|Did science get the direction of the magnetic field wrong?|
|It is commonly shown that magnetic field lines follow the same pattern
that you would see if you sprinkled iron filings around a magnet. The
field lines generally originate out of the poles and curve around.
However, if we make this assumption, we find a very puzzling situation
in Lorentz Law as described by the link:
We find that the force on a moving charge is at a 90 degree angle to
the direction of the magnetic field. How can this be? This would be
like tossing a hand full of confetti on one side of a fan and instead
of it flowing in the direction the fan is blowing, it blows up and if
we toss it on the other side of the fan, it blows down. This is very
strange behavior indeed.
I would propose that the problem is that we have defined the direction
of the magnetic field incorrectly. We have been biased by the action of
iron filings around magnets, but if we consider the action of moving
charges, it makes much more sense that the magnetic lines of force are
actually in a 90 degree angle from what we conventionally think is the
direction of the magnetic force. In this case the magnetic field lines
would be wrapped around a magnet like a wire around a nail. The
magnetic field direction in a straight wire would be parallel with the
electron flow. We can now easily understand how running a current
through a wire wrapped around a nail intuitively produces the same
field as a permanent magnet. The field lines simply follow the wire.
I am not 100% certain, but I think the orientation of the magnetic
field is just a convention. Just like we assign the top of the battery
+ and the bottom -. Benjamin Franklin used to think electrons flowed
from the positive terminal to the negative and science followed him,
but now we know it goes the other way. Science has a long history of
getting fundamental properties backwards. Similarly, the magnetic field
orientation has also been incorrectly identified. Mathematically, it
makes little difference which way you orient the field, but
intuitively, it makes much more sense that the magnetic field lines
line up with the direction of current flow instead of at 90 degrees to
With this new magnetic field orientation, things are not so confusing.
If we shoot a beam of electrons between the N-S poles of two magnets,
the magnetic field lines are not stretching in a straight line between
the magnets, they actually form loops like a wire around a nail and
when the electron enters the field, the electrons are just following
the circular flow around the magnets. You could think of the magnetic
field as a flowing vortex and the electron gets caught up in it like
confetti in the wind. So when the electron flows between the magnet, it
either gets swept upwards or downwards depending on the direction of
the magnetic field. It flows with the direction of the magnetic field
orientation, not at 90 degree angles to it.
You can easily see this vortex if you put the pole of a magnet on a
black and white TV. You should use a long magnet with a N pole on one
end and a S pole on the other. Place the magnet perpendicular to the
screen. What you see is that the entire picture will twist where you
put the magnet - as if there was a tornado vortex being formed around
the magnet sweeping the electrons around the magnet.
To me, this make far more sense than thinking that the electrons are
moving at 90 degree angles to the magnetic lines of force. If this is
true, it would be as big a science mistake as thinking electrons flowed
from + to -. What do other people think - could science have gotten
this fundamental magnetic property wrong for so long?