# Torque and Force due to an external magnetic field

#### wam_mi

Torque N = μ ∧ B

where μ is the dipole moment of the loop,
and B is an external magnetic field.

Q1 Is it true that we can only write the Torque due to an external magnetic field in this form if and only iff B is a constant? What happens, say, if B = B * x (in the z-direction) where x is a variable, is it still possible to write Torque in this form, where μ is a constant.

Q2 Why is it that Force = 0 but Torque is not = 0 when the external magnetic field is constant?

Cheers guys

Related Classical Physics News on Phys.org

#### clem

Science Advisor
1. The torque is given by the cross product $$\mu\times B$$ even if B is a function of position.
2. The force on a magnetic dipole is given by
$${\vec F}=\nabla(\mu\cdot}{\vec B}$$,so it vanishes if B is constant.
As a simple model, think of a bar magnet. The force on the N and S ends will be equal and opposite in a constant magnetic field.

#### Bob S

The torque on a magnetic dipole, like a compass needle, is non-zero whenever it is in a constant magnetic field B (and if the dipole is not aligned with B). There is no net translational force on the needle, however.

If B is non constant, specifically B = B * x, where B is along z, there can also be a net translational force on a magnetic dipole. A good example is the magnetic force on a beam of neutral silver atoms, which are now known to have a magnetic moment. Because the atoms did have a magnetic dipole moment, the beam was deflected (transverse force) in a magnetic field. This was the basis of the Stern Gerlach experiments in 1921-23, which later won the Nobel Prize in physics.

### Physics Forums Values

We Value Quality
• Topics based on mainstream science
• Proper English grammar and spelling
We Value Civility
• Positive and compassionate attitudes
• Patience while debating
We Value Productivity
• Disciplined to remain on-topic
• Recognition of own weaknesses
• Solo and co-op problem solving