Can you power a lightbulb with a magnet?

Or do you actually have to make a magnet by connecting two thin metal pins? Find out the rules to create an electromagnet!

Have you ever thought why the Earth is spinning when it orbits the sun? It is because of the Earth’s centrifugal force. The force pulling the Earth was discovered in the 17th century by German mathematician, Johannes Kepler, who was not familiar with a physical process to describe that force. While experimenting with this new force in his laboratory, Kepler used an induction coil which is very sensitive to magnetic fields because the coils are very thin.

A magnetic coil acts on the earth just like the Earth spins with a magnet. In fact, there are actually two poles in the coil — the magnetic pole and a magnetic anvil, also called a ‘rotating disc’ which is located just below it. There is an alternating line of forces emanating from the spinning disc and the magnetic field is the result from this. This phenomenon is very well understood and the earth has many different magnetic poles, which is why we are able to see the sun at very short distances. When you are in a building, or a shop where an electric current is flowing, your brain sees that magnetic field as a strong current flowing through it. But when you look at it in the open air, it appears that what we are seeing are the electric currents from the coils on the building.

What if I were to place the magnet on both ends of a wire? If the wire is straight, you would think that two opposing magnets would pull the wire apart but only one is there. What happens when you are able to make it both the way you expect it?


Well, what happens is that one of the magnets is already connected to the positive end of the wire. Once the other magnet is already attached, the two magnets are attracted at the point where each end of the wire connects to the top of the magnet. This force would then result in the wire snapping into two pieces at the points of contact with the two magnets.
Equilibrium (AHL) - IB Chemistry (Ellesmere College)

So here you are with two different kinds of potential opposite charges coming in opposite directions. If one of these charges was present, then the wire would act like a single, solid wire. If, however, the other charge was present, the wire is going to act more like a collection of wires, which will behave much as in a circuit. If the negative charge was removed, then you wouldn’t be able to make the wire like a single, solid wire because it is also