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Q & A: Changing How Magnets Work

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
Is it possible to change N pole in to a different place on the magnet? Were can i find hight power magnet? Can you make magnet more powerfuler?
- Adam (age 13)
New Zealand
A:
Adam -

The two types of magnets that we encounter most in everyday life are permanent magnets and electro-magnets.

Permanent magnets are made from metals in which tiny regions, called domains, each act kind of like a little bar magnet. Although they tend to be pointing randomly, these little domains can be partly aligned resulting in the bar magnets we have all played with in school. If you broke a bar magnet in half, each half would have a north and a south pole, just like the original only smaller. You can change which end of a bar magnet is north by using a stronger magnet to flip the orientations of some of the domains.

Electro-magnets are the kind of magnets that you get when you wrap an electrical wire around a nail and pass a current through the wire. With this kind of magnet, you can change how powerful it is by changing how much electric current is flowing in the wire (for example, by using more batteries). You can also change where the poles are just by changing how you have the wires hooked up.

If you want to order a high power magnet, you can find them in science supply catalogs or at science stores. One good place to find them in things you may have around is if you have a really old computer that you don't want anymore. (Make sure it's one you're absolutely sure you don't want to use /ever/ again.) Inside the hard-drive, there are some extremely strong magnets that you can get out if you take it apart carefully.

-Tamara

(published on 10/22/2007)

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