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Q & A: Magnets in Many Shapes

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
Can the diffrent shape of magnets affect the magnetic strength? If so, how?
- Patrick (age 12)
Abington, Pa, USA
A:
Yes, the shape of the magnet can have a small effect on the strength of the magnet. A pointy magnet can focus more of its strength into the the "pointy end". But the real strength of the magnet comes from the material. A more magnetic material will make a stronger magnet. Changing the shape will only let you focus a little more of that strength into a smaller area.

Take, for example, a magnet that's shaped like a donut. If you put something right in the middle of the donut, the magnetic field from all different directions will cancel out and it'll be like the magnet wasn't there at all. But outside the donut, the strength is different. It also depends on how close you are to the magnet. The farther you are away, the less difference it will make. This makes sense, if you think about it, since the farther you are away from the magnet, the more it looks like a tiny magnetic 'dot', and the shape stops mattering as much.

Adam

(published on 10/22/2007)

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