What Do We Call the Ends of a Magnet?

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The magnetic field is described in terms of poles, with either end of a magnet being referred to as a north or south pole. Learn about the similarities of electromagnets, permanent magnets or magnetized steel with help from a science teacher in this free video on physical science.

Part of the Video Series: Physical & Life Science
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Steve Jones and I'm going to tell you about the ends of a magnet. Now this is quite important because magnetism has direction and is associated with magnetic fields and we know that the earth itself is a magnet and therefore we have to describe the magnetic field and we describe it in terms of poles. And you can see on the blackboard I have north and south poles, south and north poles, these are poles. So we have the poles of a magnet and the end is called a pole. Sometimes magnets are different. Sometimes they are different shapes and sometimes like this one, the south pole can be this side of the magnet and the north pole the other side of the magnet, but it's still a magnetic pole. We notice that the north pole I've put it in red, the north pole is where when we draw the field lines, we have arrows going away from the north pole and into the south pole. So that's the direction of the arrows. That is the direction that we describe the field with. The closer the field lines, the greater the field. So it doesn't matter whether the magnet is a permanent magnet, a piece of steel which is magnetized like this one, or an electromagnet which is a coil of wire through which we allow a current to flow. We still get magnetic poles and we can still represent them in the same way. We still have the same field. So it doesn't really matter whether we're talking about electromagnets, permanent magnets, we have the same description, we have a magnetic field and we have poles on the magnet describes as a north pole and a south pole and the magnetic field lines go from north to south. So that is how we describe the ends of a magnet.

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