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Science

Our magnetic field

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The Earth’s magnetic field shields us from a lot of the ionising radiation that comes from space. The Moon may be the remains of a planet which collided with the Earth during the early years of the Earth’s existence.

Artificial satellites have many uses, including telecommunications and weather predicting, but can be disrupted by solar flares from the Sun.

Magnetic fields

Magnets have a north pole and a south pole. You can use plotting compasses to show the direction and shape of a magnetic field. In diagrams of magnetic field the arrows on the lines show the direction from the north to the south poles.

A magnetic field is also created if an electric current moves through a coil of wire. This is how electromagnets work. Toggle the current ‘on’ and ‘off’ in the animation below:

Plotting compasses can also be used to show the shape and direction of the magnetic field created by a coil of wire.

You must be able to describe the shape of the field coming from a coil of wire carrying an electric current, but you do not need to be able to work out its direction.

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