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Very basic magnetism question

  1. Oct 17, 2004 #1
    This is a prelab question for a lab I'm supposed to do tomorrow but I feel like I'm so baffled at how simple the quesiton is that I'm afraid to put down an answer for fear of misunderstanding the question:

    The earth's field appears as it were produced by a strong permanent magnet embedded in its core and aligned in the north-south direction. But which end is which? Which way do you think the north end of the earth's permanent magnet points? Why?

    From what I understand the north pole of earth's magnetic field is only a few hundred miles away from the physical north and the south pole is only a few hundred miles away from the physical south. Which "way" the magnet points would be toward the physical south if I understand the correctly. As to "why" I can't even venture a guess because it's my understanding that the earth has switched polarity plenty of times so I can't really give a definitive answer. Could someone offer a more clear explanation to this? I'd appreciate it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2004 #2


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  4. Oct 17, 2004 #3
    Thanks for clearing that up. I knew the question had to be counterintuitive just by the fact that it was a lab question.
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