Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I saw on Discovery channel that the source of Earth's magnetic field is the molten iron and metals in the earth's core. The spinning of these liquid metals produces the same effect as electric current in a coil which produces a magnetic field. The scientist in the program proved the concept by conducting an experiment where a big metal sphere where winded by a metallic tube in which molten Sodium was pumped so it circulate around the sphere in a similar way that happens inside earth. The experiment showed that a magnetic field was successfully produced.

My question is :

How could a circulating neutrally charged particles produce a magnetic field?

It is like having two electric currents one due to the negative charges (electrons) and the other is due to positive charges (nucleus) with same value and in opposite direction so there should not be a magnetic field. so how does this happen?

share|cite|improve this question
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Circulating neutral particles will not by themselves create a magnetic field. However, if the neutral particles are moving through an existing magnetic field, and the neutral medium is conducting, then the magnetic field will induce a current via the Lorentz force. That induced current will in turn create it's own magnetic field, which may enhance the existing magnetic field. If things work out right you have a self-reinforcing dynamo where motion thru the magnetic fields drives currents and those currents in turn support the magnetic field. However, there had to be some sort of "seed" field to get the thing started in the beginning.

share|cite|improve this answer
The seed field might be the magnetic field of the sun but what we have today is that the magnetic field of earth cancels that of the sun in a way to protect the us from the solar wind. So I do not know how the induced field cancels the originating seed field and still sustain itself. – M.Sameer Aug 24 '11 at 20:17
The seed field could be just random variation? Or does the magnetic field of the Sun/galaxy seed the fields of other planets? – endolith Aug 24 '11 at 21:30
@M.Sameer: The Earth's magnetic field doesn't cancel the magnetic field of the Sun. It just diverts the solar wind. – endolith Aug 24 '11 at 21:32
Aaah, right, that makes sense. The energy for the field comes from the rotation. This reminds me of a perpetuum-mobile-attempt I came up with as a kid. Placed on a magnetic pole of the earth, it would rotate (thru the earth's rotation) in the magnetic field, and generate electricity. My physics teacher couldn't tell me why it wouldn't work, or where the energy would come from. Months later I realizes it would slow down the earth's rotation, albeit by a tiny amount. – jdm Aug 24 '11 at 23:49
How does this not violate Lenz's law? – Ron Maimon Oct 8 '11 at 21:56

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.