Magnets can have a variety of shapes. However, if you want to take a closer look at the poles of a magnet and distinguish the north and south poles, it is advisable to imagine a magnet in the shape of a rectangular pole. Magnets can, as we have already seen, be of natural origin, so we are not talking about anything other than iron oxide. On the other hand, there are also artificial magnets obtained by magnetizing a piece of iron that is exposed to a magnetic field. This magnetic field is generated either by another magnet or by electricity.
All magnets, no matter what type and form they have, attest to this phenomenon, which we call magnetism. Magnets have two poles. As we have already mentioned, one can see very clearly on a bar magnet how iron objects are strongly attracted to the respective ends of the magnet. One end is called the North Pole and the other the South Pole. The difference between the two poles lies in the behaviour of the magnet under the influence of the Earth’s magnetic field.
In this article, we would like to explain how to easily distinguish the north pole from a magnet. If the magnet can move freely and is not fixed, it points north. If we use several magnets and hang them by a thread, for example, we can observe how they react. As we already know that opposite poles attract each other, we will find that the North Pole is actually a magnetic South Pole. Using a compass, it is relatively easy to distinguish the north pole of a magnet because the end of the compass needle, which usually marks the south, is attracted to the north pole of the magnet.
However, it is very important that we understand exactly what we mean when we talk about the North Pole and the South Pole. Therefore, we define the north and south poles of a magnet by showing that the lines that make up its magnetic field emanate from the north pole and run towards the south pole. If we want to specify a little more, we can say that these lines go in a perpendicular direction from the part that is most on the surface at the north pole of the magnet, and that they begin to bend when they face the south pole approaching where they are already perpendicular to the surface of the magnetic south pole and return by the magnetic character of the lines to the origin at the North Pole. This creates a closed circuit.
When we talk about permanent magnets, we also use the terms positive or negative pole. In this context, we generally refer to the positive pole. The one looking north, since the field lines start from there. However, we would like to point out that this is a big mistake because it is physically incorrect. The magnetic field is a purely bipolar field, which means that there is no magnetic charge of any kind, the electrons, which we should see as a single pole, as these magnets have the opposite polarity to the north and south poles. For this reason, we can say that both poles of a magnet are equivalent and there are no monopolies.