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Magnets in the News

  • Incredible Uses of Magnets in Science

    Incredible Uses of Magnets in Science

    We are constantly learning about the capabilities of and research on the uses of magnets, magnetic force, and magnetic fields. From helping moths establish a migration pattern to keeping astronauts safe during interplanetary flights, magnet science is nothing short of impressive. Read more about what magnetic knowledge we gained in 2018 in technology, in space, and in the environment.

    Magnets in Technology

    Magnetic Field Diode

    In 2018, we learned that researchers created a material that acts as a magnetic diode. It works like an electrical diode but is slightly different—the new diode can transfer a magnetic field to an object, but not the other way around. What does this mean? Practically, it has the potential to be used in electric devices that currently used symmetrically-coupled magnetic elements, which include electric motors, transformers, and MRI machines!

    Apple’s 2018 iPad Pro Contains 102 Magnets

    Just when we thought Apple had done it all, they introduced a new version of their tablet that caught our attention—the 2018 version of the iPad Pro, which contains 102 magnets. That’s right, 102 MAGNETS. These magnets are used to hold the Apple Pencil stylus to the side of the tablet and to attach the Smart Keyboard Folio. You can’t tell the magnets are there, however. While they’re distributed mainly along the edges of the tablet, you can only see them by using a magnetic field viewing film!

    Magnetic Tape Still Reigns in Data Storage

    In the world of data storage, a study on big data revealed that the amount of data being recorded increases 30 to 40 percent per year, but the capacity of modern hard drives is increasing at less than half the rate of the data being recorded. So, the study showed us that magnetic tape—packaged most commonly in cartridges and cassettes—is a cost-effective and reliable data storage system alternative to hard drives. While data can’t be accessed as quickly on tape, it writes over two times faster on tape than on disk.

    Magnets in Space

    Jupiter’s Moon’s Magnetic Field

    Magnets. Moons. Magnetic fields. In 1996, scientists discovered that Jupiter’s ocean moon, Europa, has a magnetic field. Today, scientists are working on a mission set to launch in 2022 that will study the habitability of the moon! Dr. Margaret Kivelson and her team first discovered the magnetic field with a magnetometer they invented to measure the magnetic force of Jupiter’s magnetic field.

    Magnets Protect Astronauts from Solar Wind

    We found out that scientists are currently conducting research on how a magnetic dipole could protect astronauts from galactic and solar cosmic rays while on missions lasting longer than twelve months. The main goal of the research is to protect astronauts from solar wind since it produces ionizing radiation. Extended exposure to this radiation can cause severe health effects, including skin burns and acute radiation syndrome.

    Mars’ Missing Magnetic Field

    Did you know that Mars isn’t able to produce a magnetic field because its internal dynamo is incapable, making it much more susceptible to harmful cosmic radiation that strips away its atmosphere and surface water? Researchers suggest the magnetic field disappeared over a span of 100 million years. There are multiple theories on why scientists believe the field went missing: one is convection, and the other is a large impact on the surface of the planet.

    Magnets for the Environment

    Mushroom Spore Microbots Could Clean Polluted Water

    You may be asking, “Why would mushrooms and magnets have anything to do with one another?” Scientists recently discovered that iron-oxide coated microbots made from mushroom spores could help remove heavy metals, including lead, from contaminated water. These metals could cause serious health problems and have resulted in almost half a million deaths each year when exposed to them through water. An external magnetic field moves the microbots around; once in contact with the pollutant, the attached mushroom spores pull the heavy and toxic metals out.

    Magnetic Sense Helps Moths in Migration

    Last year, using an outdoor flight simulator, scientists discovered that Bogong moths use magnetic fields to navigate. While this has been found to be true with certain animal species, this is the first evidence of this particular phenomenon in an insect species. Scientists believe that the moths integrate visual cues and magnetic signals, much like a hiker using both a compass and landmarks!

    Nanomagnets: An Oil Spill Fix

    As a way to combat oil spills, scientists discovered that the use of magnetic nanoparticles can be used to remove up to 99% of the oil mixed into water. Amines are added to magnetic iron nanoparticles, then the positively charged amines locate the negatively charged oil droplets and bind. Once that occurs, magnets can be used to attract and remove oil droplets. After the oil particles are removed, the nanoparticles can be cleaned and reused for other tasks.

  • A “Weird” Magnet Shouldn’t Exist, But It Does

    A “Weird” Magnet Shouldn’t Exist, But It Does

    After being theorized for decades, a material known as USb2 — a uranium and antimony compound—was found to be magnetic despite its singlet-based properties. Its magnetism has also been experimentally proven to exist in reasonable temperatures compared to the extremely cold temperatures it was once tested in. What’s significant about this? This new magnetic material may change the game in information storage for computers based on its ability to transition from magnetized to not in seconds. Weird.

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  • Researchers Find Potential Source of Rare Earth Elements

    Potential Source of Rare Earth Elements

    Since China produces over 90 percent of rare earth elements—but sets limitations and regulations on exporting—researchers are trying to get creative with how to recycle and repurpose rare earth magnets.

    According to a new study published in the Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics, researchers at Rutgers University-New Brunswick and members of the Critical Materials Institute have found a potential new source of rare earth elements (REE)—phosphorite waste. This discovery could help decrease the cost of REEs and make them more accessible to those outside of China.

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  • Is Earth’s Magnetic Field Flipping?

    Is Earth’s Magnetic Field Flipping?

    According to Nature, Earth’s north magnetic pole is moving so quickly that the World Magnetic Model (WMM) needed to be updated only four years after its latest update.  Even though the 2015 update to the model was expected to remain valid until 2020, it’s close to exceeding the acceptable limit for navigational errors. so, updates were made and released in February 2019.

    Periodically, the north and south poles move so much that they trade locations, which is known as a magnetic field flip.This phenomenon most likely should not occur for thousands of years, however.

    But, the fact that WMM needed to be updated so quickly has us questioning what is it that causes the poles to shift, and what this means for Earth’s magnetic field. Below, we outline what all plays into the changes.

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  • New Discoveries on The Cause of Auroras

    Sun's Magnetism and Auroras

    The Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis, better known as the Northern and Southern Lights have always been a topic of discussion. After all, how does this magical explosion of colors light up the sky? We’ve looked into the answer before and found magnetic reconnection was a possible explanation.

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