Difference Between Electricity and Magnetism

When studying physics, the concepts of electricity and magnetism take on added importance, but they are also crucial to many other fields besides the world of physics, as well. They are both forces of nature that are responsible for currents and fields, but their functions are actually quite different. Read on in order to learn more about the key differences between electricity and magnetism, two forces of nature that are often confused with one another or erroneously thought to be interchangeable.

How Electricity Works?

Electricity has more to do with electronic currents and fields, while magnetism focuses more on fields and currents of a magnetic nature. Electricity is typically described as a force that occurs during the presence of electric charges. These forces take place due to shifts in electric charges.

These charges are divided into two groups, positive and negative. The charges are described according to the field that they are a part of. Electric fields and electric charges cannot exist without the presence of the other. Electric fields are produced by electrical charges and this is true whether they are in the process of moving or if they are stationery.

What About Magnetism?

Conversely, magnetism is a phenomenon that is produced as a byproduct of electricity. When electric charges begin to move, this is when magnetism takes place. But what many do not know about magnetism is that it also possesses a duality. Magnetic poles are created when electrical charges move in one direction or the other.

These charges are what is known as north poles and south poles. Whenever magnetic poles occur, they always arrive in pairs. Magnetic poles that are similar are not attracted to each other, while magnetic poles that are dissimilar are drawn to one another.

What Are Their Main Differences?

The main difference between electricity and magnetism is magnetism’s presence. Electricity can be present in a static charge or the presence of a moving charge. Meanwhile, magnetism’s presence is only felt when there are moving charges as a result of electricity. Simply put, electricity can exist without magnetism, but magnetism cannot exist without electricity.

Electric charges also differ from magnetic ones, because they can take place in monopoles. In order for there to be an electric charge, the positive and negative charges are not required to work in pairs. On the flip side of the coin, a magnetic monopole in non existent. Magnetic charges require the presence of opposing pairs in order to produce their charges, making magnetism dramatically different from electricity.

As you can see, these two seemingly similar forces of nature are actually quite different and have completely dissimilar traits and requirements. The differences between magnetism and electricity are vast, which is what makes the study of each force so interesting to many.

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