Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Magnetism and Light
Name: ross 
Status: educator
Age: 10
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1999 

can a magnet bend light


Ok, that's not quite true. A magnetic field contains energy, and energy, through its equivalence to mass, has a gravitational field, which can bend light. But the effect on light of any magnetic field we'll ever see would be so small it's utterly negligible.

Tim Mooney

Light is electromagnetic radiation consisting of an orthogonal electric field and magnetic field. The cross product of these two fields yield the direction of propogation (E x H = dir. Prop). Therefore, light can be bent in the effect that it's polarization changes. This is the principle that allows those nifty flat LCD screens to work, as well as numerous fiber optic sensors.

Mark D.

Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory