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Science & TechnologyPutting the "Science" in "Science Fiction" - Magneto

Putting the "Science" in "Science Fiction" - Magneto

Putting the "Science" in "Science Fiction" - Magneto

Although the mutant known as Magneto has often fought against the X-Men, their relationship is incredibly complex. Magneto has served as an enemy and ally of the X-Men over the years, but his dedication to the protection of mutantkind has never wavered. Magneto's mutation allows him to create magnetic fields and control them with his mind, so he is able to manipulate metal with extreme strength and precision. This ability makes him immune to conventional guns, since they fire metal projectiles and allow him to move objects at long range and disassemble metallic structures with a thought. The prevalence of metals in the modern world help Magneto in a variety of ways, assisting him in fighting against the X-Men and anyone else who stands in the way of his vision of a future dominated by mutants.

Magneto Blog - Image 2
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Magnetic fields, like the ones Magneto uses to stop bullets or throw cars, are generally created by physical magnets. Magnetic materials and objects occur in nature, but are more commonly created artificially. The reason is that, with the exception of very large magnetic fields like those created by the Earth itself, artificial magnets are much stronger than their natural counterparts. To understand how magnets are created, it is necessary to understand how they work. Magnetism starts at the atomic scale, where the orbits of electrons create magnetic fields around atoms. Generally, electrons orbit in opposite pairs and so their magnetic fields balance each other. However, some atoms have unpaired electrons that orbit in the same direction, and the orbit of these unpaired electrons creates a pull in that direction. If there are a collection of these atoms in a material, they create a tendency to align with each other, creating small magnetically charged areas called magnetic domains. The charge of these domains creates a magnetic field, a flow of energy from one end, called the north pole, to the other end, or south pole. Many materials have these magnetic domains but they do not have a noticeable magnetic effect because the domains are aligned in different directions, effectively neutralizing their pull.

http://www.astarmathsandphysics.com/gcse_physics_notes/gcse_physics_notes_magnets_and_magnetism.html
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In order to turn an object into a magnet, it is generally passed through a strong magnetic field or has electrical current passed through it. This process forces the magnetic domains inside of the object to align in a single direction, lining up north pole to south pole. When magnetic domains align, the fields they create merge into a larger magnetic field, increasing in strength and area of effect. Once the procedure is finished, the entire object shares a magnetic field that passes in a single direction, allowing it to affect other objects.

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Photo: www.ohiomagnetics.com

This process of creating magnets also explains why they attract each other, since their magnetic field naturally flows through the north pole of one magnet and into the south pole of another. As this occurs, the magnetic fields of the two objects merge, essentially becoming one larger magnet. Magnets attract other objects that do not have their own magnetic field by temporarily magnetizing them, then merging their magnet fields as they do with any other magnet. The flow of magnetic fields also means that cutting a magnet creates two smaller magnets, since the two separate pieces share the same magnetic properties as the single object. The only difference is that the two smaller objects will have a smaller and weaker magnetic field. The same flow of energy that causes magnets to attract each other can also have the opposite effect. If magnets are aligned with the same poles facing each other, the magnetic fields are moving in opposite directions and interfere with each other instead of moving together, creating repulsion.

The unique properties of magnets have been used by mankind for millennia, from primitive compasses to magnetically encoded computer hard drives. As technology has increased, it has become possible to create magnets of many various strengths from a variety of materials. Most advanced modern technology uses magnets in some fashion, from tiny ones within computers, televisions and speakers to the enormous magnetic cranes that are used to load or unload trains and ships. Magnets will continue to be an important part of technology for a long time, and as our ability to create and control them increases, new uses will be found for them.

 

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