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Magnetism, energy, engineering, physics and semantics.


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I am a tinker, not a scientist. Years of experimentation and questioning everything has often lead me into situations where I am basically ridiculed for asking what I consider to be reasonable questions.


While nothing I am working on should have any connection to “free energy”, I find the suppositions and rationals surrounding it to be more than puzzling. I believe much of it comes down to semantics. I believe “free energy” is abundant but “free electricity” is not. I believe free energy is not free. There is a source even when that source is beyond Newtonian physics as I understand it.


In class for milling and machining a couple years ago, magnetism was distinctly defined as energy. I found this amusing since I was banned from a physics forum for suggesting that it is. I am idly exploring the non-Newtonian (?) source of the energy we know as magnetism thru practical experimentation. My problem is that words seem to interfere. I need a word or term which will describe that which we call magnetism without being laughed at or banned for suggesting it.

So as a beginning to a discussion which I hope will lead to far more interesting questions, I ask this:


Is magnetism energy?”


When answering this question please include a one or two word background such as “electrical engineer” or “Physics student”.


I say magnetism meets any reasonable definition of energy. “Tinker/experimenter”

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Welcome to ScienceForums.

About the only thing wrong with what you have said is that you have asked the question in the General Philosophy section whereas it is really a matter of pure Physics and/or Engineering.


You need to be aware of the way science works.


All scientific theories, definitions and descriptions are just models of what we observe in the universe around us.

No model is perfect. That is it is not an exaxct match for every aspect of the 'real' thing.

The only issue is whether the behaviour of the model matches the 'real' thing in respect of some phenomenon or property of interest.

If it does then the model is a 'good' one and we can use it to predict future behaviour of the real thing. That is its purpose.

However we should always remember that models may (usually) only match only over some restricted range. So modelling water as a liquid only works over the range 0 - 100oC and fails outside those limits.


So it is with magnetism.

Magnetism itself is not energy, although it can exert a force which can do work in one model of magnetism.

This model is used by Electrical Engineers, for instance in designing electromagnets.

But a different model is used by Physicists for their purposes.

Either way the model has to be supplied from a source of energy to operate.


This is a convenient point to ask if you understand the difference between a source of energy and energy itself and also the terms force and work?

You will need to understand these to progress.



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The ability of a system to store energy is not the same as that system being able to do work. 

That being said, I think it is important to realise that magnetism isn’t fundamental - it’s the electromagnetic field that is the fundamental entity. Splitting this entity up into electric and magnetic components is quite an arbitrary and observer-dependent procedure. It can be useful to do so for specific scenarios, but it can also create a lot of unnecessary confusion. 

The EM field has a well defined energy density, but how this breaks down into “E” and “B” parts depends on how you observe it. Personally I think it is best to not break it down at all, and just stick with the fundamental EM field.

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Particles are creating electric and magnetic fields around them. Field instructs other particles how to behave, how to accelerate them (force field) and in which direction (vector field) and with what strength (scalar field).

Charged stationary particle is creating electric field around it.

Charged moving particle is creating magnetic field around it.

Unpaired spins of particles are creating magnetic field.

When positive charged particle is paired with negative charged particle, they partially cancel their electric fields around them (i.e. Hydrogen atom). Such molecule/atom is polar.To cancel out spin of one electron there is needed second electron with opposite spin thus Hydrogen pairs to H2 molecule. Helium atom does not have this "problem". Its valence electrons are spin-up and spin-down, paired together cancel out their magnetic influences, creating monoatomic gas, which is highly nonreactive in chemical processes.

When positive charged particle (i.e. nucleus), is paired with negative particle (i.e. electron), there are emitted photons (light), which carry out mass-energy with them.. Electric neutral atom has slightly smaller mass-energy than free nucleus and free electrons alone. If somebody wants to separate them, eject electrons from atom, must spend energy (in various forms) to do so. e.g. send photons with high enough energy to ionize atom, send electrons with high enough kinetic energies, send protons, alpha particles, neutrons, with high enough kinetic energies...


Group of atoms (molecule) can have even smaller mass-energy than their constituents (e.g. water H2O has smaller mass-energy than Hydrogen H2 and Oxygen O alone, thus they can burn together, releasing energy in various forms e.g. photons and kinetic energy of newly created particles). To reverse this process, there is needed energy from external source.

If group of atoms (molecule) has higher mass-energy than constituents, there is needed external source of energy to even cause reaction.

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  • 2 weeks later...

All true points; however, it does not really address what I mean. "Free energy" is a term which has no meaning. Walk outside, feel the warmth of the sun. How much did it cost? Free energy. Of course it has a source. Of course, in the great scheme of things the energy comes from somewhere. I understand how magnetic fields interact with the physical world to create electricity. The point it that it seems to be a solid consideration that the source must be on an atomic/sub-atomic scale. (Newtonian?) A part of the physical universe as the layperson understands it. Molecules and atoms composed of sub-atomic particles align and produce a combined field. These fields can re-enforce each other and stabilize or increase the alignment. More masses can be introduced to the field and become aligned and therefore add to the amount of magnetic field. This all obvious and well known. 

Magnets, masses with a stabilized alignment, can counter gravity. Pick up objects. One force which can counter another force is energy, right? Not electricity, energy. As previously stated, magnetism can be created with no fuel or consumption. It has a source. That source  lies beyond the question "why do proton and neutrons have a charge and where did it come from?" Because these charges exist and the source is beneath/beyond/foundational to matter, why is it  unreasonable to question if that energy source can be converted into another form of energy?

Magnetism, charges, seem to be a natural phenomenon associated with everything I would call the physical world. My very possibly incorrect understanding of "quantum physios" is that it is a study of what the source of the physical universe is. I cannot reason that it is impossible to tap/convert this source into something that is of practical use.  Not by me,  but I cannot argue that it cannot be done.

Free magnetism is only a phenomenon of aligning existing forces which are the foundation of the physical universe..

So it brings me back to, "Is magnetism energy?"  (Of course it all comes from somewhere, TANSTAAFL.) It seems to be a question of semantics leading thought.

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19 minutes ago, Captn said:

One force which can counter another force is energy, right?


I wonder if this was a reply to my question, since your assertion shows a misunderstanding of the basics of Physics.


On 05/07/2018 at 10:14 PM, studiot said:

This is a convenient point to ask if you understand the difference between a source of energy and energy itself and also the terms force and work?


Energy and Force are different things.


If you sit on a chair (and don't fall off :)  ) There is no involvement of Energy whatsoever.
Yet there is a balance of opposing forces countering each other.

It take no energy to generate a force. Energy becomes involved when that force moves something.


Before tackling your more detailed/advanced questions you need to understand the meaning of these fundamental words or you will not progress.

Do you need more detailed explanation?

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1 hour ago, Captn said:

 So it brings me back to, "Is magnetism energy?"  

No, it's not.

Even if it were true, such a statement would be unenlightening, anyway, since now you have to explain what energy is. Energy is a term that a lot of people have a misconception about, so it's not a valid starting point for a discussion. 

It's probably why physics usually starts talking about velocity and acceleration first, and then forces, before getting into work and energy. People do have an understanding of what position is, and direction, and so you can talk about straight-line motion, and so forth. You need to have a solid foundation in order to discuss more advanced concepts.

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free energy's appeal is the possibility that everything came from a void,  and that we're swimming in a sea of free energy, and we should be able to tap into that now. But that "Free energy offer to new accounts"  largely ended 14 billion years ago. Sorry, company policy.....no free energy for you!  Except for the dark energy which is pretty feeble and so unusable at this point for convention power needs....For me, semantics of mathematics implies that there was some self amplification process of a minimum default  of the void, of finite duration.. The semantic meaning of " the void" is that that void consisted of 1 void, in  a numerical sense. Hence, the first seed of natural numbers.

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