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Q & A: Ed Leedskalnin and magnets?

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Most recent answer: 08/03/2013
Q:
I have been watching a few things on Ed Leedskalnin and magnets... I graduated with an architecture degree, so I'm curious in designing and crafting things, but I don't know much about science and magnets. I might be confused still, but hopefully you can help me wrap my head around it! I watched some videos on electromagnets and the ability to change the charges. Is it possible to use something like this to change the charge of any item? like corral rocks Ed used in his castle? I have also watch videos on magnets whose charge was changed and they don't attract until they get really close, if you put a spacer than any little movement can make them detract again. So I'm thinking what is Ed somehow changed the properties of the coral with his electromagnet, so that it worked against the earth like the magnets that repel each other. Or maybe he was able to change the properties of the ground where his was working. Any thoughts on this would be amazing!
- Laura (age 24)
Ham Lake, MN United States
A:
Dear Laura,
I looked at some of his videos and explanations.  They are certainly not main stream physics, in fact....  
Amongst other strange things he believes in are magnetic monopoles.  They have been searched for time and time again with no success.  That doesn't say they don't exist only that there is no experimental evidence nor need for them.   The current state of affairs in electricity and magnetism can be summed up in Maxwell's equations, an elegant theory that explains it all.   It takes a bit of calculus to extract some of the subtleties of these equations but the everyday consequences can be easily demonstrated using common tools, such as a compass needle and a wire carrying some current. 
If you are interested in some elementary ideas of magnetism I suggest you watch the video of an MIT open course lecture on the subject:
 

LeeH

(published on 07/18/2012)

Follow-Up #1: More on coral rocks, Ed Leedskalnin and magnets

Q:
So I recently asked a questions about Ed Leedskalnin... I looked up what a monopole was, and came across another video of a guy with a tripole magnet, although he thought it was monopole. Is it possible that Ed Leedkalnin was able to convert his coral into a tripole? That may explain how he was able to move the coral horizontally, which is a mystery to most people. Considering I have an architecture degree, and the construction/design of Ed's work fascinates me, I would like to do more research to somehow replicate his process... although far fetched, it would be a crazy break through to building/designing. So is it possible to turn a non-magnetic object into a tripole? Thanks again... p.s. this is the video I saw with the tripole http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7OmL8NppvA
- Laura (age 24)
Ham Lake MN United States
A:
Dear Laura,

If all you want to do is to move coral rocks around you should not fool around with magnets but instead consult a competent civil engineer or building contractor.  Coral rocks are mainly made out of calcium carbonate.  They don't give a fig about magnetic fields. You can't magnetize them, at all.
As to your latest video, you can make one of these so-called tripole things out of two simple bar magnets.  Just stick them end to end so that they repel each other.  The pair form  what one calls a magnetic quadrupole field whereas a single bar magnet will give you a dipole field.   There are no monopoles involved.  Again, Professor Maxwell explains it all.

LeeH


(published on 07/19/2012)

Follow-Up #2: Are there magnetic monopoles?

Q:
I was just wondering how your answer might change in light of the recent discovery of artificial magnetic monopoles? http://www.london-nano.com/research-and-facilities/highlight/magnetic-monopoles-discovered-by-lcn-scientists http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130531103910.htm As for Maxwell's equations, isn't it true that they were edited from the original and that the ones focusing on scalars are ignored and instead all the focus is on vectors? MAXWELL himself was convinced, that the correct notation for electrodynamics must be possible with quaternions and not with vectors. In his Treatise of 1873 MAXWELL has already modified his original equations of 1865. In addition Maxwell tried to introduce the quaternion notation by writing down his results also in a quaternion form. However, he has never really calculated with quaternions but only uses either the scalar or the vector part of a quaternion in his equations. Does this mean Maxwell's equations allow for magnetic monopoles? Does this discovery change our theories of magnetism at all?
- Justin (age 25)
Levittown, Pa, USA
A:

The recent construction of "artificial magnetic monopoles" in condensed matter systems has no bearing at all on our previous answers. These "monopoles" are actually dipoles, but in which the two poles can move around almost independently so long as they stay within the particular condensed matter system. The divergence of B remains zero.

Genuine magnetic monopoles may in fact exist, as implied by some cosmological models, but only at extraordinarily low concentrations. If they do exist, Maxwell's equations would of course have to be modified to include a del•B term dependent on the monopole density as well as a curlXE term dependent on the monopole current. That would be appealing because it would complete the symmetry between E and B. I don't see offhand what it would have to do with quaternions, nor do I see why it would be make any problems for the simple Heaviside notation that we use today. It certainly has nothing to do with Leedskalin or other cranks.

Mike W.


(published on 08/03/2013)

Follow-up on this answer.