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The compass doesn’t give you the value of the net magnetic field, just the direction. Now suppose that I do something to create a magnetic field in a known direction and perpendicular to the horizontal component of the Earth’s magnetic field. Now, when there is current in the wire, the compass needle will be deflected in the direction of the net magnetic field. When there is an electric current, there is electric charge moving at some average speed through the a material. An electric charge in the presence of an electric field experiences a force with a magnitude equal to the product of the electric charge and the electric field.
A moving electric charge also experiences a force when in a magnetic field (it has to be moving).
If you have an electric field in some region, that will cause a change in electric potential between two points. If the electric field is constant in both direction and magnitude, then the magnitude of the change in electric potential would just be E*s. Since the current is in the upward direction, the electron velocity would be down (negative charge). Since the material has an overall neutral charge, there must also be positive charges on the right surface. Surface charge builds up on the side due to the magnetic force on the moving charge carriers. The electric field (due to the side surface charges – there is also an electric field that causes the current) exerts a force on the moving charges.
The side surfaces charges will keep building up until there is an sideways electric force that cancels the magnetic force and the electrons again move in the direction of the wire.
This electric field also means that there is a change in electric potential across the material (which we can measure).
If you know the size of the material and the speed of the electrons (technically called the drift speed), then I can set the magnetic force equal to the sideways electric force.
The change in electric potential (across the side of the material) can be measured with a voltmeter. Using this change in potential and the size of the material, you get the magnitude of the magnetic field. There are of course other methods for measuring the magnetic field, but these are two options that you probably have easy access to. The end of the world as we know it could come in any number of ways, depending on who you ask. Earth's magnetic field takes between 1,000 and 10,000 years to reverse, and in the process, it greatly diminishes before it re-aligns. The scientists say it's the weak in-between phase that would be roughest on Earthlings. According to John Tarduno, professor of geophysics at the University of Rochester, a strong magnetic field helps protect Earth from blasts of radiation from the sun. One additional worry is that a weakening and eventual reversal in the field would disorient all those species that rely on geomagnetism for navigation, including bees, salmon, turtles, whales, bacteria and pigeons.
The geomagnetic field is currently weakening, possibly because of a growing patch of reverse-alignment in the liquid core deep beneath Brazil and the South Atlantic. The reversal might happen, or it might be aborted — Earth is too complex a system for scientists to know which outcome to expect. Rocks record the direction of the ambient magnetic field as they form, allowing us to reconstruct the history of these reversals. The question of whether we should be expecting a reversal is most easily addressed by taking a longer view. Fortunately, rocks can preserve information about the palaeointensity (literally, ancient intensity) of the Earth’s magnetic field. The other interesting thing about this record is that the field has behaved in quite a consistent way during every reversal.
To really place recent field behaviour in context, we really need a better idea of what was going on geomagnetically prior to the instrumental record.
But seriously, this is a nice post and should be distributed to Earth Science teachers everywhere.
One interesting question is what happens to oganisms, especially birds, that use the magnetic signal to orient for long distance migrations or other navigation. Presumably adjustments are made during periods of excursion, but one would think that rapid shifts would cause a certain amount of disruption and confusion, and maybe a bit of unnatural selection …. Charged particles from the solar wind (~ 1 keV) would slowly erode Earth’s atmosphere if the magnetic field went away. As for the Cretaceous Normal Superchron, palaeointensity measurements from that era suggest that the field was very strong, and therefore stable.
When the OP says multiply, wander, and so on, this means that the relative strengths of various terms needed to make this a useful description of the earth’s field (the dipole, quadrupole, octopole, and so on) will change. Convection in the outer core normally seems to have a fair degree of large scale organisation, which produces a simple, dominantly dipolar, magnetic field. Then there’s the considerations surrounding the magnetosphere and how it protects us from solar rays. There was a paper a few years ago that calculated that the stronger multipole field during inversions would induce a magnetic field in the ionosphere, which would take over the protection function of the magnetosphere. And I thought that these outer core convection cells are influenced by the position of the continents (thicker crust).
PS – thanks for posting your work, I appreciate the willingness to share info and ideas on the web.
One of the side effects of magnetic reversal is that for a period of time the earth’s overall magnetic field will be very irregular.
There could be a number of reasons for Mars’s dead dynamo, it still has a molten core, so if it could suddenly start losing alot of heat, presumably the dynamo could start up tomorrow (well, geologically tomorrow).
My point is, that the causes for the death of the dynamo aren’t well enough understood to be saying things without noting the extreme uncertainties in our knowledge of a dynamo that died billions of years ago.
Says the modelling- until we get a seismometer up there we won’t be able to confirm that hypothesis. Using radio tracking of Mars Global Surveyor some people confirmed that there is a part of the outer core that remains liquid to this day.
I do believe a new age is almost upon us and that we will be enlightened when the pole shift occurs. Prepare yourselves for 3.5 days of darkness when the earth stops rotating and the 6 hrs it will take for pole changes!
The objective of this science fair project is to demonstrate eddy currents and induced magnetic fields. Factors that increase the effect of eddy currents include stronger magnetic fields, faster-moving magnetic fields, and thicker conductors. We also do our best to make sure that any listed supplier provides prompt, courteous service. Proceeds from the affiliate programs help support Science Buddies, a 501(c)(3) public charity. Scientists do multiple trials and calculate an average to help even out any errors in their experiment. To calculate the average, add up the values, and divide by the number of trials (in this case, 3). Compared to a typical science class, please tell us how much you learned doing this project. The Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources.
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Magnetism is defined as a phenomenon in which a force is produced by charged particles (electrons) of a magnet. Based on the configuration of electrons in the material, magnetic behavior is classified into several types.
Magnetism is a mysterious phenomenon that goes on in the everyday life, and indeed a vast, but interesting topic to be studied on. In many materials, these moving charges are electrons (but it really doesn’t matter). Of course, you still need the electron drift velocity but you can get that if you know the type of material and the value of the electric current.
I will show how you can use these methods to look at the strength of different magnets, but in a later post.
When the reversed patches grow to the point that they dominate the rest of the core, Earth's overall magnetic field flips. What will actually happen when north-pointing compasses make a 180-degree turn toward Antarctica? He wrote a paper last year proposing a direct link between the demise of Neanderthals, our evolutionary cousins, and a significant decrease of the geomagnetic field intensity that occurred exactly at the same period. Even now, solar storms can damage satellites, cause power outages and interrupt radio communications. The liquid core does indeed touch the bottom of the mantle, but it would take tens of millions of years for changes in the core to propagate up through the mantle and influence the motion of the tectonic plates. She hold a bachelor's degree in physics from Tufts University and has studied physics at the University of California, Berkeley.
At the moment, magnetic field lines run from the south pole to the north pole, and point up in the southern hemisphere and down in the northern hemisphere, as in the figure on the left below. The symmetric pattern of magnetic anomalies either side of mid-ocean ridges, give us a continuous record of magnetic reversals stretching back almost 200 million years. Effectively, the stronger the magnetizing field, the stronger the rock’s magnetisation will be. Every switch in polarity occurs when the field is at its weakest – the palaeointensities are lower during reversals than at any other point in this record.
Problems with complex magnetic mineralogy, and overprints, and possible thermal alteration during the experiments, are also rife.
I didn’t really understand the field mimimums before or that we should be able to see a reversal coming a at least a couple centuries in advance. The total field is described in this sort of model by adding up all the terms with coefficients with large magnitudes, so the net field looks different as the magnitudes of these coefficients vary and the signs flip. What seems to happen during reversals is that convection becomes more disorganised; this means that the magnetic field produced is also more complicated, with shorter wavelength quadropole and octopole components becoming stronger at the expense of the longer wavelength dipole field. If there was even a slight ripple in our protective covering, I think we’d be in for a world of hurt. The main thing that strikes me is that I see no mention of mechanisms, processes, forces or energy that might account for a flipping of the Earth’s magnetic field in the future (or for that matter, in the past).
There are two really good counterexamples in the terrestrial planets: Mercury is much smaller than Mars and almost definitely has an active dynamo, Venus is much bigger than Mars and does not have an active dynamo. When you see people doing mad acts as if during a full moon but 100x stronger, we will know the time is upon us. Oh, and the Earth will not stop spinning, the stars will not fall from the sky, and the Great Old Ones will not return to eat us all (probably). A magnet is a material that produces a magnetic field, which can exert a force on other materials without actually touching them. In 1834, while investigating magnetic induction, he noticed and described an interesting phenomenon.
Factors that reduce the effect of eddy currents include weaker magnets, slower-moving magnetic fields, and non-conductive materials. You will accomplish this by sending a neodymium magnet down a conductive tube and then down a non-conductive tube. It's not as smart as you are, and it may occasionally give humorous, ridiculous, or even annoying results! Neodymium magnets (used in this science project) are strongly attracted and snap together quickly. The strong magnetic fields of neodymium magnets can erase magnetic media like credit cards, magnetic I.D. If you need to separate neodymium magnets, they can usually be separated by hand, one at a time, by sliding the end magnet off the stack. Neodymium magnets are brittle and may crack or shatter if they slam together, possibly launching magnet fragments at high speeds.
Hold the pipe near the top with one hand, and have the volunteer hold the pipe near the bottom so it does not shake. You will need to start the stopwatch as soon as you let go of the magnet, and stop the stopwatch as soon as the magnet exits the bottom of the pipe. For example, in this experiment, there could be some human error in how fast you hit “start” and “stop” on the stopwatch. Make a bar graph with the type of pipe (copper or PVC) on the horizontal, and the average fall time on the vertical axis. Does the time it takes for the magnet to fall down the tube decrease, increase, or remain the same? If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Electrical and electronics engineers may specialize in one of the millions of products that make or use electricity, like cell phones, electric motors, microwaves, medical instruments, airline navigation system, or handheld games.
To reach that goal, they observe and measure natural events seen on Earth and in the universe, and then develop theories, using mathematics, to explain why those phenomena occur. There are several types of magnetism classified according to the magnetic behavior exhibited by a magnet. In simpler terms, a magnetic substance, for example iron, is attracted by a magnet with the force of magnetism. Hence, an electron that spins around the nucleus also generates a magnetic field around it. Conventionally, it is studied that the magnetic field leaves the north pole and enters the south pole.
A diamagnetic material produces an opposite magnetic field when an external magnetic field is applied on the material.
A paramagnetic material is attracted to a magnetic field and generates its own magnetic field in the presence of an external magnetic field.
Yes, the planet Earth also exhibits magnetism, which is referred to as Earth's magnetic field or external magnetic field.
Since a magnetic field can exert a torque on another magnet, this needle will line up in the direction of the net magnetic field. The trick is to assume the value of the Earth’s magnetic field and the direction of the compass. Since the compass is underneath the wire, the magnetic field due to the wire will be 90° to the Earth’s magnetic field. However, in my simple test I found that the digital iPhone compass didn’t respond very well to changes in magnetic fields. The direction of this force is perpendicular to both the magnetic field and the velocity vector of the electric charge. So, add us to your ad blocker’s whitelist or pay $1 per week for an ad-free version of WIRED.
When north goes south, they say, the continents will lurch in one direction or the other, triggering massive earthquakes, rapid climate change and species extinctions. The last reversal happened 780,000 years ago during the Stone Age, and indeed there's evidence to suggest the planet may be in the early stages of a pole reversal right now.
Will the continents tear themselves apart, or are we in store for much more mundane changes?

Similarly as we cannot see or feel the presence of the geomagnetic field now, we most likely would not notice any significant change from a reversal," Korte said. But at many points in the past, the field lines (and compasses, if they’d been invented) pointed south, and, as the figure on the right below shows, were directed upwards in the northern hemisphere and downwards in the southern hemisphere.
We palaeomagicians are particularly interested in how the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field varies during reversals, because geodynamo theory suggests that reversals are probably more likely to happen when fluctuations in outer core convection weaken and destabilise the dipole. If you measure the magnetisation acquired by your rock samples in artificial magnetic fields of known value, you can use this experimentally determined relationship to infer the strength of the geomagnetic field required to impart the original remanent magnetization. Increasing numbers of relative paleointensity records, mainly from measurements of marine sediment cores, have been published in recent years. Instead, the geomagnetic field will weaken, and the magnetic poles will start to wander to lower latitudes, and possibly multiply, over a period of hundreds and thousands of years. Intermediate charged particles ( ~ 1 keV – 1 MeV) would cause aurora effects but would cause little ground effects at sea level. Years of reading X-Men comics have taught me that reversing the Earth’s magnetic field can happen very quickly and causes massive global catastrophe. I see a reasonable argument for a decline in the strength of our magnetic field, but nothing that indicates (even remotely) impending reversal. But, as far as a polar shift, where the crust itself moves, putting the north pole somewhere in saudi, I don’t know.
My prediction is major changes starting somewhere between Dec 2011 and February 2012 which is a precurser for the shift which will occur on the equinox of Dec 21, 2012.
This means that the carriage of the train is suspended over the rails with no support, but only with magnetic fields!
A magnetic force can attract or repel, and some materials can exert a larger force than others. This phenomenon is now called Lenz's law and it occurs when a magnet interacts with a conductor.
Optionally, you can use something like duct tape or zip ties to fix the pipe in a vertical position (for example, by attaching it to the leg of a table).
Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.
Physicists take on the challenge of explaining events that happen on the grandest scale imaginable to those that happen at the level of the smallest atomic particles. The force generated can be either attractive or repulsive, depending on the alignment of the charged particles. The difference between a magnet and other substance is that in the former, all the electrons move in the same direction, thus producing a static magnetic field around the magnet. A magnet is called a dipole as it possesses two ends that act differently; opposite poles attract, whereas like poles repel each other. Ferromagnetism is the property of a material that remains magnetic even after the removal of a magnet.
Let’s assume that at this location on the Earth, the magnetic field is pointing directly North with a horizontal component of about 2 x 10-5 T.
If all these electrons in the current are curving to the left, there will eventually be excess negative charges on the left side of this material. This prediction is particularly relevant in light of the fact that the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field has been steadily decreasing, at a rate of about 5% a century, since we first started directly measuring it in the mid 1800s.
In each case, the reversal is preceded by at least 20,000-40,000 years of fairly continuous decay in field strength to about the same (very low) value, with a much more rapid recovery in field strength following the transition. It looks dramatic from the perspective of Deep Time, but during a reversal the changes over a human lifetime will probably be little different from the secular variation we see today.
There is a physical explanation for magnetic levitation, and if you would like to learn more about magnetism and current, this is a science fair project that you must try! A conductor is a material that permits electrons (and therefore electricity) to flow through it easily.
Their theories are then applied to human-scale projects to bring people new technologies, like computers, lasers, and fusion energy. A material that generates a magnetic field is known as a magnet, and the phenomenon is known as magnetism.
In case of other substances, the electrons spin randomly, hence dispersing the magnetic field in different directions. Likewise, an electromagnet is a magnet that requires electricity to generate a magnetic field. Ferromagnetic mechanism is used for creating permanent magnets, for example, magnets used in refrigerators. In addition, there are other magnetic behavior such as spin glass (irregular magnetic fields) and superparamagnetism (contains minute ferromagnetic clusters).
When a magnet is suspended in the Northern Hemisphere, the south pole of the magnet points towards the south direction of the Earth. Well, it just so happens that the Earth creates a magnetic field that is mostly constant at a given location. No extinction event has ever been linked to a magnetic field reversal, and I think that we might just cope with the next one too – whenever it might occur. Then this last week I read an article on whales being beached by the 100’s in Australia.
This means that a conductor has a low resistance and resistivity to the motion of electrons. Then, using your body weight, hold the stack of magnets on the table and push down with the palm of your hand on the magnet hanging over the edge.
Magnets, due to their specific properties, are used in electrical appliances, compasses, industrial magnets, printing magnets, construction works, as magnetic strips in cards, magnetic bracelets, magnetic therapy, and several other domains. In the process of making a magnet, a ferromagnetic material is heated first and cooled gradually under a strong magnetic field.
Similarly, when the same magnet is suspended in the Southern Hemisphere, the south pole still points to the south direction. Without a better idea of how the geodynamo behaves over geological time, there’s no way of knowing. This event was not limited to the one time but has happened several times over the last few months.
When a magnetic field varies along the length of the conductor, like when you let go of a magnet down a metal tube, the magnetic field induces a current within the conductor. As the material cools down, the electrons are forced to align in a particular direction, resulting in a permanent magnet.
Here are the things I would like to start with (but each item could probably be a whole blog post). Just be careful that they do not snap back together, pinching you, once you have separated them.
The magnet's poles (such as Earth's north and south poles) are where the magnetic field begins and ends. If you look at the magnetic field of Earth, you will notice that the magnetic field is not straight. This induced magnetic field opposes the magnetic field of the magnet that is moving along the conductor.
As a result of two opposing magnetic fields, the magnet will stop moving and float, or levitate. This is the principle behind the world's fastest trains, called magnetic levitation (maglev) trains.
You can read more about magnets and magnetic fields in the Science Buddies Electricity, Magnetism, & Electromagnetism Tutorial.

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