Magnets are really quite magical - they are rocks that are able to cause action at a distance. The ability to influence other magnets - by either attracting or repelling them - is a mysterious phenomenon that puzzled man for centuries. Recently, magnetism has been studied intensely by scientists, and slowly, its secrets have begun to be revealed. Magnetism, and magnets, have a number of fascinating properties that makes them important to all life on Earth.
- Magnetism is actually caused by rotating electric charges. The fields they produce create attractive and repulsive forces between objects. According to Live Science, “All materials experience magnetism, some more strongly than others”. Some materials, however, are actually permanent magnets, and this type of magnetism is called ferromagnetism.
- Permanent magnets, which are formed by ferromagnetism, create the strongest effects. With rare exception, ferromagnetism is the only form of magnetism strong enough to be felt by people. Other types of magnetism such as paramagnetism, diamagnetism, and antiferromagnetism, are typically only detected by scientific instruments.
- Earth's magnetic field was, until recently, a huge mystery. Since not all planets have magnetic fields, scientists were unsure of the cause behind Earth’s. New technology has revealed that the earth’s magnetic field, as well as those of other stars and planets, is actually caused by a geodynamo. A geodynamo is a process that predicts celestial objects and can create magnetic fields through rotating, convecting and electrically conducting fluid. It is now believed that deep within Earth’s center is a rotating ball of melted iron alloy which, through its movements, creates the earth's magnetic field.
- A recent study has found that magnets can be used as a healing therapy for various edema, or swelling of the body parts, caused by injury or inflammation. Application of a magnetic field at time of injury has been found to relieve and/or inhibit edema formation. Athletes especially have found magnets useful for preventing injury during training, and many can be found sporting bracelets containing magnets. The powerful new MagFusion by IonLoop is made entirely of isotropic ferrite magnetized beads, each producing 300-500 Gauss of magnetic power.
- Earth’s magnetic field is actually not a static phenomenon, but moving over time. It also varies in strength; sometimes it’s stronger, and sometimes weaker. It has even flipped directions several times in the past, with north becoming south and south becoming north! The reason for the inconsistency in the magnetic field is due to the rotation of the materials inside the earth that form it. According to a study at NASA, “The source of the field, the outer core, is itself seething, swirling, and turbulent. "It's chaotic down there," notes Glatzmaier. The changes we detect on our planet's surface are a sign of that inner chaos”.
As humans have learned more about magnetism, we also learned about the benefits of magnet therapy, which have been reported by countless observers. Having evolved on a planet with a magnetic field, our bodies are intimately connected with it. Although we still have much to learn about these magical rocks, it is clear that without magnets and magnetism, life as we know it would be much different.