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FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the north pole on a magnet?

The north pole of a magnet can be determined in different ways. Below we will show you methods to find out which pole of a magnet is where.
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Identify magnetic poles with app

Now you can identify magnetic poles quicker than ever. Simply download our Pole Detector app to your smartphone, point the phone at the desired side of the magnet, and it will show you which pole it is.
We compiled all the information about our app and the relevant download links on the following page:

Determine magnetic poles with everyday objects

Magnets and string

The north pole of a magnet is the pole that - as long as the magnet can spin freely - points towards the north. You can demonstrate this by putting multiple magnets together and hanging them from a piece of string.
Since the opposite poles attract each other, it follows that the north pole of the world is actually a magnetic south pole - and this is indeed so.


Compass

Furthermore, you can determine the north pole of a magnet with the help of a compass: The needle end, which normally points towards the south, will be pulled by the north pole of the magnet.


Other ideas for determining the poles of a magnet can be found in our customer project "The world's most simple compass".

Definition of north pole and south pole

The north pole and the south pole of a magnet are defined as follows: The magnetic field lines always run from the north pole to the south pole. More precisely: The field lines run vertically from the surface of the magnet's north pole and curve towards the south pole until they arrive vertically to the surface of the magnetic south pole. Inside the magnetic material itself, however, the field lines run back to the starting point at the north pole and thus form a closed loop.

Positive pole and negative pole of a magnet

In connection with permanent magnets you often hear a reference to "positive pole" and "negative pole". The positive pole commonly refers to the north pole, because that's where the field lines start. Physically, however, this is not correct, because the magnetic field of a permanent magnet is a pure dipole field. This means there are no magnetic charges (electrons) that could be understood as a single pole, but only magnets with a north and a south pole. That's why there are no monopoles.