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A Cake Stand Magnetometer [Project]
posted January 29 2014 4:03.09 by spic0m

Marty Jopson was asked to build a device to illustrate the science behind the machines used to detect eruptions of solar wind on Earth caused by coronal mass ejections from the Sun.

"There's a clue in the name, so it should come as no surprise that at the heart of the magnetometer is a small magnet. This is dangled on a length of fishing line inside a draft proof, glass bell jar. Or if you haven't got one of them, a £12 cake stand with cover from Ikea works a treat. Stuck to the front of the magnet is a tiny mirror and pointing at the mirror is a laser beam, that reflects and finally rests on a graduated scale. Now, once the system has stopped flailing around it is an exquisitely sensitive detector of magnetic field. Eruptions of magnetic field from the Sun should cause a sufficiently large change in the Earth's field such that the dangling magnet will twist ever so slightly. This tiny movement makes the laser beam sweep along the scale and can be measure. Assuming of course you are watching it when this happens."

[Link: Marty Jopson]

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