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Gravity & Magnetism – Qs & As – (Part 2)

Hello, readers and friends of science..

So, if you have taken the time to read Part One of this series of Qs and As, this is the time to jump right into the follow up questions.

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Follow-Up #1: magnetism and gravity

Q: Why is magnetism only one direction, should there not be a third direction or more. why only north to south. Does it have another dimension. Why are we trying to explain gravity through means of mathematics, has maths evolved enough.
Brett Kendall (age 46) Johannesburg, south Africa
Brett, magnetic fields can align along any direction. We call the two poles of a magnet “north” and “south” as a way of keeping track of which would be attracted which way in the presence of the Earth’s magnetic field. When the Earth’s field reverses, those names will be awkward. Earth Magnetic Field Poles Newton (Laws of Gravity) & Einstein (Special & General relativity)

Math has certainly evolved enough to do a very good job of describing gravity. For most purposes Newton’s calculus and force laws, more than 300 years old, work well. For greater accuracy, one needs General Relativity, but even that uses math that had already been developed before 1917.

It may be that for extremely small distances and extreme situations, a new theory (perhaps a string theory) will be needed, and some new math will have to be developed.
Mike W.

(published on 01/28/09)

(Watch this cool video)

 Follow-Up #2: Repulsion of gravity?

Q: I know it sounds like “sci-fi” but if you have opposite poles to magnetism and they either repel or attract each other would it be possible that the same is true for gravity or am I talking apples and oranges here? Maybe we just haven’t discovered it yet, or maybe it’s a theory that we just haven’t figured out how to achieve physically yet?
Derrick (age 30) Lake Charles, LA USA
This a very interesting question.  We know that two like-sign electrons, or positrons repel each other whereas an electron is attracted to a positron.  This is the nature of the Coulomb force of electricity: like-sign charges repel, unlike sign charges attract. The extension to the forces between magnets is straightforward.  We also know that two chunks of ordinary matter attract each other.  You might ask the question, ‘does a chunk of ordinary matter attract or repel a chunk of anti-matter’ ?  Curiously, the answer is they still attract each other.  Now the reason for this is pretty obscure and has to be explained by quantum field theory.
The electromagnetic force is transmitted by exchange of spin 1 quanta called photons.  The gravitation force is transmitted by exchange of spin 2 quanta called gravitons.  The difference between spin 1 and spin 2 makes all the difference.
See: Graviton for information on the graviton

If you don’t follow all of this, don’t worry.  I had to go and ask our local quantum field theorist guru for an explanation a few years back when a similar question came up.


Source: University of Illinois

(published on 01/28/10)

Another cool video

As always… Have fun!

2 comments on “Gravity & Magnetism – Qs & As – (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: GRAVITY & MAGNETISM – QS & AS – (PART 3) | MKTlibrary

  2. Pingback: GRAVITY & MAGNETISM – QS & AS – (PART 4) | MKTlibrary

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