What are Magnetic Fields?

by Carson

We all know that Earth has a magnetic field that is used to protect solar activity from influencing us on the surface, but what exactly is a magnetic field? Let’s find out in this article.

The Magnetic Field

As the name suggests, a magnetic field is driven by magnetic force, which is associated with the fundamental force of electromagnetic force. Technically, it is a vector field where every point of space can be computed as a vector value constructed by the direction and the intensity of the force. By blending all vector values in the field, we also get smooth lines that make the typical representations of these fields.

How Does a Magnetic Field Influence the World Around It?

At this point, you might still have some unanswered vital questions, like “How does Earth’s magnetic field protect us?”. Well, this relies on the property where a magnetic field can change the direction of particles. The Earth’s magnetic field deflects incoming harmful particles from solar radiation, keeping us in a place free from being bombarded by the particles that wiped out Mars’s atmosphere. This is better known as the fact that two particles of the same charge repel, while two with the opposite charge attract each other.

The force driving this is known as the Lorentz force, and if you see two magnets repelling or attracting each other, that’s the Lorentz force in action.

What Produces Magnetic Fields?

What makes some materials act as a magnet? Well, we’ll have to look at the anatomy of an atom. It is made of a nucleus consisting of protons and neutrons, and electrons surrounding them in layers, though the directions are unpredictable and not as regular as those depicted in animations. As electrons carry electric charges while moving, they carry a small magnetic field around them. However, in most cases, other electrons cancel the magnetic fields of individual electrons, eliminating the magnetic field of atoms.

However, when an electric charge is concentrated to move in one direction, like in an electric current, it produces a magnetic field. Objects made magnetic this way through currents are called electromagnets. It has some critical implementations, like speakers, in which the strengths of the magnetic fields are adjusted at precise times and by an exact amount so that the object in between will vibrate at the specified frequency, producing the sound that we hear when listening to music or playing a video.

How is the strength of a magnetic field adjusted? It works by modifying how much current is passing through the magnet. The more current in the magnet, the stronger the magnetic force. Likewise, the less current in the magnet, the weaker the force.


In this short article, we’ve briefly explained what a magnetic field is and how it influences other particles and magnets. We also looked at the production of magnetic fields. If you want to learn more about this, please visit the webpages in the references below.

References and Credits

  1. Sravanth, C. et al. (n.d.). Magnetic Field Lines. Retrieved May 8, 2022, from https://brilliant.org/wiki/magnetic-field-lines/
  2. (n.d.). What is a magnetic field? Retrieved May 8, 2022, from https://www.khanacademy.org/science/physics/magnetic-forces-and-magnetic-fields/magnetic-field-current-carrying-wire/a/what-are-magnetic-fields
  3. Lucas, J., Sutter, P. (2022, February 2). What is magnetism? Facts about magnetic fields and magnetic force. Retrieved May 8, 2022, from https://www.livescience.com/38059-magnetism.html
  4. Gupta, L. (2020, December 28). What Causes Different Strengths in Magnets? Retrieved May 8, 2022, from https://sciencing.com/causes-different-strengths-magnets-5981925.html
  5. (n.d.). Electromagnets. Retrieved May 8, 2022, from https://ece.northeastern.edu/fac-ece/nian/mom/electromagnets.html
  6. (n.d.). Magnetic Fields. Retrieved May 8, 2022, from https://ece.northeastern.edu/fac-ece/nian/mom/magfields.html

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