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Magnet Toys May Help In Unraveling The Physics Of Unstretchable Materials' Stability, Study Suggests

First Posted: Mar 13, 2017 06:33 AM EDT
Magnet Toys
Scientists are studying magnetic balls used in toys to understand the role of physical forces in providing stability to un-stretchable materials.
(Photo : Cookie Cat/YouTube screenshot)

Recently, the researchers from Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University designed an experiment to study the maximum length up to which the magnetic balls (5 mm diameter, 0.5 gram in weight and magnetic flux density of 1.19 Tesla) can be stacked one upon another before they buckle.

The researchers further studied the interplay of various forces. These include gravity and magnetic attraction, to determine the length of the magnetic ball chain formed.

Who would have thought magnet toys could provide the answer to complex questions in physics? While Stacking magnetic balls is a child's play, understanding the physics behind it is too hard even for expert physicists.

Eliot Fried, Johannes Schönke and their team of researchers from Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) found that when stacked independently, the chain remained stable with nine balls. However, when stacked under the presence of an attractive magnetic field created by another magnetic ball chain hanging in opposite direction, the chain remained stable for 10 balls. On the other hand, when the magnetic field was reversed, i.e., in the presence of repulsive magnetic field, the ball buckled at eight balls, Science Daily reported.

The findings published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series A indicate that the stability of the magnetic ball chain was dependent on various factors viz. weight of the ball, gravitational force, presence or absence of magnetic field and the gap between two magnetic chains. According to experts, these findings may help in understanding the stability of complicated magnetic structures that employ the usage of cylindrical magnetic tubes with packed square and hexagonal rings.

Furthermore, the study findings will also help in understanding the organization of magnetized particles inside non-stretchable materials like paper. It can also provide useful insights into the various factors that determine the applicability of other non-stretchable materials in large architectural designs, starting from concrete chimneys to the outer shells of rockets.

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