December 15th, 2012
Magnets are one of those few wonders of science. It used to be thought that they were magic and could cure any ailment. Though they can’t cure cancer, magnets still have thousands of different uses in electronics, machining, transportation, and toys. In all of these uses, there are at least ten that rely on magnetic acceleration, the acceleration of an object caused by a string of electromagnets pushing and pulling the object in sequence. To understand this type of magnetic movement, the basic priciples of magnets must be known.
The most basic of principles behind magnetic acceleration is simply magnetism, specifically electromagnetism. There are three types of magnets, permanent, temporary, and electromagnetic. A permanent magnet is a specific metal or alloy such as the rare earth magnet neodymium, or a simple ferrite bar magnet. These types of magnets are known as permanent because their magnetic properties are not simply turned on or off. However they can be demagnetized through heat, physical impact, or randomly rubbing another magnet against it. Permanent magnets “rely on microscopic regions known as magnetic domains” (Wilson 2). These domains are normally cancelling each other’s magnetic field. Only until all of them are properly aligned, usually by stroking the object in one direction repeatedly with another magnet, do they create two magnetic poles at the ends of the object they compose. Temporary magnets rely on this same aligning of domains. However, they are only emitting a magnetic field within the presence of another magnet. An example of this would be a paper clip. By itself, it is no more magnetic than a banana. But with a bar magnet attached to it, the paper clip can pick up another object.
Electromagnetism is similar to permanent magnetism, yet it relies on the magnetic properties that electrons have on each other when moving in specific directions....