Some unexpected uses for magnets
Magnetism is a powerful force that we have harnessed for centuries to power compasses and guide us on long journeys. Some animals and birds rely on magnetism for migration and determining location, but there is much more to this force than simply guiding us on our way. Magnets can be deployed in lots of ways to perform tricks, as a source of power and in numerous ways around the home.
According to How Stuff Works magnets can be found in numerous everyday items including computer hard drives, monitors, burglar alarms, generators, televisions and doorbells. Magnetism is responsible for powering the famous Japanese Maglev trains and can create a current in wire sufficient to power a small motor, as you can demonstrate in the following simple experiment.
Make a simple motor
To demonstrate the power inherent in a simple magnet, you will need just four items: a screw, a battery, a piece of copper wire and a small disc magnet. Place the head of the screw on top of the magnet and touch one end of the battery to the point of the screw. Now hold the piece of wire onto to the top of the battery and bend the other end down to gently touch against the side of the magnetic disc. This simple and elegant experiment is a great way to introduce kids to the incredible power of magnets.
Check for metal within your walls
DIY fans can purchase a nifty little gadget for identifying pipework behind your walls, along with nails and screws within stud walling. Or you could use a magnet to find metal objects behind the walls that are not readily visible, which is a much cheaper alternative.
Remove stubborn batteries
Manufacturers don’t always consider ease of access when designing battery compartments for remote controls and toys. Instead of risking broken fingernails or damaged batteries from trying to prise them out, try using a magnet instead and watch how easily they come loose.
Send your laptop to sleep
When you close your laptop it is the interaction between two magnets within the lid and the chassis which triggers sleep mode. Using a small magnet in the correct part of the laptop will trigger this sleep function. Before attempting to use a magnet to induce sleep in your laptop, make sure that you do not put the magnet anywhere near your hard drive. A small magnet is extremely unlikely to cause any harm but better safe than sorry!
Make your own fridge magnets
There is a wide range of magnetic strips available in the UK market which can be used for a number of different engineering, mechanical and leisure applications. Easily cut to size with scissors you can use the adhesive type of magnetic strip to turn just about anything into a fridge magnet. Photographs, invitations, postcards and even small boxes can be attached to your fridge or any other metal surface to make personalised ornaments.
If this has whetted your appetite then search online for other cool tips and tricks for making the most of magnetism.