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Why there are spaces in b/w iron fillings sprinkled around a magnet?

  1. May 27, 2014 #1
    Iron fillings form a particular arrangement when sprinkled around a magnet.


    The direction of magnetic field lines represented by the alignment of iron filings sprinkled on paper placed above a bar magnet.

    Image and description credits: Wikipedia

    If a magnet, which can pull iron fillings lies in front of them, why do they remain at a distance from it? Why can't they directly attach to the magnet instead of forming those arrangements with spaces?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 27, 2014 #2


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    The iron filings become temporary magnets - and hook up one to the other to form chains along the magnetic field lines.

    If you disrupt the chains as they form all of the iron filings will accumulate on the original magnet.
  4. May 27, 2014 #3


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    And there are spaces between them(Two different lines) because their poles are induced at the same direction so they repel.
  5. May 27, 2014 #4


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    I used to tell kids that a rule of thumb for field lines is that they 'try' to be as short as possible but, at the same time, are spaced out, between them as they can. That rule describes the pattern and I always apologised for the anthropomorphism and said that the field lines are not actually there..
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