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Name: Barbara G.
Status: educator
Age: 50s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1/13/2003


Question:
We have been looking at the flux lines of bar and disk magnets in our 8th grade Science class. One of the students asked what the flux lines would look like for a triangular magnet. If the poles were the larger top and bottom surfaces, it seems pretty straightforward. But - can you have two of the three sides be the north and south poles. If so what happens at the edge where the two poles meet and what happens along the third side? Does the vertice look like a concentrated area of flux? Does the third side show a flux pattern like a long, very thin bar magnet?


Replies:
Barbara,

I do not know how to draw it on the computer, but I can easily describe it. Imagine a standard bar magnet with the north pole at the left and the bar magnet at the right. The flux lines come out the north pole to the left, circle around and enter the south pole from the right, and then passing through the magnet back to the north pole. "Stretch" the picture vertically in your mind, expanding the bar magnet into a square. The lines will look very similar to those of a bar magnet, just more spread out within the magnet. Now "squeeze" the top edge of the magnet in slowly. The image passes from a square to a trapezoid to a triangle. As the sides rotate, some of the loops around the bottom will find it easier to go around the top. I would expect field lines around the top to be closer together than loops around the bottom. Within the magnet, many of the field lines will curve, more so near the top than near the bottom.

Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Physics Instructor
Illinois Central College



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