How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 302

How does a magnet change the picture on a television—does this hurt the TV?
When you hold a magnet up to the front of a television, you are introducing an additional magnetic field in the system. This field exerts forces on the moving electrons inside the tube and they are deflected. The picture is distorted. With a black and white television, no harm is done because there is nothing to magnetize inside the picture tube. But color television picture tubes contain metal shadow masks that can become permanently magnetic. The picture remains distorted, even after you remove the magnet. To clear up the "damage", you would have to demagnetize the picture tube. Although this is not a particularly difficult task, it requires a demagnetizing coil and is best done by a professional repairperson. The bottom line is, don't play with magnets near a color television set.

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