Will Magnets Damage My Electronics?
Will Magnets Damage My Electronics?
Magnets often elicit fear among consumers due to concerns of potential damage they can do to electronics such as hard drives and phones, however this is rarely the case. A powerful magnet won't do any damage.
Most magnets used in electronic devices are small and safe for household use; they don't produce strong enough magnetic forces to damage devices they were meant for and won't damage any electronic parts on which they are installed.
Why do we need magnets?
Magnets are an indispensable component of our world and play an integral role in many daily tasks we perform, from washing machines and fans to cars and motorbikes.
Magnets can also be found in some medical equipment, like MRI scanners which use powerful magnetic fields to generate radio waves that allow physicians to view bones and organs inside of a patient's body - helping diagnose and treat health conditions more accurately.
These medical devices can be much stronger than the magnets we typically find in kitchens and bathrooms, providing valuable assistance when dealing with serious illness or injury.
Scientists know that all matter is made up of electrons. When these electrons spin around an atom's nucleus, they produce an electromagnetic force field - this field makes magnets work!
In 1820, Danish physicist Hans Christian Oersted made the groundbreaking discovery that when electrons travel through a coil of wire they create a magnetic field - this resulted in the invention of magnetic materials as well as the birth of electromagnetism as an official science discipline.
Magnets have become an indispensable tool in our everyday lives, from powering electric generators to lifting junk cars in scrap yards. Additionally, magnetic fields used to power trains that reach 200 miles per hour use magnets too!
Computers often rely on magnetic forces for writing data onto hard drives and aligning tiny magnetic particles on computer chips to store binary data, respectively. Some of these applications are so significant they require special facilities known as magnet laboratories to perform this function effectively.
The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory is one of the world's premier magnet labs and offers scientists free access for magnet research. Scientists using its facilities can access powerful magnets in order to develop more innovative ways of using them for all sorts of applications.
People studied magnets as a separate scientific subject for many years before, during the 19th century, scientists made connections between magnetism and electricity that helped them better understand how to create magnets and made technology simpler to use.
How do magnets work?
Magnets are tiny metal pieces that attract other magnetic pieces towards themselves, pushing away other magnets or adhering together - such as holding papers on a refrigerator door or keeping your credit card from sticking to walls. Magnets come in various forms - some are large enough to pull other magnetic pieces closer, while others push away others, or can even stick together! They are useful tools in keeping documents from flying off or from becoming stuck against surfaces like refrigerator doors and walls, or holding onto papers on refrigerator doors and fridge doors, etc.
They work by inducing electrons in atoms to spin around their nucleus, creating tiny magnetic forces. Some metals like iron and steel contain most of their electrons spinning in one direction - creating magnetism from these materials called "ferromagnetic materials".
However, other materials can also be transformed into magnets by applying sufficient magnetic force - for instance rubbing paper against another strong magnet such as the tip of a screwdriver can make paper into a powerful magnet!
Most substances contain equal numbers of electrons that spin in opposite directions, nullifying any magnetism they might exhibit. But certain metals such as iron and cobalt contain more electrons spinning in one direction than any other materials; this makes them powerful magnets.
To create a new magnet, either add another highly magnetic substance adjacent to an existing magnet, or rub in one direction continuously until electrons in both materials start spinning similarly - creating potential new magnets!
Magnetic fields can even be used to transform other materials into magnets - for instance, La Ventanilla beach in Mexico features black sand that contains iron oxide particles that respond strongly to strong magnetic fields.
Water, air and wood all possess weak magnetic properties; therefore they are considered "soft magnets".
Hold two bar magnets together, and they may either adhere or repel each other depending on which pole is facing up - this is due to each magnet having both a north pole and south pole; usually one magnet points towards Earth's North Geographic Magnetic Pole while its counterpart often points in the direction of Earth's South Geographic Magnetic Pole.
What are magnets made of?
Magnets are objects that produce magnetic fields, creating force fields which either attract or repel certain materials. These magnetic fields can either be temporary or permanent.
Permanent magnets, commonly found on refrigerators, are objects composed of materials which generate their own persistent magnetic field and can be used for various applications ranging from holding notes on fridge doors to keeping track of computer data.
Permanent magnets come in three primary varieties, ceramic, alnico and neodymium. All three types are extremely strong magnets capable of lifting several pounds of ferromagnetic objects with ease; Neodymium magnets are especially strong and can be found in devices such as televisions and electric motors.
Electromagnets, temporary magnetic devices requiring electricity for operation, are another type of magnet used widely in electric motors, computers, televisions and MRI machines.
Magnets made this way are created by coiling a wire around a core material and passing an electrical current through it, producing a magnetic field upon passing an electrical current through it. This method makes them suitable for electronics as they can quickly be turned on and off again as desired.
Magnets come in various types depending on their magnetic properties. This includes both ferromagnetic (iron, nickel and cobalt) and paramagnetic magnets (rare-earth metals).
Iron is a ferromagnetic material due to having unpaired electrons in its atoms, which are the source of its magnetism, manifested as body-centred cubic (bcc) and face-centred cubic (fcc) structures.
Crystalline structures exhibit magnetic moments related to electron spins arranged in a regular pattern with neighbouring spins pointing in opposite directions, creating an effective but small magnetic field when an external magnetic field is applied to them.
Other magnets are made from alloys of ferromagnetic and paramagnetic elements, including alnico (an alloy composed of aluminium, nickel and cobalt) and neodymium magnets made from neodymium and boron; the latter can be found in many modern electronic products like electric motors.
Can magnets damage my electronics?
Magnets can be found in many everyday appliances, from refrigerators and washing machines to electronic devices like phones, computers and televisions.
Magnets do not pose any threat to our electronics; in fact, their magnetic fields attract objects which do not contain magnetic properties, meaning anything non-magnetic won't be affected by its strength.
Some individuals worry that magnets could damage their electronics, but that needn't be the case. Modern devices are built to withstand strong static magnetic fields without suffering damage; so magnets should have no adverse impact on modern electronics devices.
Neodymium magnets are generally safe when used near electronics, provided you keep them at least 2 cms from them. This is especially true for USB sticks which typically contain plastic or metal housing that protects internal components from their magnetic field.
However, certain media such as floppy disks, credit cards and magnetic ID cards may be damaged by strong neodymium magnets; therefore, it's wise to avoid placing them near electronic appliances that store magnetic media like TVs, VCRs and computer monitors.
At one point in time, it was believed that strong electromagnets could permanently erase data stored on hard drives. Although this seemed unlikely, no actual proof existed to support such claims.
Today there are numerous methods available to us for storing information, with flash memory being one of them. Since there is nothing magnetic about its design, flash memory remains immune from magnetic fields.
As neodymium magnets are composed of metal, they can be extremely strong. Their tough yet flexible composition also makes them fairly resilient; cracks, chips, peeling or shattering may only occur under extreme circumstances; therefore eye protection should always be worn when handling these magnets.
Magnets only pose serious risk to electronics if they are extremely powerful; even then, it would require an enormous magnet to have such an effect.