Monday, October 24, 2011

Why Are There So Many Different Shapes Of Magnets?

Although we may be most familiar with magnets used as decoration or for advertising purposes, they are essential tools used in construction and industry. Magnets are also important to our everyday lives. They are used in computers, speakers, televisions, elevators, and fax machines, to name just a few. Considering the variety, it's not surprising that they come in a number of shapes and sizes.

Why Are Magnets Found in Such a Variety of Shapes and Sizes?

The shape and size of a magnet are important for a number of reasons. First of all, the shape of a magnet determines the direction of the fields that surround the magnet fields are what allow to attract and repel metal objects and other. The direction of the field surrounding the magnet, in turn, determines the uses of the magnet.

Another aspect that is important in terms of the particular uses of magnets is the fact that magnetic power is strongest at the poles. The simplest has two poles, traditionally designated as north and south. While these opposite ends exert considerable power, the strength of the field is weaker along the sides of the magnet.

We are all familiar with the standard with a single north pole, and a single south pole. However, the shape of a magnet can be manipulated to increase the number of north and south poles. For example, a "quadrupole" has two north poles and two south poles. A "sextupole", as its name suggests, has six poles: three north poles and three south poles.

Magnet Shapes and Uses

In order to better understand how a magnet's shape determines its use, it is helpful to consider a few examples.

Bar are most familiar to us from everyday use. For example, bar are used in cabinet fasteners that keep cabinet doors securely closed. Bar magnets are also used for refrigerator that can be used to hang papers and other things on this kitchen appliance.

Horseshoe magnets, in contrast, are considerably stronger than bar magnets. In fact, their shape doubles their strength because the poles are bent to point in the same direction. These particularly strong are used in engineering and construction to retrieve hard to reach metal objects.

How Important Is the Shape of the Magnet?

The importance of the shape of the magnet depends on its intended use. For everyday, household use, shape is not very important. That's because these types of magnets are used for relatively light-weight tasks. However, in construction and industry, magnet shape is particularly important. In these cases, magnets are used for specialized tasks that require greater strength and accuracy.

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