The Physics
Opus in profectus


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Keep it historical and descriptive

The hand rules as I learned to number them. (The numbers are unimportant by the way.)

Oersted's observation of the field around a straight current carrying wire.

Move on to a loop of current carrying wire. Note how coiling the wire up produces a region of diverging field lines on one side (a north seeking magnetic pole) and a region of converging magnetic field lines on the other side (a south seeking magnetic pole). Introducing the solenoid.

The source of all magnetism is moving charge.


This section is intended to be a discussion of magnetism on the large scale, not limited to the magnetic field of the Earth (although that will be its primary focus). Perhaps this section should be title "megamagnetism".

Start on the surface. The north magnetic pole of the Earth is currently in the Arctic Ocean near the north geographic pole. The south magnetic pole of the Earth is currently in the Indian Ocean near Antarctica.


The poles move a few kilometers every year. Since the 1990s, the north pole has been moving away from Canada and toward Siberia at the rate of about 35 km/yr.

Maps of the northern polar region on the left and the southern polar region on the right showing the path of the magnetic poles from 1590 to 2020

Work your way down into the Earth

Then work your way out into space.


The effective reach of a celestial body's magnetic field is known as its magnetosphere. The Earth's magnetosphere is compressed on one side and stretched out on the other by the solar wind. It extends about ten Earth radii towards the Sun and a thousand away from it.

keep going out to the Sun, then work out from the Sun to the edge of the solar system

end with the galactic magnetic field