Earth is One Giant Magnet...And Other Fun Facts!

Magnets harness a fundamental force of nature that are as perplexing as it is powerful!

They attract, they repel and they put a new spin on modern technology from your car to your computer. Laptops, microwaves, cell phones – magnets play a key role in all technology, throughout our house, throughout our cars, and offices.  We use them every day without even noticing. We call them quiet workhorses!

Our reliance on magnets goes hand in hand with our inability to fully fathom how they work.

What is a magnet?

A magnet is simply an object that attracts iron and other objects that are similar to iron, like cobalt or steel but that’s it! It does not attract to items like plastic or wood.

You can’t see the forces of the magnets at work (magnetic field) which is why people don’t understand them. A magnet generates its field from the atoms from which it’s made.  Atoms are made from atomic magnets (electrons that spin freely in one direction).

What is a static magnet (like Magnetic Me’s magnets!) versus an electromagnetic (not like ours at all!)?

The easiest answer is that a static magnet is just a magnet. It has its own magnetic field and that’s about it… like a refrigerator magnet or a magnatile.

An electromagnet is a type of magnet in which the magnetic field is produced by an electric current. The magnetic field disappears when the current is turned off. It’s usually made from a coil of wire that acts as a magnet when an electric current passes through it but stops being a magnet when the current stops. While they both have the word magnet in their names, they couldn’t be more different. An electromagnet makes subways and roller coasters run.

What about the Earth’s magnetic field?

Magnetic fields are about organic as it gets. The earth is a giant magnet. An ocean of molten iron at its core generates its magnetic field. The field streams out at the north magnetic pole, loops around the planet and returns through the south magnetic pole. This invisible force shields us against us the lethal winds of radiation emitted from the sun and distant stars. Cool right?

2,000 years ago the Greek & Chinese discovered the lodestone or magnetite.  The Chinese used the lodestone to make the first compass. This changed sea travel and sea commerce.

So, is a static magnet harmful to human health?

According to the World Health Organization, static magnets have no affect on human health, either positively or negatively.  We reached out to the head of the World Health Organization’s Chair of this project for an update and he told us: “Being a grandparent (4th grandchild coming up one of these days) I know that it can be a struggle to use regular closures. So the idea of using magnets sounds attractive. As for the effects of the magnetic fields – I have been participating in the drafting of the WHO review on this topic in 2006 and also of the ICNIRP guidelines issued in 2014. So I do know something about it, including the fact that there are no indications for adverse or positive health effects from exposure to static magnetic fields in the mT range.”