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I'm not a physicist so I was wondering how objects and the Earth's magnetic field interact with each other. For instance: does any of them modify the other in any way? can an object be damaged by the Earth's magnetic field? if one modifies the other is it something temporary or permanent?

Also any article/reading material about this would be welcome.

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The earth's field is too weak to cause any damage. But sometimes it must be screened to avoid errors in delicate physical measurements. But a very useful application is its property to align compass needles in the north-south direction.

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  • $\begingroup$ So in subtle ways, could it modify the magnetization of objects with materials like the ones in the needles of compasses? $\endgroup$ – Davinish Oct 21 '14 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ Not really. Permanent magnets like the compass needle show hysteresis, meaning that the magnetic field must exceed a certain non-zero minimal value. The earth's magnetic field is too weak for this to happen. $\endgroup$ – Urgje Oct 22 '14 at 9:19
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Ferrous metals will modify the Earth's field around them. The only big thing that regularly interacts with the Earth's field is the solar wind, and it can distort it quite considerably, causing "magnetic storms". These fluctuations in the field can have huge consequences (see wiki article).

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