How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works
 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
 
Question 292

What is the difference between an electric and a magnetic field?
An electric field exerts forces on electric charges while a magnetic field exerts forces on magnetic poles. If you place a positive electric charge in an upward-pointing electric field, that electric charge will accelerate upward (in the direction of the electric field). But if you place a stationary north magnetic pole (if you could find one) in that same electric field, nothing will happen. An electric field exerts no force on a stationary magnetic pole. On the other hand, if you place a north magnetic pole in an upward-pointing magnetic field, that pole will accelerate upward (in the direction of the magnetic field). But if you place a stationary positive electric charge in that same magnetic field, nothing will happen. So electric fields act on stationary electric charges and magnetic fields act on stationary magnetic poles.
         

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