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Learning objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Calculate current that produces a magnetic field.
  • Use the right-hand rule 2 to determine the direction of current or the direction of magnetic field loops.

The information presented in this section supports the following AP® learning objectives and science practices:

  • 2.D.2.1 The student is able to create a verbal or visual representation of a magnetic field around a long straight wire or a pair of parallel wires. (S.P. 1.1)
  • 3.C.3.1 The student is able to use right-hand rules to analyze a situation involving a current-carrying conductor and a moving electrically charged object to determine the direction of the magnetic force exerted on the charged object due to the magnetic field created by the current-carrying conductor. (S.P. 1.4)
  • 3.C.3.2 The student is able to plan a data collection strategy appropriate to an investigation of the direction of the force on a moving electrically charged object caused by a current in a wire in the context of a specific set of equipment and instruments and analyze the resulting data to arrive at a conclusion. (S.P. 4.2, 5.1)

How much current is needed to produce a significant magnetic field, perhaps as strong as the Earth’s field? Surveyors will tell you that overhead electric power lines create magnetic fields that interfere with their compass readings. Indeed, when Oersted discovered in 1820 that a current in a wire affected a compass needle, he was not dealing with extremely large currents. How does the shape of wires carrying current affect the shape of the magnetic field created? We noted earlier that a current loop created a magnetic field similar to that of a bar magnet, but what about a straight wire or a toroid (doughnut)? How is the direction of a current-created field related to the direction of the current? Answers to these questions are explored in this section, together with a brief discussion of the law governing the fields created by currents.

Magnetic field created by a long straight current-carrying wire: right hand rule 2

Magnetic fields have both direction and magnitude. As noted before, one way to explore the direction of a magnetic field is with compasses, as shown for a long straight current-carrying wire in [link] . Hall probes can determine the magnitude of the field. The field around a long straight wire is found to be in circular loops. The right hand rule 2 (RHR-2) emerges from this exploration and is valid for any current segment— point the thumb in the direction of the current, and the fingers curl in the direction of the magnetic field loops created by it.

Figure a shows a vertically oriented wire with current I running from bottom to top. Magnetic field lines circle the wire counter-clockwise as view from the top. Figure b illustrates the right hand rule 2. The thumb points up with current I. The fingers curl around counterclockwise as viewed from the top.
(a) Compasses placed near a long straight current-carrying wire indicate that field lines form circular loops centered on the wire. (b) Right hand rule 2 states that, if the right hand thumb points in the direction of the current, the fingers curl in the direction of the field. This rule is consistent with the field mapped for the long straight wire and is valid for any current segment.

Making connections: notation

For a wire oriented perpendicular to the page, if the current in the wire is directed out of the page, the right-hand rule tells us that the magnetic field lines will be oriented in a counterclockwise direction around the wire. If the current in the wire is directed into the page, the magnetic field lines will be oriented in a clockwise direction around the wire. We use to indicate that the direction of the current in the wire is out of the page, and for the direction into the page.

The diagram on the left shows a small circle with a dot in the center. There are three progressively larger circles on the outside of the small circle with arrows pointing in the counter-clockwise direction representing magnetic fields. The diagram on the right has a small circle with an x in the middle. The three progressively larger circles have arrows pointing in the clockwise direction.
Two parallel wires have currents pointing into or out of the page as shown. The direction of the magnetic field in the vicinity of the two wires is shown.

Questions & Answers

what is angular velocity
Obaapa Reply
Why does earth exert only a tiny downward pull?
Mya Reply
Why is light bright?
Abraham Reply
what is radioactive element
Attah Reply
an 8.0 capacitor is connected by to the terminals of 60Hz whoes rms voltage is 150v. a.find the capacity reactance and rms to the circuit
Aisha Reply
thanks so much. i undersooth well
Valdes Reply
what is physics
Nwafor Reply
is the study of matter in relation to energy
a submersible pump is dropped a borehole and hits the level of water at the bottom of the borehole 5 seconds later.determine the level of water in the borehole
Obrian Reply
what is power?
aron Reply
power P = Work done per second W/ t. It means the more power, the stronger machine
e.g. heart Uses 2 W per beat.
A spherica, concave shaving mirror has a radius of curvature of 32 cm .what is the magnification of a persons face. when it is 12cm to the left of the vertex of the mirror
Alona Reply
did you solve?
my name is Abu m.konnek I am a student of a electrical engineer and I want you to help me
the magnification k = f/(f-d) with focus f = R/2 =16 cm; d =12 cm k = 16/4 =4
what do we call velocity
A weather vane is some sort of directional arrow parallel to the ground that may rotate freely in a horizontal plane. A typical weather vane has a large cross-sectional area perpendicular to the direction the arrow is pointing, like a “One Way” street sign. The purpose of the weather vane is to indicate the direction of the wind. As wind blows pa
Kavita Reply
what about the wind vane
If a prism is fully imersed in water then the ray of light will normally dispersed or their is any difference?
Anurag Reply
the same behavior thru the prism out or in water bud abbot
If this will experimented with a hollow(vaccum) prism in water then what will be result ?
What was the previous far point of a patient who had laser correction that reduced the power of her eye by 7.00 D, producing a normal distant vision power of 50.0 D for her?
Jaydie Reply
What is the far point of a person whose eyes have a relaxed power of 50.5 D?
What is the far point of a person whose eyes have a relaxed power of 50.5 D?
A young woman with normal distant vision has a 10.0% ability to accommodate (that is, increase) the power of her eyes. What is the closest object she can see clearly?
29/20 ? maybes
In what ways does physics affect the society both positively or negatively
Princewill Reply
how can I read physics...am finding it difficult to understand...pls help
rerry Reply
try to read several books on phy don't just rely one. some authors explain better than other.
And don't forget to check out YouTube videos on the subject. Videos offer a different visual way to learn easier.
hope that helps
Practice Key Terms 9

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