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Name: Robert
Status: educator
Age: 50s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001


Question:
Dear sir: My question is very simple. On a magnetic compass the needle is polarized when it is manufactured and on end points north and the opposite end points south. What is the polarity of the end that points north? On one compass I own this end is painted and has a small letter N printed on the surface. Is this end polarized to point north therefore making it south or is the North Pole of the earth really the south pole? I hope I have been clear enough in discribing my dilemma.


Replies:
North is south and south is north. The end that is painted north-is really south- otherwise it would repel from the earth's magnetic north pole, which is the south pole.

Dr. Myron


Good question. It's all in the terminology. The end of the needle with the N painted on it should, to avoid confusion, be called the 'North SEEKING Pole'. Note that if the earth is considered to be a magnet, the "North Magnetic Pole" is then a "South Seeking Pole". In short (though in a somewhat confusing terminology), the North pole of a magnet points to the south pole of the earth's magnet, which is near the geographic north pole.

I'm sorry this is so confusing. If you can think of a better way out of this confusion, I would be delighted!

Bradburn



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