UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information

After reading some stuff on ferrofluids, my son hypothesized that stronger magnets next to ferrofluids would create smaller spikes than weaker magnets. It turned out it was not true, although the differences were minimal and there were also several problems with taking the measurements. But whatever the right hypothesis is, what makes the difference? Here is the passage we took from somewhere on the web that is confusing to me. Before I paste it below, let me say that it raises my question 2: the relationship between magnetic field, magnetic force, and magnets. I know this is too big a question and might be answered with a simple explanation for question 1 (if there is a simple explanation...).

"The stronger the field, the smaller the spikes. In the weedy field from a ferrite magnet you'll get just a smooth mound of fluid with a few spikes where the field is strongest, but the spikes get a lot smaller when you're playing with one of the bigger neodymium magnets."

Thanks so much!
Answer 1:

The reason is that the spikes are visualizations of the magnetic lines of force that emerge from the magnet, and the stronger the magnet, the larger the number of lines of force that emerge from unit surface area of the magnet.

I hope this helps.
Best wishes,

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2015 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use