Magnetic field polarity

Magnetic field polarity

Magnetic field polarity


“Why do scientists describe magnets as having a north and south pole?”


Magnets are very interesting pieces of the physical universe. They seem to be able to attract and repel objects with a completely invisible field. However, why is it that one side of a magnetic field can attract objects and the other side repel, and how can we describe the direction of this physical field?

When studying magnetism, scientists and engineers have decided to describe the flow of magnetic field in terms of polarity. All magnets have  are fundamentally dipolar, which means that one side is like the “positive” charge on an electron, while another is like a “negative” charge. Similar to electrons, opposite polarities attract and like ones repel. However, instead of being called positive and negative, these sides of a magnet are called the north and south poles respectively, almost like how the earth has a north and south pole (speaking of which, the earth’s magnetic poles are actually opposite of the geographic poles, but that is a topic for another time). For specifying the direction, Physicists have constructed the system so that the magnetic field will point from the north pole to the south.

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