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Can some one please explain to me why electricity flowing though a copper coil generates a magnetic field or where I could possibly find that information? Are there other materials that produce a magnetic field when a current is run through them in a different shape? Thanks!

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

This is a very-basic question. There are lot more things to digest than just that in EM..! All because of Maxwell equations...

Both Electric & Magnetic fields are inter-dependent (i.e.) One field requires another (or) one field produces another. The phenomenon is called Electromagnetism. For example, consider an electric charge at rest (static). It produces an electric field. But when the charge is in motion (current), a magnetic field is produced perpendicular to its direction of propagation.

Say, If you pass current through a straight wire, magnetic field is formed around the wire in the form of circular rings (could affect compass or metal fillings nearby). On the other hand, you're passing current through a circular spring-like thing (commonly, a coil) called solenoid, magnetic field is produced along its axis. Simply you could keep in mind that Magnetic field is produced by moving charges (current). This is an observed phenomena and it's explained by Maxwell.

Your last question is "Ok to ask"... Yes, there are a lot of materials (mostly metals) that produce magnetic field when current flows through them. But, Shape is not at all "a matter". It's whether there's a change in the fields that matters...

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There are probably more sites available for a basic understanding of EM which you could google. The first one is "Wikipedia"... – Waffle's Crazy Peanut Nov 4 '12 at 1:47
Thanks! That was pretty helpful! – Digital Brent Nov 4 '12 at 4:24
@Waffle'sCrazyPeanut, what do you mean by "very basic" question? – Pacerier Jan 19 '14 at 7:42
@Pacerier: I meant that the answer to such a question (interdependency of E&M) is the basic principle of electromagnetism. – Waffle's Crazy Peanut Jan 19 '14 at 8:02

Can some one please explain to me why electricity flowing though a copper coil generates a magnetic field or where I could possibly find that information?

An electric current (a flow of electric charge) has an associated magnetic field regardless of the material (or space) the flow occurs in. This is a fundamental part of electromagnetism, rooted in observation, and quantified in Ampere's Law.

I which to emphasize that this phenomenon is considered to be fundamental in nature, which means, there cannot be a "more" fundamental explanation (for, if there were, electromagnetism would not be fundamental).

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Thanks, yours was helpful too! – Digital Brent Nov 4 '12 at 4:24

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