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Q & A: magnetic attraction

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
Does the magnetic attraction strength between 2 magnets depend on the physical orientation of the magnets, or is it entirely dependant on distance? For example, if I have 2 cylindrical magnets placed 1 cm from end to end (+ to -), will the magnetic attraction be any different than the same 2 magnets in any other orientation (such as along parallel lines where the + of one and the - of the other are 1 cm apart (the other + and - are not oriented together))? Thanks.
- Justin (age 23)
Washington DC
A:

Sure. If you turn one of the magnets 180° the interaction will change from repulsion to attraction or vice versa. Intermediate angles give intermediate results. Usually, the torque on the magnets (together with some friction) causes them to line up in the most attractive relative orientation, if they're free to turn.

Mike W.


(published on 10/22/2007)

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