Why do magnets go north to south? (2022) - Simply Magnet (2023)

A magnet is a substance or particle that generates a magnetic field. Actually, this magnetic field is not visible but can be felt by other substances or particles. Like electric field magnet filed have also magnetic field lines. The magnet consists of two poles, North and South, in which the same force repel and opposite force attract each other.

Magnets go north to south. Don’t understand why?

Without further ado, Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

(Video) Working of Compass | Earth as Magnet | Magnetic & Geographic Poles (NSO | NSTSE)

How do Magnets work?

Before we explain why do magnets go from north to south, we first need to understand how magnets work and how Earth interacts with its magnetic field.

Magnets work by moving charged particles, a magnetic field is created, exerting a force on other charged particles that move. Electrons have a spin property that allows them to exert a force on magnetic fields. (The electron ‘spin’ is analogous to the daily spin we’re used to, but it’s really a quantum property, so it’s not the same.)

The spins of the electrons line up in a magnet so that the small magnetic field generated by the spin of each electron adds up into a large magnetic field that can be felt far away by other charged particles. The force which is exerted on a particle with a particular spin causes it to rotate its spin.

Why do magnets go north to south? (2022) - Simply Magnet (1)

Why do Magnets go North to South?

The Earth’s core is made of metal. It has a heavy inner core that is hot and a cold outer core that is liquid. Much as hot air rises over cold air, the difference in temperature induces currents in the liquid metal. Around the same time, the Planet revolves and causes the current of liquid metal to spin as well. The total effect is to create a magnetic field that points in the northern direction.

Then, putting these two theories together, the magnetic field of the Earth would cause the magnet to align from north to south. That’s why they were called North and South Poles by the people.

(Video) Magnetism | The Dr. Binocs Show | Educational Videos For Kids

But you might still wonder, why does the magnetic field of the Planet point north? Is it a coincidence that the north is magnetically the same as the north is polar? In other words, why does the earth spin around the Sun having the same plane?

It is, as it happens, no coincidence! We have to go back to the formation of the solar system to understand why it is this way. The solar system began as a ball of dust floating around in space, like all other stars and their planets. There were a random position and velocity of each substance or particle. The poles are the area at which the magnetic flux lines emit.

There are two poles one is the south pole and the other is the north pole. The north and south geographic poles indicate the positions where the planet’s rotation axis intercepts the surface of the earth.

In order to make it spin, hold a ball between your thumb and your forefinger and pulling on the hand. The north and south poles of the tennis ball’s spin are the points. the point where your two fingers contact each other. The magnetic poles of the Earth designate the central location of the area where the lines of the magnetic fields begin and end. The geographic and magnetic poles of the Planet are not precisely aligned since they derive from various mechanisms. The magnetic field occurs at the moment of liquid iron.

Related: Do Magnets work in Space?

How to determine the north and south pole of a magnet

Magnetic induction lines emerge from the North Pole and join the South Pole, creating a curve that is closed within the magnet from the South Pole to the North Pole. As we know that the magnetic field lines never intersect. Each magnet has the North Pole and the South Pole, and pairs of its two poles still exist.

(Video) Earth and Compasses | Magnetism | Physics | FuseSchool

But if you want to ask how to decide the magnet’s north and south poles, here are several ways you can follow:

Using a compass to identify the north and south poles

Compass is used to determine the direction.

Consider you have a compass, place this compass near to the magnet. Here you will see the needle in the compass which starts rotation. You will note where the compass needle points either the south pole or north pole. At first, this rationale might seem a little confusing, but because the geographic north pole of Earth behaves like the south pole to a magnet, it attracts the opposite poles.

The compass method is one way of knowing which pole is which, A magnetic compass does not point towards the north celestial pole. A magnetic compass refers to the magnetic poles of the planet, which are not similar to the celestial poles of the earth. In addition, the magnetic pole at the geographic north pole of the Planet is simply the southern magnetic pole. Opposites appeal when it comes to magnets.

This reality means that in a compass, this means the north pole is drawn to the south pole, which is similar to the north geographic pole. Without a permanent magnet, magnetic field lines typically travel from the north magnetic pole to the south.

Magnetic pole identifier

To do this, its best to use an electronic pole finder. Simply point the tip to one side of the magnet, push the button and an LED light shows the polarity, north or south. This is your best bet on a production line. This works well, reliably, and removes any ambiguity.

Compass: a magnet on a string

You can use a little science to discover the north pole of your magnets if you don’t have a pole identifier readily accessible. Your magnet’s north pole is attracted to the north pole of the earth.

The magnetic pole near the geographic north pole is essentially like the magnetic south pole of a magnet. The earth is technically backward. When you hang a small stack of magnets on a long string, the magnets will rotate freely.

If you hang it up on a stable platform, like an overhead lamp. The north end should be pointed north until it stops wobbling. You can find the north pole of your magnet if you know approximately which direction is north.

The floating magnet

The development of a compass by floating a magnet on a piece of Styrofoam is a great science project. The lightweight, floating base provides an almost frictionless surface for the magnet to rotate freely on. The north pole quickly becomes evident — plus messing with it’s neat! This floating compass is a perfect idea for kids for a science project. With solid magnets, make sure to provide adult supervision

A magnet on edge

It’s less interesting to create, but super simple: on a smooth surface, you can put a disc magnet on its edge. It will twist to point north if your magnet is sized correctly to match this way. Simple, but effective.

(Video) How to determine the north and south pole of a magnet for free


It points north again when you take the compass away from the bar magnet. So, we can conclude that the north end of a compass is drawn to a magnet’s south end. This may be a little confusing since it seems like what we call the Earth’s North Pole is really the Earth’s magnetic South Pole. Finally, we know that the magnetic fields lines cannot touch each other. The same pole repels but the opposite pole attracts each other.

Related: Do Magnets work in Space?


Why does a magnet go from north to south? ›

When it comes to magnets, opposites attract. This fact means that the north end of a magnet in a compass is attracted to the south magnetic pole, which lies close to the geographic north pole. Magnetic field lines outside of a permanent magnet always run from the north magnetic pole to the south magnetic pole.

Where is the magnetic north pole right now 2022? ›

Magnetic North, Geomagnetic and Magnetic Poles
YearNorth geomagnetic poleNorth magnetic pole
31 more rows

How do magnets work simple explanation? ›

All magnets have north and south poles. Opposite poles are attracted to each other, while the same poles repel each other. When you rub a piece of iron along a magnet, the north-seeking poles of the atoms in the iron line up in the same direction. The force generated by the aligned atoms creates a magnetic field.

What causes Earth's magnetic field to flip? ›

Since the forces that generate our magnetic field are constantly changing, the field itself is also in continual flux, its strength waxing and waning over time. This causes the location of Earth's magnetic north and south poles to gradually shift, and to even completely flip locations every 300,000 years or so.

Do magnets attract north to south? ›

A magnet has two ends called poles; one end is the north pole and the other is the south pole. A north pole will attract a south pole; the magnets pull on each other. But the two north poles will push each other away.

What would happen if the earth's pole shifts? ›

This means that everything on the planet will be exposed to higher levels of radiation, which over time could produce an increase in diseases like cancer, as well as harm delicate spacecraft and power grids on Earth.

Why is the Magnetic North Pole moving? ›

The north magnetic pole moves over time according to magnetic changes and flux lobe elongation in the Earth's outer core.

When was the last magnetic reversal? ›

The last reversal occurred between 772,000 and 774,000 years ago. Since then, the field has almost reversed 15 times, called an excursion, dropping in strength significantly but not quite reaching the threshold needed before rising again.

When was the last polar shift? ›

Geomagnetic pole reversals have happened throughout Earth's history. The last one occurred 780,000 years ago. Though they sound scary, pole flips can take a long time to occur and pose no immediate threat.

How do you explain magnets to kids? ›

Magnets and Magnetism | Magnets Video for Kids - YouTube

How do you teach kids magnets? ›

Experiment with how the magnets interact with each other. Explain that a magnet has two sides, called positive and negative, and that opposites pull together. Categorize the objects into two piles: those that react to the magnet and those that don't. Discuss what the pile that reacted to the magnets have in common.

What is a magnet Year 3? ›

A magnet is a metal which attracts or repels other materials. A magnet is made from magnetic materials such as iron, nickel, steel, or cobalt. Magnets have two poles, north and south. Magnets have an invisible magnetic field that allows them to attract or repel certain materials.

Why did Mars lose its magnetic field? ›

Researchers believe that Mars once had a global magnetic field, like Earth's, but the iron-core dynamo that generated it shut down billions of years ago leaving behind only patches of magnetism due to magnetised minerals in the Martian crust.

What would happen if the Earth's magnetic field reversed? ›

The most recent reversal of Earth's magnetic field may have been as recent as 42,000 years ago, according to a new analysis of fossilised tree rings. This flip of the magnetic poles would have been devastating, creating extreme weather and possibly leading to the extinction of large mammals and the Neanderthals.

What would happen if the Earth's magnetic field disappeared? ›

If Earth lost its magnetic field, there would be no magnetosphere - and no line of defense, even from weaker solar storms. Our power grids would be more vulnerable than ever, and even our computers and other electronics could suffer damage if a solar storm struck.

Do all magnets have 2 poles? ›

Experimentation shows that all magnets have two poles. If freely suspended, one pole will point toward the north. The two poles are thus named the north magnetic pole and the south magnetic pole (or more properly, north-seeking and south-seeking poles, for the attractions in those directions).

What are magnets made of? ›

Most permanent magnets contain iron, nickel, or cobalt. Alnico is an alloy made up of aluminium, nickel and cobalt. A strong permanent magnet can be made from Alnico alloys.

Why do opposite ends of a magnet attract? ›

Explanation: When the like pole of two magnets comes close they repel each other because the direction of the line of force is opposite and when the opposite pole comes together they attract each other because the line of force points in the same direction.

Can magnetic field affect humans? ›

The Earth's magnetic field does not directly affect human health. Humans evolved to live on this planet. High altitude pilots and astronauts can experience higher levels of radiation during magnetic storms, but the hazard is due to the radiation, not the magnetic field itself.

Will the Earth flip on its axis? ›

Indeed, as little—in geologic time, anyway—as 780,000 years ago, the poles reversed. It may be about to happen again, some scientists believe, with potentially disastrous results for life on Earth. (Why it's not time to panic yet about the magnetic field flip.)

How often does the Earth's magnetic pole flip? ›

They can happen as often as every 10 thousand years or so and as infrequently as every 50 million years or more. The last reversal was about 780,000 years ago.

Where is magnetic north right now? ›

The geomagnetic north pole is where Earth's magnetic field would appear to be focused in the north if you could see it from far out in space. Its position has shifted slightly since it was identified, and it is currently located over Ellesmere Island, across the Nares Strait from Greenland.

Where is True North today? ›

Where would a compass needle point if you were standing on the true North Pole? If you were standing on the geographic north pole holding your compass, it would point towards northern Canada at Ellesmere Island. This is a difference of about 500 kilometers between the Geographic North and Magnetic North poles!

Is the North Pole in Russia? ›

The North Pole is found in the Arctic Ocean, on constantly shifting pieces of sea ice. The North Pole is not part of any nation, although Russia placed a titanium flag on the seabed in 2007. The North Pole is the northernmost point on Earth.

Is the Earth's magnetic field changing? ›

Since the invention of the magnetometer in the 1830s, the average intensity of the magnetic field at the Earth's surface has decreased by about ten percent. We know from paleomagnetic records that the intensity of the magnetic field decreases by as much as ninety percent at the Earth's surface during a reversal.

Are the poles moving? ›

Given all that, it might seem surprising that the magnetic north pole isn't wandering more wildly. But the flowing happens in slow motion. “When we say the flow is turbulent, we mean on a timescale of tens of thousands of years,” says Gary Glatzmaier at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Is the Earth's magnetic field getting weaker? ›

SAN FRANCISCO--Earth's magnetic field is rapidly getting weaker, and geophysicists don't know why. The decrease in strength--a startling 10% in the last 160 years--could signal that the magnetic field is starting one of its sporadic flip-flops.

How fast is the pole moving currently? ›

But since the 1990s it has sped up, and now is moving at about 55 kilometres per year towards Siberia. It is speculation, but this might foreshadow a 'magnetic reversal' in which the magnetic north and south poles change locations. This has happened 171 times in the past 71 million years – and we are overdue a flip.

Are coins magnetic? ›

Since 1992, coins have been made with steel, which is magnetic. (Pre-1992 coins are made out of bronze, which will not attract.) The dangling shows us how magnetic force travels through some metals, in this case coins (coins become magnetised when they attach) but gets weaker with each one.

Does Mars have a magnetic field? ›

Like Earth, early Mars had a magnetic field and perhaps an atmosphere conducive to liquid water. But magnetic analysis of the martian surface indicates that when Mars was a mere 500 million years old, its magnetic field withered away.

How is Earth like a magnet? ›

The crust of the Earth has some permanent magnetization, and the Earth's core generates its own magnetic field, sustaining the main part of the field we measure at the surface. So we could say that the Earth is, therefore, a "magnet."

How do magnets work BBC Bitesize? ›

When two of the same poles are placed close together they repel (push apart) each other. When two different poles are close, they attract (pull together) each other. Magnets only need to be near each other to attract and repel. They don't need to be touching.

What is a magnet Grade 7? ›

A magnet is defined as. An object which is capable of producing magnetic field and attracting unlike poles and repelling like poles.

What is a magnet for class 6? ›

Magnets are the naturally occurring substances with the property of attracting iron. A magnet. It is found that naturally occurring rocks have the property of attracting small pieces of iron. Hence, they are called as natural magnets. They are permanent magnets in nature.

What is a magnet ks3? ›

Magnets have a north pole and a south pole. Like poles repel but opposite poles attract. Electromagnets, motors, bells and compasses use magnetic fields. Physics. Electromagnetism and magnetism.

Is gold magnetic? ›

In their pure, natural forms, gold, silver, aluminum, copper, brass, and lead are not magnetic. This is because they are all weak metals. Adding iron or steel to these metals can make them stronger and magnetic.

Is all metal magnetic? ›

Not all metals are magnetic. Actually, it depends on what you mean by the word "magnetic". There are four basic types of magnetism that a material can have: superconducting, diamagnetic, paramagnetic, and lastly ferromagnetic. Superconducting materials are strongly repelled from permanent magnets.

How are magnets made kids? ›

It is possible to make a magnet by taking an existing magnet and rubbing another piece of metal with it. The new piece of metal must be rubbed continuously in the same direction. This will make the electrons in that metal start to spin in the same direction. Electricity can also create magnets.

Is Earth losing its atmosphere? ›

Because of Earth's gaseous gifts to space, our planet — or, to be specific, the atmosphere — is shrinking, according to Guillaume Gronoff, a senior research scientist who studies atmospheric escape at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia. However, we're not shrinking by much, he said.

What did the world look like 4 billion years ago? ›

What Was Earth Like 4 Billion Years Ago? - YouTube

How does a planet lose water? ›

Planets can lose water and CO2 above their surfaces in two ways. The Sun and its solar wind can strip water vapor and gaseous CO2 from the top of the atmosphere into space. The two compounds can also diffuse into the subsurface. There, CO2 and water can react with crustal materials to form CO2- and H2O-rich minerals.

How long will the Earth's magnetic field last? ›

The direction and intensity of the dipole change over time. Over the last two centuries the dipole strength has been decreasing at a rate of about 6.3% per century. At this rate of decrease, the field would be negligible in about 1600 years.

What happens when the Sun's magnetic field flips? ›

During field reversals, the current sheet becomes very wavy, and as Earth orbits the Sun, we dip in and out of the current sheet. This means we can see an uptick in space weather, with any solar storms affecting Earth more. So, there may be more auroras in our near future. Cosmic rays are also affected.

How long does it take for Earth's magnetic field to flip? ›

—The time it takes for Earth's magnetic field to reverse polarity is approximately 7000 years, but the time it takes for the reversal to occur is shorter at low latitudes than at high latitudes, a geologist funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) has concluded.

Do humans have magnetic fields? ›

Today, two hundred years later, we know that the human body is indeed magnetic in the sense that the body is a source of magnetic fields, but this body magnetism is very different from that imagined by Mesmer.

What happened 42000 years ago? ›

The temporary breakdown of Earth's magnetic field 42,000 years ago sparked major climate shifts that led to global environmental change and mass extinctions, a new international study co-led by UNSW Sydney and the South Australian Museum shows.

What would happen if there were no poles? ›

Magnetic compasses align to the magnetic poles to help orient travelers. Without a pole, they would simply align to the nearest magnet or field.

Why can't a magnet have just a north pole? ›

Though magnets each have a north pole and a south pole, according to the laws of physics, there's no real reason why a monopole couldn't exit. Cut a magnet in two, and you just end up with two smaller magnets, each with a north and a south pole.

Why north is up and south is down? ›

You've asked an excellent question. In general, map makers have agreed to put north at the top of maps. That makes it easier to compare one map to another. One reason for doing this is that people tend to recognize shapes most easily when they are in the same orientation.

Why does a magnetic compass point north and south in the absence? ›

Thus within the absence of an electrical current, a compass needle always involves rest in Earth's North-south direction. However, when current passes through the circuit the needle rests within the direction opposite to the magnetic flux of Earth. Hence it is South-North direction.

How does a magnet show direction? ›

Directions using Magnets - Science - YouTube

Is the Earth a magnet? ›

The crust of the Earth has some permanent magnetization, and the Earth's core generates its own magnetic field, sustaining the main part of the field we measure at the surface. So we could say that the Earth is, therefore, a "magnet."

What happens if you cut a magnet in half? ›

You can think of a magnet as a bundle of tiny magnets, called magnetic domains, that are jammed together. Each one reinforces the magnetic fields of the others. Each one has a tiny north and south pole. If you cut one in half, the newly cut faces will become the new north or south poles of the smaller pieces.

Can magnets work in space? ›

Unlike a lot of other items you might bring to space that need additional tools or equipment to function, a magnet will work without any extra help. Magnets don't need gravity or air. Instead, their power comes from the electromagnetic field they generate all by themselves.

Who decided which way up the Earth is? ›

The north's position was ultimately secured by the beginning of the 16th century, thanks to Ptolemy, with another European discovery that, like the New World, others had known about for quite some time.

Why do we think north is up? ›

Because the Northern hemisphere rotates counterclockwise around the North Pole and the Southern Hemisphere rotates clockwise around the South Pole, it would make sense for the North Pole to be considered as "up" on a map.

What does black mean on a map? ›

Black: roads, railroads, highways, bridges, place names, buildings, and borders. Purple: highways, and on U.S. Geographical Survey topographic maps, features added to the map since the original survey.

Why do magnetic needles point north? ›

The magnetic field is a zone where the force is active along imaginary lines. From the south magnetic pole to the north magnetic pole, this force has an effect on all magnetized objects, such as the needle of a compass. Under the effect of Earth's magnetic field, the needle always points toward the north magnetic pole.

What is compass needle Class 10? ›

Ans. A compass needle is a small bar magnet with north and south pole. The compass needle deflects due to repulsion/attraction with the bar magnet. 2.

How will the magnetic needle of compass rest? ›

Thus in the absence of electric current a compass needle always comes to rest in Earths North-south direction. However, when current passes through the circuit the needle comes to rests in the direction opposite to the magnetic field of Earth i.e. South-North direction.

Do magnets work under water? ›

Magnets work great underwater. You can even get special magnets, called retrieving magnets, to pick up objects containing iron that have fallen into lakes or wells. This can be a lifesaver if your keys fall into a tank of sharks or alligators.

What is actual north? ›

What is true north? True north is the direction that points directly towards the geographic North Pole. This is a fixed point on the Earth's globe.

How do you tell direction without a compass? ›

How to Tell Directions without a Compass - YouTube


1. Why Magnetic Monopoles SHOULD Exist
(PBS Space Time)
2. Physics & Electromagnetism : Polarity of Electromagnets
3. What makes magnetic gearboxes so amazing?
4. Is It Happening Right Now? The Poles of the Earth Are Tilting!
5. What Will Happen When Earth's North And South Pole Flip?
(Tech Insider)
6. How Special Relativity Makes Magnets Work
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Manual Maggio

Last Updated: 02/21/2023

Views: 5468

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (49 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Manual Maggio

Birthday: 1998-01-20

Address: 359 Kelvin Stream, Lake Eldonview, MT 33517-1242

Phone: +577037762465

Job: Product Hospitality Supervisor

Hobby: Gardening, Web surfing, Video gaming, Amateur radio, Flag Football, Reading, Table tennis

Introduction: My name is Manual Maggio, I am a thankful, tender, adventurous, delightful, fantastic, proud, graceful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.