Magnetic Mysteries Revealed: The Science Behind Magnetometers

Magnetometers are devices used to measure magnetic fields. They are used in a variety of applications, including navigation, geology, and physical research. Magnetometers are based on the principle of magnetic induction, which states that a magnetic field can induce an electric current in a conductor. The strength of the induced current is proportional to the strength of the magnetic field.

There are several types of magnetometers, each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on the application.

  • Proton precession magnetometers use the spin of protons in a magnetic field to measure the strength of the field. This type of magnetometer is commonly used in geology to measure the Earth’s magnetic field.
  • Fluxgate magnetometers use a coil of wire to measure the magnetic field. The coil is wrapped around a core made of a magnetic material, such as iron; when a magnetic field is present, it causes the magnetic material to become magnetized, which in turn affects the electrical properties of the coil. The change in electrical properties can be used to measure the strength of the magnetic field, they are commonly used in navigation and in studies of the Earth’s magnetic field.
  • Magnetoresistive magnetometers use changes in electrical resistance to measure the magnetic field. These types of magnetometers are commonly used in electronic devices such as smartphones and laptops to detect the orientation of the device.

Magnetometers have a wide range of applications. In navigation, they are used to determine the direction and strength of the Earth’s magnetic field, this information is used by ships, planes and submarines to navigate. In geology, magnetometers are used to study the Earth’s magnetic field and to identify the location of magnetic minerals, such as iron ore. In physical research, magnetometers are used to study the magnetic properties of materials and to measure the magnetic field of stars and other celestial objects.

Understanding magnetometers is important to understanding how we study and interact with magnetic fields in our everyday lives. Let’s watch the following video, get to work and make our own magnetometer!

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