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Homework Help: Magnetic fields and a compass

  1. Oct 28, 2006 #1
    Plz help me if you can...

    Question: A compass needle is not always balanced parallel to the earths surface but one end may dip downward. explain.

    I know that the answer has something to do with the earths magnetic field....or may be even gravity. I've read in my physics text book about the earths magnetic field but it doesn't answer the question or give me any hints!!:confused:
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 28, 2006 #2


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    Any magnet that is completely free to rotate will align itself with an applied magnetic field. The needle in your compass is a little magnet that can only move more or less horizontally. Do a little research to find out about the direction of the earth's magnetic field near the surface of the earth and you will have your answer.
  4. Oct 28, 2006 #3
    thanks alot
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