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Origin Of Magnetism

Magnetism arises from two types of motions of electrons in atoms—one is the motion of the electrons in an orbit around the nucleus, similar to the motion of the planets in our solar system around the sun, and the other is the spin of the electrons around its axis, analogous to the rotation of Earth about its own axis. The orbital and the spin motion independently impart a magnetic moment on each electron causing each of them to behave as a tiny magnet. The magnetic moment of a magnet is defined by the rotational force experienced by it in a magnetic field of unit strength acting perpendicular to its magnetic axis. In a large fraction of the elements, the magnetic moment of the electrons cancel out because of the Pauli exclusion principle, which states that each electronic orbit can be occupied by only two electrons of opposite spin. However, a number of so-called transition metal atoms, such as iron, cobalt, and nickel, have magnetic moments that are not cancelled; these elements are, therefore, common examples of magnetic materials. In these transition metal elements the magnetic moment arises only from the spin of the electrons. In the rare earth elements (that begin with lanthanum in the sixth row of the periodic table of elements), however, the effect of the orbital motion of the electrons is not cancelled, and hence both spin and orbital motion contribute to the magnetic moment. Examples of some magnetic rare earth elements are: cerium, neodymium, samarium, and europium. In addition to metals and alloys of transition and rare earth elements, magnetic moments are also observed in a wide variety of chemical compounds involving these elements. Among the common magnetic compounds are the metal oxides, which are chemically bonded compositions of metals with oxygen.

Earth's geomagnetic field is the result of electric currents produced by the slow convective motion of its liquid core in accordance with a basic law of electromagnetism which states that a magnetic field is generated by the passage of an electric current. According to this model, Earth's core should be electrically conductive enough to allow generation and transport of an electric current. The geomagnetic field generated will be dipolar in character, similar to the magnetic field in a conventional magnet, with lines of magnetic force lying in approximate planes passing through the geomagnetic axis. The principle of the compass needle used by the ancient mariners involves the alignment of a magnetized needle along Earth's magnetic axis with the imaginary south pole of the needle pointing towards the magnetic north pole of the earth. The magnetic north pole of Earth is inclined at an angle of 11° away from its geographical north pole.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Macrofauna to MathematicsMagnetism - History Of Magnetism, Origin Of Magnetism, Types Of Magnetism, Measurement Of Magnetic Field, Applications Of Magnetism