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Science quiz: Is the Earth's North Magnetic pole a North Magnetic Pole?

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posted on Apr, 26 2014 @ 04:46 PM
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I always had the impression that 'north', 'south' etc were very arbitrary assignments that probably predate the discovery of magnets and the earth's magnetic field. IE the sun rose in the east and set in the west, 90 degrees left of east is north and 90 degrees to the right of east is south so we have the beginnings of a means of navigation which led to exploration. Now magnets eg lodestone had the nifty habit of aligning roughly north-south so the north-pointing end of the magnet became known as the 'north pole' and the south pointing end was the south pole (simple but extremely useful discovery) and navigation on an overcast night became easy.

The earth's magnetic alignment was a convenient 'standard' for identifying which end of a magnet was which but, as to what's really a 'north' or 'north-pointing' pole, no-one would have cared much as long as their compass made sense.




posted on Apr, 26 2014 @ 10:35 PM
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a reply to: Arbitrageur
Well there it is. That’s the experiment I was thinking of yet it does show that you’re correct. I don’t know what to think. The Earth’s North Pole is magnetic south? That seems so wrong.



posted on Apr, 27 2014 @ 03:43 AM
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It's interesting that around 50% of 50/50 bets are losers - or maybe it's just proof of probability at work


Like the way early electrical experimenters arbitrarily called the opposite poles of batteries -ve and +ve and nominated a convention that the energy flowed from +ve to -ve. Future advances in engineering found that the opposite was actually the truth of the matter but we remain stuck with the original convention in the form of symbols for polarity conscious devices like diodes and transistors. Our conventions, right or wrong, have no bearing on the functioning of the components fortunately.



posted on Apr, 27 2014 @ 06:51 PM
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a reply to: Arbitrageur

I have a question, aren't N and S really such denotations of opposition? like + and -

how is it we independently verify whether or not something is + or -? the determination is a relationship based isn't it?

They defined an effect that elections had with metal plate....they called it negative and by default the opposite effect was +...they could have just as easily inverted the values and been just as correct...

The N and S, + and - designations just illustrate oppositional relationships. The designated symbols are completely interchangeable without losing any bit of validity. Its a convention that people agreed upon for a standardized understanding of these forces...the names and symbols actually have nothing to do with the properties of these forces.

All we need to really know is that one pole is opposing the other which is as obvious as why everything is backwards in a mirror.

A standardized understanding is good though for communication purposes...satellites would be falling out of the sky if we did't have this in place.

Its confusing because its interpretive and the values are 180 degrees different but both objectively correct. The interpretations are inverted which can cause for some mathematical follies of epic proportions...If I say meet you on the south pole and our interpretations are inverted...we would experience the exact opposite of meeting up.

A stronger push for a standardized interpretation would be a good idea...maybe remind people why a standardized symbol is important. Doesn't matter if we call it north and south...frick and frack...black and white...so long as we know were looking at it the same way.

Yea you could call the north pole the south pole and be 100% correct (objectively) but when you are trying to collaborate those values you better have the same orientation and interpretation.



posted on Apr, 27 2014 @ 07:00 PM
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The north pole is not the magnetic south pole, the magnetic south pole is actually fairly offset from the technical "top" of the earth.

It also moves.



posted on Apr, 27 2014 @ 08:35 PM
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a reply to: Devino
In that case the purpose of this thread has been fulfilled with you and maybe a few other people. The whole idea was to stimulate some thought and you've done this with a request for experiments and observations to illustrate the way this works. It is an oddly blatant misnomer that we've never really corrected.


originally posted by: Sly1one
Doesn't matter if we call it north and south...frick and frack...black and white...so long as we know were looking at it the same way.
Right, it's arbitrary initially, but once you make the arbitrary decision, if you change it then the rules like "opposite poles attract" cease to be relevant.

So the situation is that we made the arbitrary decision, and we then applied it to almost everything, millions of textbooks, millions of bar magnets, millions of compass needles. All the textbooks say two north poles will repel and a N and S pole will attract, and it's almost always true. It's just that the one exception to all that is the way we called the Earth's magnetic south pole a magnetic north pole in contradiction to virtually every other single magnet I know of, and in contradiction to all the textbook definitions of magnet polarity.

It can leave one with the impression that the north pole of the compass is attracted to the north magnetic pole of the Earth, which seems to contradict textbooks that tell us two north poles should repel, not attract, right?

There are relationships between electric current flow and magnetic field orientation defined in terms of things like "right hand rule", so that's another reason we can't change the designations after the arbitrary initial designations have been made, though as Bedlam pointed out there may be some intercontinental inconsistency which can cause confusion "across the pond" (between US and europe). Europe labels magnetic field polarity the same way but they refer to negative current flow instead of positive current flow, which is probably technically more accurate.

a reply to: Biigs
Yes I included a diagram in the OP to show this except it labels it the north magnetic pole and only explains in the footnote that it's technically actually a south magnetic pole.



posted on Apr, 28 2014 @ 02:24 PM
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a reply to: Arbitrageur

In that case the purpose of this thread has been fulfilled with you and maybe a few other people. The whole idea was to stimulate some thought
Yes, you got me there. LOL I have been thinking about this all weekend. This has become my new favorite scientific fallacy.

It is an oddly blatant misnomer that we've never really corrected.
I feel that this should be corrected. It probably will be worse than the downgrading of Pluto from a planet but it will most definitely inspire some thought. All that is needed is to correctly designate the Earth's South Pole in the northern hemisphere. Simple, right?

a reply to: Arbitrageur

About positive charges moving in a copper wire, no statement you make about a battery will make that true. It's the negative charges that move in a copper wire.
I understand that this statement is true but I would like to point out another potential misnomer and my own stubborn perspective.

First the potential misnomer, conventional current vs. electron current;

By the time the true direction of electron flow was discovered, the nomenclature of "positive" and "negative" had already been so well established in the scientific community that no effort was made to change it.
Source
Sound familiar?


However, because we tend to associate the word "positive" with "surplus" and "negative" with "deficiency," the standard label for electron charge does seem backward. Because of this, many engineers decided to retain the old concept of electricity with "positive" referring to a surplus of charge, and label charge flow (current) accordingly. This became known as conventional flow notation.
So there are two different schools of thought in how electricity flows, conventional and electron current.


Does it matter, really, how we designate charge flow in a circuit? Not really, so long as we're consistent in the use of our symbols.

You will find conventional flow notation followed by most electrical engineers, and illustrated in most engineering textbooks. Electron flow is most often seen in introductory textbooks (this one included) and in the writings of professional scientists,
Both types, or directions, of flows are taught today. I think this is okay so long as we are also taught that it is the electrons that are doing the flowing and, more importantly, how they flow. Keep in mind that particles, like electrons, are also a concept just like the designations +&- or north and south. In other words there may still be some misunderstanding here. Are electrons particles or waves?


These preferences are cultural, in the sense that certain groups of people have found it advantageous to envision electric current motion in certain ways.
I am a conventional current type.
Now from my own perspective;
From many years of experience in working with electricity (AC, DC and welding) I have quite a stubborn perspective when it comes to the direction of current flow and for good reason. In AC and DC wiring the ground or neutral wires are harmless. There are many ways in which electric current can find ground yet it is the hot wire that I pay attention to. This wire is the one that contains electrical potential to do work and can kill you. However they need to be in a closed circuit to work.
When it comes to welding the same feeling of current flow applies. It is the positive lead that is used to weld and you can almost feel the electric current flowing from this lead into your work as you ‘push’ your wire into the metal to form a bead or weld.

You are right in that electron current is the correct direction of flow yet I am not sure if this is another misnomer or just two different ways of looking at the same thing. Both concepts work yet it seems that one has an advantage over the other depending on what you are applying it to.

By the way, thank you for this thread. It has definately inspired some thought and I have learned something new.



posted on Apr, 28 2014 @ 02:56 PM
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This thread is weird.

The dictionary definition of a "north pole" as it relates to bar magnets is "the pole which, when the magnet is freely suspended, points towards the north".

That is what a north pole is, because that is how it was defined. Therefore it stands to reason that the Earth's north magnetic pole cannot itself be a "north pole".

I'm simply not seeing a paradox here: north and south poles ARE DEFINED SUCH THAT the Earth's north magnetic pole has to be a south pole. There's no confusion, no error of definition, just simple and obvious fact.



posted on Apr, 28 2014 @ 03:47 PM
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a reply to: Rob48
The confusion is that with every other magnet, we can say that two north poles repel each other, but in the case of the Earth's North pole and a compass North pole, they don't repel each other they attract.

You're right that's how the Earth's north pole is defined but why should it be different than virtually every other north pole that repels other north poles? The other problem is that the Earth's magnetic poles flip every so often so next time it flips, are you going to want to change the definition, or call the south pole the north pole?



posted on Apr, 28 2014 @ 04:07 PM
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originally posted by: Arbitrageur
a reply to: Rob48

You're right that's how the Earth's north pole is defined but why should it be different than virtually every other north pole that repels other north poles?


Because the Earth's north pole is the original pole that was used to define what a north pole is. In magnets, a north pole really means "a north-seeking pole". The Earth's north pole is obviously not a north-seeking pole, it is the pole that all north-seeking poles seek!



posted on Apr, 29 2014 @ 03:02 PM
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a reply to: Rob48
The problem from the way I see it is that all these years we have been saying Earth’s magnetic North Pole is in the northern hemisphere close to the geographic North Pole. This is the way I understood it and I think it is the way most understand it as well. Ask anyone, “Where is Earth’s magnetic north located?” How many do you think will answer correctly that it is in the southern hemisphere?



posted on Apr, 29 2014 @ 03:25 PM
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a reply to: Devino

But the earth's "magnetic north pole" is DEFINED as the one that the north poles of bar magnets point to. Yes, that means that in magnetic terms it is a "south pole", but that isn't what you call it when you are talking about the earth. A bar magnet's "north pole", that is "north-seeking pole" is defined in terms of the Earth. You can't define the Earth's magnetic field in terms of itself.

Edit: Pilgrum said it quite well in this post. The naming of the poles is arbitrary, so it makes sense to name them based on an observable phenomenon here on Earth. Rather than saying "north-seeking pole" it is easier to say "north pole". I'm not disputing that the earth's "magnetic north pole" is a south-seeking pole: that just isn't a very useful definition.
edit on 29-4-2014 by Rob48 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 1 2014 @ 01:28 PM
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originally posted by: Arbitrageur
a reply to: Devino
In that case the purpose of this thread has been fulfilled with you and maybe a few other people. The whole idea was to stimulate some thought and you've done this with a request for experiments and observations to illustrate the way this works. It is an oddly blatant misnomer that we've never really corrected.


originally posted by: Sly1one
Doesn't matter if we call it north and south...frick and frack...black and white...so long as we know were looking at it the same way.
Right, it's arbitrary initially, but once you make the arbitrary decision, if you change it then the rules like "opposite poles attract" cease to be relevant.

So the situation is that we made the arbitrary decision, and we then applied it to almost everything, millions of textbooks, millions of bar magnets, millions of compass needles. All the textbooks say two north poles will repel and a N and S pole will attract, and it's almost always true. It's just that the one exception to all that is the way we called the Earth's magnetic south pole a magnetic north pole in contradiction to virtually every other single magnet I know of, and in contradiction to all the textbook definitions of magnet polarity.

It can leave one with the impression that the north pole of the compass is attracted to the north magnetic pole of the Earth, which seems to contradict textbooks that tell us two north poles should repel, not attract, right?

There are relationships between electric current flow and magnetic field orientation defined in terms of things like "right hand rule", so that's another reason we can't change the designations after the arbitrary initial designations have been made, though as Bedlam pointed out there may be some intercontinental inconsistency which can cause confusion "across the pond" (between US and europe). Europe labels magnetic field polarity the same way but they refer to negative current flow instead of positive current flow, which is probably technically more accurate.

a reply to: Biigs
Yes I included a diagram in the OP to show this except it labels it the north magnetic pole and only explains in the footnote that it's technically actually a south magnetic pole.


Ok now that the world's millions of magnets are saved from being renamed, what about all the geographic locations that were thought to be in the northern or southern hemisphere? Looks like now we've got an even bigger problem in our hands. Can we now refer to North America as South America, and vice-versa?
edit on 1-5-2014 by Blastoff because: spelling



posted on May, 1 2014 @ 02:59 PM
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a reply to: Blastoff
The solution I posted here avoids that problem. See the edited diagram at the bottom of that post.

edit on 1-5-2014 by Arbitrageur because: clarification



posted on May, 1 2014 @ 04:13 PM
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edit on 1-5-2014 by Blastoff because: deleted



posted on Mar, 24 2015 @ 09:37 AM
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originally posted by: AutumnWitch657
a reply to: Arbitrageur

Does this mean the south actually won the civil war? Is Florida north of New York?

Well, the words North and South are arbitrary titles in the first place. As is assigning what is 'up' and 'down' in relation to our solar system and space in general. I honestly suspect that the only reason we see maps and globes oriented in the North/Top position is because the first cultures to begin widely utilizing compasses, developing cartography, and systematically exploring further and further in coordinated efforts were in the Northern Hemisphere. Just like Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian were arbitrarily set in England because the English were a seafaring and colonial superpower at the time. Therefore their standards had an Empire-centric cast to them, and they had the power and influence to enforce adaptation of those standards by most of the rest of the world.
Because of this, ultimately, we orient everything to this point of reference. Even the Sun and other planets, the Galaxy, and the Universe in general. But it is purely arbitrary. Space has no preference for 'up' over 'down' or 'North' over 'South'. Within the boundaries of a gravitational system, up and down develop distinct values in respect to the surface of the primary attractor, but there's no top or bottom of the solar system or the galaxy.
The choice of orientation makes absolutely no difference to anything but personal preference and now-standard bias.



posted on Mar, 24 2015 @ 09:43 AM
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a reply to: pfishy
Of course the original labels are arbitrary, but the question is, once the labels are chosen, why not be consistent?

Why label a million magnets with one set of labels, then come to the next magnet and reverse the labels?



posted on Mar, 24 2015 @ 11:27 AM
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a reply to: pfishy

Right. It doesn't really matter what polarity that the thing we call the "magnetic north pole" has.

The point is that the magnetic north pole is in the direction that people have have always called "North", even prior to knowing the pole existed. Compasses are made to have an "N" (for North) when they point that direction, denoting that the compass is pointing in the direction that people call north.


edit on 3/24/2015 by Soylent Green Is People because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 24 2015 @ 02:41 PM
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I will explain it to you all. I really can´t believe it
First,a magnetic field has a direction. Its determined to flow from the pole (Pole=one of two points where the field strength is the highest) that points to the geographical NORTH if hung free.
Sorry for the CAPS but I want to get this out. Now get ready for this:

THE NEEDLE ALIGNS ITSELF WITH THE FIELD.

Earth North
Needle North
Needle South
Earth South


edit on 24-3-2015 by verschickter because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 24 2015 @ 02:46 PM
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I will just quote one bit that should be enough for the whole thread to be obvious:

originally posted by: Arbitrageur
a reply to: Devino
Good question about compass versus bar magnets. This video clearly demonstrates that the ~geographic north seeking red tip of the compass needle is a magnetic north pole which seeks the magnetic south pole of the bar magnet (and by inference the south magnetic pole of the Earth which is in the northern hemisphere, which we somewhat erroneously call the "north magnetic pole":

(emphasis added)
Wrong.
The red tip IS south because it aligns itself with the field, not attract the poles.

Edit: Thats BS North = RED, I apologize
edit on 24-3-2015 by verschickter because: (no reason given)



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