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Magnetic Field Definition

A magnetic field exerts a force on magnets or on certain metals. For example, it enables a magnet to attract iron from a distance.

View Lesson on Electric & Magnetic Fields
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Electric & Magnetic Fields

Fun Facts

  • Iron filings align to show magnetic field lines around a magnet.
  • Larger magnets have stronger magnetic fields than smaller ones, and magnetic fields get stronger as you get closer to the magnet.
  • A magnetic field allows magnets to attract or repel certain metals without contact.

Why Do We Need To Know About Magnetic Field

Learning about magnetic fields helps us understand how things like speakers work, which we use every day. Any device with a speaker, such as a phone or earbuds, relies on magnetic fields to produce sound. This is useful for jobs in electronics, engineering, and making things. Knowing about magnetic fields can help create new stuff like special guns and simple engines, showing why it’s important to know how magnetic fields work with electricity.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you increase the strength of the magnetic force on an object like a paper clip?
Magnetic forces get stronger as the magnet moves closer to the object it is attracting or repelling. If two magnets are made of the same material, then the larger magnet will have a stronger magnetic field. The strength of a magnet also depends on the material from which it is made. For example, neodymium magnets will have a stronger magnetic field than magnets made from Alnico (an alloy of aluminum, nickel, and cobalt).
Why can iron filings be used to visualize a magnetic field?
Each tiny piece of iron becomes magnetized, and its poles align with the lines of the magnetic field. Therefore, the iron filings will line up to show the field lines and can be used to determine the relative strength of the field. Closely packed lines indicate a stronger field; widely spaced lines indicate a weaker field.
How can two balloons repel each other without touching?
Balloons that have been rubbed with the same material will take on the same charge. Charged objects are surrounded by electric fields that can exert a force on other charged objects. Two balloons with the same charge will repel each other.
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