What Is Magnetic Energy?

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Simply put, magnetic energy is the energy that operates within a magnetic field. A magnetic field is invisible to the naked eye, but that does mean that the effects of magnetic energy are not felt. Magnetic energy is easy to "see" when you put two magnets side by side, whether they connect or not. Learn more about magnetic energy, how it was discovered, and what different types of magnets there are.

How Was Magnetic Energy Discovered?

Magnetic energy was first discovered by Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell, when he was studying the nature of magnetism and electricity. What he discovered was the opposite of what was thought at the time — that magnetism and electricity were completely unrelated. Instead, he discovered that electrical current was associated with magnetic fields and that the reverse was also true: that magnetic fields had an electrical current. This was not only the discovery of magnetic energy but the precursor to the study of electromagnetic energy.

What Is a Magnet?

A magnet is any type of material from which a magnetic field is produced. A magnet has two poles, called the North Pole and South Pole. At each end is where the magnetic energy is the strongest. However, these are indeed polar opposites. You can only connect magnets via opposite poles. For example, you can connect a north pole to a south pole, or a south pole to a north pole, but if you try to connect two north poles or two south poles, the magnets will repel each other. This is magnetic energy similarly as when to two magnets attract. Also, you cannot break a magnet in half to make the poles connect. The South Pole and North Pole, with respect to each one's magnetic field, are immovable. 

What Are Some Uses of Magnets?

Everyone is certainly familiar with magnets that hang on the refrigerator or as part of children's toys, such as when two wooden trains connect with magnets. However, magnets have many other uses out in the world. Magnets help electric generators to run. Imagine when your power goes out and your need a generator — what do you think causes these free-standing units to run? Magnets inside the generator near coils cause electricity, which runs the generator. Also, magnets run wind turbines. The wind powers the turbine, but what the wind does is spin the magnet to power the turbine. Magnetic fields can also create electric current to run over the top of a wire. 

What Types of Magnets Are There?

There are three types of magnets that exist: permanent magnets, temporary magnets, and electromagnets. Electromagnets have the more complex science of the three, and are used to power televisions, computers, motors, and other electronic equipment. 

What Are Permanent and Temporary Magnets?

Permanent and temporary magnets are the most common types of magnets you'd come in contact with in everyday life, particularly permanent magnets. A permanent magnet is any type of magnet that never loses its magnetic energy. That means that, once it is magnetized, it will always be magnetized. Even if it loses some magnetism over time, such as using a refrigerator magnet year after year, it is still magnetized. A temporary magnet is much different and is often the subject of science fair experiments. A temporary magnet is very easily magnetized by some type of outside force but loses its magnetism quickly. For example, if you take a paper clip to a strong magnet, that paper clip will become a magnet itself easily for a few seconds. This is also known as a "soft" magnet.