further away you are from the source. A common misconception is the placement of the magnetic poles relative to the geography. In terms of the magnetic poles, the south end is found in the geographic North Pole. The presence of this magnetic field helps block harmful radiation from space. Charged particles get trapped in the field, with heavier protons found closer to the surface and electrons found further away.
About the Author
Based out of Reno, Nev., Andrew Youngker has been writing since 2007. He writes articles for various websites, covering cooking and education. Youngker is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Nevada, Reno.