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Q & A: Measuring force on magnets

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Most recent answer: 02/16/2015
Q:
how can i measure the force between two magnets
- michael (age 8)
colchester, vt
A:
One of the easiest ways to go about this is to use a rubber band attached to one of the magnets. Hold the other magnet fixed, and pull on the rubber band until the magnets come apart. The amount the rubber band stretches (the total length minus the length of the rubber band when it's relaxed) is proportional to the force exerted on it. You'll have to calibrate the rubber band with known weights you measure on a scale.

You can also use a scale to measure forces, but these are usually much better at measuring pushes rather than pulling forces, and many are made of steel, which is attracted to the magnets.

Tom

(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-Up #1: gaussmeters

Q:
there is a device that measures magnetism, it is called a gaussmeter.
- Shawn Byers (age 44)
MIchigan
A:

Gaussmeters measure magnetic fields, not forces between magnets. They're also much more expensive than rubber bands.

Mike W.


(published on 02/16/2015)

Follow-up on this answer.