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What are Magnets and Magnetic Fields?

A magnet has two poles, called North and South.
A magnetic field is a region around the magnet
where magnetic materials experience a force.

There are only three magnetic elements. They are
iron, nickel and cobalt. In practice you will
only use iron, or steel which is an alloy of Iron.

What is the Shape and Direction of a Magnetic Field?

The shape of the magnetic field around the magnet is shown
by lines. Arrows on the lines point away from North and
towards South to show the direction of the magnetic field.

Notice that the lines of magnetic force do not cross
each other. The closer together the lines are,
the stronger the field is. You need to know the shape
of the magnetic field for a bar magnet (see below)
poles which attract and poles which repel.

Magnetic Field of a Bar Magnet

The magnetic field can be seen by placing the magnet
under a piece of paper with small iron filings on top.
The filings line up in the shape of the field, as shown above.

The direction of the arrows can be seen by placing a
compass in the field. The compass points in the direction
of the arrows, away from North and towards South.

Note - this means that when a compass points to
the Earth's North Pole,
there must be a magnetic South Pole up there
(bet that confuses the penguins!).

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