Until I took physics in college, most of what I knew about magnetism centered around how well refrigerator magnets would stick to the door of my fridge. There were strong ones, and weak ones, and ones that had pictures of superman on them. And that is as far as it went. Which is kind of a shame because there are so many cool things about magnetism that I had no idea of.
Cool thing #1. Magnets create magnetic fields. These fields run from the north pole of a magnet to the south pole. You can actually see it if you stick a magnet in with a bunch of iron filings like the picture above.
Cool thing #2. All magnets have a north and south pole. If you chop a magnet in half, you just get two identical magnets. Therefore, you will never find a magnet with just a south pole or just a north pole.
Cool thing #3. The earth is basically a giant magnet. The liquid metal core thousands of miles below our feet spins which creates a magnetic field with a north and south pole.
Cool thing #4. A magnetic field will make the path of any particle curve. That is how particle accelerators work- they smash together protons moving at ridiculously high speeds and then measure the radius of curvature from the shower of other random smaller particles that result from the collision. The curvature tells them what kind of particle they’re dealing with.
Cool thing #5. Many atoms if put into a magnetic field will align with the magnetic field or against it. (And they don’t have to be like iron or copper or the typical magnetic things.) This means you can pour liquid oxygen into a magnetic field and it will stay there, like in the pictures above. The much cooler application of this principle is that its possible to levitate living creatures, like frogs, with magnets. Which has actually been done before.
Cool thing #6. Electricity and magnetism are very inter-related. An electric current creates a magnetic field, and a magnetic field can create electric current. That is where the term “electromagnetism” and “electromagnet” comes from.
Cool thing #7. This guy, James Maxell, came up with four equations that describe all of electricity and magnetism, probably just to torture undergraduate physics students everywhere.
Cool thing #8. This is a special type of electromagnet called a solenoid. The current through the wires creates a uniform magnetic field pointed in one direction. An MRI machine is a solenoid, and this is how it works.
And finally, cool thing #9. Apparently its possible for people to be magnetic? This women has more of an electromagnetic current than the average person and so basically is a living breathing magnet. Kind of crazy, right?
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This entry was posted on Sunday, May 20th, 2012 at 8:27 am and is filed under Creative Photo Sets. You can follow any comments to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a comment, or trackback from your own site.